Another year, another IBM Connect. Or indeed, another Lotusphere, as the majority of the Notes/Domino contingent still prefer to name it. The year 2014 will go down as a success in my books. I must admit that, as exhibitors, we did have our concerns leading up to this conference. We have heard so much talk of migration away from Lotus/IBM Notes over the past couple of years and of course we have seen the 10,000 strong IT crowd of Lotusphere reduce to a mixed crowd of a few thousand for IBM Connect – now a “Social Business” event. Despite this shift, IBM Connect 2014 proved its worth as a must-attend event this year to promote Crossware Mail Signature and we have already signed on for a booth in 2015. Here is a short overview of the conference a fortnight ago as seen through my eyes:

Arriving a couple of days early, my first step back into the land of Disney was to join Roy Rumaner (Notes Guru), Alan Forbes (RPR Wyatt) and Scott Sullivan (Crossware) for nachos and beer at ESPN on Saturday night. The Disney boardwalk was surprisingly quiet, with conferences badges being few and far between, but soon enough a line formed at the door and we were busy saying hello to the familiar faces of the Notes community – a great moment since many of us only get to catch up once or twice each year!

Sunday is the day for everything to really kick off. The Swan and Dolphin area was buzzing with conference badges and brand new black IBM Connect backpacks (a decent number of yellow backpacks were still represented from years past). That afternoon Crossware co-hosted a social function alongside Mayflower Software, RPR Wyatt, and Sherpa Software. This party has become more and more popular every year and this time we had over 140 registrations. The crowd was great, even when it started raining and we had to run for shelter, and you can see a glimpse of the party guests enjoying themselves in this video.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are always a blur for me… three long days of booth duty and socializing. So here are my best memories from an exhibitor’s point of view in 2014:

• Despite seeing less foot traffic, the conversations that we did have with attendees were of very high quality.

• The Solutions Showcase Reception on Monday night was nicely crowded and everybody thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

• Attendees weren’t ‘scared’ of us. Sometimes at conferences us exhibitors get seen as Sales Sharks and the average Joe doesn’t want to get too close. But come on, we don’t bite; most exhibitors will actually have a product that can really help you out (or at least it will interest you). It was really nice to have people approach us and let us explain why we are there!

• The theme park night change to Tuesday worked out very well. It seemed easier to then socialize with everybody again on Wednesday night rather than rushing around the park and then back to the Dolphin on the final night.

And here is what I think could be done better for 2015:

• More attendees!!! Sure, the Solutions Showcase floor isn’t a full representation of the conference, but with only 1 in 10 badges being blue (customer attendees) the ratio was a little poor for us exhibitors.

• Fewer hours devoted to the Solutions Showcase. I know that this sounds contradictory but at times, especially with fewer attendees than previous years, it would often have done us better to network around the Dolphin lobby than to sit in the showcase twiddling our thumbs. The showcase hours force us to man our booths, it is what we are paying for but it isn’t beneficial if we spend hours down there talking only amongst ourselves.

• Ditch the second “Solutions Showcase Reception” on the Tuesday night. We spent two hours downstairs and barely ten attendees walked past… of course they aren’t going to join us if there’s no food and drink! Again, we would have had a better time networking upstairs at the lobby bar – where the rest of the conference was!!

• Quit with the overlapping on the Sunday night. There’s no point having the Solutions Showcase open for 30 minutes after the Pool Party begins.

Overall, as mentioned, IBM Connect 2014 exceeded our expectations. We have already signed up a Crossware Mail Signature booth for 2015 and I personally hope that I get to attend again next year. If you attended the conference this year, what did you like/dislike? Do you think that you will be there again next year?

For all our photos and videos from the conference, please visit our Facebook page.

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