January 25 2008
It will probably take a few more days to obtain some perspective on the Lotusphere that just was. There was a lot of news, a huge amount of content, so many meetings, and a large dose of fun. It was part pep rally, part sales meeting. It was notably drama-free, at least on the ground.
Highlights this week included:
- Spending a few hours talking with Ross Mayfield, who quickly got indoctrinated to the "are Ed and Alan really the same person" meme.
- Watching the glimpses of the future, including Konrad Lagarde's demo at Business Development Day
- Completely neutralizing Microsoft's annual spoiler press release -- the comment I heard a few times was that it makes them look "pathetic" that they continue to use the same, tired tactic year after year.
- Seeing Baby Stratton. Matt and Jess are one of the coolest couples I've ever met, and what easy-going yet confident parents they've made. Zoe is pretty darn cute, too.
- The Penumbra dinner on Saturday night, as always. It feels to me like the complexion of the small/sole consultant segment of our partner community is changing for the positive. We've completely passed the era where "influencer" partners are outside of the core engine. They have better access (many Penumbra members are, to our benefit, part of Notes/Domino design partner programs, for example) and a better sense of the mainstream market.
- The "Atlantic" project deal with SAP. Around Wednesday or so, it hit me that this project is now as much mine to execute as it is the development and product management/marketing teams. We've been working for so long to make it a reality, with so many people to thank in both companies for realizing the marketplace benefits of our working together. Even though many companies didn't send their "SAP person" to Lotusphere, by lunchtime yesteday, I had numerous reports that so many customers were already seeing changing attitudes and optimism in their organizations as a result of this agreement. I also heard that the SAP contingent at Lotusphere was impressed by the conference and the customers and partners they spoke with. I'm looking forward to working with the SAP team directly to make this effort a success in the market.
- Hosting Lotusphere Idol!, and turning Andy Pedisich (and the other contestants) into Lotusphere celebrities, was just a huge rush. Andy told me yesterday that his weblog traffic increased 400% and that people had been stopping him in the hallways to congratulate him. The Idol! concept and session was barely on my radar two weeks ago, but working with a great team at Lotusphere, the magic can and will happen.
- Working with some of the best in the business to make things happen -- I would like to name names but it would inevitably leave someone out. I've started writing some thank-you notes, though, so you know who you are.
Challenges this week included:
- The Fake Steve Jobs thing happened. What was interesting about it was the diversity of reactions. My colleagues in IBM Communications were concerned that it would be upsetting. Honestly, it didn't really bother me. Dan Lyons is as irrelevant today as he was ten years ago. It was even fun to have some additional notoriety. Having Ken Bisconti pass me in the hall and call me, with a smile on his face, "f___wit", and just keep walking, was priceless.
- Being a "blogger". This one is going to take some time to unravel. More than once, I was introduced by IBM colleagues, partners, customers, and PR people as a "blogger". It's not a negative, but it's not the whole picture, either. My day job is to be the sales leader for Lotus Notes and Domino, a position in which I've lead the product to more than three years of success and revenue growth. Blogging has become a tool for me, one which I use to help me be successful in that day job. (There are, before I get any further, other reasons why I blog, including friendships, having an outlet to write, sharing information, all the usual stuff). Being introduced to an IBM corporate vice-president as a "blogger", though, means that I've become notable for this website more than I have for my other accomplishments. I'm proud to be one of the most successful and visible bloggers at IBM, but I'd also like to be known for my results.
- Content for a slightly different audience. You probably didn't know it, but we had a few additional demographics amongst the attendees this year. On Monday, there was a large contingent of CIOs attending the conference, hosted by the Lotus Americas sales team. We also had a group of IBM salespeople -- Lotus brand specialists and software reps -- attending simply for education. These groups meant that some of the strategy sessions had larger attendance than anticipated when we built the conference. The content team had several discussions during the week on how to look at that for next year.
I eventually had to resort to scheduling meetings for 15-20 minutes in order to fit in as much as possible. I started allowing ten extra minutes to cross from my hotel room in the Swan over to the Dolphin, to allow for the chance encounter conversations that predictably took place along the walk. But this is what makes Lotusphere special.
As many of you know, I spend much of my week at Lotusphere "behind the scenes" I work closely with the content team during the week itself, where we spend most days trying to avoid anything from becoming a crisis (and we only really had one this week that I knew of). This role has exposed me to the best of Lotusphere -- Sandra Marcus and an incredibly talented team of IBMers and contractors, from the production company to the room monitors. Working daily with Kristin Keene, Ragan Folan, and Paula Goudsmit for the last sixty days paid off in an event that was, in my opinion, the smoothest Lotusphere ever. Thank you to all of them for being such a great team (and to the other track managers -- Bob, Heidi, Martha, Oliver, Rocky, Maureen, and our extended team).
I don't think I ever would have anticipated that my job as a sales executive could also touch peoples' lives. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of yours, whether it is for six days in Orlando or a long-term friendship. Thank you.