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IBM Connect 2013


This year’s conference brought together IBM’s long-standing, 20th annual Lotusphere and its new Connect conferences into one, very large, event. The agenda boasted as many as 15 concurrent sessions within eight tracks and five session types in two venues that layered Lotusphere’s traditionally technical content with Connect’s customer experience stories of how IBM’s solutions drive real business value with social and collaborative technologies. If anyone had any doubts that the traditional techie focus of Lotusphere was taking a backseat to IBM’s focus on the social workplace, one look at the keynote session titles would be all the proof they need.

The session themselves were, for the most part, well attended with some being more popular (opening general session with They Might Be Giants and Joseph Gordon-Levitt), than others (App Dev Strategy: Coding Social Business Applications). And while there were many client testimonials scattered throughout the tracks and session types, many of the narratives were variations of each other and recounted tales of innovation, which to some may have been, but I suspect to most, already at even just ankle deep in the social game, not as much.  There was a ton of talk on how IBM is helping clients around the world shift their culture and drive adoption of these “new” social tools and platforms, yet very little in the way of actual details on just how and where they are doing this.

One of the most interesting stories being told at Connect 2013 (at least for me) was that of Kenexa, the newest addition to IBM’s solution set.

Social is going to make us smarter

Acquired by IBM at the tail end of 2012, Kenexa, a leader in recruiting and talent management solutions, is putting the pieces together. They understand that to make a smarter workforce you have to pull together the right team for each workplace. With a combination of Cloud-based technology and consulting services, they integrate an organization’s people and processes from a prospect’s initial contact with their potential employer, right through the hiring phase, and thereafter as long as the individual is a part of the company.  Rudy Carson, CEO & founder of Kenexa spoke passionately and with conviction how his company, and now IBM, is changing business for the better by helping companies build that better workforce.

During the opening session, Mr. Carson spoke on how because humans are the best computers in the world, it is a company’s workforce, not their products or services, that determine its success. That by leveraging the insights and connections within and between individuals and working teams, and adapting the way all business is done to engage all employees to share the data that they have, companies can thrive and succeed like never before. This social (connectivity) will help create a smarter workforce through tools that are accessible and intuitive. Hear, hear!

Kenexa espouses the premise that the rise of social business is changing the way all parts of business are done; front office, back office, manufacturing plant, warehouse, … all of it. That building a smarter workforce is the single most investment a company can make. Now if IBM can bring client case studies to Connect 2014 with examples of all of these, then they will have a new story to tell.

Kenexa’s will be the basis for IBM’s Employee Experience Suite offering.

What’s a conference without a few announcements

Besides the Kenexa news, there were a couple of other notable news tidbits:

  • IBM Notes and Domino Social Edition 9 should ship in March 2013. The buzz IBM is trying to create around this release is that this will be the industry’s first truly social email client and delivers a social experience to users, whether using a browser or on the broadest range of mobile devices.
  • Also available in March is the next version of its social networking platform, IBM Connections. This version (4.5) will further enable users to access and analyze big data from inside and outside the organization, including Facebook, Twitter, audio and video. It will include embedded document management capabilities so that members of a network can access, analyze and act on wide ranges of data types in the context of their work to improve decision-making and business results.

Overall, those involved in pulling of such a mammoth event should be proud; the content was varied enough to have something for everyone, sessions ran on time, there was always someone around to answer questions or give directions, the expo floor was well organized, and the analyst’s program well run. For next year though, personally, I would like to hear less about what is being done and has been done in the past, and more about how and what IBM is planning for the future. Everyone (just about) is onside with social and the impact it can have on business, so how will Big Blue and its partners keep its customers on or ahead of the next curve. Can’t wait to find out at Connect 2014.


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