IBM Leverages the Meetup Platform to Connect Users With One Another
Learn about storage, AI and more at a Meetup group near you.
By Jim Utsler11/01/2019
IT folks can be an accommodating lot. Witness the open-source community, for example. People put their code up online and actually encourage others to add to, improve and use it—accolades accepted but not necessary. Even in person—face to face—they share tidbits of information with each other, just enough to be instructional without giving away corporate trade secrets.
No surprise, then, that they’re now using the social networking platform Meetup (meetup.com) to locally get together, and discuss and learn about favored IT topics, one of the most popular of which is currently artificial intelligence (AI). It should be noted that, beyond computer-related topics, Meetup offers any number of other categories, including language and culture, music, film, and fashion and beauty.
Tech, though, may be one of the platform’s more popular stops—and IBM is actively encouraging interested parties to sign up for the large number of groups it’s sponsoring. After all, what better way to share its depth of knowledge with not only clients, but also other interested parties—all of whom can then share their own tips, secrets and successes.
“This Meetup phenomenon is almost like a user group, except people are meeting up locally based on specific topics of interest,” remarks John Polly, vice president, Systems Client Success, North America. “So, somebody is leading a conversation and sharing information, use cases and experiences. That’s how participants are getting information and learning about technology, be it day-to-day maintenance tasks or emerging trends.”
We're not in sales mode, we're in education mode. Because of this, we're creating an environment that's a very open and safe place to ask questions and learn.
Opening Dialogue With Clients
IBM’s Systems Meetup groups for AI, Power Systems* and Storage systems topics began about a year ago, starting with IBMers explaining how clients can exploit current product offerings to solve real business problems or open up new business opportunities. The IBM Meetup facilitator also encourages attendees to provide input on their own experiences using similar technologies, engage in an open dialog with all attendees and provide feedback on future Meetup topics.
To keep things lively, IBM Meetup groups use several different formats. Traditional presenters may share a use case with participants, while panel subject matter experts might describe pertinent technologies and how they can be applied across industries. Someone may then facilitate Q&As with the panel members.
“We sometimes bring in demos or have participants actually do some coding, where they can get on a keyboard and create something that they can actually use,” Polly says. “So, there’s no specific session structure per se. It’s more of what the group is interested in and in what direction they want to take it.”
These sessions can be held at IBM facilities, colleges or universities, restaurants or bars, or libraries, depending on the session format. And because they’re locally hosted—in the communities in which participants live—people don’t have leave town to attend, as with many large user group conferences.
Existing Power System Meetup Communities:
IBM AI meetup groups in Austin; Dallas; Minneapolis; New York City; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Washington, DC; and additional locations
Storage for modern infrastructures in Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Houston; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; New York City; Seattle; Washington, DC; and additional locations
A sample of other groups includes:
Georgia IBM Power Systems User Group
Power Systems Greater Toronto Area
IBM South Florida Power Technology Meetup
IBM Power Servers and Storage Technology Meetup
Seattle: Emerging Infrastructure Tech for the Cognitive Era
SAP HANA on IBM Power
Jacksonville Artificial Intelligence Meetup
Make Local Connections
Each North American community has a local meetup owner—typically an IBM technical expert with an interest in that community. For the most part, these individuals help develop topics and schedule dates and locations. Beverages and light food such as pizza may be offered during the events.
If no local communities exist, interested people can start their own. In fact, Polly wouldn’t be surprised to see more non-IBMers do just that as the program evolves. “They can start their own communities wherever they’re at and ask IBM to participate in them,” he says.
Once people join a community—to date, nearly 6,000 people have signed up for Meetups that are organized by IBM Power and Storage technical subject matter experts in the U.S. alone—they can decide whether they want to attend specific events, which are typically held once a month. As a result, attendance fluctuates based on the topic. They might attend if a topic looks really interesting, for example, how to create and train your own computer vision model. If they’re already familiar with or aren’t prioritizing a listed topic, they may not attend. There are no obligations, and program participation is free and simple to sign up for.
“When people sign up for these communities, they get the opportunity to network with other people who are doing similar things and share best practices,” Polly says. “We’re not in sales mode, we’re in education mode. Because of this, we’re creating an environment that’s a very open and safe place to ask questions and learn.”
For more information on the IBM Systems and AI meetup groups, contact Diane Britton at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out directly to a Meetup group owner, as listed in the group information.
If you want to start your own group and partner with IBM on Power Systems or Storage topics, reach out to Britton at email@example.com. She’ll try to find a local person to help co-host.
Jim Utsler, IBM Systems magazine senior writer, has been writing for IBM since the mid-1990s.