IBM is listening... Thanks Alistair

Sunday, October 27th, 2013
I've just returned from my second IBM Leadership Alliance Conference in Boston.  

The IBM Leadership Alliance (formerly known as the "Lotus Leadership Alliance/LOLA") is a small invitation-only event in which IBM Collaboration leadership share what's happening in their world and engage the aforementioned groups in intimate discussion about topics of interest. By creating an environment in which we can hear from and communicate with key players (without the big stage and teleprompters!) we can learn from one another. It was a rich experience. Much of this, will no doubt influence the products and announcements at the next public Connect conference.

In this day when "social" business is promoted -- and often confused to mean social tools only -- it's nice to see that IBM's Collaboration division really gets the value of "social" as in connecting with your ecosystem in order to share, learn, and do smarter business. A quick word of thanks to Alistair Rennie and his team for creating and hosting an environment rich for knowledge sharing.

While I am not at  liberty to share what was presented or discussed at the conference I think it is appropriate to point out one of the many ways that IBM communicates with key people in its ecosystem, including customers, developers and business partners to name a few.

Before you ask, there is nothing further that I can share. It's an invitation only event and we are asked to not share the contents of what was presented. I do not know who invited me or what got me on the list, but I'm thankful for the opportunity to participate.

Overall, it was a worthwhile trip for me. My hope is that the information that I learned and the experience that I was able to share in conversation will have an impact on how we all do business.

Thank you IBM.

Discussion/Comments (5):

Christian Tillmanns ( 10/28/2013 10:02:58 AM
IBM is listening... Thanks Alistair

Now that's a tinsy winsy bit vague.

Tim Tripcony (): 10/28/2013 12:40:28 PM
It has to be vague.

Christian, the entire event is always under NDA. This tends to allow for more honest discourse than is generally possible when the audience includes industry press and others who could potentially spook customers and investors simply by jumping to premature or even logically flawed assumptions.

That's why at Connect and other similar IBM events, the message is very polished and rehearsed, whereas at LAC they can just talk candidly to the invitees... because, just like with the various Design Partner programs, they have (in theory) some legal assurance that, after engaging in candid dialogue about how their future plans should be adjusted to best meet customer and partner needs, there won't be some drama queen histrionic yelling "OMIGOD, EVERYBODY, UR NEVER GONNA BELIEVE WHAT IBM IS SCREWING UP NOW!!!!1!!" to anyone who will listen to them rant. As a result, they can ask potentially awkward questions, and respond to potentially awkward feedback, hopefully resulting in better long-term products than would be possible if the only avenues of communication between IBM and "us" were pre-rehearsed stump speeches in Orlando and comment streams on blogs.

In short, what's awesome about the story Eric has told with this post is precisely that he CAN'T tell you what was discussed. A trendy opinion these days is that all software vendors should be more "open" about everything involved with the care and feeding of the software they produce, but because some of IBM's partners and customers focus only on what they perceive to be negative, and blow everything out of proportion, truly honest debate about future plans is only possible behind closed doors. I, for one, am glad that this event exists.

Eric Mack ( 10/28/2013 1:02:58 PM
re: It has to be vague.

Thanks, Tim. Well said.

The purpose of my post was not to tease the community but rather to share that I am pleased to see IBM engage in this way. I felt listened to and that the IBM leadership present is truly interested in what the attendees had to share. Likewise, I walked away a litte better informed about what IBM is thinking about.

Christian Tillmanns ( 10/29/2013 10:37:54 AM
IBM is listening... Thanks Alistair

I tried and failed miserabely being sarcastic.

Beau Schless ( 12/6/2013 5:55:45 AM
IBM is listening... Thanks Alistair

I can't believe there are IBM strategists with responsibility for IBM's profit margins in this "Leadership Alliance". If there are, as a stock holder and as an IBM business partner I am shocked. I've worked with Lotus for nearly 20 years, and watched its mismanagement with dismay. It's almost as if IBM strategists took an active role in its failure, after spending God knows how much ($30 million??) to purchase it.

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