The 19th DNUG conference--the fourth I've attended--was, in my opinion, a very successful event.  I've said it before: I really enjoy connecting with a wide spectrum of customers from across the German market, because a) there is no hesitation to express their needs and wants and b) they are quite committed to their technology decisions and making them successful.  There's also an element I'd almost describe as awe, specifically when I think about the students from UNI-Paderborn's GCC and their passion around really understanding collaborative computing and making it work.
Besides Dr. Nastansky's current and former students, I was happy to see Volker, Daniel Nashed, Marc Luescher, Ingo Erdmann, Florian Lier, Peter von Bechen, the team from Softwerk (Henry, etc.), Otto from edcom.de, the team from H&T Verlag, colleagues including Joerg Knipschild and Wolfgang Weyand, and of course the DNUG leadership including Felix, Wolfgang, Jurgen, and Dr. Roswitha Boldt.
The Stadthalle in Kassel was a beautiful setting for a conference.  (That link appears to be down at the moment; here is another in English).  I'll post some pictures of the doors and walls in one of the breakout rooms -- it felt very posh.
In my keynote presentation, I covered the Lotus Workplace strategy and product roadmap.  Having been at several previous DNUG events where the very future of Lotus and Notes was in doubt, I felt very good about the content this time around.  While I workedwith a standard set of slides, one interesting twist to this presentation was the amount of audience-specific content I could weave in -- including starting with a slide from my year-ago keynote that showed how consistent Lotus's strategy has been.  It helps to have the same speaker at multiple conferences -- for me, to increase my understanding every time, but for them, to hold me accountable for what I've said in the past.  Funny,though, the number of times I was asked, "What exactly is your job?"  I guess it's not real clear from title, or the fact that it has changed over the years I've attended DNUG.
The next keynote speaker was Libby, and she has already written about her speech.  I think it was well received -- DNUG managing director Felix Binsack told me that it was really good, and that it was "like she was an industry analyst -- except that she was clear and understandable!"  High praise indeed.
Most of the remaining sessions were auf Deutsch.  Interestingly, the third keynote, from Prof. Dr. Guenter Mueller-Stewens, was incredibly engaging for me despite the language barrier.  He talked about change management, and while I can't really tell you what his points were, his speaking style as well as his slides were excellent.  Libby and I also reprised a session from Lotusphere 2003, called "Selling Notes/Domino 6 Internally".  Being in the last session slot of the day, and a smaller room, the audience was very engaged in this presentation, and we had a level of interactivity I haven't seen very often in Germany.  In fact, the UNI-Paderborn students taught me some new features of the Notes 6.5 Workplace welcome page, including a nicer ability to view discussion threads in context than has been implemented previously.
DNUG's evening event was first rate.  I was a little skeptical when told that it was going to be held in the Kassel University's cafeteria, but the food was good, the drinks were nice, and the band was in top form.  A little smoky for an uptight American's taste, but that's my only complaint from the whole night, so not too bad.
During the conference's second day, I only attended the two closing sessions.  The panel discussion on the future of Lotus, featuring a number of German business partners, was almost totally lost on me (though Volker as moderator could probably chime in with some thoughts).  The very last was my colleague Joerg, who reprised many of the messages from my opening keynote, and added a live demo of some of the Notes 6.5 features.
The 20th DNUG conference is next spring in Karlsruhe.  We're working on a very special IBM speaker for the keynote, hoping it will happen.  Too soon to predict whether I'll return, or skip that one and go for #21, next November in Mannheim.  Either way, I know I will be back in Deutschland at some point in 2004, to reconnect with some of the most interesting customers I've ever met.
Once I have posted my photos from this trip, I'll come back with another blog entry about the sightseeing in Frankufrt and Kassel, along with some more detail about the Vienna and Bratislava leg of my trip.

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