Monday, 28 January 2013

My thoughts on the IBM Opening General Session

I am not in Sunny Florida. I am in a wet, rainy Slough, but I still managed to watch the IBM OGS whilst ploughing through lines of code trying to find odd quirks. I was kind of excited and also appalled at the same time. They got a lot of things right. But one thing really blew the whole deal for me.

It started in a burst of energy showing the new Notes 9 (available for general use, in March). The "integrated inbox" is very much the central point. People do not want to go to different locations to get their information. Certainly I don't. I could really do with having a single reference point. But there is the issue of Signal to Noise ratio. If you are following people, how far do you go? I don't use Twitter on the whole, because most of the time it is all noise. I'ts only at times like this, where everybody is focussed on a single topic that the the stream actually gives valid meaning. But even then I only followed named people. If I listened to the #IBMConnect tag then I would have been swamped with spam as it was flooded with spam after it started trending.

"SteamPunk is the next big thing." Wait, what? Apparently IBM have determined through their social analytics software, that the "next big thing" is something that died out years ago. I guess the Urban dictionary they fed Watson, not only taught it to swear but sent it into yesteryear.

Then it started into a huge amount of marketing demos showing how analytics can help market your products. During this time, one tweet stood out and made the whole point.
Marketing is all very well. But I am not into marketing. I'm a tech geek. A developer. A hacker. Marketing is pointless to me. But then again, this OGS is not about the technicalities. It's more about what drives a company. But the overriding impression I got was that the marketing leads the company to the forefront. I don't think so. What leads the company is the product... something that the customer will buy. Analysing and talking about it comes afterwards.  Perhaps if you were using it to create new products then I might be more impressed.

On the whole, it was all about IBM's products and connectivity. What it completely lacked was anything which showed that you could extend that in the way of development to match the way your company works. We (at RIM) have Connections. But people don't use it because it doesn't allow you to extend it to how we work. OK, I'll amend that for those of you who are now shouting at the screen. We're not allowed to extend it. Like most of the way the software is controlled in many companies, it's locked down by IT. One of the reasons I have flatly refused to upgrade from XP to anything else, I wouldn't be able to install all the Dev kit and stuff which I use in my day to day job. IT are brilliant for handling the rest of the company that live in Outlook (we run both Notes and Outlook side by side. Guess which on I use.), Word, Excel, and the odd Powerpoint or 20. But IT do not do a good job when it comes to technical stuff. In fact, I know a lot of the technical people here in the office have customised their installations. It's what we Geeks do.

But when it comes to the marketing gumpf included in the OGS there was absolutely no mention of any ability to extend their new analytical features. Very interesting stories. But lacking in anything for us Geeks.

Maybe customising is limited to applying a new skin or UI? But woe betide you if you go for the SteamPunk option.

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