14 January 2004

IBM events

I’m here for a big IBM event called eBU, the e-Business University. It’s a big training event for sales people worldwide. Since my job for the last couple of years has been making sure that sales people have the information they need to do their jobs in accordance with corporate strategy, I get to attend too. The idea is that if I have some idea what the strategy is, I’ll be better equipped to build the web sites and database systems needed to assist people in following it.

By the time I got to the hotel, it was 19:45. Event registration was supposed to finish at 20:00, but as it turned out they had (a) decided to pack up early and (b) decided not to bother staffing the registration booths in all the hotels anyway. I checked in to the room I had been assigned.

IBM shareholders will be pleased to note that everyone attending eBU is expected to share a room with someone else, to keep the costs down. I’d been assigned a random roommate. It looked as though he had already arrived—there’s no mixed-gender room-sharing allowed, which strikes me as silly. There was no sign of anyone. I was disturbed to note, however, that the room only had one bed. The other half of it was occupied by one of those ghastly fold-out metal sofa contraptions. It looked like that was mine.

I tried it out. It curved like a hammock. I realized my back would never forgive me if I tried to sleep on it, so I dragged the thin mattress off onto the floor to use like a futon, and folded away the metal torture equipment.

The next problem was to get to the first meeting I was late for. It was at the MGM, but according to the timetable there was no reason for anyone to be at the Venetian, so no IBM shuttle buses were running to there—only the other way. I snarled and strode out onto Las Vegas Boulevard.

When viewed from (say) the Stratosphere, the Venetian and MGM look very close together. They’re not. To add to the problem, the MGM is huge, and the conference center part of it is about a block away from the casino part. Still, I got to the meeting before it finished, and got to talk to a few people.

Ah, meetings! America’s #1 alternative to actual work! Where else would you hear sentences like this actual example:

“The overall umbrella that holds the whole thing together is the management gearbox.”

That was from a UK colleague, who had perhaps been watching too many episodes of “The Office”.

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