Domino, Notes and videotape
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A real life story that happened to me with two different customers.

Once upon a time there two files. Each file was used in a different organisation. The files were important for the organisations and several people needed access to them as several departments and projects needed to be able access, update and read them.

The Microsoft customer

Office 365 appsIn the first organisation the file was created by a team manager who then uploaded it into a team room in Microsoft Teams. Everybody with access to the team room could now reach the file and work on it. However, they didn’t have version control, nor could they really set different permissions for different users of the team room.

Furthermore, other teams also wanted access to this file. But as long as they weren’t members of that particular team, they couldn’t reach the file. The solution was to upload a copy of each file to the other team rooms in Microsoft Teams. Each team got a different copy. The problem with that solution was everybody was now working on different files. This created a lot of confusion.

Finally they had to sit down and try to merge all the copies into one file, which took a hell of a lot of manual work. When the file was to everybody’s liking, they now uploaded it into Sharepoint. They could now add this Sharepoint file to several team rooms in Teams. They could also set permissions so that some teams could write to the file, while others could only read the file. But they could only set the permissions for the team room as a whole. They also had version control now.

However, the team members had a hard time understanding why the file wasn’t in their Teams files. They had to remember to go to the Sharepoint tab in Teams to get to the file. If they wanted to see the file revision and version control, or wanted to see who had done what to the file, they had to open the Sharepoint app. It was a lot of unnecessary work that made a lot of users rather grumpy and confused.

They also wanted to share the file outside of their organisation with a couple of business partners. This could be achieved via a guest account, but this wasn’t something they wanted to do. Instead they discovered that they could share the file externally via the Offie 365 apps, but only if you changed several permissions in the Sharepoint admin tool first. It was a lot of work and they ended up emailing the files to the external users. They then uploaded the edited file they got in return into Sharepoint, with all the pitfalls that came with such an approach.

What they did love though was the ability to let several people edit a document at the same time in their web browser. This worked beautifully, and they could have an online meeting where everybody was working on the same file, seeing the updates being made live. After saving, all the formatting in Office file was intact.

It was also very easy to access the file via Windows Explorer and to open it up in Office to work with it locally on their computer.

But as the number of Teams grew and people started using more and more of the many apps inside Office 365, it became more and more difficult to have the overview the workers needed to keep up to date. There was no singular newsfeed to keep people updated.

The IBM customer

IBM Connections LogoIn the second organisation the file was created by a team manager who then uploaded the file to his own profile in IBM Connections. He then shared the file with his team via the community the team had in IBM Connections. Now all the members of this community could both work with and read the file. They also had full version control and they could also set different permissions for different  community members.

Other teams also wanted access to this file. This was no problem. Since the original team leader had uploaded the file to his own profile, he could just share the file with any other community or other users directly. Everybody was  now working with the same file without any hazzle.

And even though the file really resided in the original team leaders profile, each community saw the file in the Files view of their community, as if the file was there. There was no need to look for other apps or tabs inside the community. To see who had done what to the file, and to have revision and version control, all they had to do was to to go to the file inside their community. All the details were there.

They also wanted to share the file outside of their organisation with a couple of business partners. This could be achieved via a guest account, but this wasn’t something they wanted to do. And since they didn’t want t to do that, there wasn’t much they could do, without buying a third party app like Box or similar. This was a major grievance for the organisation.

What they also wanted was to be able to let several people edit a document at the same time in their web browser. To be able to to this they had to buy IBM Docs as it doesn’t come out of the box in Connections. But they soon discovered that IBM Docs screwed up the formatting in the Office files, especially in Excel and Powerpoint. For Word documents, they got by.

However, it was very easy to access the file via Windows Explorer and to open it up in Office to work with it locally on their computer, something they were very happy with.

What the IBM customers also was very happy with was that no matter how many communities or how much functionality they used, everything was contained within the same user interface, the same program and the same newsfeed. You didn’t need to think about when to use what functions, everything was inside IBM Connections.

Conclusion

Microsoft’s Office 365 has great functionality when it comes to document editing and creating good and useful Office files. It’s also good for smaller collaboration teams. However, there are way too man apps and way too many possibilities, and despite this, it’s still very difficult to share information and files between these apps. Heck, it’s even hard to share information and files between different teams within the same application. For a large organisation, I would definitely think long and hard before I started using a lot of these apps, especially Teams. A Sharepoint site is better, but then you will have a lot of development costs in addition to the license. Unless you find a good Sharepoint template to use.

IBM Connections on the other hand works out of the box. There’s no development needed, unless you want to of course. It’s also very easy to share information and files across the organisation and the various applications inside Connections. The users are thinking of Connections as one app, unlike Office 365 where you have to deal with many apps. This latter so confusing that Microsoft has made an 85 (eighty five!) page manual to tell you when to use what app…

Bot solutions have the ability to create guest accounts so that you can invite external users. But where Connections can’t share files outside the organisation out of the box, Office 365 actually can.

Both solutions makes it seamless to work with files directly from your local PC and from your email.

So both have their strengths and weaknesses, but I find Connections to have the upper hand when it comes to social collaboration and it has a lower learning curve when it comes to working effectively with it as a collaborative tool across the silos of your organisation. Office 365 still encourages silos.

However, if all you want to do is work with files and not much else, Office 365 is the way to go. And: You can actually work with Office 365 files from Connections. Something you cannot do the other way around.

Any thoughts, questions or comments? Use the comment fields below!

 

HogwartsWoke up half past five in the morning. My internal clock is still not up to snuff. The humidity outside was unbelievable and there was so much fog that I opted for a 4 x 4 interval run on the thread mill instead of running around the lake. After hitting the shower and taking in some breakfast it was off to the conference. On the way there I realised I had forgotten my conference badge and I had to run back to get it. After running to the conference hotel I was so soaked in sweat that I didn’t know what to do, but thankfully Floridian style air condition quickly cooled me down during the first session.

Take IBM Connections Across Your Enterprise – Through Plugins and Integration Points

As I’ve stated many times, I love the IBM Connections plugins for IBM Notes, Windows Explorer and Microsoft Office. I therefore try to pick up so many tips as I can about them. I really didn’t learn anything new during this session, but I was able to give a few inputs, tips and pointers to people. Two people from the plugins’ developers team told me later in the day they really appreciated my feedback and promotion of the plugins. Made my day!

IBM Connections at Lufthansa – Modnernization of Cooperation and Communication

For the four past years I’ve been working hard on introducing IBM Connections in my organisation. It has hit quite a few roadblocks during the way, so it’s always nice to listen to other the experiences of other IBM customers. Lufthansa are using IBM Connections through their entire organisation, and it was very interesting to hear about their challenges. I also liked that even though they had switched from Jive to IBM Connections, they didn’t down talk Jive. They said it had delivered what they wanted, but now they wanted more. That’s class.

Here are some of the key points:

  • The workers unions demanded that IBM did changes to Connections so that people could choose whether they should be visible through tagging
  • Workers unions also demanded that users had to be able to decide whether they wanted to have photos in their profiles or not (surprisingly many chose not to)
  • The whole project was done in just 6 months (impressive!)
  • Training and adoption is still going on, but the use of Connections is increasing every day
  • A lot of Lufthansa employees are on mobile devices, another reason to go for Connections
  • Connections has improved communications between flight crews, maintenance, caterers, ground staff and management

When a huge and important company like Lufthansa choose IBM Connections I think IBM should do even more to make Lufthansa representatives travel around talking about it!

What’s New in IBM Notes and IBM Domino

DominoAs usual a session about the future of IBM Notes and Domino was a session that was packed with people. You can take Lotusphere out the Connect, but you can’t Lotusphere out of the attendee.

We were presented with a roadmap with the following key points for Domino

  • Mail, contacts and calendar support for Microsoft Outlook on Domino will be available during 2016
  • Domino Next (which means the next version of Domino) will be out during 2016
  • TLS 1.2 support for all protocols
  • Store databases vie windexes outside of NSF file and on the file system, like you do on your mail files today
  • Live view refresh
  • Support for winmail.dat files
  • Java (JVM) will finally be updated to the latest version!

Here are the key points for Domino Designer (which means that there will be a new version of it):

  • Designer integration with Bluemix
  • Document encryption and signing in Xpages
  • API access to ID Vault
  • Responsive design with Bootstrap
  • Easy to integrate data from relational databases
  • Open sourcing of most of Xpages
  • Java 8, Dojo, Bootstrap, CK Editor, OSGi and Active Content Filtering will be upgraded to the latest versions

Here are the key points for the Notes Browser plugin:

  • It is now rebranded and will be called IBM Client Application Access (ICAA)
  • It’s now a stand alone application instead of a browser plugin
  • Support for all  @commands
  • Can be installed with the IBM Notes Rich Client
  • Will now also work on the Mac since it’s stand alone application

Here are the key points for IBM Verse on mobile (Traveler):

  • Meeting Moderators can now view who has accpeted a meeting invitation
  • Real-time push notifications
  • MaaS360 Cloud Exterior support
  • Calendar ghosting on unprocessed calendar invitations

Here are the key points for the IBM Notes Client:

  • Improved calendar interoperability with winmail.dat
  • Display internet style addresses instead of Notes addresses
  • Rules will run on existing messages as well as on new messages
  • You can now delegate calendar and To Do entries!
  • CCM support for the Files plugin
  • Template updates
  • Windows 10 support

Here are the key points for IBM iNotes (webmail):

  • Improved calendar interoperability with winmail.dat
  • Delegate calendar and To Do entries
  • Open message in Notes client or ICAA when detecting Notes/Lotusscript buttons within a message
  • Support for mailto: and sendto:
  • Support for IE Standard (no-quirks) mode
  • Support for Microsoft Edge browser
  • Integration with the latest version of Sametime, Docs and Connections

Here are the key points for IBM Verse (the new web mail IBM has been talking a lot about):

  • Out of Office support
  • Define/Insert signature
  • Prevent copying
  • Share to blog
  • File preview for Microsoft Office files
  • Send encrypted and digitally signed mail
  • Business card on typeahead
  • Team analytics
  • It will be on premise during the second half of 2016!

Phew! To sum up: Domino is not going away. It seems that there still will be an IBM Notes client, but we are getting mixed signals about that, especially because of the ICAA, which is replacing the Notes Browser Plugin. But IBM are committed to Domino, and now that you can choose between five different clients, including Outlook, there is absolutely no need to spend millions on migration yet! So tell your boss and Financial Director that, ok?

What’s New in IBM Connections

We are currently running IBM Connections 5.0 in our organisation. The newest version is 5.5, and during this session we got to hear what’s new this version. We got to hear quite a lot of what is new in communities, but I covered this in yesterday’s posting, so I won’t write much about it here. Other highlights:

  • Desktop plugin enhancements
  • IBM Docs files can be edited with desktop applications
  • There will be updates to the Files plugin in IBM Notes after all! It will support CCM, as well as nested folders
  • Permanent links in wikis. Today if you rename a wiki page, all links to that wiki page are broken. This will no longer be the case
  • The Ephox editor is now included on premise, this is a much better editor than the regular rich text editor included in Connections
  • Attachments in forum posts are now indexed and are searchable
  • You can much easier add third party apps to communities

Get the Most Out of IBM Connections with XCC – Web Content and Custom Apps Extension

Tufts Health Plan found that after deploying IBM Connections, users just didn’t take to it. After getting XCC involved they developed a social intranet where IBM Connections is hidden under a layer of widgets and apps. Instead of confusing their users with terms as wikis, blogs and so on, they instead offered the user a new GUI, where widgets and apps presented contents from IBM Connections in the form of news streams and forum postings, just as you would expect to see on any normal web page used for collaboration.

It seems that a lot of companies do this with IBM Connections and the users take to Connections much easier this way. People don’t even think about it as Connections, they just use the tool and engage in collaboration.

I will check out XCC and their tools a bit more. It was a really inspirational presentation, and it gave me a lot of ideas.

Lessons Learned in 4 Year Adoption Journey Using IBM Connections

In my company we have been adapting to the use of IBM Connections for the last four years. That’s also the situation for the Spanish company Hipra. They told their story on how the adoption in their organisation has been. It seems like they have gone into the same pitfalls as we did, but little by little, they increased participation from their users.

It’s always nice to share experiences with other companies in the same situation as yourself, and that’s one of the reasons conferences like these are so useful.

IBM Connections Files – The New Way to Work, Sync and Share

The plugin parts of this presentation was just a repeat of what I’ve seen already this week (and already knew). It was exciting though to see how incredibly useful it is to be able to edit Microsoft Office documents directly in the browser via IBM Docs.

This means that you can edit the document without having to download it first. You can also do @-mentions inside the documents, and when the user that is @-mentioned clicks on the link, she is taken directly into the place in the document where she was tagged!

Files in IBM Connections is an incredibly strong product that you all should start using. Stop saving documents on network drives or on your computer. And if you also invest in IBM Docs, you can even edit the documents in the web browser, or on your mobile device!

Butter BeerIt was then time for some blogging before we took the bus to Universal Studios and Harry Potter Land. IBM rented the whole area for us, and the Hogwarts ride with the brooms is awesome! I must say that it was also really cool to experience Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley in the dark. When I visited last year, it was in broad daylight.

After the park I was so tired I just had to get home and crashed into bed. I had to prepare to start the day with Mat Newman the next morning. You need your strength for that!

Adding a file to an activity can a lot of times be very useful. However, if you just simply upload the file into an element in the activity, you have no way to upload a new version of that file. This means that you have to download the file locally, edit it, and then upload it again into the activity. You then have to delete the previous version of the file from the activity, because there will now be two files.

There is, of course, a much better way to do this. You can share your own files with the activity. This means that every time you update that file, the activity will link to the newest version of the file, and you don’t have to worry about old versions.

  1. Create a new Entry or To do item, or start editing an existing one
  2. If all the fields are not showing, click on More Options:
    More Options

    Click on the twisty to expand

     

  3. All the fields are now showing. Find Add File:
    Add File

    Click on this

     

  4. Click on the drop down arrow and choose Link to File:
    Link to file

    Choose Link to file

     

  5. You will now see a window where your files are listed:
    Add Links to Files

    Choose among your own files

     

  6. You can navigate to see more files by using the Next and Previous links on top. You choose the files you want to share by checking the check box to the left of the file name:
    Check Files

    Click in the check box for the files you want to link to

     

  7. When you have selected the files you want, click on Insert Links.
  8. The files are now added to the activity element:
    File List

    The chosen file links are listed in the form

     

  9. You can remove any file by clicking on the x to the right of the file name. When you are finished with your editing click on Save.
  10. The files are now added to this activity element:
    File List

    The files chosen are now linked

     

  11. All members of the activity can now click on a file link to open a file. Remember: This is just a link to one of your files. The members of the activity can’t edit the file and then upload it to the activity as a new version. Only you, and people you have shared the file with and given editor rights to, can upload new versions . But when a new version is uploaded, the link in the activity will lead directly to that version. You do not need to add the link again.
    This is a much better way to deal with files in Activities.

Please let me know in the comments section what you think of this tip, or if you have any suggestions, corrections or other feedback.