Several weeks ago, I received a telephone call from an IBMer in another organization. She found my name in the IBM employee directory as someone who works with user groups. I’m one of eight people in IBM that has “user group”as part of their job responsibilities.
She called me to ask how she, as an IBMer, can influence her clients to form user groups. This is an intriguing question because, well…IBM really can’t tell our clients to form user groups. That’s the beauty of a user group—they are independent organizations that have come together on their own, working to fulfill a need not otherwise met.
That call made me reflect upon all IBM i user groups that exist. It’s something that’s pretty unique to i and a great benefit to those who participate. Supporting user groups is a big part of my job as I work with the IBM i Large User Group, the COMMON Americas Advisory Council (CAAC), and the COMMON Europe Advisory Council (CEAC). Besides supporting these advisory councils, I also take time to support other user groups by speaking at their meetings.
Last week, I had the privilege of attending the New England User Group Conference, held in Framingham, Massachusetts. It’s a relatively small conference, but the agenda was excellent, featuring five tracks of sessions across a wide range of technologies. There are many other user groups that hold small conferences each year: Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Associate (WMCPA), Omni Technical Conference (OMNI), and the User Group of Southern California (OCEAN) are ones that come to mind in the U.S. There are many others throughout the world.
Many user groups have monthly meetings and have different speakers each month. In the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to present at several local user groups. I’ve had the opportunity to present to the Long Island System Users Group (LISUG) in New York, Fairfield Application Systems Users Group (FASUG) in Connecticut, NorthEastern Systems Technology Users Group (NESTU) in New Jersey, New England Users’Group (NEMUG) in Massachusetts, Southeast Michigan iSeries User Group (SEMIUG), West Michigan IBM i User Groups (WMSUG), and New Hampshire Midrange User Group (NHMUG). Some of these I presented in person, but some I presented via a Webinar. Regardless of the format, it’s always a pleasure to speak at these local user groups.
Coming up soon is COMMON. One of the objectives of COMMON is to deliver education to its members. To become a member, simply attend. I am always amazed at the breadth of technical content on the COMMON conference agenda. Nowhere else can you find so much educational information available for IBM i. Everything you need to know is covered and there are many IBM i experts to speak with and ask questions. The IBM expo area has all the IBM speakers in attendance, available to help you learn more or to answer your questions.
Finally, there is the IBM i Large User Group (LUG), which meets in Rochester, Minnesota three times a year. I’ve written about the IBM i Large User Group before, so read that blog if you want to know more about the LUG.
IBM i user groups are a strong part of the i community and there are many of them throughout the world. If you have not participated in a user group in your area, perhaps it’s time to do so.
This blog post was originally published on IBMSystemsMag.com and is reproduced here by permission of IBM Systems Media.