A little under two weeks ago I attended the LION 18 conference in Chicago. LION is short for Local Independent Online News and is an organisation for local news sites. Little did I know all the reactions I would get when I tweeted my surprise over how in bed Facebook is with local news sites and newspapers in the US.
I did not start 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.
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.
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!
Woke 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
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!
It 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!
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
IBM 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
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.
Call 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.