IBM Think Conference Call for Speakers is **OPEN**

Posted by Kim May on June 28, 2018 under Baltimore Washington DB2 Users Group, DB2 Education, DB2 for z/OS, IBM Think Conference, TFG Blog.

The IBM Think 2019 Conference will be held in San Francisco, on February 12 – 15.  For those like me, who felt the Las Vegas conferences were becoming one exhausted blur, San Francisco is a welcome change.

I hope this year’s Think Conference will offer excellent networking (why I go!), along with the opportunity to learn about new and “coming soon” solutions.  For technical folks there should be plenty of opportunities to learn and improve your skills.

As with past IBM conferences, presenters get a free pass. The conference fee is set at $2,295 – and we all know getting a free pass makes asking your boss to fund a week in San Francisco much easier.  And the Call for Speakers is now open.

I suggest anyone interested in presenting, particularly if it’s your first time submitting a presentation, share your presentation idea with your local users group and ask for their feedback. Users groups – like the Baltimore/Washington Db2 Users Group – review presentations throughout the year as part of the process of selecting meeting sessions.  Our board members can provide feedback to make your session abstract stand out (in a good way!)  Many of our board members have also delivered presentations, and welcome the opportunity to share their experiences with “newbie” presenters.

From IBM’s Call for Speakers announcement – “If you or your client have faced a challenge that led to a breakthrough in your industry, reinvented your processes, or resulted in success worth sharing, submit your proposal to become a speaker at Think 2019. All formats are welcome: lectures, labs, panels, breakout sessions, etc.”

The submission link is hereDon’t lollygag – submissions must be submitted by July 16, 2018.

Other dates to note: speakers selected will be notified in September; final presentations are due to IBM in December.

I hope to see you at Think!

Skipping Think

Posted by Kim May on March 7, 2018 under #IBMInsight, DB2 Education, Frank Fillmore, IBM Think Conference, Information on Demand Conference, Insight 2014, Insight 2015, TFG Blog.

Frank asked me to respond to an email from an IBM’er asking whether we will be at the Think Conference in Las Vegas. I started the reply and then decided – in the interest of efficiency – to post my response on our blog so that I can direct inquiries here. Apparently there’s a bit of pressure on to boost attendance.

After attending every IOD, Insight and World of Watson conference, Frank and I have decided to skip Think. The arc of the annual IBM data-centric conferences has in many ways paralleled the arc of The Fillmore Group over the past 10 years. I haven’t given up on achieving success in the future, but the status quo is unsettling.

Some history: when IBM announced the first Information on Demand/IOD Conference, I was fairly new to The Fillmore Group. I sold and coordinated technical training for companies in the Mid-Atlantic prior to joining TFG and was involved in the Greater Baltimore Tech Council, whose quarterly wine tastings were legendary – fun, great for business, and fabulous networking. Frank loved the idea, and we hosted our first wine tasting at the first IOD annual conference in Anaheim. At this event I was introduced to the IBM Lab Services Data Management team, who became our largest customer for the next three years.

After the first year the conference was moved to Las Vegas, where each year we have rented a suite and hosted a champagne tasting. One year we couldn’t get a large enough suite and had to put the champagne in the bathtub (see the picture below – only in Vegas!) I recall that year particularly vividly as Frank gushed afterward at the number of IBM Data Management VP’s in attendance (6 – and my guess is he can still name them!) We had a great time introducing IBM’ers to their colleagues and wow’ing our customers by introducing them to the stars of the Db2 world.

At one of the conferences Steve Mills attended our event as well as the IBM Data Champions luncheon where he gave Frank an award for our consulting team’s support of the JP Morgan Chase Oracle to Db2 migration effort. Frank is rarely speechless; on this occasion he was.

So why aren’t we looking forward to another conference?

First, we want to be where our customers are. I am the chairman of the Baltimore/Washington Db2 Users Group and I only know of one of my member organizations sending people to Think. We have a lot of Federal agency members, and they stopped attending years ago, but even the commercial customers don’t seem to be interested.

I believe the Db2 technical people, if attending any conference at all in 2018, will be at IDUG. The IDUG session abstracts explain what will be presented in a font that allows for the use of multiple words, and the topics are of interest to the audience. I understand a few will be at SHARE next week…along with most of the IBM z technical team. Who can afford 3 weeks out of the field attending conferences before the end of the first half?

Second, IBM’s often contradictory messaging regarding the role of Business Partners is particularly confusing this year. What is the value of this partnership and what do partners provide to IBM and its customers? What is IBM doing to support us in return?

In the past there was recognition for our product promotion and outreach. For these efforts, primarily related to marketing and reselling IBM software, partners like The Fillmore Group were provided with sales leads and co-marketing funding to offset event costs.

Over the past year IBM has “transformed” the Business Partner program. They claim the new program recognizes skilled partners, and claim partners will be allocated sales leads and co-marketing funding based on the achievement of technical competencies. Competencies – according to IBM – are determined by the certifications earned in a particular category, demonstrating technical skills, and reselling a minimum of one million dollars’ worth of software in each category. I giggle as I type. Our team has historically supported customers running IBM replication solutions. Has anyone paid (channeling Mike Myers’ Austin Powers as Dr. Evil) ONE MILLION DOLLARS for replication?

Meanwhile IBM is trying to transform (oh that word!) their software licensing to a cloud-based, SaaS model, and encouraging Business Partners to develop the ability to collect monthly software license fees from customers. Will the new partners ever achieve the one million dollars of sales within one Analytics sub-category and qualify as “competent”? If not, will the top partners grow IBM’s software business or simply continue to slow revenue slide along with IBM?

On the 2018 IBM Business Partner kickoff call, IBM’s General Manager for Global Business Partners listed his 5 top initiatives for 2018. One is to better support IBM’s top 300 resellers, of which The Fillmore Group is not one, and another is to attract new Business Partners.  IBM has 19,000 Business Partners. As one of the 18,700 IBM Business Partners IBM has abandoned, we plan to attend IDUG with some technical folks and customers and hope maybe someday IBM finds us of value again in the future.

 

 

 

2018 Events – So Much To Do!

Posted by Kim May on January 22, 2018 under Baltimore Washington DB2 Users Group, BLU Acceleration, DB2 Education, DB2 for Linux Unix Windows, DB2 for z/Linux, DB2 for z/OS, DB2 Stars, Frank Fillmore, IBM Champion, IBM Mid Market Customers, IBM Think Conference, IDAA, TFG Blog.

With IBM’s consolidation of conferences resulting in the cancellation of last Fall’s World of Watson/Insight/IOD Conference, and the merge into March’s upcoming Think conference, Db2 users have several educational event options to consider.  With training and education budgets continuing to shrink, and the use of contractors (who need to be billable, and know everything already, right?) growing, getting funding and approval to attend events is more challenging than ever.

However, with so many choices, I hope you will find something that’s a good fit, and have the opportunity to network with the Db2 community.   Here’s a short list of the events I am hoping to attend – and why:

Hands-on IDAA/IIAS Training, Date TBD (February or March), Baltimore, Maryland

Frank Fillmore is developing a new 2-day hands-on training class to introduce the IBM Db2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) and it’s new version, the IBM Integrated Analytics System (IIAS), featuring BLU Acceleration and available as an appliance or a z/Linux software solution.  Class will focus on use case development, determining the right fit deployment option for your organization, implementation and administration.  Frank has been delivering similar classes since the release of the IDAA and has helped many System z customers understand the accelerator value.

Why attend?  The IDAA/IIAS solution is an incredible addition to the System z environment, Frank is an excellent presenter, and class is *FREE*

To register:  keep an eye on our blog or email me if you would like me to notify you when class is scheduled.

 

Baltimore/Washington Db2 Users Group Education Session with Themis, Wednesday, March 14th, BWI Hilton, Linthicum Heights, MD

Every March the Baltimore/Washington Db2 Users Group offers a full-day education session.  These sessions are evaluated by our board and intended to provide the best local full-day of training available in the area each year.  The March session will be delivered by IBM Champion and author Tony Andrews from Themis, and will focus on SQL programming, performance, and tuning, as well as the SQL-PL native Stored Procedures language.

Why attend?  The annual education day presenters reads like “Who’s Who in Db2” and the sessions are consistently terrific.  Tony is an excellent presenter, the event is local for Baltimore/Washington area Db2 users, and it’s our group’s first meeting at our new BWI Hilton location.

To register:  visit the Baltimore/Washington Db2 Users Group webpage.

Cost:  $250 in advance and $300 at the door.  The fee includes materials and a sit-down lunch.

 

Think 2018, March 19 – March 22, Las Vegas, NV

IBM has consolidated several technical conferences into Think, with the conference topics covering AI, Cloud, Data, Security, and Systems.  As last year’s World of Watson/Insight/IOD annual data-centric conference was cancelled, Db2 users are interested in better understanding IBM’s direction and how the continued IBM transformation will impact their organizations.

Why attend?  This is usually the largest annual gathering of Db2 users.  Great networking, excellent presenters, superb people watching.  Maybe some answers to those nagging “what’s next?” questions??

To register:  visit the Think registration page.

Cost:  $2,295 for the week; $895 for a single day pass.  *Before registering ask your IBM rep for help with the cost of the pass.*  😉

 

IDUG Philadelphia, April 29 – May 3, Philadelphia, PA

The annual North America Db2 conference will be held in downtown Philadelphia this year, an easy and inexpensive commute for Mid-Atlantic organizations like The Fillmore Group.  The IDUG conference is where the Db2 community and IBM are focusing on the delivery of hard-core technical content.  With 5 days of education sessions, workshops, over 100 technical briefings and an experts’ panel, this year’s IDUG conference, while smaller than Think, will likely offer the best technical education value for Db2 users.

Why attend?  IDUG will deliver top-notch Db2 technical presenters and presentations.  Great networking and friendly – very community focused.

To register:  visit the IDUG North America 2018 conference webpage. 

Cost:  $1,865 through March 16 (early bird).  Need help funding a conference pass?  There are many discounts and community offers – contact the IDUG Conference Planning Committee (CPC) for help.

IBM Think Conference Call for Speakers – Closes Today!!

Posted by Kim May on September 20, 2017 under DB2 Education, IBM Think Conference, TFG Blog.

Someone on the communications team at IBM seems to have persuaded IBM Management to postpone release of any time sensitive announcements or notifications until the very last minute.  Perhaps they believe these practically immediate deadlines will create a sense of urgency, and therefore perhaps excitement.

Instead, at least in my world, it creates chaos and disrupts my schedule.   I don’t appreciate it.  Take note IBM!!  I imagine they are scrambling now.  Ha.

As most IBM customers and partners know, attendance numbers for IBM conferences tend to be hugely inflated.  100%?  Maybe…maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less.  It is understandable:  in the world of data management IBM has never been the market leader from a sales perspective – well, maybe for a while after they invented and introduced the first relational database.  Therefore, some exaggeration of the crowds attending their data-centric conferences is forgivable.

Attendance at last October’s annual Las Vegas conference was light.  Blame was placed on the hasty conference rebranding (again, take note IBM – apparently I am not the only one put off by this last minute “guerilla marketing”).  This year IBM cancelled the October conference (World of Watson/Insight/Information on Demand) and has instead decided to merge it into the annual “Interconnect” conference in March and rebrand it the “Think” conference.  Again – sigh – in Las Vegas.  Why Las Vegas?  Why it’s the only city that can accommodate the thousands of conference attendees IBM attracts.  OK, Pinocchio.

Here’s the most challenging part for actual IBM customers and partners using IBM solutions, at least those of us who would like to attend a conference with strong technical and user content:  IBM opened a tiny window for presentation submissions.  And…today is the last day.

If you are considering submitting a presentation, here’s the link to the call for presentations.  I went through the process yesterday – be prepared to submit a 1000 character bio (first) and then a 100 character title and 750 character abstract.  You will have the opportunity to add an optional extra 250 characters later.  Be pithy!

And remember:  if your presentation topic and message are positive (“How We Succeeded With XYZ”) and you are a customer, it is highly likely you will be selected to present.  If you are a Business Partner or consultant you need to be 110% positive, and beg.

Get your placeholder in asap!!