Time to dust off this blog and get back to it

It’s been a while since I blogged about anything. Not really had much to say, but the world keeps turning and I’ve come around to the fact that, even though no-one is listening, I find it cathartic to write some of this stuff down.

Wow, it’s almost a year to the day since my last blog post. Ha! That’s amazing. Well I’m never going to be up for a Pulitzer Prize at this rate.

It’s been 360(ish) days since my last blog post and a lot has happened in that time. My mother has passed away, I’ve been to America a bunch of times, done some speaking at various events, watched my kids grow up some more, got news of an impending medical procedure (more on that some other time) and decided to take this last Christmas off and go on holiday.

The biggest thing that has happened in the recent past is my annual pilgrimage to IBM’s Connect conference. I’ve been attending since 2006, not as long as some, but I’m still thrilled to be there. I remember my first one in 2006 as if it were yesterday. The excitement of attending this legendary conference that I’d only ever heard about with reverence in the halls of Lotus Park in Staines, UK. When I worked for Lotus, no one ever got to go. So when I joined a team that sent people to help run it, boy was I caught up in that. Scroll forward 10 years and I’m there with Teamstudio celebrating 20 years of being in the Lotus/IBM Domino and Notes business.

This year was a very different year as the venue had changed from the Disney Swan and Disney Dolphin (Swolphin) hotels to the Hilton Orlando over near the Orange County Convention Center. As I arrived at the hotel to drop off my boss, Nigel Cheshire, for a meeting, I met a few people that were hard core died in the wall Lotusphere buffs and we were all commenting on how we would miss the Dolphin’s rotunda fountain and the lobby bar. We’d miss the walk in the sunshine between the two hotels and Disney’s Boardwalk with is familiar fair of bars and restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, I was right there with them.

But by the end of Wednesday people had changed their tune totally. Me too.

The Hilton’s facilities were more than a match for us Yellow Bubblers. The bars were great and the service I got was outstanding. They coped admirably with the hoards of wifi hungry nerds and I believe that the network was not augmented this year by IBM as in previous years. Yes a bunch of pop-up access points showed up, but they just joined you to an open SSID that was the hotels connection anyway.

The show floor this year was a massive improvement on last years. The massive hall packed with hundreds of vendors for this market is gone, and it was starting to get sad to see the amount of space appearing around everything in the Show Floor. Last year’s effort of cramming everyone into a small hall and packing it with everyone from the Yellow Bubble was quite frankly stupid and, at times, dangerous. Over crowded with people, carpets that came up with the foot fall to cause trip hazards, you get the idea. This year was as different as chalk and cheese. There was room to move, but it wasn’t cavernous. You could get around the exhibitors and still have had a good walk. It was a great place for coffee and soda breaks and the vendors certainly got some great networking with visitors.

As I said my “fair wells” on Wednesday afternoon I felt that this ‘family gathering’ had proved to everyone that it doesn’t matter which hotel you sit in, so long as you are with family, we can be anywhere.

So long Swolphin, gone but not forgotten. Hello Hilton Orlando, the venue for the next few years.

Why does any of this matter to me? Well mainly because this is how I pay the mortgage/bills, put food in the kids and keep the lights on. Teamstudio work in this space and I work for Teamstudio. I love my job and relish the challenge it brings me.
“Yeah, OK. So what?” I hear you saying. Well to me this conference and the ‘community’ or ‘family’ that it highlights and supports every year are massively important to my continued longevity. I’m not being mercenary about why I get connected to this gang of amazing people from all over the globe. I’m truly blessed to be part of this amazing community that have accepted me. I feel part of the family and that’s why it’s an honour to be around my colleagues, peers, customers and IBM Champions. It’s one of the reasons I also help to run the UK user group each September and try to be part of the other user groups around the world. Not for some altruistic need to pay the bills, but that I truly believe that this family needs it’s ‘gatherings’ to keep it running.

The innovation coming from IBM has been slow in past years and, in all honesty, it’s not delivered at all on the promises. But this year, the torch at the end of the tunnel appears to have new batteries, we can see some glimmer of light. There’s hope on the horizon and I for one, really want to get there before this fresh set of cells run out.

Here’s to 2016, the work and projects, the new products and the users groups.

See you at Engage 2016 folks.