IBM Connections is a great tool for collaboration. But there are some very quick and cool things you can do to make it work even more efficient for you. Here are 7 tips:
1) Filter your activity stream
A lot of people find the activity stream (news stream on the IBM Connections front page) to be overwhelming and confusing. Not to worry, you can filter out anything you want. There’s a pull down menu at the top of the activity stream, under the status field, that you can use to choose the specific information you want to se updates from:
Click on it to choose the application you want to see updates from, so that you won’t get drowned in information:
2) Save postings for later
Sometimes you see a posting in the activity stream that you want to either read or follow up on, but you haven’t got time right now. This can simply be solved by saving the posting. Simply click on Save to save it for later:
Let say you do a search on all contents in Connections:
The search result will look like this:
You can now sort the search result by application by clicking on the application name in the left side menu:
If you want to look only in files, you choose Files. If you want to search only in wikis, you choose Wikis. And so on.
4) Quickly find your most recently updated communities
A very quick way to find your most recently updated communities is to click on the Communities menu at the top. Those communities will be listed at the bottom of the pull down menu:
5) Find the latest post in a forum thread that is sorted as a conversation
In a forum thread, you can choose to sort it either by date (upon which you can choose to show the oldest or newest posting at the top) or by conversation. If it’s sorted by conversation, it can sometimes be hard to know what the newest posting is. Luckily you have a link at the top of the forum thread where you can choose to jump to the latest post:
6) Convert an activity entry into a To do
Sometimes someone will post or share something into an activity that triggers the need for an action. In those cases it’s important to set a due date and assign this task to someone. Thankfully, you can actually convert most activity entries into a To do. Here’s a an ordinary entry. By expanding it and then click on the More pulldown menu, we find the option for converting it into a To do:
After choosing this, you can assign it to someone, as well as set a due date and add tags and more information and attachments. You can even convert emails that have been uploaded to the activity in this way!
7) Quickly search for people and profiles
Under the Profiles menu at the top, you find a menu item called Directory:
After clicking on this you will get a search field where you can simply start typing the name of the profile or person you’re searching for. Connections will suggest profiles for you while typing
I hope these quick tips are useful to you. If so, please leave a comment or share it on social media. If you have anything you want to add or give me feedback, leave comment!
I didn’t listen to the whole thing, I skipped some parts, because I could basically read the slides. In addition, they didn’t present anything new that they didn’t present at IBM Connect 2016. Nothing! Except one thing: You can now also use Outlook 2016 with Domino. Yay…
To paraphrase a friend of mine in the Domino community: “They are killing it, man.” And I find it hard to argue against that. For the past three years, I’ve been telling people who said that Xpages was going to save Domino that they were wrong. And this latest roadmap (which is the same as it was in January in Orlando) makes me ask: Is IBM interested in saving Domino?
Now, the Notes client was never going to be saved. We all knew that, even if IBM never comes right out and say it. But when it comes to email, they want you to start using IBM Verse or they actually want you to start using Outlook. In a world where people want to run light clients and use handheld devices, a huge bloated client is not the way to go, so I’m not really complaining about that. But the seemingly lack of commitment to the Domino platform is glaring.
It’s time to start delivering on your promises when it comes to Domino, IBM. But what’s happening is just one slow and drawn out torturing of a dying beast. If you’re not dedicated to the platform, at least come out and say it. “It will happen at Connect 2017,” they say. What will happen? That you will say the exact same things you said at Connect 2016? And the Java version running on the platform now isn’t just outdated. It’s a sediment on the bottom of the ocean which still hasn’t turned into black gold, and never will. We have been promised a Java update for a year now, and it still hasn’t arrived. Neither has any of the other stuff they promised.
One of the things that makes me want to say that “this is it, folks,” is the way IBM now lets you use Outlook with Domino. What’s basically happening is that IBM is saying: Connect Outlook to Domino, have the entire .nsf mail file downloaded to an Outlooks .pst file and then you can just move that pst file onto an Exchange server or up into the Office 365 cloud. They are even eliminating the need for a huge migration project, like a move from Notes to Outlook used to be.
My employer is, like 99% of the rest of the world, using Office 365. Mail is a part of the Office license, which basically means we are currently paying for two different mail platforms. In a time where we are struggling financially (I’m currently made 50% redundant), and we have to cut costs, what do you think we are going to choose? Staying on a platform where the company making it won’t make a commitment? Or go with the company which is constantly developing and refreshing their platform, and also makes integration and single sign on between all their products a default functionality?
Domino will remain in my company as an application server, because we are still running lots of Notes applications. However, we are currently webifying them and using anything but IBM technology to do so, apart from the nsf files which, for the time being, still will be on Domino.
Oh, well. See for yourself, and tell me if I’m wrong:
Very often, the start page of a wiki in IBM Connections tends to look like this:
This looks very dull. It’s not very inviting for the users and the need for scrolling will make it harder for the users to find what they are looking for. Yes, you can tell the users to search the wiki, but believe me, they won’t!
I’ll admit it straight away: The wiki pictured above is made by yours truly, and it was made to document how to make wikis (am I meta or what?). The feedback from the users was that while my documentation was really good, it wasn’t very inviting for them to start using it. In this day and age, people want easier access to things. They want pictures and graphics, and their cell phones have spoiled them when it comes to no need for scrolling and having big colorful buttons to push.
A few months later we introduced Skype for Business in our company. And when the time came to create a wiki on how to use Skype for Business, I decided to try and spruce up the documentation a bit more. So this is the start page for the Skype for Business wiki:
This time the feedback was much better:
Users didn’t have to scroll
The page looked much more inviting with graphics
The icons and text gave a good description of what each link was about
Both the icons and the text are clickable links (I show you how to make image links in a Connections wiki further down in this posting) and we took this even a step further in our next wiki. I can’t take full credit for what I’m showing you next. It was shown to me by Erik Borse from the company Item, and I rolled with it and expanded upon it.
We created a wiki to document our internal processes. From the wiki start page (which I cannot show you), you can click on an icon for Strategy and management. This is the wiki page you arrive at if you click on that icon:
Each box is clickable, and it gives the user a quick and easy way to click on further down in the wiki structure. In addition, each box has it’s own unique color. If a user clicks on the orange box, all boxes and colors on the underlying pages will be orange. This way the user knows she is still within the same subject and page structure.
The really good part here is that there’s no need for the users to design those graphic buttons in a graphical tool You can create them in Microsoft Powerpoint.
Go to the ribbon called Insert:
Click on Shapes:
Choose the shape you want. The mouse pointer will now become a cross hair
Click inside the Powerpoint document, hold the left mouse button pressed and then drag the mouse pointer to the right until you the figure has reached the desired size:
Release the mouse button
Double click on the shape to go into editing mode. Add the text you want. If the text gets too big, you can either decrease the font size (just like you would change font size in a normal text document) or click on any of the circles surrounding the shape to resize it by pulling back or forth:
You can change the color of the shape in the ribbon menu:
Click on the shape and make sure it looks like this:
Copy it (Hold down CTRL+C). If you hear an error sound from Windows, click outside the box and the inside it again to mark it. Try again
Go to the wiki article, put it in edit mode, place the cursor in the spot where you want to paste the shape and paste it (CTRL + V):
PS! Making buttons like this from Powerpoint only works in Windows, it will not work on a Mac!
What will work on both in Windows, Linux and on a Mac, however, is pasting regular images into the wiki article. And now I’ll show you how to create a link to another wiki-article, so that when a users clicks on an image, that article will load. This method works both for regular images and images created with Powerpoint:
Open the wiki article you want to link to
Go to the URL-field, mark the entire text and click copy it (either by right clicking on it or CTRL + C):
Go to the wiki article you are editing and click on the image you want to create into a link, right click on it and choose Image Properties:
The following screen will pop up:
Click on the tab called Link:
The popup will now give you this form:
Paste the wiki page address into the URL field. Use the Target pull down field to choose whether this link should be opened in a new window or not
That’s it. Now the image will contain a link that will open the wiki page you linked to. Save the wiki article and test that everything works fine (it should).
I’m not saying this is the perfect way to construct wikis, but in my experience it does make wikis look nice and easier to use. And it’s really easy to learn how to do it, without becoming an HTML expert. Of course, if you do know HTML, you can make some pretty impressive wiki designs, but I wanted to show you an easy trick which is more achievable for everyone.
Did you like this tip? Leave a comment either here or on the social media platform where you found it! And give me a follow!
Just like you have version control of files in IBM Connections, you also have complete version control of wiki articles inside a wiki. Every time someone edits an article, and save the changes, the last version of that wiki article will be kept.
The versions of the article are listed at the bottom of the wiki article. Click on the tab Versions, to the righ of the tab Comments:
Restore previous version
You can restore a previous version of a wiki article in the following way:
Find the version you want to restore and click on the link to the right called Restore:
You will now get the following message:
Click OK to restore this version. This will now be the current version, and the version you replaced will now be pushed down on the list. Connections will even tell you what version you restored the current version from:
You can now of course restore back to the previous version by clicking on the Restore link behind it in the list. Here I’ve done this:
Compare versions of wiki article
You can also compare versions to see what’s different between them. If there is more than one version of a wiki article, you will see this at the bottom, under the tab Versions:
To compare two versions against each other you choose the number of the versions in the pull down fields. In the picture above, I’ve selected to compare version five against version four. Click on Show comparison. Both articles will now shown next to each other:
The text marked green is the text that’s been added or changed in the newest version and the items coloured yellow are text that’s been deleted in the newest version.
You can also choose to compare other versions in the fields at the top:
So as you can see version control of wiki articles is a very useful tool.
Please leave your feedback below. Always appreciated. And if you have any questions regarding Connections, don’t hesitate to ask.
In my previous blog posting I showed you how you can save a Facebook posting so that you can read it later without worrying about it disappearing. A lot of IBM Connections users don’t know that you can actually do this in the activity/news stream in Connections as well.
Let’s say you are at work. While you are looking through your activity stream in the morning, you see a posting that you feel the need to follow up on later. Unfortunately you know that because of the hight volume of traffic on your Connections site, there is no way you will be able to find it again in the activity stream. Not to worry, you can save it and find it, very easily, later.
In the web browser:
Under each posting in the activity stream, you will find a link called Save this:
Click on it. It will now tell you it is saved:
Go to the left side menu in Connections and find the menu item called Saved:
Click on it and all your saved items will now be listed:
You can now click on any saved posting and interact with it or open it, just like if it was in the regular activity stream
If you want to remove an item from the Saved list you hover your mouse pointer over it and click on the x that will appear in the upper right corner:
After clicking on it you will be asked to confirm that you want to remove it from saved.
On a mobile device
You can also save things and view them later in the IBM Connections application for your mobile or pad. These screen shots are taken on an Android Galaxy S5 phone. Unfortunately my application is in Norwegian, but I think you will be able to follow the logic anyway.
Find the posting in the activity stream:
With your finger, press down on the posting and keep it pressed until this window pops up:
The top most selection (Lagre) means Save. Click on it.
You will now be told that it’s saved.
Go to the main menu and find the menu item called Saved
All your saved items will now be listed:
You can now interact with this posting just as if it had been in the normal activity stream
To remove it from the saved list, press with your finger on the posting until a pop up window appears. Choose Remove from Saved. The posting will now be removed (you will not be asked to confirm).
I hope that helps you keep afloat on all that you need to follow up on in your Connections environment.
A lot has been said about the future of IBM Notes and Domino lately, but the truth of the matter is that there are still lots of Notes clients out there that are still heavily in use.
There are also IBM Notes customers who are using IBM Connections. Because of this, IBM has created a plugin that makes it easy for you to share content from IBM Notes and into Connections, and the other way around.
In the plugin you can post and interact with your activity (news stream), as well as with a persons profile and business card. You can drag attachments from emails and drop them straight into Connections (both into your personal files as well as as into a community’s files). You can also interact with, comment on and share files from the plugin.
You can also work with Activities directly from IBM Notes. Personally I prefer working with activities inside the Notes client to the cumbersome GUI in the web browser. You can drag and drop elements internally inside the activities, as well as drag and drop emails, Notes documents and attachments straight into an activity.
In short: The IBM Notes plugin for IBM Connections is a great tool, with a lot of great features. It has increased my own productivity in Notes and Connections a great deal. But I’ve seen a lot of people asking on Greenhouse and in other forums whether a manual exists. And it doesn’t. Until now.
I’ve therefore created a complete manual on how to use the IBM Connections plugin for IBM Notes. You can download it here.
Please let me know if you find any errors, spelling mistakes or things that are outdated because of upgrades to the plugin. Constructive feedback is welcome.
With a slight headache I got out of bed as late as possible (07.30) and went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast with Christoph Adler from Panagenda and Stephanie Heit and Arshad Khalid from BCC.
The conference was held a five minute walk from the hotel, so I was there in good time before Roger Johannessen, ISBG leader, did a short introduction.
Lars Schorling from Intravision then talked about the mobile app for their brilliant OnTime calendar. Their product is very good (I’ve tested it), and it looks darn nice too, design wise. I’ve been trying to get Brunvoll to invest in it, and with the new possibilities that you have if you use the product with Events in IBM Connections, I hope I can get the right people at my company become more interested in it.
IBM KeyNote – A New Way to Work
Luis Guirigay. Photo: Oliver Busse
Luis Guirigay, World Wide Executive IT Specialist at IBM, then delivered today’s keynote. It was split in two. The first part was a presentation of IBM’s philosophy of a flexible client strategy. With Project Hawthorne, it will be possible to use Outlook as your mail and calendar client, without having to migrate from your trusted Domino server.
This means that if people who are used to Outlook start working in your company, and they really don’t want (or neeed) to use IBM Notes, you can give them a choice.
Not only is an email migration from Domino to Exchange a big and expensive project. Remember that IBM Domino is really, really easy to upgrade from an old version to a new version. Not so for Exchange. A lot of companies are still on Exchange 2010 because upgrading is a huge and expensive project.
In part two he gave us a demo of the functionality. He showed us that everything you can do in IBM Notes, you can also do in the Outlook client. I wrote more about this in this blog posting from IBM Connect in Orlando back in January.
Experiences modernizing an IBM Notes application with AngularJS
Mark Luesink of Viaware Food Contact Software & Services is also a freelance consultant for my company. He did a presentation on the work we are doing with modernizing our IBM Notes applications.
We have two major applications used by the sales department, that are incredibly important. These are now being modernized, consolidated and put onto the web. The idea is that all the data should still be stored on Domino. This means no data migration.
He talked about the infrastructure of the servers, how the various technologies communicate and on the struggles of single signon (ADFS). The system is also communicating with Infor M3 and Infor IDM (document management tool). Right now are facing a challenge on how to get ADFS to work with these.
The technologies used are Nginx, Angular, Jquery and the Domino REST API, as well as Java for communicating with M3.
The session was very good and a lot of people were interested in this. I hope we can do a demo later this year on the before (IBM Notes) and after (on the web). Some people expressed disappointment with the fact that there was no demo this time. Other than that, only good feedback for Mark’s presentation.
Admin Tech Clash: Discussing Best (and Worst) Administration Practices from hundreds of customers
Ben Menesi, Head of Prodct at Ytria and Christoph Adler, Techincal Account Manager in Panagenda, shared their experiences of administration of IBM’s Collaboration Solutions.
Both me and Gunleif Ræg of EVRY, who helps me administer our Domino servers, picked up a few tips here. It was also fun to hear some worst-of-stories.
Integrasjon og utvidelser I Connections Cloud GUI
Ruge Hegge, Sension Consultant and CEO of Inforte As and his colleague Arnstine Kjellevold gave a great presentation on how you can integrate an existing user interface in to IBM Connections Cloud. I was very surprised on how many opportunities you have with this. I thought we would get less opportunities if we moved to the cloud, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
They showed us some great demos, and gave us direct links for resources. Very nice! One of my favorite sessions this time around.
Unfortunately attending this meant I had to miss Erik Borse of Item’s presentation on using IBM Connections as a social intranet.
IBM Hybrid Cloud
Camilla M. L. Tønnestad of from the IBM Social & Smarter Workforce was a first time attendee and presenter at the conference. She lead us through IBM’s Bluemix platform for developing with APIs and thereby integrating existing solutions in your company with brand new ones.
I knew most of this beforehand, but I was surprised on how much more evolved the platform has become since I played around it with myself.
Then it was time for the annual meeting. After a going through the agenda, accounting and other stuff, I was up for election as a new board member. Long story short:
I’m now a board member of the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG). Yay! Thanks to Rune Carlsen for the great work through the years. I got a lot to live up to.
Competition time! Once again it was a Kahoot competition. The quiz was about James Bond! Finally I could put some of my useless trivia knowledge to good use. I was leading for a long time, but then Rolf sidelined me and went off with the AppleTV instead of me. That darn… err…well done, Rolf!
Then it was time for prize drawings. The rule is that if your name is drawn you have to be present to win. If not, they draw again. So when one guy I know won an AppleTV, he had to forfeit it because he had already left. I sent him a message that he had just missed winning an AppleTV. I promptly got a reply saying: “I think the words is fuuuuuuuck!”
Then the meeting was over. I gathered a bunch of people who met for drinks afterwards. Unfortunately, quite a few people had to go home after a while, but some of us went to dinner at Hell’s Kitchen in Oslo.
The evening was finished by going to Tilt. A pub with old arcade games, flipper games and shuffle boards. And they had Crystal Castles! And shit, do I still rule in that game:
The first level is shaped after the name of the person who has the high score!
Whodda man! Whodda man! Photo: Christoph Adler
Thanks for a great conference, once again. The next one will be on me and the rest of the ISBG team. Yikes!
The annual Norwegian IBM User Group spring conference for 2016 is now a thing of the past. I arrived home yesterday, and after having been away from home for almost fourteen days, I arrived to an empty living room where workers are still fixing my ceiling. In addition, the battery on my car was flat, my bike needed to be fixed and I had two episode of Game of Thrones waiting for me. So the summary I always write had to wait until today.
Oliver Busse does a great write up on the social aspects of the conference (no, I don’t mean IBM social but real social stuff, dinner, people hanging out together and stuff like that), so I won’t repeat much of that.
We4IT was the platinum sponsor of the event, so they got to do a short presentation of their products and services.
IBM Strategy Update
IBM-er Huguette Ranc, Social Business & Smarter Workforce Unit for Europe was up next and did a 15 minute presentation on what IBM’s thoughts for the future are. Highlights:
Research shows that in the US 80% of your time is spent at work with meetings. Phone calls and email. That leaves a small amount of time for real work
We spend on average 15,5 hours a day reading news and articles. That’s 174 newspapers
She talked about IBM’s platform Toscana that will make it even easier to create seamless integration between various collaboration platforms
IBM will soon start more strategic co-operations. Today they are doing this with Facebook, Twitter, The Weather Channel (which IBM own), Apple and DocuSign
Cognitive Collaboration – the next breakthrough
Next up was IBM-er Rob Koplowitz, Program Director of Watson – Enterprise Social Solution strategy. His session was spread over two hours. He mostly focused on IBM Watson, the technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.
In short: Watson is a robot that can process a huge amount of data, and is able to learn from it. And he gave several examples on how they used Watson in various situations.
Koplowitz described Watson as a young athlete. You can see the potential, but he has to learn, train and grow for the greatness to shine through. Watson is like that. The more questions and answers Watson receives, the more it learns and understands. The system is self learning.
He told a story on how Watson was used for support. When someone asked how to delete an email, Watson told the person how to delete his entire mail account. Today Watson is able to come up with answers and suggestions that people would never think of themselves.
What’s special about Watson compared to other IT-systems, is that it’s ok if Watson gets the answer wrong. The reason is that 1) Watson learns from it when given the correct answer and 2) Often the wrong answer can generate good ideas and other ways of looking at a problem
The principle is understand, reason, learning. And while we used to be able to look at experience from the past to make plans for the future, technology now is changing so fast that this is no longer an option.
Unstructured data is a huge challenge for companies. We’ve been talking about this for 25 years, but nothing much is happening. In addition, we have companies like Uber, Airbnb, Tesla and Facebook who do things completely different from the way business was conducted before.
In the second part he gave a demonstration on how Watson helps you prioritize your email and communication. For example suggestions for who to include in email conversations, who to include in meetings, what files you might like to share and so on.
IBM has never been famous for design, but there’s a new principle at work at IBM now. Designers are a part of the process all the way these days. And part of the design is that Watson should not be intrusive (like the annoying paper clip from Microsoft Office a decade ago).
IBM Connect 2016 – The way forward
Me doing my stuff. Photo: Oliver Busse
Then I was up next. I won the ISBG scholarship last autumn and was therefore able to go to Connect in Orlando in January. A part of the scholarship is that I had to blog every day while over there, and I also had to give a presentation on what I learned.
I told basically what you can find in my blog postings from Connect, so go read them.
The feedback afterwards was really good, and I got quite a few shout outs on Twitter for some of the stuff I said. IBM was also pleased, and I didn’t say anything wrong, I think.
I did warn everybody that if they hated the world social, they should be ready to hate cognitive, which is the new buzzword from IBM. I got a chuckle from several IBM-ers, as well as from the audience and on Twitter.
I also told people that they should know that moving from on premise to the cloud is a project, and not just copy and paste.
IBM Connect 2016 – The tools we love
I also did a presentation after lunch on what is new and up and coming from IBM Collaboration Solutions (IBM Notes/Domino, IBM Connections and so on). I was very humbled and happy that so many people turned up that it was standing room only when I started.
Are you approaching adoption like holding a ball under water?
The next session I went to was IBM-er Peter Bjellerup’s session. He is Executive Consultant, Social Business, Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing. He talked about the challenges you face doing self-sustained adoption. The users have to want to change and keep using the new tools and ways to work.
All of this is a challenge that most of us are familiar with, and I kept nodding most of the time, because I’ve been through most of them.
MittEA – Social Intranet with IBM Connections
For the final session I was torn. I really wanted to go to Item’s session on how to use third party services, like Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to sign in to your IBM Cloud solution
Instead I went to the session on how Euro Accident had created a social intranet, pretty much what we want to do at Brunvoll. This means using IBM Connections as our intranet, and then skin and adapt it like we want it to look. Got a few helpful tips in this session.
The team leaders are gathering for the competition. Great fun. Photo: Oliver Busse
Then it was time for some fun. The team competition, which also includes a speed session where all the vendors and exhibitors are given four minutes in front of each team where they give a presentation of their products and services.
I still say that the premise and conclusion for the riddle of the green eyes (check it out!) was wrong, but I guess you can’t argue with Math, can you?
Dinner and after-drinks
After the competition, I completely rewrote my after dinner speech, which I had been asked to give. This was because I had originally had written it in Norwegian. However, since I did my first presentation in English earlier that day because there were so many foreigners in the room, I realized I needed a new one in English. Puns don’t translate well…
It was then time for dinner, and I was lucky enough to be seated with two wonderful women from IBM (Renee and Camilla), my colleague Gunnar and Rolf from Moderne Byggfornyelse. We were served a three course dinner at the top of the PWC building in Bjørvika in Oslo (where the entire conference took place). We had a great view over Oslo, and the food was great. As usual we had a magic show, and the finale with the coin trick was amazing!
I did the after dinner speech, and with all my puns and jokes it went from pain inducing groans to big rounds of laughter and applause. So I’ll take it as a win.
We then went on a drinking spree and I’ll spare you the details. Come back later for a summary of day 2, where I’m up for election as a new board member for the Norwegian user group. Exciting stuff!
The hold Philips museum, which looks like a space ship, was the site of the conference
I’m currently on my last day off during the Norwegian Easter Holiday, which for most people last for 10 days. I spent parts of my holiday in the Netherlands, in Eindhoven to be exact, attending the latest conference held by Engage. They used to be known as BLUG and it’s the user group for IBM Collaboration Solutions in the Benelux countries. Not only did I attend, I also was a presenter and did a session on the plugins for IBM Connections.
Over 400 people attended the conference, and I am incredibly impressed with the whole event. It must have taken an unbelievable amount of hours to put together, and Theo Heselman and his gang should once again take a bow for pulling off an event that was free for all the attendees. In addition the hotel expenses for us speakers (who there were over 80 of) were taken care of, and we were treated to dinner both nights. This was thanks to great sponsors and all the companies that got the chance to present themselves and their products.
And to top it all off: On the last day we were taken on a free tour of the Philip Museum of History! The guide at the museum had a great time with our group, because we were a bunch of nerds and geeks who soaked up every detail about all of Philips inventions and design through the years. There were also these incredible vintage ads and posters on the wall, and I bought these two. Aren’t they beautiful? What a wonderful way to end a great conference.
What did you say? The sessions? Oh…yeah. That’s why we were there, wasn’t it? They were great as well. Since I went on my own accord and not through my employer this time, I didn’t feel pressurised to go to a lot of sessions. I could therefore pick and choose those I found most interesting. In addition, I also had to prepare my own session, which was at the very end of the conference. I therefore attended most sessions on Wednesday.
Among the highlights were the opening session, were Inhi Cho Suh, who is the General Manager for IBM Collaboration Solutions (which is what we who attend these user group meetings are working with) did the opening. Not only does she know the technology, she also has visions of where ICS should go. And Engage got the honour of being the meeting where the Big Announcement ™ was made, this year (last year it was at the Norwegian User Group Meeting (ISBG)): There will be another Lotusphere… sorry…Connect… in 2017. But for the first time it won’t be in Orlando. It will be moved to San Francisco, and will be held in the middle of February. Inhi’s goal is to double the attendance numbers as well. I spoke to her several times during the conference, and I feel more optimistic about the future of ICS than I have in a long time.
Other sessions I really liked were the stories on how the Dutch tax office used Kudos Boards to make Activities in IBM Connections much, much better to work with, Pete Janzen and Martin Donnelly’s session about the future of Domino applications in Bluemix, Using IBM Domino Data in IBM Connections and Carl Tyler demonstrating old versions of Lotus Notes (from v1.0 and up) while talking about the history of Lotus products. Can you imagine, they did marketing in the old days?
My session was at the end of the conference, and I had pretty stiff competition from the session about the Hawthorne project, which allows you to use Outlook with Domino. But I had a nice little crowd who were very interested in what I presented, and the feedback afterwards was really good:
I talked about the use of the plugins and gave demos on how to use the IBM Connections plugins for Windows Explorer, Microsoft Office, IBM Notes and also a quick demo of the plugin for Microsoft Outlook. You can see, and download my session here:
Good Friday was spent travelling home. Since there were almost no planes flying in Norway on such a holiday, I had to fly from Copenhagen to Trondheim and then drive 3.5 hours to get home. So all in it all it took me 12 hours to get back home. But it was worth it, and I will definitely go back next year if I get the chance.
And huge thanks to Theo and the others for giving me my first international speaking engagement!
I did not start the day with a workout. I was actually very tired and you have to keep your strength up if you are to hang on during a session with Mat Newman. So I slept as long as I could and headed off to the conference hotel.
Mat Newman is a character that everybody in the community, and at the conference, knows. He’s impossible to miss in his yellow suit, with matching shoes and wrist watch. Newman is also a born showman, and he loves the technologies IBM provides. I’ve written and said this before, but Mat has been a huge source of inspiration for me when it comes to both user training, as well as preaching about Notes/Domino and Connections (and other tools and technologies that I like for that matter).
Mat presented a user case scenario where a user went from having dozens of copies of the same file, which were emailed all over the place, to taking control over the work process so that she only had to contend with one copy, which she then shared across with those who wanted it.
We didn’t exactly learn something new here, but Mat’s conviction made a lot of us feel that this is what we should go home and tell our boss, our colleagues, our competitors, our friends, their grandmothers and their dogs.
I spoke to several people after the session, and we all concurred that if IBM had more Mat Newmans, people would not be moving to other platforms. And I got a great idea (at least I think it’s great) on what to do with the Norwegian IBM Users Group’s spring seminar in May. Stay tuned!
How the Salvation Army Doubled the Number of Active IBM Connections Users Worldwide in One Day
The title of this presentation was a bit misleading, because we are talking about Sweden only. But if their claims are true, it’s still pretty impressive to get a 100% adoption rate from their users. But that was their point: They didn’t adapt their users. They adapted the technology to fit their users need. So they took IBM Connections and put their own product on top to skin Connections to become more of a web page (intranet) where users find what they are looking for, instead of wading through things they don’t understand (wikis, blogs, forums and so on).
This seems to be a predominating theme: To achieve user participation, you need to skin Connections. Hopefully the new design of Connections 5.5 will make this need smaller.
I will definitely check out this product, and during the Nordic dinner, I spoke to one of the product managers from the Swedish company.
IBM has a big user community with developers who are really the ones driving the technology and solutions forward. IBM acknowledge this and both reward people with the IBM Champions price, as well as giving them the possibility to speak at the conference. Even though we have lost a lot of the old timers among the gurus, there still are a lot of them, and they are all willing to share what they know.
There was a pretty big turnout, but I do get the feeling that those who don’t come to this session stay away because they feel this is a club, where everybody knows each other, so they feel left out. Personally I was welcomed with open arms in to this community back in 2006 (thanks to Bruce Elgort who saw me at an OpenNTF session and wanted to know who the new guy was). I think maybe the gurus should think a little bit about that, especially with the internal jokes going on.
It’s also a bit hard for some people to know the difference between this session and the ASK the developers anbd Product Managers session.
Even so, the session was fun. I started the question round, and you can see that moment if you click on the video below:
The most important thing that came out of this session was that we turned the focus on the user groups. Some don’t exist any more, some are thriving and others are struggling. I hope more people came out of the session and were ready for start turning up at the user group meetings. Or even engage themselves in organising them.
ASK the Developers and Product Managers
This is a session where you can ask the developers and managers of the various IBM products and solutions questions, to their face. Sometimes you really do get an answer (and that answer might very well be “no that will not work” or “no, we do not have that on our roadmap for the foreseeable future”), but a lot of the time the session ends up with “we’ll take that back with us.”
This year someone made a list of all the questions that had been promised a follow up on last year, which hadn’t been followed up on…
I asked a question about the Files plugin in IBM Notes and I was told that, yes, it will be developed on more. So that’s good news!
Closing General Session: Discover your Inner Artist
Liz Urheim, Vice Precident of Collaboration and Smarter Workforce, summerised the week and promised us that, yes, there will be a conference again next year!
Inhi Cho Suh then took the stage. She is the General Manager of collaboration solutions for IBM and her words on their commitment to developing all the platforms of IBM is still strong. I liked her talk. It was short and to the point.
Erik Wahl then took the stage. He is an artist who has made a career of letting go of traditional thought patterns. During the presentation he painted pictures and talked about encouraging people to use disruptive strategies. Let the kids colour outside the lines. And he asked: “Why is it that when I ask pre school children if they can draw, they all say ‘yes,’ but when I ask adults, almost all of them say ‘no.'” When do we lose that? Food for thought.
And that was it. In the evening IBM Norway treated us to dinner at Kimonos, which is a at the Swan and Dolphin hotel where this conference used to be held. Sushi, beer, nostalgia, karaoke with Mat Newman made the whole evening in to very enjoyable event.
And that’s how I feel about the entire conference! Last year it was all doom and gloom. This year the vibe was much more positive. IBM seems determined to deliver what they promise, features that have been requested, both in Notes/Domino and Connections are coming fast, the plugins (which I love) are getting more and more love and there were some really good sessions this year.
For me personally I got to meet friends again, but most importantly: I got to have meetings that will probably result in my employer saving time and money, as well as becoming a more effective and collaborative organisation. I’ve also received loads of great feedback, both about my blogging from the conference, and my contributions to the community.
Oh yeah, the weather was great too. Thanks to IBM for buying that weather company!