It’s like being at a rock concert, although I haven’t been stripped of £8 for a tour program. You can feel the heat from seven thousand people fuelled by caffeine and the lights are blinding. I’m hoping this is going to be blogged live but at  the moment the wireless network isn’t co-operating… presumably a few thousand other people are trying to connect.

Bob P announced that since the release of Notes 8 we’ve added 12,236 new businesses to our user base.

Guest speaker is actor Dan Akroyd.

Bob P came back to the stage and talked about the theme of resonance, descrbing it as the elements of our collaborative solutions working in harmony.

Next up were customer reference stories – Coca Cola talked about the important factors – ease of use, extended enterprise, openness, mobility and partnerships. NetJets talked about their portal-based customer interaction solution for managing worldwide scheduling of private jet resources. Ian Haynes from HSBC spoke about the bank changing their culture with a comprehensive collaboration suite, with Lotus being their key partner.

Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO of Research in Motion – announced BES support for Domino 8.5 and forthcoming BlackBerry offerings for hosted Notes. RIM provide three of the five top smartphones in the US. Announcements of a new BlackBerry client for Connections (supporting all of the Connections applications), a new BlackBerry client for Sametime, and Symphony and Quickr on BlackBerry. And finally, a plug-in for Domino Designer to provide Domino applications directly onto a BlackBerry device. Wow.

Bob P announced that Bluehouse has become LotusLive – which in itself includes a wider brand for hosted and Software as a Service solutions.

Alastair Rennie spoke about Notes celebrating it’s 20th birthday. Kevin Cavanaugh then came to the stage and described Notes as a 20 year old rebel hanging out with disruptive friends (Mac, Linux and open standards solutions). Notes 8 is being deployed quickr than previous releases. ‘Project Atlantic’ – Notes 8 and SAP integration – was announced as ‘Alloy’… demo from Ron and Suzanne which included a LinkedIn plugin for Notes and widgets in iNotes.

Kevin then spoke about application development and XPages – another demo covering the new functionality and a rich internet application running on a BlackBerry storm (and how to display it correctly on the smaller screen). Kevin then covered the value of moving to Domino 8.5 in terms of performance updates and cost of ownership reduction.

Bruce Morse – Sametime and UC² (of course) and discussed it’s role in speeding up business processes. Announcements for Sametime 8.5 and Sametime Unified Telephony. A great demo followed showing aspects of SUT in action. Sametime 8.5 includes many enhancements including iPhone support and new browser and rich client meeting experiences.

Jeff Schick – wins the award for most enthusiastic speaker and announced Connections 2.5, including wall and micro-blog features in Profiles and LinkedIn integration. A new wiki for Connections and Quickr, new content sharing capabilities, and support for the iPhone. Quickr 8.2 for Domino announced and mentions of Quickr Next.

Larry Bowden – portals are critical to better business outcomes. Mashup Center allows line-of-business people to construct their own applications – IBM leads in this field, and remains #1 in the portal market.

Back to Alastair to talk about LotusLive, followed by Sean Poulley. Bluehouse becomes LotusLive Engage, available in Q1. Demo shows Engage integrated into Notes 8 and how to collaborate with extended enterprise contacts. It also showed joining a live meeting from a BlackBerry device. Three new partnership announced – Salesforce.com, LinkedIn and Skype – that covers over 400 million people.

Kristen Lauria previewed some of the new marketing plans aimed at showing Lotus as the leader in redefining the collaboration category.

That’s it for the opening session – maybe I’ll blog more during the week. The wireless network is overloaded and so is my diary.

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