I was trying to button down our plans for Lotusphere 2012 recently, which for the first time in a long time doesn't clash with the Superbowl, when I happened to glance through the T's & C's associated with being an exhibitor at the Product Showcase and came across IBM's "one pedestal, one vendor" rule right there at the top of the list [well, the second clause actually].
Now, don't get me wrong, I understand why that rule's in place. IBM want to "encourage" more BP's to invest in there own pedestal within the Product Showcase rather than allowing them to share one with another BP or ISV and thereby save a bit on the cost of attending the show. IBM obviously regard that as being a lost revenue opportunity if they were to allow that.
Personally, I believe that's just another example of some seriously flawed thinking on IBM's behalf.
Like many of you out there I have been attending Lotusphere [on and off] for nearly 15 years now and during the course of that time period I have seen attendances at the event first develop, then mature and then begin to decline.
I have no idea how well attended the event will be this year and how the overall attendance in 2012 will compare to the attendance figures of 2011, but what I am absolutely certain of is that attendance in 2012 will be significantly down from where it stood at the height of "Lotus-Mania".
So why isn't IBM doing something to genuinely encourage rather than restrict support from its Business Partner community? Especially it's international, ie. non US-based, business partners and ISV's.
I spoke with my current "Vendor Partners" and established that the average cost of attending Lotusphere last year for a European Business Partner came out at around $20,000.00 when all things were taken into consideration.
Nice if you can afford it. But too few can!!!
Come on IBM. Time to re-think your approach and give your Business Partners more incentive to support the event or the writing may start to appear on the wall.