Starting to Think About Think

Posted by Kim May on October 19, 2018 under DB2 Education, DB2 for z/Linux, DB2 for z/OS, DB2 Migrations, International DB2 Users Group (IDUG), TFG Blog.

Last year Frank and I chose not to attend Think in Las Vegas.  While I missed the networking (socializing/fun) part of conference, it didn’t feel like a “must attend” event, as the Information on Demand and Insight Conferences had in the past.  And, since we didn’t go to Think, Frank and I instead attended IDUG Europe in Lisbon, which was awesome.  Lisbon was stunningly beautiful, the people at the conference were great fun and the technical discussions were focused on Db2’s future, which is of course important to The Fillmore Group.

So then why am I thinking about attending Think 2019?  I’m curious…

First, my grudging acceptance of the shrinking role data management is playing in IBM’s strategy has me curious about what the future holds.  As I write this Bain Capital has recently acquired Rocket Software, and the rumor mill is churning with theories on what will happen to Db2 for z/OS and the mainframe.  Do I expect a great announcement at Think, or insight into IBM’s strategy that will shape our business plans?  No.  But I think the conversation – with customers and colleagues – will help guide The Fillmore Group’s focus over the next few years.

Second, I find IBM listens to Business Partners less and less each year.  The Partnerworld program has always been a source of frustration to me, as the rules and guidelines seem thinly disguised to hide IBM’s intention to work with a handful of partners, and exclude the rest.  I recognize The Fillmore Group IS a small partner, but one with deep technical skills and a lot of history with some of IBM’s key customers, so I have often attended conferences almost solely for the opportunity to meet with IBM management about ways to improve Partnerworld.  The concepts I pitched – crazy concepts like accountability, transparency, and support for partners teaming – were often given 15 minutes and a, “gee it would be nice if we could”.  However, once in a while I felt my ideas were heard and given consideration.

My requests to meet with IBM execs to discuss my concerns – a “partner benefit” – were denied at the last two conferences I attended.   And earlier this year at a partner event when I asked a question about the percentage of sales leads being passed to IBM’s largest (and most favored) partners the presenter shrugged and said, “We all know this is a relationship business.”   So do I think someone will actually solicit my input on the current state of Partnerworld and consider changing Partnerworld to facilitate the success of smaller partners?  No, I do not.  However, there may be an opportunity to discuss IBM’s poor channel support with other Business Partners, and I’m interested to learn what others are doing to succeed in spite of Partnerworld’s shortcomings.

Third, I want to see which customers post.  I understand overall conference attendance numbers will be inflated, and the ratio of IBM’ers to customers will be high.  However, with so many customers announcing their “Cloud First” and mainframe modernization projects, it will be interesting to see who attends and which sessions are popular.  I’ve watched attendance at my local users group decline about 30% over the past two years and I know the members no longer attending are busy with other initiatives.  Think should be a good market test as even customers whose passes are paid for by IBM are typically responsible for their own travel expenses.

The net:  I plan to attend because I am curious.  If you are too, I look forward to seeing you.

Registration is open, with an early bird discount.

Here’s the IBM announcement and registration info:

Think is IBM’s flagship conference, focused on delivering the technical training, certifications, expertise, and networking opportunities you need to stay ahead. Designed with your goals in mind, Think 2019 will help you find the technologies your company needs to grow and thrive.

You can sharpen your skills through 1,700+ technical and business sessions, 350+ technical breakouts, and hundreds of hands-on labs and certifications. You’ll learn how to unlock new opportunities with the latest advances in cloud, AI, IT infrastructure, data, and more. You can even work with IBM experts one-on-one to solve your toughest challenges. And, of course, there will be many chances to expand your network with thousands of peers, IBM Business Partners, and thought leaders throughout the week.

Register now to save $300 with early bird pricing, access the best deals at choice hotels, and be among the first to plan the trip of a lifetime as Think takes over San Francisco!

Learn more and register today at

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