I am at the IBM Digital Experience conference for the first time. Of course, that leads me to doing the compare and contrast with the other major IBM event I have attended, IBM Connect/Lotusphere. About 700 people here, and 85% of the sessions are technical. And from what I have seen, there is a great community of partners and customers here. I have spent most of my time in the business / customer story sessions. All of them have been pretty good.
One item I wanted to really highlight was the Opening General Session. The contrast is so huge.
First, there is no teleprompter. No script being read. I am sure there was an overall script, and lots of practice. But I never once felt like I was being spoon fed. Gary Dolsen, the new Vice President for IBM Digital Experience, who just took over for the retiring Larry Bowden, set the tone perfectly. It was rehearsed but not memorized. Gary knocked it out of the park.
Next up was Doug Gieger to talk about the products specifically and a few announcements. The new Script Portlet and Mobile Preview functionality is great stuff. There were plenty of slides but it didn't feel too sales or marketing focused. Nicole Carrier and a counterpart did the typical IBM demo for a conference like this. What was typical is they pretended to be from a company, a business user and a technical user. What was different is it felt so relaxed. To the point. Showed off great functionality without the Connect rehearsed awkwardness. It might have been the best product demo I have seen since the Notes 4 Release The Power days.
The general session wrapped up with Stephen Powers from Forrester. His talk was titled 'Revamp Your Digital Experience Technology Strategy' - but it wasn't typical analyst stuff. Stephan's talk was awesome. Focused, on point, and a message that rang true.
A great start to the week. The best conference keynote I have seen in years. I hope that IBM reviews the feedback for the session and applies it to future ones. I know, the Connect OGS's have had to speak to the press and analysts that are there - and there is no press or analysts here. But what a stark difference. And in the best of ways.