Often times when we get on a topic about Lotus's strategy, direction, or marketing, I receive comments along the lines of, "I get it, but my executives don't".  Last week, this lead me to have a conversation with Dave Montgomery, who is one of the managers at the Lotus executive briefing center, currently in Waltham, Massachusetts.  The briefing center is a great resource for getting messages about Lotus to a large group at your organization, straight from the decision makers, architects, executives, and subject-matter experts within Lotus.  All too often, though, this tool is overlooked.  

Especially with decreased business travel, some customers have been reluctant lately to make the trip to the briefing center.  Of the executive briefings I've done this year, none have been in the Massachusetts center (though my team has covered some briefings there).  Customers have been going more "local" to get the content they're looking for, and we've chosen to fly speakers around a bit more.  The content is very good, but not every one of our lab leaders or product architects can be on the road to customers all the time.

When I first joined Lotus, doing briefings in Cambridge (or, when the new center is complete, in Westford) created a feeling of going to the mountain top...to the absolute best place to get the best information.  Today, it feels to me like we can deliver a lot of that information through other channels or in other ways that are effective.  

All of this is leading up to some market research.  If your organization is the type that sees vendor briefings as useful, what makes them useful in 2008?  What would drive your management team to come together at a vendor facility?  Choices would be things like the location, the expertise, the agenda, the "extra-curriculars" (a great city to visit, good dinner before/after the briefing, sports tickets).  Are you doing more or less of these kinds of face-to-face briefings?  What other methods are being used to communicate similar information?  Would it be more or less useful to stay focused on one brand or product line (e.g. a "Lotus briefing") or broaden out to other topics (an "IBM briefing" or "IBM software briefing")?

And if this topic is all new to you, you can find out more about IBM Executive Briefing Centers on the web.  That particular page seems to cover only centers that do briefings on IBM Systems...but there are more that cover software.  Also, conversely, some of the briefing centers (Raleigh and Austin, for example) are equipped to cover Lotus topics in addition to other brands or divisions.

Last, if you think that the era of the all-day, face-to-face briefing has passed, you can say that, too.  But tell me what you are doing instead to get this type of information...or how you would envision doing it right in the future.   Thanks!

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