Usually I do not like interpretations. Being an administrator I'm used to analyze the world based on facts - not interpretations. IBM conferences force me to sharpen that skill. I'd like to share some of my observations and interpretations with you.
IBM ConnectED 2015 focused on three areas: Cloud, IBM Verse and Watson
To start with the last one. Watson was mentioned again and again as being the intelligence in different products they are developing. It was impressive to see in the IBM Innovation Lab an integration between Watson Analytics and IBM Chat. A virtual personality called Julie was communicating like a human being, clarifying user questions, giving answers or suggesting to include an expert who is currently online to have a 3-party-chat. My colleagues at Beck et al. and Valuescope are currently investigating it much deeper and you will find a series of blog articles in the near future.
IBM Verse has been announced in November 2014. At this conference I was able to experience it for the first time. You could see, touch and feel it. First approach: If freedom of choice is valuable for you and the mail users in your organisation then this approach will you make happy. It offers an intuitive user interface that allows you to stay focused on the topics you are working on. I did not get a clear answer which criteria define the selection of the most important persons appearing in my interface. I hope that the underlying Watson Analytics algorithm is more than just counting the number of mails someone sent me and I sent to. Otherwise I could always see my stalkers directly in a prominent place.
Coming back to the freedom of choice. IBM Verse is not the replacement of the IBM Mail via browser access (a.k.a. iNotes). You will not find the feature to print a week of the calendar. It is good that IBM states that clearly. In case you need that feature you can easily switch to the classic browser interface (yes, iNotes) and do these tasks there. People who need exactly ONE way to work won't be happy and probably will never be happy at all. It is a different approach. IBM Verse rocks. It gives you the opportunity to change your working style to be more focused, have less clutter and bringing people together in a much more collaborative way than usual mail.
IBM Verse on-premise is scheduled for the second half of 2015. That was a new information.When the Product Manager of IBM Verse asked the audience who would like to have it, all hands were up.
In this whole collaboration area there is always one priority - the Cloud.
It is the clear objective of IBM to bring its on-premise customers and completely new customers into their cloud. At minimum on an infrastructure level with IBM Softlayer. Ideally on an SaaS approach with Mail, Chat, Meeting, Connections and more. The offering with a mail volume of 50 GB and personal files volume of 1 TB is really seducing. Most important will be whether the customers will trust IBM to protect their data against unauthorized/unwanted access (at least according to the laws of the local data center). This trust will be essential whether or not cloud based services will be successful - and this does not apply to IBM only.
It is always interesting to look which products were mentioned rarely or not at all. The Notes Client belongs to that. So we do not expect major improvements. The same applies for the Domino Server. I understood that all capacities will be focused on IBM Verse in the cloud and of course on premise. IBM cannot afford not to deliver the on-premise solution for IBM Verse.
Looking at the event itself you should not compare it with Lotusphere events in earlier times. The number of participants was about 2.000 instead of more than 7.000 not too long ago. This went along with less sessions how to understand, deploy and troubleshoot the different products. This goes also in line with the clear Cloud approach. Why should Business Partners and customers learn these competences if IBM wants to sell the cloud. I hope that IBM has the capability to align its strategy in case the customers still prefer the on-premise solutions.
I was surprised in a positive way that IBM changed its policies immediately during the event and stopped being "Uncle Scrooge" with the coupons of one free alcoholic drink per party. Some business partners noticed it too late and started a BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer) party at the Rotunda fountain. Having fun and networking (collaborating, exchanging ideas and experiences, ...) together does not require an expensive Walt Disney theme park. It requires the spirit of being part of something bigger and that is still the case at IBM.