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Paaaartyyyyy! Domino Forever!

October 24th, 2018 | Posted by elfworld in Domino | IBM | ISBG - (1 Comments)

Yellow party

The superlatives and positive messages about the Norwegian user group’s (ISBG) launch of IBM/Notes Domino V10 in Norway yesterday has been pouring in all morning. As the leader of ISBG, this makes me immensely happy. And it gives bright hope for the future, and we will use this momentum when we’ve now started preparing for the spring seminar. Read on to see what happened at the launch!

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Ego giving a session at Engage

Ego giving a session at Engage

As I’m sure a lot of you know, I do a lot of presentations and lectures, as well as giving courses and doing user training. I’m especially doing a lot of this kind of work when it comes to collaboration and efficient use of email and calendar. If you want me to come and have a look at your organisation and make you less dependant on internal email, make it easier for your organisation to find information and documents and help you find the knowledge and skills that you have in house, please get in touch!

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I Became Engaged Again

May 29th, 2018 | Posted by elfworld in Engage - (1 Comments)

Theo HeselmansA week ago today the annual Engage conference started in Rotterdam, on one of the most amazing conference venues I’ve been at so far, the ship SS Rotterdam, which is a permanently moored hotel ship in the harbour. Theo Heselmans put on a stunning conference, where over 400 people attended. They were IBM Customers, end users, IBM business partners, members from other user groups, people from IBM and I’m sure there were other representatives as well.

As a part of the Brainworker consultant pool, I was treated to this trip by Arne Nielsen, who footed the bill. We did a road trip from Norway to the Netherlands, via Sweden, Denmark and Germany both to and from the conference. It was a nice trip, but I think we will fly next year…

Ego in session

Photo: Kristoff Bruers

I also did a presentation at the conference called “30 tips about IBM Verse.” I was so nervous that nobody would come, but it turns out I got a full room with 50 people. And the feedback was great.

Milan Matejic wrote: “Nice Session for everybody who plans to use Verse Client on a regular basis. Packed with lots of information delivered in a funny and energetic manner.” Aww! Thanks!

Notes/Domino v10 and 11

IBM presented a lot of things around IBM Notes/Domino v10 and v11. I’ve written about most of the Notes 10 stuff in this blog posting, but I will mention the new stuff they presented at Engage about 10:

Domino

  • Support for unlimited documents in folders – This really means nothing to me
  • Enhancements in Domino Cluster Administration – This was about time
  • Cluster configuration document – This means you have a place to you configure the files and directories, which have to be clustered
  • Domino statistics and monitoring via New Relic – Great for administrators
  • A lot of self repairing and self healing on the Domino server
  • Roll out automatic updates of the Notes client from the Domino server – Oh yeah!

Notes:

  • Forwarding multiple mails in ONE EML-file including attachments and formatting – Yeah… Outlook could do that ten years ago
  • Scheduled mail delivery – Have to send out an announcement tomorrow before lunch, but you won’t be at work? Schedule it!
  • Mail policy checks BEFORE the mail is sent to the server – This one I liked. You can actually prevent people from sending out confidential emails
  • A new “Team Calender” – This can also be used as a Team Mailbox. But most important: You can overlay the Team Calendar over your personal one! Yay!
  • Forwarding meeting invitations to other persons – Should have been made 10 years ago. But it comes with a twist that the competition doesn’t have: You can set up when you create the meeting whether people should be allowed to forward the meeting invite or not

Sametime:

  • Persistent chat – This means you can log off Sametime in your Notes client, and then continue the conversation, uninterrupted, on your mobile client. And vice versa.

iNotes:

  • Nothing new here, but it was strongly hinted that when the lacking functionality in IBM Verse is in place, Verse will replace iNotes as the Domino webmail platform.

Nomad:

  • What’s Nomad? It’s the ability to run your Notes applications on an Ipad, without the need of any coding! Everything (except mail and calendar) will work! I got to do testing with this on an Ipad, and it worked beautifully

HCL PlacesHCL Places

  • This was the biggest news. Turns out that HCL, who took over development of the ICS portfolio (except IBM Connections), have started developing an alternative to the Notes client. It is more reminiscent of an application with feeds, but it’s still early days.

The first beta of Notes/Domino 10 will be out in June, and the second one will be out in August. We did get to se the new Notes 10 client, and I was severely disappointed. It looked just like V9, but Feeds, OpenSocial Component and Composite Application Editor will be removed. This an attempt to make the client lighter. It also stems from customer feedback that almost nobody was using these features of the client. You can also change the colours of the client in totally different ways than before, but a visual impression is so important, that I really wish the design of the client had been changed.

Notes/Domino v 11 will be out already next year. That version will have a much tighter integration with Active Directory, so that you will be able to create Notes users in AD, and then they will be automatically created in Domino Directory as well. Another vision for Notes/Domino 11 is that of low code. It will be even easier than it is today to set up applications, both for mobile, web and the client itself.

Also, the Domino Designer might get killed off, so that you can the Visual Studio Plugin for coding instead. The idea is that anyone should be able to code a Domino based solution, without much, if any, knowledge of the Domino platform. With new and improved APIs they will be able to read from and write to Domino. Personally, I hope they also get rid of Eclipse.

It was also revealed that over 200 developers (TWO HUNDRED) were working on the next versions of IBM Notes/Domino. And at one of the presentations, the lead developer agreed with me that Xpages had been a blind alley. Thank you! I’ve been saying that for years. And:  There’s no end of life date for Notes/Domino.

There was also talks about IBM Domino in the cloud. You can already today move your Domino applications to the cloud or run them in a hybrid environment. This will be made even more easy in the future.

Phew! That was quite a lot about Notes/Domino 10 and 11. What else did we learn?

IBM Watson Workspace

Kirti GaniWatson Workspace is something IBM is pushing really these days. They have already made templates for various types of businesses, that will make it easier for organisations to have spaces where teams can collaborate, and have their data analysed in ways that will make it easier for you to make quick business decisions. At least that’s what IBM says. It can also be integrated into IBM Connections Cloud. Contact your local IBM sales person, or partner, to give it a try.

I also attended a few sessions where organisations did presentations on what they are using IBM’s Watson technology for. I especially liked Margo van der Stam’s presentation about what the Dutch tax office is doing by automatically processing letters from the public. It was very interesting to hear about the challenges they have by making the automatic process recognise things like addresses, censoring the names of the sender and decide on the right cause of action. It’s all still in being developed, so there is a manual review as well.

I also saw demos on how to make scripts and customise the templates so that you can add your own actions that you can trigger Watson to do. It is a very promising technology.

Sponsors and partners

SponsorsThe sponsor room was great, with a constant stream of food, snacks and drinks. It was also nice to talk to several of the business partners and sponsors about that they could offer for Office 365, Notes/Domino and IBM Connections.

And speaking of IBM Connections. There was nothing announced about Connections. Less than a year ago at Social Connections in Vienna, it was all about IBM Connections Pink. Now? Quiet. The only times it was mentioned was whenever IBM denied they were only thinking about cloud customers, or when it came to integrating IBM Watson Workspace into communities in IBM Connections.

In addition, I attended a couple of sessions about how to leverage your Notes/Domino data by using various types of technologies and development platforms. Especially Paul Withers talk about Node.RED and the Domino APIs was great. I’ve worked way too little with stuff like this and should really get my act together.

The people that you love

Red PillAnd that was the technical stuff. Another important part of the conference is the social bit. On Tuesday the sponsors and speakers were pampered to a great dinner, with tribal drumming and didgeridoo playing, on the deck of the SS Rotterdam. In beautiful weather, I might add.

On Wednesday Theo took us speakers, as per tradition, on a secret tour. We started the evening at the Dutch Pinball Museum and ended up with a dinner at the Euromast tower.

The next morning Arne and I drove back, and thanks to lots of road construction work on the German Autobahn, we weren’t home in Norway until 3 in the morning. And I had to be at the train station at 04.20…

Once again, Thanks for a great conference, Theo. You give us other user groups something to really strive for! And thanks to all the attendees, especially my fellow IBM Champions and the other speakers, for helping to make it great. See you all next year!

You can see my entire photo album from the conference here:

Engage 2018

Other people’s blog postings:

 

SS Rotterdam

For the third year in a row I’ve been invited to go to Engage to do a presentation. Last year we were in Antwerp, where I gave a presentation on IBM Connections plugins, and the year before that we were in Eindhoven, where I also gave a session about the plugins.

This year the event will be held Tuesday – Wednesday May 22nd – 23rd, on board the SS Rotterdam, the former flagship of the Holland American Line. That’s so frigging cool!

If this conference will be anything close as good as the previous two I’ve been to, we are in for a treat. What’s that? You haven’t signed up, you say? Well, you still can! What are you waiting for? I’ts free (apart from the trip and sleeping arrangements)!

You will be there with 400 like minded individuals to learn and engage with the best people within their fields. You will also get the news about what’s coming up from IBM and their partners. Hear the latest news and the roadmaps for Domino, Connections, Verse, Watson Workspace etc.

You have 80 sessions to choose from.  And I will be there to give my session about 30 tips on how to use IBM Verse effectively!

I will be going down there on a roadtrip through Europe with my friend and business partner Arne from Brainworker. I will be representing Brainworker and the Norwegian IBM Collaboration User Group (ISBG) there as well.

So sign up!

Social Connections in Vienna

October 27th, 2017 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Connections - (0 Comments)

Last week I attended the Social Connections conference in Vienna. This conference is put together by a group of users and IBM partners, and they alternate between North-America and Europe. This was the twelfth conference, but it was my first.

Not only did I attend, I also did a presentation myself. Since I’ve become Mr. IBM Connections plugins over the last two years, I naturally gave a presentation on those. Again.

Vienna is a beautiful city, with a huge legacy of culture, architecture and history. I arrived the day before the conference started and therefore took the opportunity to do some sightseeing. There are those who frown upon those “hop on and off” tour buses that you find all over the world now, but I love them. They are perfect for getting around to see the best sites, and not too expensive.

The conference itself was attended by several IBM-ers, and they started off and ended the conference by talking about the future of collaboration. Over the two days the conference lasted we could learn about:

  • The way your organization changes because of digital transformation
  • Administration of IBM Connections (which can be a bitch on-premise)
  • Various third party apps and solutions for IBM Connections (and that’s growing, something I’m personally very excited about)
  • Integrated workspaces for employees
  • How to boost user engagement and make sure your change to collaborative solutions succeed, and how not to do it
  • The file solution Box which makes it easier to share files from Connections with people outside your organization
  • Livegrid, which is an even easier way to get your data out of Domino, or make it more easily available for other solutions (and for them to write back to Domino)
  • IBM Watson Workspace, IBM’s version of Slack where you can add their Watson technology, which will function as a bot that can answer questions. A lot of banks are using similar solutions these days without their customers even knowing about it
  • IBM Connections plugins for Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Office and Windows Explorer, IBM Notes and the MacOS (given by yours truly)
  • Security and hacking. A great lecture was given by my fellow Norwegian Robert Farstad about how they asked professional hackers to hack the IBM Connections solution used by Høyre (the Norwegian political party who currently holds the Prime Minister in Norway)
  • Searching for contents and files
  • Docker
  • IBM Connections Engagement Center and IBM Connections Customizer

Vienna HallwayPhew! Quite a list. But a great conference. If you are interested in learning about any of this stuff, you can find the slides for each session in the agenda. Just click on the More Info button.

I’m interested to see where IBM Connections Pink is going. It seems exciting, but how will customers react to it going from an out-of-the-box-solution to a make-it-into-whatever-you-want-it-to-be solution?

The venue was fantastic. It was like you could hear the ghosts of winter balls past, with the waltz ringing in your ears. Chandeliers, tapestries, long winding staircases, statues, paintings and all other things you think about when you talk about the old Vienna.

Well done to all the organisers! Can’t wait for the next one. Check out my photo gallery from Vienna and the conference.

Here’s my presentation:

Join Me in Vienna

September 22nd, 2017 | Posted by elfworld in IBM - (0 Comments)

Social ConnectionsQuite a few Norwegian ICS customers and partners ahve signed up for the Social Connections conference in Vienna. Why don’t you join us?

Social Connections is an international user group. They set up meetings twice a year, and they alternate between Europe and North-America. The conferences usually last for two days, and a lot of the most famous faces in the ICS community are there to give sessions and presentations. Yours truly will this year present his talk about plugins for IBM Connections.

The conference is also a great opportunity to meet official IBM-ers, new and existing customers and ICS experts that will give you the chance to expand on your knowledge about collaboration.

This autumn the conference is in Vienna, and it takes place on Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th of October, at Palais Pallavicini.

A lot of Norwegians are going, and the Norwegian usergroup, ISBG, is trying to get all Norwegians together for an informal gathering.

Agenda, registration form and information about the conference can be found at socialconnections.info.

Barry RosenThe Norwegian IBM Collaboration Solutions User Group’s (ISBG) spring meeting was held at PwC in Oslo on June 7th and 8th. Around 60 ISBG members, presenters, IBM-partners and people from IBM were there during the course of those two days.

Wednesday started with Roger Johannessen wishing everyone welcome for the very last time as leader of ISBG. From there we moved straight on to Mac Guidera’s keynote. His focus was on how employees today are flooded with too much information. It all just turns into noise. He therefore talked about how IBM’s collaboration solutions can, with the help of cognitive technology, can filter, delegate and prioritise for you.

The systems will lift up what’s important to you, so that you can focus in a much better way. IBM’s solutions will also learn how you work and will help to organize your working day for you.

He talked about IBM Verse, IBM’s web and mobile based mail solution that runs on Domino. You can read his entire presentation here.

What should you choose?

Morten MyrstadMorten Myrstad from The New Company has just become an IBM partner. The first thing he talked about were weather the rumors about the death of the corporate intranet were exaggerated or not.

His point was that the focus should be on people and a change in the company’s culture. You should choose your tools based on this. The keywords are: Management, solutions and learning.

He did a presentation of various solutions for collaboration, like Sharepoint, IBM Connections, @Workplace, Slack, Google Apps, Office, Episerver and some others. It was all a very good walkthrough the various solutions strengths and weaknesses. You can see Morten’s presentation here.

Detective Watson

Oliver BusseBecause of a misunderstanding on part of the soon to be leader of ISBG, Hogne Bø Pettersen, the two next presentations had to switch places. The next presenter was therefore IBM Champion Oliver Busse from We4IT. The techies among the audience loved this presentation and welcomed everything he told about how you can use IBM’s Watson technology in your IBM Notes and web applications with open arms. You can see his presentation here. Demo not included.

The world’s fastest growing IT industry is right now sophisticated attacks on and hacking of companies’ IT systems and infrastructure. Most of the time you get hacked without realizing it until a year or so later. Espen Skjøld from IBM Norway talked about the challenges surrounding  this.

He also spoke of IBM’s service QRadar Advisor, which also uses IBM’s Watson technology to evaluate and validate security measures in a company. This was a very interesting presentation many people liked. You can read it here.

Human Information Processing

Arne NielsenAfter lunch, it was time for Arne Sigurd Rognan Nielsen. He is a former IBM employee. These days he runs his own consultant business called Brainworker. He has worked with a lot of big customers and have helped them to start using collaboration solutions in an effective way. In his session he talked about how he has done this, and via examples from various customers he demonstrated that what’s important is the knowledge and attitude, not the technology. You can read his lecture here.

Next one out was Felix Binsack, IBM Champion and owner of the TimeToAct Group, which were gold sponsors. His company has had great success with their product XCC, which they’ve now sold to IBM. It has now changed its name to IBM Connections Engagement Center (ICEC). This product makes it much easier to transition IBM Connections into a well functioning intranet which can also act as a digital workplace for both web, mobile and pads. Unfortunately we never received his presentation.

Future of web and video conferencing

Thomas Sigdestad from Enonic held a fantastic lecture about progressive web apps. The trend is that the number of mobile apps are decreasing, and instead people develop web apps. This means web web solutions that consists of one dynamic web page, which acts like an app, and which also works offline.

In his presentation he showed several examples, and it’s also a great presentation for Star Wars fans. You can download it here.

Bo Holtemann from IBM Denmark was next. He talked about the partnership between IBM and Cisco. This means you can now integrate WebEx with IBM solutions like IBM Connections. A lot of people have wondered whether this means that IBM’s own video conference solution, Sametime, has been abandoned. But this was refuted by IBM.

The partnership means IBM will be selling Cisco’s WebEx solution for video conferencing. IBM will then take their cognitive technology into this platform. This will make it possible to get your own personal assistant and other helpful functionality. You can see all the details here.

Balloon towerAnd then it was time for speed sponsoring where everybody had to visit one of the sponsor stands. The sponsors then had two minutes to present themselves and their products, before you moved on to the next one.

This was followed by the team competition, which included an audio play, questions, bribing the judges and the building of balloon towers. After this it was a short break before the magical dinner with prizes, speeches, thank you gifts for the board members who are now stepping down and not least Rune Carlsen’s incredible magic show.

An old friend

The next day everybody was up and looked fresh and awake(?) to receive some information from the ISBG board before Barry Rosen from IBM gave his keynote about IBM’s plan for the IBM Notes/Domino platform. He talked about the fact that after you have upgraded to version 9.0.1, there will be no other versions. After this, what you will get are feature packs. These will include upgrades, bug fixes and new functionality.

He also presented a string of new functionality that has already arrived for the platform, and what is expected in the near future. He also presented the fact that you now can choose to use IBM Notes, IBM Verse or Microsoft Outlook with Domino. Both on premise and in the cloud.

Uffe Sørensen then took over and he talked about the “bring your own client”-strategy. It all turned into a very passionate discussion about Notes/Domion. It’s obvious that a lot of people still have great love for the platform. Read the presentation here.

Miki BanatwalaIt was then time for another IBM man. This time it was Miki Banatwala. He told us about IBM Connections Pink and what that platform really is. The idea is that after upgrading to IBM Connections 6, there will be no more new versions of IBM Connections. The idea is to do agile developing and push one update at a time. This is just like Facebook does it. This means you can add functionality and upgrade Connections without the need of creating a big project out of it. Read all about it here.

Germans

Andreas Rosen was next up. He talked a little bit about the German user group and what they had done to increase participation from their members. After his he talked about Salesforce, which is a platform a lot of Notes developers have moved to. This is not strange, because a lot of the principles of the two platforms are very similar.

Rosen told how you can integrate Salesforce with Connections, Domino and the OnTime calendar. Read his presentation here.

Peer PrieserThe next German up was Peer Prieser. He talked aobut how We4IT can help you analyse, develop and modernize your Domino applications. He also talked about how you can use Watson here. Download his session here.

Paul-Christian Garpe from Peda, which were this year’s Platinum sponsors, was next. He talked about the new directive for the protection of personal data that the EU will introduce in 2018. Even though Norway isn’t in the EU, we will be affected by this too. He talked about how IBM’s technology can help you in the preparation for this. Download the presentation here.

REST easy

It was now time for a delicious lunch again, before Anton Löwmar from Edgeguide in Sweden told how their technology could be used to develop and modernize your Domino applications. He also talked about how, with the help of their product, you could integrate data from Domino with Sharepoint and other platforms. Read the presentation here.

Ipad winnerKjetil Herpaasen from Item was the last man out. He did a session that especially the developers in the audience were ecstatic about. He gave us an introduction in Swagger, OSGI-plugins and REST-services. Everything done on the Domino platform. Read his presentation here.

It was then time for the annual ISBG meeting where a new board was elected. I now became the leader, after serving as second in command for the past year. It was then time for a Kahoot quiz. Since it was about Star Wars, I won, but I couldn’t get a price since I’m a board member. There was also prize drawings, and when that wrapped, this year’s spring meeting was over.

The evaluation and feedback afterwards have been great. And the message is clear: We should continue with the spring seminar in the future. In what fashion, remains to be seen. The new board will start working this autumn on what we should do to move forward and meet the drop in attendees. But I can assure you we are motivated!

Bob Voith did his own summary of the spring seminar in his blog here

Oliver Busse also did one

And you can see the entire photo album from the spring meeting here:

ISBG Spring Seminar 2017

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