Let’s Connect, and Avoid Misunderstandings

The New HCL Digital's design profile

See that awesome design in this photo? That’s just some of the news and knowledge I took back from Münich. And I also took a hard lesson. Read on! 

Before I write my little report, I just want to get something out of the way: I did a presentation at Let’s Connect on Day 2 (Tuesday). My presentation was very well received, and I got great feedback when people came up to me later on towards the end of the conference and said nice things about it. While nobody mentioned the incident, I did overstep my bounds at the very end of my presentation. My session was called “Now, that’s one sexy wiki,” and the s-word garnered a lot of jokes, which both me, and some members of the audience built upon during my presentation. In the spirit of that mood, I made a joke at the end at someone’s expense. I realised immediately after I said it that no matter how non-serious and jokingly it was meant,  I shouldn’t have made it. I immediately apologised in front of the audience to the person who was unwittingly dragged into my joke, and we also spoke afterwards, upon which I got assurances that we were ok. However, there’s no excuse for it and I’m sorry I did it. So if you were there, I just want you to know that I regret it!

Office 365 or Connections? Yes, please!

Stefanie PreisingerHowever, it does show that your intentions behind what you say can be interpreted completely different by the receiver. During the opening session at Let’s Connect I was once again reminded of this. Read on!

Let’s Connect (they changed the name of the conference from Social Connections during the opening) is a conference concentrating on HCL Connections (previously IBMConnections), social collaboration and enterprise social networks. Customers, users, partners and HCL are there to share knowledge, expertise, make deals, discuss and publish news. All these bases were covered during the conference.

One of my favourite parts of the conference is to hear what customers have been doing with Connections and the HCL collaboration portfolio. Stefanie Preisinger from Continental did a presentation on how their huge organisation had moved from Notes/Domino to Office 365 and Teams for Collaboration. However, they still use HCL Connections, which was crucial during the transition over to a new way to work. They’ve used Connections since 2012, and someone in the audience asked why they were still using it when they have moved to Teams. And that’s when Stefanie said something I just adored:

“Now that we have Teams, we need Connections more than ever! Because Teams creates silos, while Connections tear them down.” Meaning: Teams is good for that, namely team work. But for true cross-company collaboration, you need a tool like Connections. It’s not a question of one or the other, it’s a question of using the best of both tools.

When she said this, I shouted out “Yes! Thank you!” and applauded. Turns out Stefanie thought I had just told her to get her ass off stage, because I was tired of listening to her. Which was the complete opposite of my intentions! I heard that the people behind me understood my intentions, but this brings me back to what I described above: You never know how something is going to be perceived by the receiver. Thankfully Stefanie and I cleared up the misunderstanding afterwards, since Andreas Weinbrecht of Beck et al knows me and knew what I had meant, and he made sure it got cleared up. Thanks, pal!

So What’s Up with Cloud?

Richard JeftsOne of the big questions people have are what’s going to happen now after HCL announced that IBM Cloud is dead from June next year, and that they have no plans of maintaining this infrastructure. Richard Jefts, Vice President and General Manager of HCL’s Collaborative Workflow Platform business, were on hand and gave the three following scenarios:

Private Cloud: Anyone can host such a cloud.

Partner Cloud: HCL Business partners know how to manage and operate a cloud. They have the security. The message from customers is that they don’t want to use data centers in the US. This because GDPR issues and other security concerns. There’s a law in the US, where companies must share their data to the US government, and they don’t even have to tell you.

HCL Cloud: HCL are doing a proof of concept on how to do this, which includes looking at Microsoft and Google’s cloud solutions. Microsoft allows in the SaaS to leverage this. HCL will have meetings with Google and Microsoft.

Richard also promised a blog on this during this week, so keep your eyes open for that.

The next day there was dedicated session about this, and I’m told that the debate got very heated! Customers who have pretty recently moved on to IBM Cloud were not happy, and HCL has promised that they will come up with a solution for migration, so that you don’t have to build up your entire organisation all over again in a new cloud solution.

Kudos to Connections

Activities plusWe also got the roadmap for Connections for the next 12 months. V6.0 is just around the corner, with 6.5 following in November. Then 7 will come towards the end of the next year, and that’s when HCL promises us we will see huge changes for Connections.


  • Connections consortium: A group where Customers will be sharing knowledge with other customers. This in partnership with product management for Connections. It will help build a community for maximising adoption.
  • HCL Connections 6.5: Seamlessly add external users without admin privilieges
  • Self-service password changing and reset
  • Configure mail templates, allowed mail domains and notifications.
  • Social sidebar: Integrate Connections into any website
  • Share status updates without the need to switch to Connections
  • Monitor Connections acitivites easily
  • Touchpoint: Onboarding wizard. Connect with relevant people suggest important communities.
  • Good news about the mobile app:
    • You will be able to create communities from the app now
    • iOS users will finally be able to upload photos directly into the mobile app (Android users have been able to do this for a long time)
    • When you click on a Connetions link in your mail app, it will open up in the app and NOT in the web browser on your mobile (finally!)
  • Sametime will be integrated into Connections (can we hope for Teams-like functionality?)
  • Connections will be properly integrated into the Notes sidebar
  • Desktop connector (My Drive) will be working in all system file open/save dialog
  • There will be configuration wizards for first-time users

There are also long term plans to integrate more functionality from third party platforms like Office 365 and Teams.

And then came what I loved most. Adam Brown of Kudos Boards announced Activities+ which is a redesigned Activities. It will ship with Connections 6.5! This means Activities will come with with a completely new design based on Kudos Boards and it’s included for all Connections customers! And: It also integrates with Office 365. Which means you can be working on the same activity in both Office 365 (Teams) and Connections, at the same time! Read about it on their blog.

You will also be able to use this solution both as part of the regular Connections mobile app, but Kudos will also deliver their own mobile app for this.

Photographic Conclusions

The conference was sold out, and there were a lot of sponsors there. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that Norway was the fourth most represented country among the attendees! If HCL keeps the momentum and are able to deliver, and solve the IBM Cloud issue, I think we can see an even larger turnout next year.

In my next blog posting I will be writing a little bit more in detail about some of the sessions I attended, as well as providing information and a link to my own presentation. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here are my photos from the event (click to open the album on flickr):

Let's Connect

6 thoughts on “Let’s Connect, and Avoid Misunderstandings”

  1. Thank you for that great article, made me smile and at the same times summarizes important aspects to be aware of after the event very well! “Kudos” for your described sel-reflective examples of “misunderstandings” and that communication is a matter of perception to a major part! It demonstrates that the toolset that we use is only the frame. No matter which features, version, number of tools in parallel we use, what really matters is the way we use and treat the tool, the mindset we communicate and collaborate with people. It requires skills like empathy, real listening, an appreciative, transparent communication style and emotional intelligence.
    And thanks to you I definitively got inspiring ideas how to make our wikis in Connections more sexy now 🙂

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Stefanie! And I’m glad I could inspire you. I was very inspired by your presentation as well. I have one more blog post coming up about the conference, so stay tuned. And you are so right about it’s all in how we treat the tools.

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