WW II vet headlines downtown Lotus conference


Business professionals, information technology specialists, vendors and consumers are gathering in downtown Grand Rapids to share best practices and customer business cases, and strengthen the IT community.

The sixth annual Midwest Lotus User Group conference bringing IBM Lotus technology users together to share knowledge and grow awareness of IBM Collaboration Solutions will take place Aug. 27-29 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids.

IBM Collaboration Solutions, which was formerly known as Lotus Software, refers to a number of business collaboration software and solutions, including application development tools, online collaboration services, social software and mobile software.

Richard Moy, co-organizer of the MWLUG conference, said the event not only is designed to bring a community of IT business professionals together, but also to promote the different cities the conferences are held at each year.

“The original idea was to … be able to build a community and learn from each other,” said Moy. “This is a way to not just promote the technology that IBM has, that the partners have, but also the city itself.”

During the 2014 conference social collaboration professionals, vendors, partners and customers can participate in more than 40 different sessions ranging from application development and best practices, to mobility and web security.

Several of the specific workshops scheduled during the conference include: IBM Domino Applications in the cloud; Java: Finding Bugs, Fixing Bugs; Architecting the User Experience: The Case for Compelling Design; Social Customer Relationship Management with IBM and Sugar CRM; and business impact of mobile application strategy.

“Our goal is to get more organizations to use the products and also there are a lot of other organizations that essentially say some of the products IBM has are old,” said Moy. “They are actually at the forefront of technology. These products have been around for 20 years and they are still state-of-the-art technology.”

This year’s theme for the MWLUG conference deals with connecting the human community, which is one of the reasons Virgil Westdale was chosen as a guest speaker, according to Moy. Westdale is a former member of the Japanese-American 442nd Infantry Regiment that helped rescue the Lost Battalion in France during World War II. The veteran also developed more than 25 patented products after serving during World War II, and worked as a TSA officer for Homeland Security for 14 years.

With many individuals in the technology field relating community to social media, Moy said the theme emphasizes the idea that community revolves around people.

“The reality is that community is about people and this year is the 70th anniversary of D-Day and also the 70th anniversary of Virgil’s regiment rescuing the Lost Battalion in World War II,” said Moy. “We wanted to fully connect people to the greatest generation, which is Virgil’s generation, in terms of community and what they did contributing to what we have right now in the United States.”

The conference also features an opening discussion with Kramer Reeves, director of product management for collaboration solutions at IBM Software Group, and roughly 43 business professionals speaking throughout the different workshops. As part of the annual conference, MWLUG is also conducting a fundraising drive for the Kids’ Food Basket as part of its community outreach program.

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