IBM Connect 2016: So Bill Gates walks into a bar…

ic400Today’s Opening General Session was well received. There was good energy, the room was completely full, and the audience was very receptive to some very well done demos. And, everything ran more or less on time (which if you’ve been to more than three of them, you know is rare). We were introduced to Jason Silva, host of Brain Games and futurist speaker. We were treated to glimpses of our future selves, the underlying theme along the lines of “our software is making our hardware” – how the tools we use are beginning to self-propagate in ways that our future selves will barely recognize. I did have a bit of an LOL moment when he described our 100,000-year-ago selves in sub-Saharan Africa beginning to use sticks to reach for food and how that represented an extension of ourselves, and how much we have grown since then. All while about fifteen modern geeks in the audience were using their selfie sticks. Think on that.

From then on Jeff Schick ran the show.

There was a short but very good bit from an IBM Research’s Vinith Misra on computational humor. That one tells itself.

The first half wrapped up with Clive Lightfoot and James Weru from Kenya discussing how collaboration and specifically solutions from IBM Partner WebGate have increased trust and prosperity in the community of African farmers, distributors, markets, buyers and traders. Fascinating story.

The OGS was split into two just-over-one-hour sessions, which let us stretch our legs between the “guest speakers” half and the “demos and customers” half. Chris Crummey did a bang-up job on demos, and the story was quite obviously well-rehearsed and delivered in a very polished way. He clarified “new way to work” for the first time since it was introduced, and I think the audience appreciated that quite a bit.

Katrina Troughton from IBM introduced the Social Student program (a Connections implementation at three universities supporting a competition across borders) – and while I cringed initially at the appearance of tall chairs on stage, they actually brought up the professor and two of the winning students and had just a short chat that was informative.

I have to say I really enjoyed the case study from Texas Children’s Hospital, and recognized the promo shots from my days with Children’s Hospital Association. While they didn’t get into details (neither technical nor naming the partners who I know have been involved in their rollout, that would have been nice…), the story and specific goals were discussed and made sense to the general audience as well as someone with a understanding of the way technology can help in a hospital setting.

Lufthansa’s case study was short and sweet. It landed.

And, the “what we’re working on” section/demo was well done. They didn’t take the chances they have in the past with live demos, but on the flip side people enjoyed it and got out on time…

Overall assessment? On a scale of “two lane highway” to “R5 launch”, I’d put it squarely with “four pillars”.

P.S. For those of you dying to know: “…and everyone becomes a millionaire. On average.”

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