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Inside Mobile Design and User Experience

Thoughts on mobile and social business applications, design, and user experience, by Chris Reckling.

Yes, it's time to start the blogging about the Lotusphere Opening General Session (OGS), 2 hours of strategy, technology, music!, and fun....oh, yeah, we'll do some demos, too. Once again, I have the privilege (the duty?) to be on the demo team - you remember us from last year in our trekkie outfits, with one addition to the team - Brian Cheng, who actually built a lot of the portal demos in year's past. We are just one part of the OGS, which includes entertainment, Alistair Rennie, special guests, and other surprises.

For those of you new to this process, the demo team takes all of the current and future products in the "IBM Collaboration Solutions" portfolio and mixes them into a yummy stew to support the strategic messages of the company. It requires a broad perspective, knowledge of the strategy and product pipeline, as well as the technical wherewithal to put it together. The demos are always done live, so we take very seriously things like network connectivity (motto: don't rely on wifi when you have a roomful of people trying to hit your routers), redundancy, and solid backup procedures.

You might think that we start to throw this thing together in December or January, but planning starts much earlier. We actually started the first meetings about this project in July, while balancing our "day jobs". It starts as a small trickle We have to figure out what parts of the portfolio will be demo'd and what will be part of various speeches or product announcements. We have to balance the current products you can buy today with showing the near future. Then we have to determine what already exists in code and what needs to be built specifically for the demo - this could be either real product code (shipped (GA), beta, or pre-pre-alpha) or an application, like an xpages app. After that is done, the infrastructure we use needs to be updated with the latest code and we start to see what we have.

The next stage in the process is to come up with a business scenario that we can use as a backdrop. For example, in 2008, we used a "Green" theme and last year we had some healthcare related themes. We usually don't specifically call out the scenarios or what the fictitious company does, but use it as inspiration for all the content we need to generate - images, email files, presentations, communities, etc. I won't spoil your surprise by telling you what the demo scenario is for this year. :)

Finally, a draft flow of the demo is created, usually by me, and refined over the next few months by the team. This must be reviewed by key stakeholders, then it's back to the drawing board. You might try some things that don't work in practice, or the flow is not right, or the story doesn't hang together, or it goes by too fast to follow. These are all factors in shaping the demo flow. We also have to start getting consistent timing (every word, every click, counts) and often have to trim parts of the demo so we don't run over (that never happens, as you know).There are tough decisions about what to show or not show and you always find out you have more to show than time to do it. That's what the rest of the week is for in sessions and labs - getting to the details of what is in the opening session.

Right now, we are prepping our final graphics, putting the final polish on the demos, and rehearsing. It is at this stage that we start asking ourselves whether we have a show or not; and I think we're there. Servers get shipped to Orlando in 12 days!! We'll be down early to get everything set up on site. I hope you enjoy the show and we spark some conversation throughout the week and year ahead.

And, no, I do not know who the guest speaker is. We never find out until they show up for a rehearsal the day before. Besides, who doesn't like surprises?

Visit us in the UX Lab at Lotusphere
Pre-Lotusphere Health Regimen, as practiced by Konrad
Image:Opening General Session - It’s That Time of Year

Chris Reckling | 8 January 2011 01:00:00 PM ET |

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