So back home again, having spent the last week in Las Vegas for IBM Impact 2009. Of course in IBM’s SOA and WebSphere marketing team we have been working towards this event for what seems like ages – probably because it has been ages.
What were my overall impressions of the week? Well it was another good conference. Looking at the agenda there seemed to be lots of interesting sessions, and the general sessions were well attended. One of the biggest new aspects of the conference was the social media aspect, especially Twitter. Conference attendees were encouraged to ‘tweet’ about the event with the #tag #ibmimpact, and this was then tracked on various screens around the event as well as occasionally up on the big screens in the general session. This allowed the opening guest speaker, Billy Crystal, to gently mock attendees as geeks – sigh!
So other than indulging in various food and drink, and a little light blackjack, what else did I get up to in the conference? Well mainly I was working in the Solution Center as the co-ordinator of the Guided/Walking tours of the Solution Center. The idea was that customers/sales reps would register for one or more of the seven tours that interested them and would then get a quick 30 minute tour introducing them to the topics on each ped, allowing them to come back for a longer, more detailed visit as required.
So – did the tours go well? On the whole, given it was the first time we ran these I was pleased. We learned a lot and we will hopefully do more and better next year. We had maybe 25 pre-booked tours over the 3 days we ran them, and up to maybe another 10-20 where customers turned up wanting an immediate tour, and either got guided round or used one of the tour maps to guide themselves round. Did we get good feedback? Well a number of customers came back for additional tours – in one case, three times and where we got feedback forms, there seemed to be good areas of interest. Probably our most popular tours were the Process Automation tours and the Retail tours. However as the week went on, I quickly learned that customers were sometimes interested in more than just the 7 tours I had designed so I produced some customized tours, combining the various tours, and in one case creating a bespoke 15 stop tour to meet a customer’s needs. I think where possible, this might be something to do for more customers next year, if we get enough notice of the cutomer interests. However I think what we should offer to every customer is a set of self-guided tours so that they can quickly start to discover the value in the Solution Center.
Other than working on the tours it was of course great to see my colleagues face to face for a change instead of through the phone line or over SameTime. But it was also good to talk to customers and to attend some sessions. I have to say one of the most interesting sessions I attended was about the use of RFID in Supply Chains. Businesses truly are transforming themselves by applying technology to their supply chains and even their manufacturing lines. The potential for cost savings and increases in speed are fascinating.
So, it is now back to the day job. I will be spending a lot more time focusing on creating more Industry Marketing content for WebSphere Connectivity marketing, and having met my SOA industry marketing colleagues at Impact, that should be a lot easier and we will be working together to produce better content.