Lotusphere Coming into View; Social Business Looms Big
January 17, 2011 Dan Burger
Social networking has become a significant factor in the business world. Companies are lining up to tell their “Fastest gun in the West” success stories on a multitude of networking sites. The IT industry can’t do enough to help these stories be heard. IBM‘s Lotus division, for one, is doing all it can to promote “social business.” With Lotusphere coming up the end of this month, there will be a hail of social businesses bullets ricocheting around the Web.
There are several business objectives that command a lot of attention in conversations about what it is that social networks can accomplish. The value of collaboration rises to the top of the list at Lotusphere. You’ll still find many nuts-and-bolts educational sessions featuring the well-known Lotus product mix that includes the Domino servers, application development tools, and the basic Notes infrastructure, but the social business topic is now the sizzle that sells the steak. Just look at the numerous aspects of the conference that take advantage of thoroughly modern technology–things that many of the attendees are familiar with, but many companies are just discovering. For instance, techies unable to score a Florida conference in the dead of winter will be better connected to Lotusphere than ever before via Tweets, blog posts, photos and videos, and live streaming of some events can be accessed at the Lotusphere 2011 social media page. No training budget? No problem. (Actually that is a problem, but that’s a conversation for another day.) Technology will allow you to participate to some degree.
Alongside Lotusphere, IBM has planned a Social Business Industries Symposium that Big Blue hopes will attract an audience of senior business types interested in what social media can do for companies looking for advantages in areas such as sales, marketing, customer service, product development, human resources, and operations.
At Lotusphere, things get under way on Sunday, January 30, with Business Development Day, an event for IBM business partners that are big on collaboration strategies and partnership opportunities. If you want to have a discussion about paradigm shifts, talk with some of the Lotus business partners. You can find them in the expo area if you’re in Orlando or you can track them down here.
That same day, the technical sessions begin for those without a golf addiction or a theme park obsession. Every conference has a JumpStart agenda. It’s sort of like educational espresso. The curriculum covers all skill levels from introductory (There’s no such thing as a stupid question) to Master Class sessions for developers and administrators who already have been riding in the Lotus rodeo for a few years developing sophisticated applications that support business processes.
The Monday through Thursday educational buffet is divided into five tracks.
The first is business oriented with a focus on operational value and the implications and opportunities that new technology brings. The sessions depend on information gleaned from IBM research teams and topics range from the implications of being a social business to setting the right delivery and consumption strategy to embracing business analytics as a strategic tool.
Track two is aimed at developers, system architects, administrators and integrators. The developer focus is on application development efficiencies while creating new applications or update existing applications. Tools and technologies are highlighted. For the administrators and integrators, the topics include product architecture, features and capabilities, deployment, administration directories, security, and performance. Both the Lotus and WebSphere Portal software portfolios are covered.
There are sessions for everyone in the Best Practices track, where time- and money-saving tips from those who have already fought the battles pass along advice. Implementation shortcuts, infrastructure challenges, Domino server performance, and regulatory compliance topics are found among these sessions.
If you have return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) on your mind, the sessions in the Business Solutions track should become your priority. No build and deploy discussions here. These sessions highlight the capabilities for supporting business goals and objectives such as increasing productivity and improving collaboration.
Track five features representatives from a dozen companies explaining how Lotus and/or WebSphere software were successfully deployed and business goals achieved. You’ll find a lot of “I jumped out of an airplane at 15,000 feet without a parachute and survived” type of inspirational stories here.
A listing of the presentations including session abstracts by the speakers can be found here.
Monday also opens the doors to the IBM Social Business Industries Symposium, a two-day event with a lineup of sessions highlighting social business success stories, measurable results, tangible strategies, and trusted relationships. It’s not easy to bring in the C-level people–the CEOs, CIOs, CFOs and the like–but IBM is hoping a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth in January and the unlocking the mystery of how social media can pay off in the business world might be enticing.
A sampling of session social business topics available during the symposium include: building brands; transforming product development; locating skills, improving learning, and sharing knowledge; cultivating leadership and innovation; building customer relationships; and increasing operational efficiency.
One of the benefits of collaboration technology that seems apparent to me is in the building of enthusiast communities. It’s not unlike IT Jungle or other publications that have created a following or how the IBM i, iSeries, and AS/400 advocates are a community. In business, these communities are customers and we all know that keeping customers happy brings better results than the opposite. Being better than your competition at connecting with your customers and potential customers is a pretty smart strategy.
You’ll find more news and information coming from Lotusphere on the pages of IT Jungle in the weeks ahead.