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Hello, roving reporter (and occasional conference speaker) Julian Robichaux here, just returning from Engage UG in Breda, Netherlands.

image_15This year, Theo Heselmans has rebranded the BLUG conference as “Engage”, to reflect not only the broader technology scope of the event (it’s not just a “Lotus User Group” any more) but also to make it clear that it’s not just Belgium that is represented by the crowd of attendees. Additionally, “Engage” makes a really nice Star Trek reference, as Theo’s mashup closing video on Tuesday showed dozens of Captain Picard “engage” and “make it so” clips.

image_10The conference kicked off on Monday, March 17 with a trio of IBM managers and executives as opening speakers. Katrina Troughton discussed how technology is driving change in large companies and gave some great examples of both employee collaboration and community engagement. Kramer Reeves started off with an overview of some of the major IBM initiatives in ICS right now — smarter workforce, Watson foundations, “bridge to the cloud” — and then went on in detail about the changes and futures of IBM Notes and Domino. Suzanne Livingston rounded off the discussion with some of the new and upcoming features of IBM Connections, as well as some interesting statistics of how Fortune 500 companies are creating and expanding their internal social teams.

As for the conference in general, there were 350 registered attendees, including a handful of people who registered on the day of the conference itself. To provide technical content there were 65 speakers, 30 of whom are IBM Champions, from many different countries.
IBM was also very well represented, and there was even an “Ask IBM” session where attendees could ask questions in an IBM Connect-style “Ask the Developers” or “Ask the Product Managers” setting.

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From the food to the venue to the quality of the information shared, Engage was a fantastic event! Panagenda was represented as a sponsor with a booth, and both Francie Tanner and I presented technical sessions. If you are interested in our slides, please visit our slideshare page and if you’re looking for more information for anything you saw at the booth, please click through to our contact page and drop us a note. As always, to find out where we’re heading, take a look at our news and events page for where we’ll be next.

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