MWLUG 2010 - Thoughts

August 23 2010

Last week, in Cleveland, Ohio, the second MWLUG took place. MWLUG 2010 was bigger and better than the first last year. Here are some thoughts on the conference:

1. The conference really came into it's own this year. As much as I liked being in Chicago last year - and being at the IBM Innovation Center - being a hotel in another city took MWLUG to it's user group roots. It felt like a user group conference - not something IBM ran. This was a good thing.
2. The attitude of the user group mentality really set in - and set MWLUG apart from IamLUG. I was really frustrated with two user group conferences, within 300 miles of each other, in the same month in 2009. This year - it didn't matter. Only 12 people, including IBM and the sponsors, were duplicated between IamLUG and MWLUG. And I think this was great.
3. Sessions were far more relaxed and in the same vein as a user group meeting. Lots of new speakers who have never spoken before. More low key sessions with a lot more Q&A. The vibe of IamLUG which is very 'Lotusphere midpoint' was not present. This was mostly users of the technology reporting on their experiences. As much as I love the IamLUG style - which is very much my style - MWLUG was awesome. I learned quite a bit from people I would have never seen in any other venue.
4. I saw so much networking. At breakfast and lunch - one one or two tables of 'community' people. Lots of people who knew no one sat at lunch tables, made connections, and hung out for two days.
5. The IBMers at the show - how do I say this - were far closer to the customer than many that come to other events. I think this was apparent in their sessions and in their direct interactions.
6. Many of the same sponsors, a few that were specific to each event. Interestingly, PSC was the only pure, 100% service provider.
7. The openness of the event translated into an open dialog. I saw people with laptops sitting in the main dining/sponsor room talking about ideas and solutions. It was great to see.

Things that MWLUG 2011 can learn from this year:

1. Be more consistent in the food between day 1 and day 2. Amazing buffet line Friday, strange box lunch Thursday.
2. Every session room needs tables and power at each table. People want to have their laptops in front of them. Especially when the sessions are so interactive.
3. Stop trying to make a grand event in the evening. What should you do instead - well, I have an idea. That idea will be shared in a couple weeks. :-)
4. Each user group that participates should get a chance to directly interact with their user group attendees. Maybe a time slot that is nothing but a room/spot for each user group. Have the officers introduce themselves. Talk about the next year's program and such. But use this opportunity of people together to help grow the user groups.

So thanks to Richard, Gregg, and all the rest of the MWLUG team. It was a great event. See you again next year, August 25th & 26th, 2011 in Milwaukee.