Domino, Notes and videotape
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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!

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.

No more NotesLast week there was an online presentation co-hosted by TeamStudio and TLCC where IBM presented their roadmap for IBM Notes/Domino.

I didn’t listen to the whole thing, I skipped some parts, because I could basically read the slides. In addition, they didn’t present anything new that they didn’t present at IBM Connect 2016. Nothing! Except one thing: You can now also use Outlook 2016 with Domino. Yay…

To paraphrase a friend of mine in the Domino community: “They are killing it, man.” And I find it hard to argue against that. For the past three years, I’ve been telling people who said that Xpages was going to save Domino that they were wrong. And this latest roadmap (which is the same as it was in January in Orlando) makes me ask: Is IBM interested in saving Domino?

Now, the Notes client was never going to be saved. We all knew that, even if IBM never comes right out and say it. But when it comes to email, they want you to start using IBM Verse or they actually want you to start using Outlook. In a world where people want to run light clients and use handheld devices, a huge bloated client is not the way to go, so I’m not really complaining about that. But the seemingly lack of commitment to the Domino platform is glaring.

It’s time to start delivering on your promises when it comes to Domino, IBM. But what’s happening is just one slow and drawn out torturing of a dying beast. If you’re not dedicated to the platform, at least come out and say it. “It will happen at Connect 2017,” they say. What will happen? That you will say the exact same things you said at Connect 2016? And the Java version running on the platform now isn’t just outdated. It’s a sediment on the bottom of the ocean which still hasn’t turned into black gold, and never will. We have been promised a Java update for a year now, and it still hasn’t arrived. Neither has any of the other stuff they promised.

One of the things that makes me want to say that “this is it, folks,” is the way IBM now lets you use Outlook with Domino. What’s basically happening is that IBM is saying: Connect Outlook to Domino, have the entire .nsf mail file downloaded to an Outlooks .pst file and then you can just move that pst file onto an Exchange server or up into the Office 365 cloud. They are even eliminating the need for a huge migration project, like a move from Notes to Outlook used to be.

My employer is, like 99% of the rest of the world, using Office 365. Mail is a part of the Office license, which basically means we are currently paying for two different mail platforms. In a time where we are struggling financially (I’m currently made 50% redundant), and we have to cut costs, what do you think we are going to choose? Staying on a platform where the company making it won’t make a commitment? Or go with the company which is constantly developing and refreshing their platform, and also makes integration and single sign on between all their products a default functionality?

Domino will remain in my company as an application server, because we are still running lots of Notes applications. However, we are currently webifying them and using anything but IBM technology to do so, apart from the nsf files which, for the time being, still will be on Domino.

Oh, well. See for yourself, and tell me if I’m wrong:

And here are the slides:

With a slight headache I got out of bed as late as possible (07.30) and went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast with Christoph Adler from Panagenda and Stephanie Heit and Arshad Khalid from BCC.

The conference was held a five minute walk from the hotel, so I was there in good time before Roger Johannessen, ISBG leader, did a short introduction.

Lars Schorling from Intravision then talked about the mobile app for their brilliant OnTime calendar. Their product is very good (I’ve tested it), and it looks darn nice too, design wise. I’ve been trying to get Brunvoll to invest in it, and with the new possibilities that you have if you use the product with Events in IBM Connections, I hope I can get the right people at my company become more interested in it.

IBM KeyNote – A New Way to Work

isbg_luis

Luis Guirigay. Photo: Oliver Busse

Luis Guirigay, World Wide Executive IT Specialist at IBM, then delivered today’s keynote. It was split in two. The first part was a presentation of IBM’s philosophy of a flexible client strategy. With Project Hawthorne, it will be possible to use Outlook as your mail and calendar client, without having to migrate from your trusted Domino server.

This means that if people who are used to Outlook start working in your company, and they really don’t want (or neeed) to use IBM Notes, you can give them a choice.

Not only is an email migration from Domino to Exchange a big and expensive project. Remember that IBM Domino is really, really easy to upgrade from an old version to a new version. Not so for Exchange. A lot of companies are still on Exchange 2010 because upgrading is a huge and expensive project.

In part two he gave us a demo of the functionality. He showed us that everything you can do in IBM Notes, you can also do in the Outlook client. I wrote more about this in this blog posting from IBM Connect in Orlando back in January.

Experiences modernizing an IBM Notes application with AngularJS

isbg_markMark Luesink of Viaware Food Contact Software & Services is also a freelance consultant for my company. He did a presentation on the work we are doing with modernizing our IBM Notes applications.

We have two major applications used by the sales department, that are incredibly important. These are now being modernized, consolidated and put onto the web. The idea is that all the data should still be stored on Domino. This means no data migration.

He talked about the infrastructure of the servers, how the various technologies communicate and on the struggles of single signon (ADFS). The system is also communicating with Infor M3 and Infor IDM (document management tool). Right now are facing a challenge on how to get ADFS to work with these.

The technologies used are Nginx, Angular, Jquery and the Domino REST API, as well as Java for communicating with M3.

The session was very good and a lot of people were interested in this. I hope we can do a demo later this year on the before (IBM Notes) and after (on the web). Some people expressed disappointment with the fact that there was no demo this time. Other than that, only good feedback for Mark’s presentation.

Admin Tech Clash: Discussing Best (and Worst) Administration Practices from hundreds of customers

isbg_ytriaBen Menesi, Head of Prodct at Ytria and Christoph Adler, Techincal Account Manager in Panagenda, shared their experiences of administration of IBM’s Collaboration isbg_panagendaSolutions.

Both me and Gunleif Ræg of EVRY, who helps me administer our Domino servers, picked up a few tips here. It was also fun to hear some worst-of-stories.

Integrasjon og utvidelser I Connections Cloud GUI

isbg_inforteRuge Hegge, Sension Consultant and CEO of Inforte As and his colleague Arnstine Kjellevold gave a great presentation on how you can integrate an isbg_inforte2existing user interface in to IBM Connections Cloud. I was very surprised on how many opportunities you have with this. I thought we would get less opportunities if we moved to the cloud, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

They showed us some great demos, and gave us direct links for resources. Very nice! One of my favorite sessions this time around.

Unfortunately attending this meant I had to miss Erik Borse of Item’s presentation on using IBM Connections as a social intranet.

IBM Hybrid Cloud

isbg_camillaCamilla M. L. Tønnestad of from the IBM Social & Smarter Workforce was a first time attendee and presenter at the conference. She lead us through IBM’s Bluemix platform for developing with APIs and thereby integrating existing solutions in your company with brand new ones.

I knew most of this beforehand, but I was surprised on how much more evolved the platform has become since I played around it with myself.

Annual meeting

Then it was time for the annual meeting. After a going through the agenda, accounting and other stuff, I was up for election as a new board member. Long story short:

I’m now a board member of the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG). Yay! Thanks to Rune Carlsen for the great work through the years. I got a lot to live up to.

Competitions

Competition time! Once again it was a Kahoot competition. The quiz was about James Bond! Finally I could put some of my useless trivia knowledge to good use. I was leading for a long time, but then Rolf sidelined me and went off with the AppleTV instead of me. That darn… err…well done, Rolf!

Then it was time for prize drawings. The rule is that if your name is drawn you have to be present to win. If not, they draw again. So when one guy I know won an AppleTV, he had to forfeit it because he had already left. I sent him a message that he had just missed winning an AppleTV. I promptly got a reply saying: “I think the words is fuuuuuuuck!”

Then the meeting was over. I gathered a bunch of people who met for drinks afterwards. Unfortunately, quite a few people had to go home after a while, but some of us went to dinner at Hell’s Kitchen in Oslo.

The evening was finished by going to Tilt. A pub with old arcade games, flipper games and shuffle boards. And they had Crystal Castles! And shit, do I still rule in that game:

crystal_castles

The first level is shaped after the name of the person who has the high score!

crystal_castles2

Whodda man! Whodda man! Photo: Christoph Adler

Thanks for a great conference, once again. The next one will be on me and the rest of the ISBG team. Yikes!

view_oslo

The view during our dinner. Photo: Oliver Busse

The annual Norwegian IBM User Group spring conference for 2016 is now a thing of the past. I arrived home yesterday, and after having been away from home for almost fourteen days, I arrived to an empty living room where workers are still fixing my ceiling. In addition, the battery on my car was flat, my bike needed to be fixed and I had two episode of Game of Thrones waiting for me. So the summary I always write had to wait until today.

Oliver Busse does a great write up on the social aspects of the conference (no, I don’t mean IBM social but real social stuff, dinner, people hanging out together and stuff like that), so I won’t repeat much of that.

We4IT

We4IT was the platinum sponsor of the event, so they got to do a short presentation of their products and services.

IBM Strategy Update

HuguetteIBM-er Huguette Ranc, Social Business & Smarter Workforce Unit for Europe was up next and did a 15 minute presentation on what IBM’s thoughts for the future are. Highlights:

  • Research shows that in the US 80% of your time is spent at work with meetings. Phone calls and email. That leaves a small amount of time for real work
  • We spend on average 15,5 hours a day reading news and articles. That’s 174 newspapers
  • She talked about IBM’s platform Toscana that will make it even easier to create seamless integration between various collaboration platforms
  • IBM will soon start more strategic co-operations. Today they are doing this with Facebook, Twitter, The Weather Channel (which IBM own), Apple and DocuSign

Cognitive Collaboration – the next breakthrough

Koplowitz

Next up was IBM-er Rob Koplowitz, Program Director of Watson – Enterprise Social Solution strategy. His session was spread over two hours. He mostly focused on IBM Watson, the technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.

In short: Watson is a robot that can process a huge amount of data, and is able to learn from it. And he gave several examples on how they used Watson in various situations.

Koplowitz described Watson as a young athlete. You can see the potential, but he has to learn, train and grow for the greatness to shine through. Watson is like that. The more questions and answers Watson receives, the more it learns and understands. The system is self learning.

He told a story on how Watson was used for support. When someone asked how to delete an email, Watson told the person how to delete his entire mail account. Today Watson is able to come up with answers and suggestions that people would never think of themselves.

What’s special about Watson compared to other IT-systems, is that it’s ok if Watson gets the answer wrong. The reason is that 1) Watson learns from it when given the correct answer and 2) Often the wrong answer can generate good ideas and other ways of looking at a problem

The principle is understand, reason, learning. And while we used to be able to look at experience from the past to make plans for the future,  technology now is changing so fast that this is no longer an option.

Unstructured data is a huge challenge for companies. We’ve been talking about this for 25 years, but nothing much is happening. In addition, we have companies like Uber, Airbnb, Tesla and Facebook who do things completely different from the way business was conducted before.

In the second part he gave a demonstration on how Watson helps you prioritize your email and communication. For example suggestions for who to include in email conversations, who to include in meetings, what files you might like to share and so on.

IBM has never been famous for design, but there’s a new principle at work at IBM now. Designers are a part of the process all the way these days. And part of the design is that Watson should not be intrusive (like the annoying paper clip from Microsoft Office a decade ago).

IBM Connect 2016 – The way forward

ISBG Ego

Me doing my stuff. Photo: Oliver Busse

Then I was up next. I won the ISBG scholarship last autumn and was therefore able to go to Connect in Orlando in January. A part of the scholarship is that I had to blog every day while over there, and I also had to give a presentation on what I learned.

I told basically what you can find in my blog postings from Connect, so go read them.

The feedback afterwards was really good, and I got quite a few shout outs on Twitter for some of the stuff I said. IBM was also pleased, and I didn’t say anything wrong, I think.

I did warn everybody that if they hated the world social, they should be ready to hate cognitive, which is the new buzzword from IBM. I got a chuckle from several IBM-ers, as well as from the audience and on Twitter.

I also told people that they should know that moving from on premise to the cloud is a project, and not just copy and paste.

IBM Connect 2016 – The tools we love

I also did a presentation after lunch on what is new and up and coming from IBM Collaboration Solutions (IBM Notes/Domino, IBM Connections and so on). I was very humbled and happy that so many people turned up that it was standing room only when I started.

Are you approaching adoption like holding a ball under water?

BjellerupThe next session I went to was IBM-er Peter Bjellerup’s session. He is Executive Consultant, Social Business, Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing. He talked about the challenges you face doing self-sustained adoption. The users have to want to change and keep using the new tools and ways to work.

All of this is a challenge that most of us are familiar with, and I kept nodding most of the time, because I’ve been through most of them.

MittEA – Social Intranet with IBM Connections

For the final session I was torn. I really wanted to go to Item’s session on how to use third party services, like Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to sign in to your IBM Cloud solution

Instead I went to the session on how Euro Accident had created a social intranet, pretty much what we want to do at Brunvoll. This means using IBM Connections as our intranet, and then skin and adapt it like we want it to look. Got a few helpful tips in this session.

Team competition

isbg_competition

The team leaders are gathering for the competition. Great fun. Photo: Oliver Busse

Then it was time for some fun. The team competition, which also includes a speed session where all the vendors and exhibitors are given four minutes in front of each team where they give a presentation of their products and services.

I still say that the premise and conclusion for the riddle of the green eyes (check it out!) was wrong, but I guess you can’t argue with Math, can you?

Dinner and after-drinks

After the competition, I completely rewrote my after dinner speech, which I had been asked to give. This was because I had originally had written it in Norwegian. However, since I did my first presentation in English earlier that day because there were so many foreigners in the room, I realized I needed a new one in English. Puns don’t translate well…

It was then time for dinner, and I was lucky enough to be seated with two wonderful women from IBM (Renee and Camilla), my colleague Gunnar and Rolf from Moderne Byggfornyelse. We were served a three course dinner at the top of the PWC building in Bjørvika in Oslo (where the entire conference took place). We had a great view over Oslo, and the food was great. As usual we had a magic show, and the finale with the coin trick was amazing!

I did the after dinner speech, and with all my puns and jokes it went from pain inducing groans to big rounds of laughter and applause. So I’ll take it as a win.

We then went on a drinking spree and I’ll spare you the details. Come back later for a summary of day 2, where I’m up for election as a new board member for the Norwegian user group. Exciting stuff!

How I Became Engaged

March 28th, 2016 | Posted by elfworld in Connections | Engage | IBM - (1 Comments)
Evoluon

The hold Philips museum, which looks like a space ship, was the site of the conference

I’m currently on my last day off during the Norwegian Easter Holiday, which for most people last for 10 days. I spent parts of my holiday in the Netherlands, in Eindhoven to be exact, attending the latest conference held by Engage. They used to be known as BLUG and it’s the user group for IBM Collaboration Solutions in the Benelux countries. Not only did I attend, I also was a presenter and did a session on the plugins for IBM Connections.

Over 400 people attended the conference, and I am incredibly impressed with the whole event. It must have taken an unbelievable amount of hours to put together, and Theo Heselman and his gang should once again take a bow for pulling off an event that was free for all the attendees. In addition the hotel expenses for us speakers (who there were over 80 of) were taken care of, and we were treated to dinner both nights. This was thanks to great sponsors and all the companies that got the chance to present themselves and their products.

And to top it all off: On the last day we were taken on a free tour of the Philip Museum of History! The guide at the museum had a great time with our group, because we were a bunch of nerds and geeks who soaked up every detail about all of Philips inventions and design through the years. There were also these incredible vintage ads and posters on the wall, and I bought these two. Aren’t they beautiful? What a wonderful way to end a great conference.

philips_posters

What did you say? The sessions? Oh…yeah. That’s why we were there, wasn’t it? They were great as well. Since I went on my own accord and not through my employer this time, I didn’t feel pressurised to go to a lot of sessions. I could therefore pick and choose those I found most interesting. In addition, I also had to prepare my own session, which was at the very end of the conference. I therefore attended most sessions on Wednesday.

Among the highlights were the opening session, were Inhi Cho Suh, who is the General Manager for IBM Collaboration Solutions (which is what we who attend these user group meetings are working with) did the opening. Not only does she know the technology, she also has visions of where ICS should go. And Engage got the honour of being the meeting where the Big Announcement ™ was made, this year (last year it was at the Norwegian User Group Meeting (ISBG)): There will be another Lotusphere… sorry…Connect… in 2017. But for the first time it won’t be in Orlando. It will be moved to San Francisco, and will be held in the middle of February. Inhi’s goal is to double the attendance numbers as well. I spoke to her several times during the conference, and I feel more optimistic about the future of ICS than I have in a long time.

Other sessions I really liked were the stories on how the Dutch tax office used Kudos Boards to make Activities in IBM Connections much, much better to work with, Pete Janzen and Martin Donnelly’s session about the future of Domino applications in Bluemix, Using IBM Domino Data in IBM Connections and Carl Tyler demonstrating old versions of Lotus Notes (from v1.0 and up) while talking about the history of Lotus products. Can you imagine, they did marketing in the old days?

My session was at the end of the conference, and I had pretty stiff competition from the session about the Hawthorne project, which allows you to use Outlook with Domino. But I had a nice little crowd who were very interested in what I presented, and the feedback afterwards was really good:

So I’ll count this one as a win.

I talked about the use of the plugins and gave demos on how to use the IBM Connections plugins for Windows Explorer, Microsoft Office, IBM Notes and also a quick demo of the plugin for Microsoft Outlook. You can see, and download my session here:

Good Friday was spent travelling home. Since there were almost no planes flying in Norway on such a holiday, I had to fly from Copenhagen to Trondheim and then drive 3.5 hours to get home. So all in it all it took me 12 hours to get back home. But it was worth it, and I will definitely go back next year if I get the chance.

And huge thanks to Theo and the others for giving me my first international speaking engagement!

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? 🙂

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.