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Enterprise Trumps Social. Why choose IBM SOA over the lightweight conference… reboot

There has been a bit of talk lately about how SAP invited bloggers to its recent Sapphire show in the US. Step forward Mr Nolan. Vinnie went along and had plenty to say. Shame the Europeans didn’t invite bloggers too, for their event.. I believe this is the future: more and more bloggers are going to storm the gates of Big Vendors and the Big Analyst Firms that cover them. There is so much talent out there.

But what about the other side of the coin? Its one thing for Big Vendor Conferences to invite bloggers but what about a blogger’s choice of conference? Why should I go to traditional enterprise events, rather than more lightweight networking oriented shows? It is a good question, I think. Cash cows versus new growth, signal vs noise, revenues now vs future opportunities, one foot in the muck, one foot in utopia.

When I met Sig and Hugh they absolutely raved about reboot. Absolutely. raved. about. it. If you go, they said, prepare to really extend the depth of your relationships with people in the blogosphere you probably already like and respect. Prepare for a lot more link love, and richer interactions with all kinds of absurdly bright people that get things done. People like Rick are excited about the event, and I was looking forward to meeting Shel. reboot, held this week in Denmark, is a great chance to meet European innovators; its so hot that a lot of US A-listers are making the trip.

So what am I doing instead of taking up my registration, for an event I was prepared to pay for? Flying out to New York to learn more about IBM’s SOA strategy, a subject I already know pretty well.

Why am I going? Because Sandy Carter, who I work well with and have known for years and consider a friend, asked me, (well she said "you have to come") and because IBM is one of RedMonk’s biggest clients. I will get a chance to catch up with some good people (IBM is full of them) and perhaps find some more business opportunities, and so on. But its not the new new thing, like reboot.

I am of course an industry analyst, but I am also a blogger. RedMonk doesn’t just work on enterprise issues though- we’re working at the intersection of enterprise and lightweight, trying to understand business and IT agility. Sometimes we talk about Rails, sometimes about CICS. We do things differently at RedMonk and blogging is an integral part of our success.

We have credibility in many communities and of that I am very proud. We’re not specialists in one subject. We go fairly deep in many.

I guess that finally the answer is that as founder of a company I should usually go where the money is, not where the buzz is. That’s why I am going to IBM’s SOA event this Thursday and Friday, even though it means missing a Friday with my family, something my wife hates.

The simple truth is that in the current renaissance, IBM is a RedMonk patron, a position that has some significant privileges. We watch the market for IBM, to contextualise trends before they emerge, and to help hook up IBM with innovators. We also do good enterprisey work.

And no… patronage doesn’t mean we’re always positive about IBM.

Which brings us back to major vendors, who should think about the the conferences they run, especiallty when they consider cutting T&E, or plan to keep you couped up with Powerpoint all day, every day, yet again. We make choices, whether bloggers or industry analysts, to spend time with you, and that should count for something. Time is money, and these events take a great deal of time. Fun is something else entirely.

The fact is traditional conferences will increasingly have competition from a newer, more socially oriented set of "unconferences" – whether we look at Barcamp, FOO, Web 2.0 (ouch), or mashupcamp, these are great places for independents to hook up. Are these different markets? They used to be but they are convergent- just look at RedMonk’s latest round of internal IT decisions.

Its not not just the analysts that are going to look different in future, but the shows they attend.

Can someone please do an event where we sit outside for once, and get some fresh air (who knows, it might lead to fresh ideas).

How about IBM sponsoring a fishing event for Eclipse bloggers?

A word of advice: at the lightweight conferences they always have wi-fi and power cables. These facilities are not optional any more, for people that cover technology industries, they are essential. Live-blogging about mainframes – why not? Its pathetic that a Big Vendor runs an event where they don’t have wireless set up. Then they blame the "conference organisers".

Frankly I think both communities can learn from each other.

I look forward to seeing you Sandy- the agenda looks solid. Shame to miss you Shel. Enjoy reboot!

disclaimer: IBM is a client, obviously

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4 Responses

  1. You’re right on about the big vendor events needed to get on the wifi and power bandwagon: I was at OMG’s BPM Think Tank in DC last week, and they didn’t have free wifi in the conference rooms because they assumed that we’d just be checking email or doing corporate work. I paid for the hotel wifi that thankfully covered the conference area, and blogged live through the entire event (http://www.ebizq.net/blogs/column2/archives/bpmthinktank2006). I thought that OMG would have been a bit more up-to-date in this area than the usual vendor conference, where I have had to blog from my Blackberry in the past.

  2. I am as hard on SOA as I am on SAP – must be something about S’s….but SAP goes out of its way to invite me, IBM not a peep (and you cannot blame the Europeans as you say about SAP not inviting folks to Paris venue)…I am going to say what I am going to say, but SAP had a chance to educate me, balance my views on some matters, though not all…

    Like you I go to 6-7 conferences a year…my next one will have little to do with a big vendor but plenty of innovative ones – Supernova…

  3. James – like you, you, my instinct said: ‘Why not ME?’ but you know what…I’m getting more value for my readers by following the conversations that started at SAPPHIRE06 than I could trawling around at the Paris event. And you know I’m a good story hound.

    Jeff said very clearly he’d see how Orlando worked out before making a decision about the EU blogerati. That’s stil panning out. I’m happy to ride on the Bloggerhood coat-tails for the time being. Maybe next time around.

  4. thanks for the feedback guys, much appreciated.



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