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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are all my blog postings from IBM Connect 2017:

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

IBM Connect

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

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

Panagenda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect 2016 Day 4: A Sense of Optimism

February 4th, 2016 | Posted by elfworld in Connect | IBM - (4 Comments)

I did not sMat Newmantart the day with a workout. I was actually very tired and you have to keep your strength up if you are to hang on during a session with Mat Newman. So I slept as long as I could and headed off to the conference hotel.

#UserBLAST 2016

Mat Newman is a character that everybody in the community, and at the conference, knows. He’s impossible to miss in his yellow suit, with matching shoes and wrist watch. Newman is also a born showman, and he loves the technologies IBM provides. I’ve written and said this before, but Mat has been a huge source of inspiration for me when it comes to both user training, as well as preaching about Notes/Domino and Connections (and other tools and technologies that I like for that matter).

Mat presented a user case scenario where a user went from having dozens of copies of the same file, which were emailed all over the place, to taking control over the work process so that she only had to contend with one copy, which she then shared across with those who wanted it.

We didn’t exactly learn something new here, but Mat’s conviction made a lot of us feel that this is what we should go home and tell our boss, our colleagues, our competitors, our friends, their grandmothers and their dogs.

I spoke to several people after the session, and we all concurred that if IBM had more Mat Newmans, people would not be moving to other platforms. And I got a great idea (at least I think it’s great) on what to do with the Norwegian IBM Users Group’s spring seminar in May. Stay tuned!

How the Salvation Army Doubled the Number of Active IBM Connections Users Worldwide in One Day

The title of this presentation was a bit misleading, because we are talking about Sweden only. But if their claims are true, it’s still pretty impressive to get a 100% adoption rate from their users. But that was their point: They didn’t adapt their users. They adapted the technology to fit their users need. So they took IBM Connections and put their own product on top to skin Connections to become more of a web page (intranet) where users find what they are looking for, instead of wading through things they don’t understand (wikis, blogs, forums and so on).

This seems to be a predominating theme: To achieve user participation, you need to skin Connections. Hopefully the new design of Connections 5.5 will make this need smaller.

I will definitely check out this product, and during the Nordic dinner, I spoke to one of the product managers from the Swedish company.

GURUpalooza!

IBM has a big user community with developers who are really the ones driving the technology and solutions forward. IBM acknowledge this and both reward people with the IBM Champions price, as well as giving them the possibility to speak at the conference. Even though we have lost a lot of the old timers among the gurus, there still are a lot of them, and they are all willing to share what they know.

There was a pretty big turnout, but I do get the feeling that those who don’t come to this session stay away because they feel this is a club, where everybody knows each other, so they feel left out. Personally I was welcomed with open arms in to this community back in 2006 (thanks to Bruce Elgort who saw me at an OpenNTF session and wanted to know who the new guy was). I think maybe the gurus should think a little bit about that, especially with the internal jokes going on.

It’s also a bit hard for some people to know the difference between this session and the ASK the developers anbd Product Managers session.

Even so, the session was fun. I started the question round, and you can see that moment if you click on the video below:

(I also pop up at the 48:55 minute mark)

The most important thing that came out of this session was that we turned the focus on the user groups. Some don’t exist any more, some are thriving and others are struggling. I hope more people came out of the session and were ready for start turning up at the user group meetings. Or even engage themselves in organising them.

ASK the Developers and Product Managers

This is a session where you can ask the developers and managers of the various IBM products and solutions questions, to their face. Sometimes you really do get an answer (and that answer might very well be “no that will not work” or “no, we do not have that on our roadmap for the foreseeable future”), but a lot of the time the session ends up with “we’ll take that back with us.”

This year someone made a list of all the questions that had been promised a follow up on last year, which hadn’t been followed up on…

I asked a question about the Files plugin in IBM Notes and I was told that, yes, it will be developed on more. So that’s good news!

Closing General Session: Discover your Inner Artist

Liz Urheim, Vice Precident of Collaboration and Smarter Workforce, summerised the week and promised us that, yes, there will be a conference again next year!

Inhi Cho Suh then took the stage. She is the General Manager of collaboration solutions for IBM and her words on their commitment to developing all the platforms of IBM is still strong. I liked her talk. It was short and to the point.

Erik Wahl then took the stage. He is an artist who has made a career of letting go of traditional thought patterns. During the presentation he painted pictures and talked about encouraging people to use disruptive strategies. Let the kids colour outside the lines. And he asked: “Why is it that when I ask pre school children if they can draw, they all say ‘yes,’ but when I ask adults, almost all of them say ‘no.'” When do we lose that? Food for thought.

And that was it. In the evening IBM Norway treated us to dinner at Kimonos, which is a at the Swan and Dolphin hotel where this conference used to be held. Sushi, beer, nostalgia, karaoke with Mat Newman made the whole evening in to very enjoyable event.

And that’s how I feel about the entire conference! Last year it was all doom and gloom. This year the vibe was much more positive. IBM seems determined to deliver what they promise, features that have been requested, both in Notes/Domino and Connections are coming fast, the plugins (which I love) are getting more and more love and there were some really good sessions this year.

For me personally I got to meet friends again, but most importantly: I got to have meetings that will probably result in my employer saving time and money, as well as becoming a more effective and collaborative organisation. I’ve also received loads of great feedback, both about my blogging from the conference, and my contributions to the community.

Oh yeah, the weather was great too.  Thanks to IBM for buying that weather company!

Until next year, folks!

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.