IBM Adds Virtual Component to Executive Briefing Centers
January 11, 2010 Alex Woodie
Interested in setting up an executive-level briefing to learn more about the IBM Power Systems server? One option is to arrange a trip to IBM’s facility in Rochester, Minnesota, where last Thursday it was snowing with a wind chill of -20 degrees Fahrenheit. But if sub-Arctic travel isn’t your cup of tea, or your sled dogs are down with the flu, you now have the option to receive briefings remotely at IBM’s Virtual Briefing Center Web site, which was launched last week.
IBM’s System and Technology Group (STG) put its Web skills to work with the new Virtual Briefing Center (VBC), which is located on the Internet at ibm-vbc.centers.ihost.com. Designed to supplement the 13 physical IBM Executive Briefing Centers located around the world, the VBC lets visitors explore IBM enterprise computing products and services, drill down into specific topics with video presentations by segment experts, and contact the physical briefing centers for more information.
The big deliverable with the VBC Web site are the video presentations, which take the form of PowerPoint presentations with IBM’s famous “foils” and a voice-over by a segment expert who works at one of the Executive Briefing Centers. Visitors can browse the site’s Resource Center by product, which shows them presentations for STG’s five main offerings–Power Systems, BladeCenter, System x, System z, and System Storage–or browse by solutions, such as virtualization, cloud computing, security, energy efficiency, and so on.
Several IBM i experts based at IBM’s labs in Rochester, Minnesota, are active on the VBC site, including Kurt Rump, an IT systems and strategy consultant, and Nick Harris, a consulting IT specialist for the System i. The remainder of the 13 men listed as Power Systems experts on the VBC are Unix and Linux experts from around the world.
The site has only been up for a little over a week, so there is not a lot of content as yet–44 presentations to be exact. No matter which product or solutions visitors search under, they seem to be presented with the same group of foils on Systems Director software, a disk and tape overview, the value of blade computing, the SAN volume storage controller, and so on.
It’s a good start for VBC, which is currently in pilot mode. More content is on its way, including blogs, live events, and personalization features, promises Lucia Ahnemann, the director of IBM’s worldwide STG Executive Briefing Centers, in an introductory letter for the VBC.
The VBC launch continues a trend toward virtual Web-based events that started years ago, but picked up steam as the economy floundered in 2009. For example, IBM i OS ERP giant Infor moved to an online-only user group event last year, instead of hosting an annual user group conference with thousands of attendees, as it had for years previously. VAI a smaller i OS ERP software developer, also axed its 2009 physical user conference for a virtual one, but will be hosting its user group event this fall in Florida. Facing dramatically lower attendance at annual user conference last year, Lawson Software grew its online VUE conference to augment the CUE.
In IBM’s case, it’s doubtful that it will shutter or scale back any of its physical Executive Briefing Centers in Minnesota, Texas, North Carolina, New York, Arizona, India, Germany, France, Japan, or Mexico any time soon. Rather, the VBC is positioned to bolster the Executive Briefing Centers’ Web presence, and make it easier for high-level IT decision makers to schedule an in-person visit to, say, Rochester, Minnesota, to learn more about the IBM i OS-based Power Systems server. Unless it’s completely snowed in, that is.