Monday, February 03, 2014

Connect 2014: An Energizing Conference

I had the privilege to attend and present at Connect 2014, an IBM conference focused on social, collaborative, and mobile technology. The theme of the event was "Energizing Life's Work" and it all got started in the kickoff session with the up-tempo "Best Day of My Life" from the band American Authors. From there, the ideas, technology, and people in attendance fueled the energy and collaboration until the event closed against the panoramic backdrop of Mars.

Many of the Connect speakers and sessions focused on the current pillars in technology: social business, mobile, big data and analytics, and cloud. To get a sense of the richness of topics on display at Connect, search the Twitter hashtag #IBMConnect to start. Within that mix, below are some of the specific topics and technologies that held my attention.

Sametime 9 - I was impressed with Sametime 9, particularly the strides in high-fidelity video across devices. Spending a lot of time as I do thinking about workforce solutions, I think this product can really assist organizations as they continue to support remote workers, telecommuting, and flex.

Mail Next - If anything needs disruption, it's email, and Mail Next looks like the first truly social email solution. This could be huge for IBM if the product really adds a new dimension to email while eliminating some of the redundancy.

Kenexa Talent Suite - It's been over a year since IBM acquired Kenexa, and it will be interesting to see how the new Talent Suite product impacts (and potentially disrupts) HR technology and the recruitment industry.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) - BYOD isn't new to some, but Connect was the first event where I encountered so many people using their own mobile device for work purposes -- all via technology and policies encouraging employees "to use their personal mobile devices — and, increasingly, notebook PCs — to access enterprise data and systems."

Connections Guest Access - My company is on Connections today, and I'm often asked if we can support external users. Though we can't add external users in Connections today, fortunately from what I heard at Connect, Connections Next will support partitioned access for external users. This will extend the utility and versatility of Connections as a viable extranet for customers, vendors, contract employees, and independent contractors.

Social Analytics and Visualization - There was some amazing technology on display at Connections. Though leading edge today, I suspect social analytics and visualization will be commonplace in organizations within five years.

Rudy Karsan and Louis Richardson - One of my favorite sessions at Connect was a Mythbusters-inspired Q&A in which Rudy Karsan (Kenexa CEO) and Louis Richardson gave their opinions about some commonly held beliefs about employment and talent. I particularly enjoyed when Rudy Karsan debunked the myth that work-life balance is important and commented that it's not really a factor in engagement. Instead, he said, people should "stop balancing and start juggling".

Connect 2015 - If you missed Connect this year, mark your calendar for January 25-29, 2015!