2011 in review

December 28 2011

I used to call these annual posts the "blogging" year in review, but the reality is, they have become a way to start closing the books on the year that was. I continue to find this exercise useful for my professional responsibilities, for my personal passing of time, and for my connections to all of you. Especially in a year where Lotusphere is returned to its normal place on the calendar just a bit more than two weeks away, nothing says "get ready to run" like putting away the past.

Over my 20+ years in the IT industry, the jobs I have enjoyed the most are the time I spend in product management. Waking up each morning presents new challenges and opportunities, and two days are rarely alike. I may not be smart enough to have invented technology or built it, but putting the pieces in place to make technology successful is immensely rewarding to me. I truly believe that successful product managers are born, not made, and I'm consciously continuing to choose to do this kind of work. It's also interesting to reflect on how many of my role models and peers over the years that have been great product managers continue to do product management, even if (like me) they have taken other responsibilities over the years to build their careers.

The end result of the passion for product management that I and my team have has shown every single year. In 2011, we accomplished a lot. We entered new markets (IBM XWork Server), made market inflection easier (three releases of LotusLive Notes, Domino Utility Server for LotusLive, IBM SmartCloud Enterprise), delivered innovation (mobile apps and platform leadership, XPages, Domino upgrade packs), enhanced value (Notes/Domino 8.5.3 with entitlement to Connections Files | Profiles), simplified (new licensing in Notes/Domino 8.5.3, removed restrictions on Domino Express), grew in newer markets (Lotus Protector, Lotus Symphony), and made some pretty incredible plans for 2012.

During 2011, I spoke at twenty-four in-person events around the world, with another dozen or so webcasts or other virtual happenings, reaching even more people than in 2010. I participated in 50 customer meetings, with a continued use of virtual meetings. A highlight-this year, for the first time, I had the opportunity to be either an IBM-level or brand-level sponsorship executive in ongoing customer interactions. In English that means I met regularly with two customers as an ongoing relationship; both of those have been tremendous growth opportunities. For once, my team competed with me on frequent flyer miles though, demonstrating good bench strength and talent all over the world--with customers, at events, and providing internal training.

On the personal side, Chloe entered the "terrible twos", though her developing personality is a delight. She is an entertaining little girl, but she knows it and delights in making us all laugh. Big sister Megan made major steps forward, performing at the top of her class in testing and developing an artistic talent. The family traveled with me occasionally; Chloe and Mom are getting to be Lotusphere regulars, and also traveled to Italy for the wonderful DominoPoint.IT DDive event. We took our first rent-a-home-and-do-almost-nothing vacation on the beach near Charleston, SC USA, and used other trips to add a day or two side trip such as Napa, CA USA and Verbania, Italy. I also spent a boy's weekend in the Balkan countries having my passport stamped, managed to have a free day to explore Australia's Hunter Valley, saw the Christmas Markets in Paris, and somehow squeezed in a few social dinners in far-flung locales from Edinburgh to Dallas.

Every year comes with personal growth. This year feels like I finally started to understand the journey I've been on, and started to make decisions on what I want the rest of my life to look like. 2012 should be a very good year.


edbrill.com in 2011:

  • 141 blog posts (vs 214 in 2010), 2237 comments; 15.86 comments per post. Though I am blogging less-frequently, the average number of comments remains consistent. Thank you for that participation.
  • 204,151 visitors, 403,124 visits, 547,946 pageviews. All of these numbers are down between 10-20%, but I blogged about 33% less. So, I'm pretty happy with these stats.
  • Top five blog posts: "Now available - Lotus Notes Traveler for Android", "Arigato Gozimasu" (12,000 pageviews for a 2003 entry!), "Notes and Domino 8.5.3 now available", "Introducing IBM XWork Server", and "Notes/Domino 8.5.3 launch dates set"
  • Busiest day: October 4, launch day for Notes/Domino 8.5.3 and XWork Server.
  • Top five countries visiting edbrill.com: United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada. This hasn't changed in years. Nineteen countries had one visit each, including Bhutan, French Guiana, and Swaziland.
  • Traffic sources: 44% from Google (same as last year), 28% referrals, 28% direct. Main referral sources: PlanetLotus.org, Facebook (presumably related to my persona page), Twitter, Vasanth.in (a blog, no idea why), vowe.net, LinkedIn, and IBM.com.
  • Browsers: Firefox 40%, IE 27%, Chrome 16%, Safari 11%. Pretty stable vs 2010; Chrome took 2% from Firefox. 78% Windows, 11% Mac, 3% Linux, 3% iPad, 2% iPhone, 1% Android.

It's harder to track stats for Twitter, Facebook, etc., but thanks as well for engaging through these social channels. I feel like I'm not as good at Twitter as I used to be, I'm trying consciously to do more replying and interaction. It's just so big now, it's a little harder. I am happy that I've been able to continue to have "authentic voice" there, where I don't feel the need to segment my Twitter account into personal, professional, etc. On the other hand, I get less interaction there than I used to, so maybe that time is finally coming.

Travel in 2011:
  • Again about 90 days on the road. 112,573 miles travelled. 18 countries.
  • New countries: Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Wales. I also visited Canada, England, Scotland, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Turkey, Sweden, Poland, and Australia.
  • New cities: Pristina, Tirane, Ohrid, Cardiff, Bonn, Wroclaw, Verbania, Montegrotto, Charleston, and Hunter Valley.
  • New airports: PRN, WRO, CHS. That's it!
  • New airlines: None!
  • Special memories (many in my Flickr site): Horse-and-carriage tour of Charleston with Charles and Myron, after all these years; having a whole resort to ourselves in Bar, Montenegro; the perilous driving from Tirane Albania to Ohrid Macedonia; lunch in the Hunter Valley with Mike saving the day; dinner with Deborah at Cyrus in Sonoma County; seeing Cardiff landmarks only previously seen on Doctor Who episodes; finding trolls in Wroclaw; Chloe eating pasta on my lap in Verbania, Italy; the entertaining waitress, Tifane, at Jaja in Paris; my dad's 50th anniversary teaching at Chicago-Kent Law School

Looking ahead to 2012

It's almost overwhelming to think about the year ahead. Every member of my team has a significant project coming to market in 2012. New feature release of Notes/Domino. Reinvented email in IBM Connections. New releases of LotusLive Notes. LotusLive Symphony goes to beta and gets a snappy new name. Apache's OpenOffice project takes all of the energy behind Lotus Symphony forward. New features for Lotus Protector. Updates to Domino Designer and XPages. New devices for Lotus Notes Traveler. And on and on. It's no surprise you'll find almost all of them speaking at Lotusphere 2012, some more than once, with all this exciting stuff coming out from our labs.

Professionally, I am going to continue efforts from 2011 to really understand and become a part of the broader IBM. I wrote about this theme several times this year, and have taken several opportunities to really start to understand other parts of the IBM business. With a new CEO taking the reins next week, it will be exciting to be part of the leadership team taking IBM into its second century. Meanwhile, I'm continuing to help my team gain more opportunities to be involved in the community around our products. I don't *want* another 100,000+ mile year, though some of that is inevitable. Time will tell.

A personal goal in 2012 is to rebalance a bit. I've always been wired as a 100%+ effort kind of guy, so as I pick up new pursuits, I put a heck of a lot of energy into each of them. In 2011 I think the dam finally broke, and I've started to let go of some of those commitments and interests. I stepped down from the board of the local homeowners' association, and I consciously deselected some activities for my older daughter so that she likewise wouldn't feel over-programmed. Perhaps with it being a leap year, we can start a meme of how to make use of that 1/366th of extra time, focusing on what really matters to each of us individually.

In closing, I wish you all the best for the new year. When we at IBM talk about being a social business, I know sometimes it sounds like it's just hype and talk. The reality is, going all the way back to this time in 2002 (or even earlier), living my professional and personal life online has been my most defining personal characteristic. You all are a part of me, sometimes in ways you can't possibly imagine. I may not always remember your name or your face or where we've met or broken bread together, but the cumulative life experience has been one worth living, many times over. Thank you.

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