Engage User Group Conference Summary
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Another amazing Engage User Group event has come and gone. I'm energized by the enthusiasm that Lifetime IBM Champion Theo Heselmans generates with this event. What makes this event so special? I asked numerous people in the community why they come to Engage each year, both sponsors and attendees. It's a combination of several things:
The people - Knowing that friends and colleagues you've established a relationship with over the past 20+ years will be there, and you'll get to have fun conversations, catch up on their lives, and bounce ideas off of them.
The location/venue - Theo goes above and beyond to find an amazing venue each time. It helps that his part of the world has some of the best old architecture and history, and of course the best beer! This one was no exception. The Elisabeth Centre was well located, right next to the train station and numerous hotels, and connected to the second oldest zoo in the world. The conference center interior was modern and spacious, while the exterior of the building looked old and charming. A delightful architectural quirk of European cities. There were plenty of little nooks for people to sit and work from, or have spontaneous conversations without holing themselves up in a speaker room. All day tea and coffee was a nice touch.
The content - Theo selects the curriculum. He has several decades of experience with the ICS portfolio and a good handle on what's important to the community, one of the reasons why he's a Lifetime IBM Champion. Theo delivers a diverse curriculum in his event with something for everyone, from all areas of the ICS portfolio, and this year expanding the reach into the Analytics area of IBM. Theo also tries to balance the content so that you hear from a good mix of technical and non-technical, as well as established speakers, newer speakers, and IBMers.
The networking - Theo knows the importance of giving sponsors a chance to speak to the attendees. He provides Warp-speed sponsoring during the OGS which allows the Sponsors a 30 second teaser for why you should visit their booth. The short time span means that sponsors say just enough to pique your interest, compelling you to want to hear more. The breaks are always in the sponsor area, as well as lunch, which means you can spend quality time with sponsors. Not forgetting speed sponsoring, where all attendees are broken up into small groups, and spend 2-3 minutes at each booth learning about the sponsors' solutions, this year it was hosted by the fabulous Tony Holder, whose MC skills and ability to keep people moving made this one of the most successful speed sponsoring sessions I've seen.
I asked several sponsors why they sponsor the event. What is the business value to them? It all boils down to establishing a relationship, getting their name and solution out there. They may not get immediate results, so it's hard to quantify, but the story was similar in each case... 6 months to 2 years down the road, when an attendee has a business need, they will remember that sponsor and make the call.
A vibrant community can make a difference when selling a potential client on a solution. People are more likely to choose a solution with a large support system, and nothing demonstrates this better than all of the dedicated community members who volunteer to travel to, and speak at these types of events.
I think that with IBM Connect being combined into IBM's mega conference THINK, that the user group events will become even more important for sharing technical topics and announcements. Speaking of IBM THINK, don't forget to sign up for the Jam session, where you are encouraged to weigh in on how you want the conference experience to be.
More details here: http
Here are some other blog posts from speakers and attendees, plus a great photo album from Hogne Bø Pettersen:
Theo's photos: Chec
Hogne's photos: Check out Hogne's Photos
Blog posts from around the community:
Also, if you are or have ever been an IBM Champion for ICS, you can take advantage of this generous offer from our friends at Prominic: http