Domino, Notes and videotape
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At the bottom of this blog posting I’m linking to all the blogs I’ve written about IBM Connect.

CarouselIt’s now 15 days since I came home from San Francisco, and on Thursday it’s three whole weeks since the conference was over. I’ve been pretty busy with following up on stuff after the conference. Especially on stuff I learned about, as well as on deals and alliances that might come to fruition after several meetings I had. I’ve also contacted a lot of people who were at the conference in an attempt to get speakers for the ISBG spring meeting, which will take place on June 7th and 8th.

My feelings about this year’s Connect are generally good, but also a bit mixed. The attendance was as I expected it to be. Compared to the glory days (my first conference was in the mid 2000s) it’s a mini convention now. It’s like our own private little club, and therein lies the problem: A lot of important decision makers in the companies who are customers of IBM Collaboration Solutions still view the conference as a geek conference. If you look at the agenda, you realise this is obviously wrong. Still, I was in several sessions where less than 10 people were attending. I was at one session where a company presented a solution for moving Notes applications to mobile where there was only four (4!) people.

It’s time that we who cling to this conference for nostalgic reasons wake up and realise that with all the cognitive stuff and Watson creeping in all over the place, the most sensible thing would be to bake Connect into World of Watson. I’m not complaining that it’s still our very own little club, but it will be even harder to convince bosses and decision makers about what the conference has to offer, since it’s still considered to be a geek conference by many of them.

The scheduling was also a nightmare this year. A lot of sessions from the same tracks were going on at the same time, and several sessions that usually are filled to the brim were this year set during lunch and other important sessions about the future strategy of key products (yes, I’m looking at you Gurupalooza, where I was on stage). And having Mat Newman’s inspiring session about how to increase user engagement was at eight o’clock in the morning.

My feeling is also that a lot of people prioritised meetings with partners, customers and friends over going to sessions. As I pointed out in my previous posting, the social bit is a very important part of such a conference, but it must be bitter for the presenters who have worked hard preparing for their sessions.

It was, however, heartwarming that we finally saw something solid when it comes to the future roadmap of IBM Notes/Domino. As usual, these sessions were full, and this year IBM has actually made good on their promise of continued commitment to the platform. Yes, most of the future roadmap is about lifting applications from the Notes client and on to web and mobile, so it was surprising that there will be further development on the client as well. I was especially happy to hear that there will be sidebar plugins both for CCM and Watson.

It was also wonderful to see that sessions about the future of IBM Connections was just as popular as Notes/Domino sessions used to be in the past. It’s obvious that Connections is a success in many countries. This is not the case in my own Norway, but with even more success stories, as well as the strong portfolio of applications from third parties and IBM partners, this could change. Especially IBM Connections Pink needs to be promoted heavily. If not, Facebook Workplace will be a Connections killer when it gets proper file handling.

IBM ChampionsIt was also great to attend the conference for the first time as an IBM Champion. Hanging out with the other champions, as well as getting pats on the back from IBM officials and customers, was nice and encouraging. It’s also nice to put faces to names and people you only communicate with online.

In conclusion: I think the road IBM is taking with their ICS portfolio now, where they focus on openness and inclusion,  is the right way. And as an IBM Champion I find it exciting to be a part of the ride. Let’s hope it will turn into a positive trend for the next year. I will do my part.

Here are all my blog postings from IBM Connect 2017:

And here’s my photo album from IBM Connect and San Francisco:

IBM Connect

Barry Rosen commentFirst of all: A huge apology for my mistake in my third blog posting from Connect 2017. In this I wrote that Domino for iSeries would not be supported in the future. This is not true! I had misunderstood and the blog posting is now corrected. Sorry to IBM and all IBM partners and customers who have contacted me in the past few days (some in panic). So to sum up: You will still be able to use Domino, as well as get all new feature packs, on iSeries. Ok?

With that cleared up I would like to talk a bit about the part of the conference that we who go there sometimes talk and blog too little about. Maybe that’s because employers and organisations pay us good money to go there, and we don’t want it to appear as if we are just partying for four days. By all means, we are partying, but that’s only part of it.

Panagenda

Mingling is one of the big reasons to go to Connect. Going into the sponsor area to talk to IBM partners is a wonderful opportunity to both get and give help and tips. The same goes for the opportunity that you have to talk to IBM’s product managers as well. Two years in a row now I’ve managed to solve big problems that my employer, customer or myself have had. And that’s just by a five minute conversation. This is at times invaluable.

For me personally, this year was also a wonderful opportunity to meet potentially new customers or employers. I’m currently freelancing, since I’m temporarily laid off from my day job because of the company’s financial situation. But I’m also looking for a new day job, if I find it to be a good opportunity. So I did three job interviews while over in San Francisco.

I’m also the second in command for the Norwegian IBM Collaboration User Group, and I recruited several potential speakers for the spring meeting that will take place on June 7th and 8th (You are more than welcome to come, and if you want to do a presentation, get in touch with me).

Closing sessionAnother good thing about the social bit is that you get to meet people you normally only communicate with via blogs, twitter, Facebook, IBM Connections, chat, email or phone calls. The ICS (IBM Collaboration Solutions, formerly the Lotus crowd) club is a very welcoming and including one. Meeting face to face over a beer (or five) and discuss frustrations, ideas, positive experiences, new solutions and stories is very educational. I’ve lost count of how many times someone has given me assistance or help with something I’ve been struggling with, or simply given me great ideas on how to proceed on a big project. Hopefully I’ve done the same with others.

Which brings me to the IBM Champions program. I became IBM Champion for 2017. During the conference the champions got some special perks, like a lunch, a carousel ride, t-shirts, badges, a discount on the conference fee and most important of all: We hung out together, furthering our bonds and friendships. They are a great bunch of people, and we were duly taken brilliantly care of by Amanda Bauman and Libby Ingrassia.

ExploratoriumThis is the first time the conference wasn’t in Orlando. This means that IBM couldn’t take us to an amusement park, as they always used to do in the past. Instead they took us the the brilliant Exploratorium at the piers in San Francisco. It’s a museum that teaches you about technology and nature, and you can try experiments yourself, hands on. Perfect for a family outing, as well as for nerds. There was also loads of good food, drinks and music. And it was yet another chance to mingle, get to know people, bond and try out fun stuff.

I’m not sure where my future lies these days. It can go anywhere. But I know I’m very happy that I got to go to the conference this year. Because I learned, nurtured, grew and shared. Both personally and creatively. And that is why an employer should let their employees go to these things.

onboardingSorry for being late with following up on the Connect 2017 conference, but the last days in San Francisco just flew by like a whirlwind. And after I got home I was stuck on the couch with flu like symptoms. But now I’m ready to talk to you about the future of IBM Connections, which is pink!

IBM Connections 6.0 is soon ready to be unleashed on the world. And I think it looks very promising. In fact, I was grinning when I was told about some of the new functionality. Here are the highlights from the new stuff that is coming:

  • Much better file syncing with top level folders
  • Onboarding manuals and guided tours for new users to get them familiarised with Connections much quicker
  • Much better control over community layouts
  • You will be able to copy community designs and thus create community templates
  • Integrated notifications which also will work with Microsoft Outlook
  • Improved mobile client with much better search possibilities and a day-at-a-glance summary
  • My Drive view for your synced folders, which also includes nested folders
  • The rich text editor will now be the same for all applications in Connections (blogs, wikis, forums etc)
  • Hide widgets in a community without having to delete them

The point I really, really liked was the fact that you now can make the area that describes what the community is about as large as you like. AND: You can now just paste whatever HTML code you like into that area! This means that you very easily can create your own social intranet without having to skin Connections to fit your internal design guidelines. This is a very smart move by IBM, and I like it! It’s something my previous employer was desperately hoping for, and was promised was possible, only to find out it wasn’t.

The future for Connections beyond 6.0 is Pink! Now, what does Connections Pink mean? It’s not the next version of Connections, per se. It’s more a new way of developing the platform, developing towards and with the platform, the way it will be updated and a new way to work, not only with Connections but with Watson and the ICS portfolio.

Highlights:

  • The deployment of updates will be container based and continueous instead of usual 18 months release cycles
  • There will be no more need for huge and costly upgrades to “the next version”
  • The experience will be more consistent between the web version and mobile apps
  • Cloud and on prem-customers will have a more similar experience than today
  • Much better separation between service layers and presentations, which will make it much easier to do your own customisations
  • The APIs will be improved heavily. This means it’s much easier to replace Connections applications with third party applications
  • The new APIs will also make it easier to develop your own solutions to work with Connections

Connections PinkConnections Pink is also a new development platform which makes it easier for people to contribute by creating your own extensions for Connections. It’s a completely open ecosystem which is made for developers, with a new technology stack. This is probably the most exciting new thing coming out of Connect 2017. The plan is to make this available from September 2017. Personally I can’t wait to play around with it.

It will also be amazing to combine this with the development platform for Watson Workspace. Just think of the possibilities you will have to analyse usage, data and a whole lot of other parameters. This is exciting, and I truly hope IBM will communicate this out to its customers. And most important: Use their IBM partners to help people understand what it is and all the possibilities it gives you!

Oh by the way, it was great to see that the Connections sessions were filled up. It’s obvious that a lot of IBM’s customers now are using IBM Connections. Wonderful