Alan Lepofsky from Constellation Research has written a very interesting article on the occasion of IBM Connect 2016, the history of Lotusphere and the upcoming future. The historical perspective is absolutely right and I agree, that the re-focus on core collaboration products in 2015 was a good move and gave the conference more value. My hope is, that we will continue on this journey not only in 2016, but beyond.
The trend – not only at IBM – is to have less conferences and instead a few mega events with over 10.000 attendees and more. Yes, this might make life easier for the vendors, but there is the danger, that focus gets lost, because so many topics are being covered, that attendees might feel lost and the impact of a special interest community disappears (despite those events take place in particular for Europeans attractive locations like Las Vegas).
But back to IBM Connect: And yes, my employer has to communicate the overall picture: Which role does collaboration play in the Cognitive Era? Which value can cognitive technologies bring into collaboration and IBM’s collaboration product. We need and want that overall vision, but also should get down to practical use cases.
How does cognitive help in managing your emails or your schedule? What means Cognitive for what we used to call Knowledge Management? How does is it support discovering knowledge and provide the right contextual information in a business process? And so on.
Beside this vision and practical use cases I strongly believe that the value, the power and bandwidth of the current IBM Collaboration Solutions portfolio needs to be communicated much clearer. It is not only about IBM Verse we were heavily pushing in 2015. The portfolio is much broader and much more complete including IBM Connections as one of the strongest, if not the strongest Enterprise Social Network including the power of modules like Activities, which still seems to be a much to secret kept capability. Instant Messaging, Video, Online Meetings and real time editing capabilities for text, spreadsheets and presentations are there. Available in the cloud. Promised and intended to be available in the cloud AND on premises.
To few people outside IBM know about these capabilities, which can for sure compete with other players. In a recent blog post – unfortunately in German language – I am describing my personal workplace including mobile and working (since years) on a Mac and on iOS devices. Adding on top real powerful cognitive capabilities could and should be the game changer for IBM – and more important for IBM’s customers and potential customers.
In terms of our eco system: There is already a pretty strong ecosystem around IBM Connections in place – check out this infographic -, but it needs to be extended by more APIs and capabilities. Collaboration capabilities and APIs need to be a crucial part of the overall Bluemix application platform, the sooner and the more powerful, the better.
And as important: The business model for partners needs to be communicated much clearer. A bunch of Business Partners don’t see their beef in the overall Cloud-game. But this is at least is not only an IBM problem.
Business Outcomes? Yes, we always need to prove them. But coming from the what we call D-A-CH-region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) we seem to be in the situation, that not only big companies are adopting IBM Collaboration technology. Over the last 5 or 6 years at least one flagship customer from Germany or Switzerland was on stage in the Opening General Session (OGS). This year it is going to be on Lufthansa. This is showing a success track in selling and adopting IBM Social Business-technology in the our region. All of these flagship customers and SMB’s are using collaboration technology for critical business processes. We seem to be on a good track, knowing that the introduction of Collaboration technology is always a long process, a change management process with ups and downs.
And yes, let us not only continue, but speed up innovation. IBM Verse with its ease of use is an excellent start and I am pretty optimistic, that we are going to see more at IBM Connect 2016. And yes, I want even more, more, more innovation … through Cognitive capabilities, through Design Thinking and through a powerful eco system.
No comments on Marketing. I am working in Marketing at IBM 😉. Seriously: Not the slogan “A New Way To Work” is the challenge. We need to much clearer and louder communicate the capabilities we have right now. And we have to articulate an exciting vision making the business value clear to our customers and potential customers, so that they invest with confidence in our solutions. Let us not be shy. There are competitors in the market, which promised years ago, that their email system at these time was capable doing document management. They delivered basic document management 4-5 years later.
Thank you Alan for your thoughtful blog post and here are my comments as promised. Written in the plane. Sorry for the my English and looking forward to see you in Orlando.
This posting reflects my personal opinion and is no official statement of IBM.