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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!

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!

Connect 2016 Day 2: The next Generation

February 3rd, 2016 | Posted by elfworld in Connect | IBM - (4 Comments)

The calendar says it’s winter here in Orlando, but for us this is pure summer. It’s quite simply heavenly here right now, and I’ll never get used to being cold inside, and when I go outside I have to take off my jacket.

I started this day with a short run before I did several exercises at the gym.

Opening General Session Part 1 Turn Moments into Momentum and Opening General Session Part 2: The Engaged Enterprise Comes to Life

It was then Opening General Sessionon to the opening general session. This year it was split in two, and I won’t write much about it, because it wasn’t very interesting. OpenNTF got a shout out from the executives on stage, and that was great.

I was also very impressed with the two young students who came on stage to talk about Social Student. They had been using it as part of a project at university, and they were chosen as winners. Without a hint of nervousness, the two girls talked unaffected about the work they had done and how they had collaborated across the world with the help of Social Student (which is based on IBM Connections). And this in front of 2000 people. More about the students later.

We also got a presentation of IBM’s new product, which right now is called Toscana. It’s a tool that makes it very easy to set up and edit, both contents and design, on a online solution. It runs of course both on the web and mobile devices. It pulls and pushes data to and from several of IBM’s solutions, as well as solutions from other vendors, and it did look mighty impressive. Not sure if it’s for my company, though. Time will show.

Connections Communities – The New Stuff!

This was the first real session of the day, and I know some of the stuff I learned here is going to make a lot of my users happy. Connections is currently on version 5.5 and here are the most important features (at least for my organisation) that are included in this new version:

  • You have much better control over the layout of your communities
  • As an owner you can now move your communities! This means you can now move a sub community up and turn it into it’s own separate community. If you have several communities, you can now move them under one mother community and make them all sub communities! This is awesome!
  • Much easier to find communities
  • You can now create a lot more content for your communities
  • You can rename any widget. Which means  that if you want to call Wiki for Employee Guide you can!
  • You can change the layout, even the top banner, as well as design a nice and inviting front page in the community
  • Private communities can now also be shown in searches, if you want to. It’s only the title, tags and info that is shown. No member details
  • A new rich text field which woks just as well as editing in Word (thanks, Ephox)!

Bring Your Own Mail Client with IBM Mail Support for Microsoft Outlook

IBM has promised this for quite a few years now, but this time we actually got to see it in action. Currently the release is said to be around June 2016. Basically this means that you can connect your Microsoft Outlook client to a Domino-server, and have full access to your email and calendar. Everything you would expect to be able to do with your mail and calendar in IBM Notes, you will also be able to do with Outlook.

Here are the main details:

  • Windows support only
  • Thus far only Outlook 2013 (but plans for 2010 and 2016 soon)
  • Sync of mail, attachments, drafts, folders calendar and contacts
  • Sync of read/unread flags, forward/reply indicators
  • Notes encryption
  • Type ahead and address resolution
  • Sametime and Connections integration
  • Freebusy lookups
  • Room finder
  • Summary sync

Everything is installed with it’s own installation program. So far it’s only been available to selected customers for testing, and has so far been known as Project Hawthorne.

I asked if the status would automatically change in Skype for Business when a meeting start as long as you are using the Outlook client to read the mail on Domino, but they admitted that they simply didn’t know. So if anyone can answer me on that, please leave a message in the comments section.

Personally I think this is a good move on IBM’s part. Outlook is a good mail client, and this will make it easier to change to Outlook, without having to worry about moving huge mail .nsf files from Domino to Exchange. It also gives people a chance to use the client they prefer.

REST Services in Domino – Key to Modern Web Applications

This was a very technical session for developers. Some of it went above my head, even if I understand the principles behind it.

REST makes it possible to retrieve, present, update and delete data on a system, via web pages. This means that if a system with data storage, like IBM Domino, has a REST service, you can use that to work with the data, even if the system itself isn’t on the web. This is what we are doing with the data from the IBM Notes applications and databases in my company, so I need to get my head around it.

I got some really good pointers on how to get started, and I will download the example database the presenter was going to include with the presentation.

Social Learning with SocialStudent – #NewWayToLearn

SocialStudentThe next session took place in the huge exhibition area for vendors and IBM Partners. Once again the two aforementioned students and their professor told how they had worked with SocialStudent to collaborate. The product developers were there as well to explain a little bit about the technologies behind the product. In addition to IBM Connections, the product also uses Opus Neo Dashboard.

I think SocialStudent could give itslearning a run for it’s money. I really hope IBM takes this out to schools and universities all over the world, because they have a killer app here. The students that will be using it are the employees of tomorrow, so they will demand tools like this in their job.

The two students, Bree Mayer and Jamie Winger,  explained that they were used to dealing with Google Docs (which most of their fellow college students were using), in addition to Skype and online services like Facebook. When asked which tools they preferred using, they said that IBM Connections and Social Students were hands down the best tool. Instead of having to deal with 4- 5 online services everything was in one place inside SocialStudent. Even chat and video meetings.

SocialStudent is also available on mobile devices, and for me, who do quite a lot of user training, it sounds very interesting. I will therefore check out the product and see if I can get a trial user or something

After this session it was off to a networking event held by Panagenda (I always appreciate being invited) before being treated to dinner with IBM Nordic. It’s always nice to catch up with what my fellow Scandinavian IBM users are dealing with these days. It was a relatively early night, because I had to be ready for loads of IBM Connections sessions from early in the morning on Tuesday.

Come back tomorrow for a solid recap with great news about IBM Domino and Connections!

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.

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. Så 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!

Connected 2015 Day 1

January 26th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (2 Comments)
Sunset between Dolphin and Swan

Sunset between Dolphin and Swan

Today: Hogne, of all people, learns something he didn’t know about the Notes client (and now you will too).

It’s early Monday morning in Orlando, and the rain is pouring down outside on the balcony of my hotel room. It hasn’t been summer temperatures, but Sunday we did have sun. Not that I had much time to enjoy it, since I had sessions to attend.

We arrived late Saturady evening, and already on the airport I met the first old friends from the Domino community. IBM Norway had been kind enough to invite us for dinner in the evening, but it took so much time to get to the conference hotel that we decided to go to the Disney board walk instead. Arve from Atea and Gunleif from Evry (or Evru as his name tag spells it). The latter is the guy who administer our Domino servers in cooperation with me.

Before I start with the sessions: Dear Orlando International Airport. Those new machines were we scan our finger prints and passport ourselves, do not cut down the lines and waiting time. Because after doing this, we still have to line up in front of a TSA officer to get a stamp. So everything is just the same as before…

 IBM Verse

IBM Verse future

IBM Verse future

The first session was about IBM’s new solution for email, IBM Verse. The session was very dissapointing. We didn’t get a demo, since that will be done during the opening session, and they talked more about the thought proesses and ideas behind the solution.

The interesting part of this was that we were told that it was the company Colgate Palmolive (yup, the gigantic company with the soaps, toothpastes, cleaning liquids, dog food and so on) that had come ot IBM and said they needed a smarter way to work with email. They are running their mail in IBM Notes, and combine this with IBM Connections and Sametime. Their demands were:

  • Email isn’t going away, make it better
  • Keep it simple
  • Focus should be on lifting important email
  • Email should be easy to find
  • The email should trigger an action

As an example, the development manager for IBM Verse said that the last time he came from a two week holiday, he had 5862 unread emails in his Inbox. IBM Verse quickly managed to reduce this to “only” 1000 emails that he had to read. The other emails he simply ignored and/or deleted.

The session became more interesting towards the end:

  • Notes is not dead, but there’s a little doubt that both emails and applications will be lifted to the web
  • Domino will live for years to come
  • Everything is still running on Domino, with nsf-files
  • IBM Verse will first be deployed in the cloud, before they will present an on premise version
  • The goal is to have one billion users on IBM Verse within four years
  • Internet Explorer is not a prioritised web browser, since Microsoft refuse to follow standards. The development browser of choice is Chrome

Customizing IBM Connections

The next session was about how you should go about to do simple changes of the design in IBM Connections. The most interesting bit for me was learning on how to create your own widgets that you can add into communities, profiles and the home page. I was very inspired, not least when I started thinking about how I can present things from Notes applications into IBM Connections, and maybe even the other way. It’s going to be exciting to try it out.

 User Blast

Mat New man in action

Mat New man in action. Photo: Kevin Petitt

Now it was time for Mat Newman himself. He’s a bit of a character and an institution in the Domino community. And if you think my love for the Notes client is huge, you should meet Mat. He’s the first lover! Mat has also been my main source of inspiration for the way I’ve conducted my Know Your Notes classes and courses, that I’ve given for several Norwegian companies. But my enthusiasm is peanuts compared to Mat’s.

Notes celebrated it’s 25th anniversary in November, which is pretty unique for a piece of software. Mat did a short tour through the development of the Notes and Domino platform. He explained the incredibly high level of security Notes has, which makes other solutions look like they just keep the door open.

 As per usual, he talked about the importance of training the users on how to use their Notes client, and to show them all the possibilities Notes has. He also gave a lot of tips. Now, I know the Notes client so well that there is very little anyone can teach me about it. Except Mat.

All Notes users know that you can sort on date in most views, especially in your email. But did you know that you can sort on date, and then simply type “today” to jump to the first email from today? No? Me neither. And what do you think happens if you write “yesterday?”

Notes also has an incredibly powerful search tool in the form of Search in View. However: If you write “conference orlando” in the search field, it will search for documents containing either conference or Orlando. This can produce too many results. But try writing “\conference orlando” instead. Now it will search for documents containing both “conference” and “Orlando.” Voila! A much smaller search result.

 Mat told me that the Singapore-office he works at had sold 250 000 new Notes/Domino licenses in 2014. Seems like there is some life in the old lady after all.

Socialising

At the end of the day it was time for what used to be the beach party on the beath between the Swan & Dolphin hotels. The party was much smaller this year, but it contained food, beverages and good conversation with great people. I talked to quite a few of the Norwegians here, and we exchanged stories and experiences. This is the best part of a conference like this and you learn a lot from it. Not to mention that you strike up connections and friendships.

I crashed into bead already at 09.30. I’m glad I did a one hour run in the morning after all the food and beer. Tomorrow: The official opening day and opening session!

Connected2015 Day 0

January 24th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (0 Comments)

bildeI’m writing this on this Saturday morning (January 24th) at Oslo Gardermoen airport. Gunnar, a colleague of mine, and me are travelling Orlando in Florida, US. We are attending the annual IBM conference, that used to be called Lotusphere. I think IBM has changed the name of the conference every year since it stopped being called Lotusphere. This year the name is Connected2015.

I will be blogging every day from the conference to keep those who are not there, and for those who might be interested, in what’s going on when it comes to social business. But also what thoughts IBM has about this and how I think the technologies and solutions could have an impact on my working day. And maybe yours as well.

As I’ve mentioned, this is what used to be called the good old Lotusphere, since the focus used to be on the Lotus portfolio. First and foremost Lotus Notes/Domino, but also Lotus Connections, Lotus Quickr, Lotus Sametime and so on. Since the Lotus brand was killed a few years ago the conference changed it’s name, and focus.

Dolphin Swan hotel, som vi bor påIn the past few years the focus has been on business and social collaborations as much as it has been on administration, development and other nerdy stuff. In fact, the focus was shifted so much to the business side that some of the old timers stopped showing up. So this year the focus will be more on the nerdy stuff, but not just that. Also: The conference is much, much smaller.

My first Lotusphere was attended by over 10 000 people. This year I’ve heard reports that less than 1000 people are signed up. This is not surprising. The demise and death of Notes has been touted since the late 90s, but in the past few years it’s pretty obvious that the Notes client is on life support.

And contrary to IBM’s hopes, everybody that is, or was, using Notes, hasn’t shifted to Connections and other IBM solutions. It’s Outlook og Google all the way for mail and documents, but also Sharepoint. So the market is much smaller. In addition, like everybody else, IBM is going for the cloud market now.

IBM also sucks at marketing. So instead of visiting all their Notes/Domino customers and showing them how relatively easy it is to mobilize and web-enable their Notes solutions, their customers are in the dark about it.

I still have great love for the Notes client, but in this day and age, a big bloated client is not the future. Web and mobile is. So me and Gunnar’s main priorities here are learning more about how to web-enable all our data on Domino, as well as getting the latest news on IBM Connections *

So watch this space! It’s currently 24 degrees Celsius in Orlando, but I’ve still brought a jacket. January is winter in Florida as well.

*= IBM Connections is a social tool for companies where people can share files and information, create wikis, have discussions and a whole lot of other stuff. The key is: Do not hide things in people’s mail boxes. Get it out in the open and collaborate!