IBM ConnectED 2015: A Few Problems

December 12, 2014


After giving this topic some thought, and soliciting some comments, it isn’t news that IBM has a few image problems with ConnectED. One could make the argument that these problems started a couple of years ago. As it is, this being the last (IMHO) conference for this particular IBM software group in Orlando, here are a few problems with ConnectED 2015:

  1. If you change the name of something, you will instantly lose a percentage of the customers you had attending. Remember all that goodwill, identity, and buzz you had for Lotusphere? Perhaps even Connect? It’s gone. You blew it all on a name change. “Wait! But we have refocused the conference and it needed a new name!” No, you’ve just destroyed years of goodwill and instant recognition. It’s gone, forever. Was it worth it for a (silly) name change? I could point out that a name change was needed when IBM did away with the Lotus name. Fine. But then two subsequent name changes? Oh, and “Connect” is not a unique conference name. Try Googling it; you best be specific with your search.
  2. Many past attendees have not heard the message that this year will be “more technical” and are assuming the quality and  content will be roughly what it was in years past. But, a lot of them have been disappointed in years past, so they aren’t coming. Just saying it will be doesn’t make it so. Even if you repeat it to yourself hundreds of times. So, I say, prove it to me. Wait, what? There aren’t any “more technical” sessions listed on the website months in advance of the renamed conference? So, I have to take you at your word? How do I create a case to my manager that it is worth (roughly) $3,000US to attend when I have nothing on which to base my claim? Now that the agenda is available, the focus seems to be Connections (no surprise there). However, this could still be a tough sell for those companies that do not run Connections.
  3. Those who are in the know enough to have heard it will be “more technical” are also the ones to realize that IBM often do not deliver what they promise and/or what you expect, so they may not trust IBM that it will be more technical. They don’t trust IBM’s presenters will be subject matter experts. They are skeptical as to whether the technical content will be relevant to them (could be non-ICS content in an attempt to get atendees to use Cognos, or could be ICS products that customers are not using and don’t care about – CCM, anyone?). Remember the past few years? While I certainly see where IBM is heading, there are quite a few companies out there, quite possibly the majority, that see zero value in “social” or cloud.

ConnectED 2015 is less value for the same money, which is very upsetting.  What do I mean? Fewer days, same price. Fewer sessions (because of fewer days), same price. This is very troubling.

In years past, previous attendees would be getting hammered with phone calls and e-mails leading up to the conference. This year? Silence from both mediums. I think that the funny thing about this is that IBM believes that everyone that they need to reach are on Twitter, watch PlanetLotus, are on LinkedIN, etc. That is definitely not the case. E-mail is still, I am guessing, the Number One method of effectively communicating with everyone.

I believe, that of the problems, the money issue and complete lack of messaging and marketing have aided IBM in creating an event for about 1,000-1,500 attendees. Only those “in the know” will be aware of the changes; those that are on Twitter or regularly read PlanetLotus.

In my opinion, this is the last year for the conference in this location at this time. Look for something later in the year, hosted in Las Vegas, as a part of much larger IBM conference. Which should mean “more value for your money” if you are an IBM customer.

By the way, I am planning to be there for the opening weekend. I will not be an attendee.