First of all:
THANK YOU, VERY WELL DONE, FOLKS!
The first major event conducted by HCL for their Digital Solutions and Digital Experience portfolio is over. So is the Factory Tour that also was done virtually thanks to the pandemic.
These 2/3 events overlapped during this week, started every day at 10am EST (3pm UTC, 4pm CET) and offered the blueprints of the current and upcoming solutions of HCL Software.
I won't go into details about sessions and content here, so many friends wrote their asses off about it. Just checkout CollaborationToday to find their blog posts. I am actually not able to focus on a single product or topic here, this was intense.
This is just my personal, subjective impression on the whole event, the tools used and the overall organization.
The App, the man
I really liked the way the agenda was presented and the way that you - as a registered user - were able to build your personal schedule. This app was based on Domino Volt, created by Mr. Tim Clark. He did a very good job on that. We had some issues with it though on Monday when everything got rolling. HCL underestimated the traffic and load to this little app, ending up with it being unreachable within a few minutes. I guess this was the most valuable thing that could happen to an app like this - a true load test. Thanks Cloud-Native hosting this was fixed within a few minutes. They obviously upscaled the machine/platform for the app to run smoothly again. Nice real-world example of what is possible. I am really interested in the figures of that instance before and after!
The Conference Tool
Two weeks before we joined CollabSphere. They used Zoom for all sessions. Sessions were started by a host and all attendees and panelists joined seamlessly. The quality of video and sound was very good.
HCL decided to use Cisco WebEx. In general this is a highly capable software that manages even large groups of attendees, screen-sharing and a good audio quality. However, this tool was used in a quite unfortunate way. Every session got its own URL and "room" so you had to switch and login to every single session - again providing credentials etc. That was annoying especially on a mobile device.
Though WebEx is good when you do a one-way presentation it's totally crappy when you try to arrange a roundtable or an open-mic roundtable such as the Coffee Tables or Happy Hours. It was just impossible to start a conversation, everyone except the panelists had to raise a hand to be unmuted. Not ideal.
I understand that Sametime was not used. Even in the current 11.5 iteration it was doubtful that it is capable to host 50+ people without issues, and from what I heard there were 200+ people in some sessions. There were 2000+ registrations overall which is awesome!
I really liked that sessions were 60 minutes maximum. What I did not understand: every session had to be opened separately. A complete track within one WebEx session would have been better. It sometimes was hard to change between 15 minute sessions without a break including re-login, re-loading, finding. I always missed the beginning of each session. At least all panelists ended in time or tried to end even earlier - well done!
Most impressive: the flexibility and agility of the responsible people at HCL. When the agenda app had issues and even though this was fixed quickly, HCL immediately created a backup in sending the daily agenda via email every day right before the sessions started - with direct links to the WebEx meetings and an abstract. I guess this also brought some relief to the agenda app, I didn't use it anymore. Not everyone received those mails though.
In addition, we as Ambassadors benefited from the generous efforts of the genius Tim Clark again who generated an Excel sheet with session titles, time slots and a direct link to the meetings every day that he shared in our Slack channel. This guy deserves a very big shoutout. He also did the daily summary and wrap-up session of the day. Fantastic!
Overall this was a successful, very interesting, eye-opening event. We saw so many innovations, product news and fancy stuff. HCL once again proved their commitment to the products and the community. I admit that I really like the format. I never attended a LotusSphere, Connected, Think or Factory Tour. The main reason: traveling overseas. I am not going to do that unless I have to. I missed the Factory Tour in Milan which I would have attended but my schedule didn't allow me to do that. Personally I benefit from the situation and that every event is held remotely now. There was some sand in the gears but I think this will be sorted out during the next one. Personally I hope for more event like this!