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Connect 2016 Day 1: Jump starts and steak

February 1st, 2016 | Posted by elfworld in Connect | IBM - (5 Comments)

Started the day with 10 km run around the lake where we live, in what in Norway would be called a cloudy but very warm and humid summer day.

Even though the general opening of the conference always happens on Mondays, there are still lots of sessions to go to on Sunday as well. They are called jump starts, and here’s a short summary of the ones I went to:

Successful Social Content Migration into the Cloud

Moving to the cloudIBM is very eager to move people into the cloud, and my company has been looking into it as well. Unfortunately the cost of the moving itself has been way too costly. After this session I got a bigger understanding of why. The key points were:

  • IBM’s tools for doing this are note quite finished yet. And that’s because IBM Connections on premise is very different from IBM Connections in the cloud
  • The biggest obstacle is the moving of data. You cannot just copy the database into the cloud
  • You need impersonating users that gets your data and then inserts them into Connections in the cloud
  • There has to be a very strong project management that has to analyse today’s situation, plan what you want to achieve, test, test, test and them migrate
  • Almost nothing in IBM Connections in the cloud can be standalone. This means that any standalone wikis, blogs, forums, bookmarks and so on has to be inserted into a community in the cloud
  • Likes and the counting of number of downloads will not be transferred to the cloud
  • CCM is not supported but nested folders for Files is now possible

There’s also a staggering amount of work that has to be done to perform such a move, and it will involve your ICT department, IBM and/or a third party. It’s a big project and will take weeks.

If any companies reading this are willing to help my company out on this, please get in touch.

IBM Connections Integration with Microsoft

bConnect Send To in Office

bConnect Send To in Office. Complete with our own logo. Pretty cool, eh?

As people who have seen and heard me give presentations of IBM Connections can attest to: I love the plugins for IBM Connections. I know them in and out, and I have made documentation on how to use them, which I hand out to people who ask.

I therefore didn’t learn anything new in this session, but it was nice to see IBM give the plugins a presentation and some love. Several people in the audience knew very little about them, and I hope they run back home to their users and start training them.

We did get a presentation on up and coming plugins for the web version of Connections that makes it easy to interact with Sharepoint and Office 365 in the cloud.

The lead developers of the plugins are well aware of me as I’ve pestered them both during earlier conferences, as well as via email. During the Q & A I asked the following questions:

  • Why can’t you tag files when copying them into a community. This happens when you copy your files to your self. The UI is therefore a bit broken as it behaves differently depending on the situation (I got applause for this question)
  • The best plugin for IBM Connections in IBM Notes is the Activities plugin. It’s quite simply brilliant. The Outlook client for IBM Connections is way better than the IBM Notes plugin in almost all ways, except that it doesn’t have Activities. I asked if that was in on the roadmap (I got cheers and applause for that one). I got no promises from the developers, though
  • I also asked about the possibility to create short cuts under Favourites in Windows Explorer directly to nested folders and was asked to meet up with the developers in the lab later on

My Love-Hate Relationship with IBM Domino Plugins

A very technical session on how to use Eclipse, which IBM Notes is running on, to create plugins that will add functionality to the Notes client. This feature has been available since 2008, and it has been criminally underused. IBM haven’t been very good at promoting them, and Eclipse is a bitch to fight with.

Even so, you can do some great stuff with it. But since people are moving out of the Notes client, I think plugins will be developed more for the web in the future instead of for the Notes clients. Personally I wish I had done more of this kind of stuff, but I’ve only made a few myself.

Solution EXPO Grand Opening Reception

I met up with several other of my Norwegian companions, and we went into the exhibition area to see what vendors and business partners were there. I met up with my friends in Panagenda as well as all the other people you have gotten to know through the years here. That’s always so nice, and all through the day when walking through the corridors of the hotel, you meet an old friend again.

You also get to meet IBM-ers that you have a lot of contact with on email or via phone calls.

The evening ended with IBM Norway taking all the Norwegians out for dinner at the fantastic steak house Texas Brazil. They cut your meat for you at the table, and it’s so tender it melts in your mouth. And of course you have to have key lime pie for dessert.

Happy, content and full I went to bead, ready for the Opening General Session Monday morning.

Connect 2016 Day 0: Just Arrived

January 31st, 2016 | Posted by elfworld in Connect | IBM - (3 Comments)

hilton_lakeCall it Lotusphere, call it IBM Connected or call it any other name that IBM has changed it to after dropping the name all old timers refer  to the conference as: Lotusphere. No matter what you call it, the official name this year is Connect 2016.

Another change is that this year it’s not taking place at the Disney hotels Swan and Dolphin, but at Hilton Orlando. You can see it on the photo that I took by the lake at the place we live. Since the conference hotel itself had insanely high room prices, my colleague, Gunnar, our Domino consultant Gunleif and me hired a great flat at the Vista Cay Resort, a short walk from the hotel.

The Vista Cay Resort is a relatively cheap and great place to stay, with stores, restaurants, a gym and a swimming pool in the neighbourhood. I whole heartily recommend a place like this for a family holiday trip to Orlando.

This year I’m the official blogger for the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG). That’s because I won a scholarship to go to the conference, which means that ISBG is paying for everything. In return I will blog from the conference on their behalf, I will look for potential candidates to speak at the ISBG spring meeting in May and I will give a presentation from the conference at said meeting.

We arrived this afternoon after a pretty uneventful flight. The storm/hurricane that hit Molde Friday evening resulted in my flight from Molde to Oslo being delayed for an hour and a half, but other than that the trip went just swimmingly. Ok, I have to admit that I would like to ask all parents to never ever go on ten hour flights with children under the age of 6. It’s torture both for the kids and their fellow passengers.

The weather is great, 22 degrees (72 F) and we just finished a pizza and a few beers. The first part of the conference starts tomorrow afternoon, and I’m eager to start. I hope you are eager to follow me as well.

We in the IBM community are much too focused on the negative things. We are our own worst enemies in that regard. And when I look back at my blog postings from the previous Lotusphere/Connected conferences, I see that I’m just as guilty in this as everybody else. So I will promise you this: I will focus on the positive things. My job is to learn all I can to make it easier for my company to solve our business challenges and improve our flow of information and IT structure. I don’t care if this means that I have to use this or that tool/standard/language. The important thing is to get the job done, and done well. So no complaints from me this year. It will only be about what can be achieved, and not what I would wish could be achieved.

Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch, follow up on something I wrote or give me tips on what I should look at while I’m here.

Intranett 2015

December 16th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in Connections - (2 Comments)
Intranet 2015

Me holding my presentation. Photo: Tiina Manninen

On November 26th I attended conference at Vika Atrium in Oslo, where I did a presentation of IBM Connections. I also got to see several presentations of Intranet solutions from other companies, as well as gaining some insights on where intranets are going now. Because an intranet is no longer just a web page.

Development

When intranets were introduced at the end of the 90s they started as static web pages where management provided information for their employees. After a while it also turned into a portal, where you could find links to other internal systems and resources.

But when social tools like Facebook really started to make an impact, it became clear that an intranet like that wasn’t very valuable. It was just a static web site which nobody would read. This prompted companies to develop intranets that were more interactive. The content wasn’t just produced by management any more, it also started to become more user generated.

This lead to some changes:

  • Leaders started to blog and gave their employees the possibility to comment, ask questions and reply
  • Instead of just sending out information about events, happenings and news, the employees could take more control of the flow of information
  • The intranet wasn’t just a news site any more. It became more like a dash board, or control panel, where employees start their working day

As the evolution of the intranets and social tools went on, the intranet now turned into a repository where all the flow of information, documentation and other communication took place, and were stored. And that’s when users started to demand the possibility of using the intranet on their phones and pads. So now the trend is that an intranet project also includes development of an app for mobile devices.

In my company

In my job, we are somewhere inbetween a full social intranet and an old fashioned intranet. Our intranet solution is now four years old, and it has severely cut down on internal emails sent out to all (that almost never happens any more). But the communication on the intranet itself is very one sided. That’s where IBM Connections comes in.

IBM Connections gives us a news stream, the possibility to upload and share files with full version control, to share bookmarks, to create complete wikis with documentation and information, to move discussions to forums instead of emails and plugins that makes it possible to work with content directly from Microsoft Office, Windows Explorer and IBM Notes (or Outlook if you use that as your email client). All the content have version control, can be commented on and, yes, even “liked.” By tagging content it becomes much easier to find when searching for it.

We also have blogs, and our CEO is blogging several times a year to give us a summary of our company’s situation. People can then comment, ask questions directly.

The process of adapting to Connections is still going on, and I’m in charge of the training. But we are seeing the fruits of the process now. Files that used to be hidden on network drives are now much easier to find (and it has access control). More and more people are now asking questions and have discussions in open forums instead of using email, where only the “lucky” ones that are included in the “to” or “cc” field can take part. We also have projects and processes where communications and sharing of information and documentations now happen in communities, instead of being hidden away.

In that regard, IBM Connections is now a part of our intranet, at least if we use the definition of a modern intranet. And it will in the long run be our complete intranet. I’m currently testing out using the news stream from IBM Connections to create a standard startup page that will open when you log on in the morning. It will consist of official news streams that you can’t remove. But it will also be possible for the users to have control of what they want to see and not.

And since IBM Connections has a complete mobile app, both for Apple devices and Android devices, we have that covered as well.

My presentation

In addition to touching on the ideas mentioned above, I also gave a live demo of IBM Connections, directly from our servers. I demonstrated both the web edition, the mobile edition and how the plugins work.

What was funny was that I could present functionality that other companies in the room had spent millions on. Not, that’s not right: They had spent millions and still had only half of the functionality I presented. I was asked on how much development cost we had on it, and I could say: – None!

It all comes out of the box. You only need to purchase the licenses for Connections, and get it up and running. That’s it. You can do development on it since it has a very open and well documentet API. But if you want to you can just start using it. And: The mobile app is included. You will have no development costs for a mobile version of your intranet.

I got great feedback from people after my presentation was over, and I have received a couple of emails afterwards where people have told me that they wished IBM could be this good at selling their own solutions. Personally I just like presenting things I like to use, but I should really get a commission from IBM for this, shouldn’t I? 🙂

ISBG Scholarship

October 28th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in ISBG - (2 Comments)

Ego ISBGLast Wednesday the autumn meeting for ISBG, the Norwegian IBM user group, took place. ISBG is a standalone forum for customers and users of IBM’s software solutions for collaboration. In my employer’s case that means IBM Notes/Domino, IBM Notes Traveler (email, calender and contacts on mobile and pads), IBM Connetions and IBM Sametime (but we are moving to Skype for Business soon).

I gave two presentations. The first one was a very technical one where I explained how you can make it possible for users to log on to a web-based Domino solution without having to register those users in your Domino Adress Book. You only need to register them in Active Directory. I will do a blog posting about this, but you can download my presentation here.

In my second presentation I told how we at Brunvoll have used wikis in IBM Connections to document our processes. We are in the process of being certified with several new ISO certifications, and those demand that we document our processes. I demonstrated how we had used graphics and design to make the navigation through the contents and structure of the wikis more inviting and sexy. I also told what we liked about the wikis in IBM Connections, and the things we find are lacking in the wiki applications.

The reception was very good, and several people thanked me afterwards for teaching them that you actually have version control in the wikis, just like you do with files.

I’ve also received a lot of good feedback about Brunvoll and the fact that we share our experiences and knowledge like we do in these forums. That’s really nice to hear.

 On the top of all this I was also given ISBG scholarship, worth 20 000 NOK ($2300), so that I’m able to go to the annual IBM Connect (formerly known as Lotusphere) conference in Orlando, FL, USA in January. I was very happy about this, because I had received word from my boss that there probably wasn’t money left on the budget to send me this time. A colleague of min will also be going on Saturday January 30th.

The scholarship is given out every year. The person who gets it is obligated to blog every day from the conference (which I do in this blog anyway) in addition to give a presentation at the ISBG meeting in February. And I’m not shy about talking and holding presentations, so no complaints from me there.

I will during next week blog about some of the presentations from the ISBG meeting.

 

External users in IBM Connections

External users in IBM Connections are easy to spot

One of the main reasons for using tools like IBM Connections is that you can share information with a lot of people at the same time, without having to use email. This means that the information is open for everybody who has access to it. This instead of being hidden in someone’s inbox, upon which you have to ask them to forward you a message, a file, a task and so on via an email.

This works very well internally in your organization. It does not help you minimizing email contact with your customers, business partners, suppliers and other people outside your organization. In turn, this often forces you to use email instead of Connections also inside your organization since projects with external partners mostly also involves several internal people.

In IBM Connections 5.0 you can get around this by inviting external users into communities on your IBM Connections server. If you do this, you can share information also with external people, without having to resort to email. Garbriella Davis from The Turtle Partnership gave a very good presentation of this during the ISBG meeting in Larvik.

The first thing on any administrator’s mind is security. What is it that an external user can and cannot do? An external user cannot:

  • See public content
  • Create communities
  • Follow people or add them to their network
  • Search for users
  • See anything under Recommended
  • See the menu selection Profiles
  • See @-mentions
  • See already existing tags (but can add new ones)

An external user can:

  • Only access the community he is invited to
  • Use, edit and share files in the community
  • Post and reply in forums inside the community
  • Comment and like content inside the community
  • Only share files directly with the community, or with users inside the community if he knows the exact email address

Only selected people can create external users and communities for such users. It’s not open for anyone to do this. There are also other issues that must be addressed:

  • How should external users be registered
  • Who should be given the rights to do this
  • What sort of password policy should you enforce
  • Where should the users be registered
    • It’s recommended that you use a separate LDAP-server or a separate branch
  • You should turn off Anonymous user access on all IBM Connections applications
  • Make sure reader is not set to Everyone on any IBM Connections applications
  • Turn off public caching in LotusConnections-config.xml (you should do this anyway!)

You can also set up self registration. This means that you can create a community for external users and then send out invitations to join it. When the external user clicks on the link in the invitation, he’s asked to register. Domino is very good for self registration and there are Xpages based solutions for this.

Other security information:

  • All communities with external users are clearly marked with a huge yellow sign
  • If you share a file with a community with external users via the web version of Connections, you are given a warning
  • If you share a file with a community with external users via one of the plugins you are not given a warning. This means that one should have well established routines around this
  • A community with external users can be converted into an internal community where no external users have access.
  • You cannot take an existing internal community and convert it to an external community, not even if the community is a former external community that was converted to an internal one

Sharing information with external people does have its pitfalls, but I think these pitfalls are far outweighed by all the benefits.

The annual spring meeting in the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG) took place in Larvik, at Farris Bad, last week. I will in the coming days present my experiences and thoughts about

Hugutette RancHuguette Ranc, Social Business & Smarter Workforce Unit for Europe – IBM, talked about the strategic cooperation that IBM has with Apple, Facebook, SAP, Weather Channel, Twitter and other media outlets. IBM’s part of this is using Watson as a tool for analyzing the data. This is in turn used to create a better experience for the users, as well as gathering data that the companies use to decide on their future strategies with their tools.

Christopher Crummey, Executive Director of Customer Experience and Evangelism – IBM Enterprise Solutions, then took the stage. He has been working at IBM for over 25 years, and he discussed the soChristopher Crummey called New Way of Working.

He gave us some data about IBM:

  • 80% of IBM-ers do not have their own office
  • IBM has done 110 acquisitions in the past deacde
  • All users can bring their own devices to work, no matter what operating systems they are running
  • IBM has their own app-store and apps are pushed down to your device and computer
  • IBM automatically configures their employees phones, with one click and 6,5 minutes of waiting
  • They do not have phone support. All support is gathered in a community in IBM Connections where people can easily gather it

The fact that the users have a huge influence and control over how they want to work, where they want to work and with what tools, had increased user satisfaction.

Christopher admitted that IBM has never been good at design, and that’s why they partnered up with Apple. They’ve already launched a long list of apps for services like the police, health care and others for the Ipad. Here IBM provides the data and everything working in the background, while Apple provides the user interface. He compared this to building a bathroom:

IBM is the plumber and electrician, while Apple is the decorator.

They use Watson to analyse the big data. This can in turn be used to find out about user behaviour. For instance did a huge analysis of customer data for a phone company find out that it was the weather that was the biggest catalyst for whether a customer switched cell phone provider or not.

How could the weather influence such a decision? Further data analysis would be needed, but it could be down to the fact that a storm cut people from a certain provider off, while another provider was still online. The user would then change provider because of this.

This underlines the importance of staying on top of traffic, user habits, purchases and other activities that generate data.

Using this inside your own company is also a good idea. Make it easy for people to start working, to share ideas and to communicate. It’s especially important that the leaders in an organization leads the way here and invite everybody to start communicating. This will fuel engagement and drive innovation for your employees and users.

Then it was lunch time. Stay tuned for more blog postings about ISBG in the coming days. I will also continue my Whither IBM-series.

IBM is Going for the Push

February 13th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in Connections | IBM | ISBG | Notes - (0 Comments)

Wednesday February 11th I attended the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG) meeting in Oslo, hosted by Symfoni. IBM presented some interesting news, both about IBM Notes/Domino, as well as a major push in getting out into the market again.

Breakfast seminars

IBM Norway was there telling us about upcoming products and plans. They are planning to host breakfast seminars in several Norwegian cities in the coming months. They want to meet new customers, as well as communicating with existing ones. The new ones will be introduced to IBM’s solutions (IBM Connections/Sametime/Verse/Domino etc) and the existing customers will be given the chance to communicate.

And this communication will not just be with IBM, this will also be a good opportunity for IBM customers to meet up with each other and exchange experiences, problems, information, tips and so on. This is something we IBM customers feel have been lacking for years and years and years. Hopefully this signals a new push from IBM.

IBM Verse and Notes/Domino

RoadmapAccording to IBM Norway, they will soon publish their new roadmap about Notes/Domino. This will tell us what to expect for the platform in the future.

The most revealing news were this:

  • There will be a new release of the Notes 9.x client in the coming months
  • Domino 9.0.2 will finally have the long promised feature where you can connect to the server with Outlook, and a couple of Norwegian customers have been testing this for a while
  • Notes 10 is IBM Verse, Domino, Xpages and Bluemix. Enjoy your last few years with the Notes client, my friends
  • IBM Verse will be available for cloud customers from March 31st
  • IBM Verse will be available on premise during the second half of 2015. However, it will probably not be possible to run Watson on premise. A hybrid solution might be a work around, but nothing was promised

Cooperation with Apple

Apple and IBMLast year IBM and Apple announced that they were in cooperation about apps for businesses, a market Apple has struggled to get a foothold in. IBM will, with the help of technologies like Watson, create tools for analyzing big data. This in addition to the gathering of live data. Apple will be making the design and GUI.

Every quarter there will be a release of new apps, for various types of businesses. We got a demo of an app created for the police. The officer logged on with his Ipad when her shift started. She would then see all police actions in progress that is nearby. In addition she will also be able to call for help via the app, as well as receiving requests herself.

If she is called out on an assignment, she can use the app to connect to surveillance cameras in the area where a situation is in progress. She can then assess whether she should call for backup or not.

My presentation

PluginAfter lunch, Tore Sørgård from the company Geno gave a review of IBM Connected. He was positive to Verse, but skeptical to the fact that Sametime is hard to administer and is flawed, and that IBM was only about cloud, while their customers were not.

After this I gave my own presentation. I talked about Brunvoll, which a lot of people liked because they think our thrusters are cool, and then I spoke about the plugins for IBM Connections.

I did a big presentation on how to install, create settings for and how to use the plugins for Microsoft Office, Windows Explorer and IBM Notes.

I also talked about how you can make the plugin your own.

After that, and during he breaks, we mingled, talked, discussed and exchanged contact information. These bits are also very valuable.

Next ISBG conference is in May. See you then!

Connected 2015 Day 4

February 3rd, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (0 Comments)

I’m a bit behind on blogging on the last day of this year’s conference, but here we go:

I started the last day, slightly hung over, by being treated to breakfast by Panagenda. Not because they want me to buy the Marvel Client, but because we over the years have struck up a friendship. And that is one of the reasons this conference means so much to us in the Domino/Connections/Sametime community: You meet old friends again, in between all the sessions.

Customize the mobile Connections app

Since I’m a developer focusing on GUI, and I’m a teacher and instructor, I like things to be consistent and recognisable to my users. And that includes IBM Connections. Which is why I‘ve skinned the Connections plugin.

Hence I thought learning how to be able to do something similar with the Connections mobile app would be a good idea. However, turns out there is very little you can do with the mobile app for Connections, since it must through rigorous review processes before publishing. There are some stuff you can do, though, especially when it comes to security:

  • You can remove applications and services (for instance wikis if you don’t want to expose them if a phone is stolen)
  • You can stop people from copying text and material from the plugin
  • You can change the name of applications and services
  • You can set a default language
  • If you create your own widgets these can be included as long as they are outside of a community
  • You can create your own login screen
  • You can set up single signon via TAM, SPNEGO, SiteMinder etc.

The most important thing I took with me was the security part.

GURUPALOOZA

The Flash

What a smashing bloke! Photo: Kevin Petitt

After this it was all set for something me, and most people there, are looking forward to: Gurupalooza. This is where the developers take the stage and everybody who wants to can come up to the mic and ask questions. The developers are IBM partners, OpenNTF-members (the Open Source site for Domino) or just people in the Domino/Connections/Sametime community that are considered experts in their field.

The whole thing reeks of the fact that everyone vaguely knows everyone else, and there is a lot of laughing. I received an award for asking the first question and I got a yellow bicycle vest with Lotusphere 2000 printed on the left side. Nice!

Plugins

It was time for a session about plugins, something I myself handed in a draft for a session for. I didn’t get picked up, though, so I decided to visit the one that did get picked instead.

The plugins in question are a the ones used for working with files in Connections from Microsoft Office, IBM Notes, Open Office, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Sharepoint or Windows Explorer. I’ve become quite the expert in utilising them and I’ve created both documentation and wikis about them.

I must brag a bit: I was able to answer a few questions from the audience that the people giving the lecture couldn’t answer. Finally the developers asked me to meet them in the lab afterwards, so that I could show them how to create favourite links to libraries in communities.

Closing Time

After the Plugins session I spent a few hours just talking with people in the community, as well as taking in lunch with a few of them. I also got a demo of some new features in ProjExec, a project module we are running in IBM Connections.

It was then time for the closing session. It seems that IBM consists of nothing but Vice Presidents, and two women I’ve never heard of before came up to wrap up the conference. Even mentioning the fact that the Lotusphere cookie was missing form the lunch box this year!

A lot of people have guessed that this would be the last Lotusphere (or whatever you want to call it) and that it would be absorbed by the annual conference in Las Vegas. However, the message we got was that we would be told in the coming months what would happen to the conference in the future.

Me and several others think IBM was surprised about the big turnout, and the strong feelings we have about Lotusphere. And despite that the conference clearly was a low budget affair this year, it was a really nice experience. And of course: Most people wanted to know about the future of IBM Notes/Domino, while IBM did it’s best to bury talk about it, apart from Bluemix. It never ceases to fascinate me how little IBM is in contact with their customer base. Or maybe they just ignore them…

The session was closed with a fantastic sequence with mathemagician Arthur Benjamin. My guess is that he has ADHD and several other diagnoses, but he was a born showman, and showed what could be done with mathematics, given a bit of training. But I seriously doubt many people will be able to reach his level. You can see him in action at a TED-conference.

And then it was over. IBM Norway treated us to a very nice farewell dinner, and after a few rounds in the karaoke bar Kimono at the hotel, it was all over. We stayed for a few days more and took in some sites in Florida. At the airport on Saturday, we ran into other Lotusphere-attendees and ha a final round of beers. See you next year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connected 2015 Day 3

January 31st, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (0 Comments)

Today: Hogne learned splendid new things about content management, libraries and plugins for Office and Explorer.

This Tuesday was the perfect example of why it’s so important to go to the conference in Orlando. You get to talk to the right developers and managers to present challenges and errors. And in mine and Gunnar’s case, we solved several of them. Others we were able to lift to a higher level. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the top:

The future for Domino development

BluemixAs usual there was a huge turnout for a Domion session. Most Notes/Domino sessions are very popular, since it’s the main reason people come to this conference, no matter what IBM claims. People are very anxious to hear if there is any point sticking to the platform or not.

Since a bloated client that takes several gigabytes on your hard drive is not very fashionable any more, the idea is to move more and more of the functionality onto web and hand held devices.

This will be done by separating data and presentation in a much better way. The data can still be stored in the .nsf-files on your Domino-server, but the presentation and manipulation of the data will be done on web or mobile. Writing and reading will still be done to the Notes datbase.

With Bluemix IBM hopes to exploit this by integrating other systems and platforms. I wrote more about this in my previous blog posting. So you can for instance, via Bluemix, combine your Notes/Domino solution with SQL databases, php-systems and so on. In addition, you can still use an ID-vault and ID-files for encryption and signature support via Xpages on web.

The possibilities are many, and I think most of our Notes solutions can be modernized in this way. In addition they will be available for you when you travel, and you can even set up offline syncronisation, like you’ve always been able to do in the Notes client.

Development for IBM Connections

Luis Benitez is the product manager for IBM Connections, and I’ve been in a lot of contact with him in the past year (read: I’ve been pestering him). He and one of the developers did a great presentation that really inspired me.

I’ve now learned how I can develop my own widgets for Connections. This makes it possible to present data from other sources into Connections, like a Notes database. I will test more of this via my own cloud account.

Solutions to problems with plugins, libraries and content management

LibraryAnd then we arrive to the part where I tell you why me and my colleague were so happy on this Tuesday. The conference had, as always, a lab where you can ask the developers of the various IBM systems questions, face to face.

We are using CCM in Connections. It’s a small content management system that makes it possible to create libraries for files. We’ve had huge problems with this.

We’ve not been able to create meta data and document types. This has all stranded in technical problems. We were able to create a form that popped up every time someone wanted to upload a file to a certain library. We wanted them to be able to fill in meta data like production number, thruster type and so on. This can then be used to organise and search for content.

After a talk with the main developer of CCM Gunnar, my colleague, managed to fix this. He was so inspired that he ran straight to his hotel room to finish the solution. And it works. Beautifully.

And: The form asking for meta data also appears when you upload files via the Office and Explorer plugin for Connections! Tears of joy were falling. Beautiful!

Speaking of plugins: These are constantly developed by IBM, and I was able to talk to the chief developer. We will now have offline sync for files in Connections 5.0, via the Office and Explorer plugin. In the newest version of the plugin, you are also able to check files in and out, directly from Office.

I was also told that there would be no more development for the plugins in Notes. SĂĄ those of you who have, like me, dreamed of file tagging in the Files plugin in Notes can just forget it. Darn that IBM Verse!

I also talked to him about a problem where my users get an error message when trying to drag certain emails from their inbox and into an activity in the Activties plugin in Notes. Has anyone else of you experienced this? Any tips or help is appreciated.

The trials and tribulations of becoming a social business

This was a very interesting session. It was a non technical session, because it was simply about the organisational challenges you face when converting to a social business.

They presented us a survey done among 20 large companies on what their experiences were. And I must say I nodded in recognition to a lot of the things that was presented.

2,5% of employees are often the ones that take the lead when it comes to introducing social solutions, like IBM Connections. They are impatient, and you can’t even train them, because they are ahead of you, finding every strength and weakness in the system.

13,5% are what we call early adopters. They immediately grasp what it’s all about and they see the possibilities and start their adoption right away. About 34% of the employees need more prodding to be convinced. They usually turn into team players after being trained and have to be able to see it work in real life.

The next 34% are the employees that don’t really see the point but they slowly adopt the system along the way. But they do not use it eagerly, and just look upon it as “just another system.”

The final 16% you should just give up on. You cannot persuade them, and they will use any trick in the book to get around the system and keep working “like we always have done.” It is important, though, not to force them.

We also discussed how you should go about to introduce social business solutions and methods. There’s no rule book for this, and there is no right and no wrong way to to this. But we can sum it up:

  • Do not teach too much at once. Take it step by step and let things sink in
  • Move data from the old system to the new system, so that they don’t start with an empty system. It’s much easier to graps with content
  • How should you control the system? Too many rules, and people  give up. Too few rules and things can get out of hand
  • Do not let everyone work as they please. Create guidelines and suggestions. If not, it can be impossible to find things
  • It’s very difficult to move people from using email to start posting in forums, blogs or comment fields
  • Training and adoption are two different things
  • Give compliments and celebrate milestones. Make sure everyone feels an ownership to the solution
  • Systems like IBM Connections are not projects. They are a part of the infra structure
  • Remember that it should be fun!

Upgrading from IBM Connections 4.5 to 5.0

This session was about how to upgrade to Connections 5.0 and best practices around this. Even if my company will be using consultants to do this, it was very useful for me to get an overview what it really will entail. I also got hold of documentation.

Security on Notes/Domino and the Web

This was a very technical session, with a lot of abbreviations and strange jargon. Both me and Gunleif, who administer the Domino servers with me, were pretty tired afterwards.

It was a very thorough walk through on how to secure your Domino servers to minimise the danger of attacks via the web. Gunleif and me concluded that we will go through our web servers when we get home, and of course install all the latest Fix Packs.

In addition I learned that you now longer need a Windows XP PC to generate keyring files. Hurrah!

Register users in one place, let the rest just happen

Most companies, mine included, have a lot systems with employee data. The problem is that they all must be maintained manually. We want this to happen in the HR system, and then be replicated to Active Directory, then to Domino and further onto Connections and other systems.

This session was more of a discussion on how to achieve this, with a special focus on Active Directory and Domino. This will not just be about technical solutions. It’s just as important to have the organisational bits in place.

When a users is created she must be added to a group which reflect the access she should have. This will be based on which department she is a part of. Only after all this is in place can you start with the technical side.

How much of this we will be able to do at my company, we don’t know yet. The job has to be done, and I talked to an expert on Tivoli Directory Integrator, a system you automatically get via your Domino license. He was from Norway, and he felt that everything I wanted should be able to be scripted in TDI.

Beach party

Because of winds that made the fountains blow the water horisontally IBM moved this year’s beach party indoors. We had good food and drinks, once again, and it turned into a late evening with good talks, exchanges of experience and the establishing of new contacts.

And so it goes!

 

Connected 2015 Day 2

January 28th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (2 Comments)

Today: Hogne learns a lot of cool stuff about IBM’s new email solution, about inviting external users into IBM Connections and about Content Management!

Opening

Fre Choice

Free Choice. Photo by Kevin Petitt

Since Sunday usually is a pre-day during the conference, the general opening session is always on Monday morning. This year it was severely reduced in scope. Usually they’ve had world famous guest speakers like Neil Armstrong, Michael J. Fox, Kevin Spacey and other big names, but this year it was a much more quiet affair.

There’s always a lot of speculation and expectations about what IBM will present, and we did get to see a lot of the stuff IBM will be releasing over the next year. We finally got a demo of IBM Verse, the new email solution. It’s very tightly integrated with Sametime and Connections, and it looks pretty slick. Main points:

  • You can open attachments with one click
  • You can drag and drop attachments out and in of emails
  • You can mute email threads you don’t want to follow anymore
  • A search engine that creates very powerful searches
  • You can tag emails!
  • The intelligent email engine in Watson can answer questions for you. In the demo, they sent an email to Watson, as if it was a real person, asking who was the  biggest expert on Connections. And Watson gave a reply, with a link to this person’s Connections profile.
  • Everything will also function in the IBM Verse mail app
  • It will run on Domino
  • It will be released in the cloud first, and on premise in the second half of 2015
  • I already have a test account

We were also presented with some customer stories, among them from Moet Hennesy Louis Vuitton, who dabbles with everything from wine to perfume, watches, jewelry and clothing. They told how they are using Notes, Connections and Sametime in the entire corporation. It’s proven vital for their interaction with their end customers.

We also got a demo of IBM Connections Next. The biggest change here is a new homepage that analyses what’s important for you to know from forums, profiles, communities and so on. In addition, Connections will get a new design. And everything is tightly integrated with IBM Verse and Sametime.

But the coolest thing about Connections Next was that if you were working on something in the web version of Connections, and then open the mobile version, it will pick up where you left off! Now, that’s cool!

This year’s guest speaker was saved for the end, a wise choice. It was a nice talk given by Phillipe Petit, the man who walked on a line between the towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974.

Think design during development

The next session was about the importance of thinking in the right way when doing development. This was about theories and methods that you can use in any form of design and development, not just for programming and software.

Where people in the past used the waterfall technique during development (start, planning, analyse, do, test, put in production), you now do a life cycle of development that is a repeating loop. Understand -> Explore -> Prototype -> Evaluate -> Go to Understand

It’s also important to encourage people to come up with wild ideas. Often those are the ones that are the catalyst for success. So I encourage all companies to have internal blogging, where people can come up with ideas and creative thinking. No matter how off topic or off the wall it might appear.

Panagenda

Panagenda Marvel Client

Panagenda Marvel Client

I now took a break from sessions to have a meeting with Panagenda about their Marvel Client. This program makes it much, much easier to install, upgrade and fix the Notes client on your users computers. Today people do all sort of stuff, like deleting the cache.ndk-file, removing workspace files and so on. This client makes all such stuff unnecessary.

Personally I want my company to invest in this product, so I got the license prices and forwarded them to my boss. Fingers crossed.

Working with external users in IBM Connections

Gabriella Davis, who has helped me with many a problem on several occasions, held a great lecture on how to invite external users into IBM Connections.

She first did a lot of technical stuff how to set this up with Active Directory, Domino and LDAP. After this she talked about the administrative and organisational challenges and decisions that would have to be made.

Can you trust the people you’re inviting into Connections? How should the external people be registered? Can they do it themselves? What kind of password policy should we set? Who will be allowed to invite external users?

Here are the main points about working with external users in Connections:

  • Only persons who have been given a specific role can invite external users. It’s not an option for everybody
  • You can only invite people into communities
  • External users can only see files, forums and postings made inside the community they have been invited into
  • External users will not be able to see any other information outside this community. They will not be able to see stuff like wikis inside the community they have been invited into
  • If they do a search, they will only find content that exists within the community or content that have been shared directly with them
  • External users will only be able to share content with the community, they will not be able to share directly with other users
  • External users will only be able to see a person’s business card, with limited info. They will not be able to go into a person’s profile
  • External users can tag content, but they will not be able to search for and see tags other people have used, so it’s safe to use sensitive tags
  • All external users are clearly marked as external users, so there will be no confusion between external and internal users
  • Communities containing external users will also be clearly marked
  • If you share a file with a community containing external users, you will get a pop up warning you about this. But: This will not happen in the plugin in Office and Explorer. My suggestion is to prevent this by putting “external” in the title of the community

Bluemix

The next session was about how you can use IBM’s online platform Bluemix to put together applications in the matter of minutes. In that way you can combine data from a database in Notes, which then pushes data to Bluemix. You can then use other services or applications to act on that data. These services and applications can be almost anything, from php solutions to a whole other bunch of technologies. And setting this up is incredibly quick.

I’ve played around a bit with Bluemix, and it’s fun. But I still haven’t seen what business value one can get from this. We’ll see how it develops.

Content Management

Enhance Collaboration

Enhance Collaboration

This session was an eye opener for me! We already use CCM, the content manager plugin for FileNet and libraries in Connections, at Brunvoll. We haven’t really utilised the possibilities you have with adding metadata to files yet. With the IBM product Content Navigator this can be expanded on, quite heavily.

Instead of just adding text, you can with Content Navigator crop and edit photos, add design to files and so on. This in addition to adding document types and metadata. After this, you can publish this in Connections, on the web, in Notes and so on.

You can use widgets to show content from Content Navigator in IBM Connections. This is a product that I want to test to see if we can take advantage of it in Brunvoll. In addition, the product comes with a mobile application that gives you the same opportunities as you have in the original product.

IBM Nordic

After this I had to hurry down to Downtown Disney for the traditional IBM Nordic dinner, which this year took place at the Italian restaurant Portobello. Afterwards we were full and not thirsty, and that’s all she wrote…

Nice people, nice talks and a late night, that ended at the end of a labyrinth of hallways in our hotel, where we found a 24 hour store that I never knew existed, even though I’ve been coming here for over ten years now.

You learn so much at these conferences!