Friday, August 29, 2008

Old school applications go social!

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If you are following me on Twitter, you know that I just spent a whole week in Chicago presenting on Lotus Connections and social software. It was a great chance to see some of my fellow co-workers and finally meet in person those that I've met through my blog. Before I got going, I thought it would be a good experiment to see how many of the 80 people knew me (I would say that I knew about 10-15). Since there's a general user trend that not a lot of people comment on blogs, I figured some people may know me through my blog, but never took the extra step to comment.

Social Software works

To my surprise, when I asked the audience who knew me, about 90% of the audience raised their hands way up high! I was in shock! It kinda put more pressure on me. "This people know me, but I don't know them. I hope I don't let them down", I thought. I continued the experiment by asking who knew me through my blog and who knew me as the IBM community leader for the Lotus Social Software community. The results? Most people knew me through my blog.

I had the spotlight for 1.5 days and the idea was not only to train our resources on Lotus Connections, but to also give them the skills to:

  • Install and configure Lotus Connections against a customer's LDAP
  • Deploy Google Gadgets to the Lotus Connections Home page
  • Configure Blogs
  • Configure Profiles (reorder fields, change fields to editable, add fields, reorder widgets, etc)
  • Brand Lotus Connections (modify the header, footer, and changing the logo)

Additionally, I talked about REST, the Lotus Connections Atom APIs, and integration options, mostly using the content from this blog entry. Of course, I talked about the person card and how easy it is to add to existing applications.

Talk about immediate value add

Once I finished my session, I was approached by Erasmus, one of the session attendees. He wanted me to see something that he had done based on the presentation that I had just given. What I saw was simply amazing! You see, Erasmus is one of our experts with HATS (Host Access Transformation Services). At this point, all you need to know is that HATS is a framework that IBM provides so that organizations can web-ify Mainframe (i.e. green screen) applications.

So, what had he done? He added the Lotus Connections Profiles' Person Card to a sample mainframe application! "Whoa!!", I thought, since I was speechless. This scenario had never occurred to me. I mean, green screen applications are probably the most anti-social applications ever! And now, because the Profiles component of Lotus Connections provides this person card service that can pretty much be integrated into anything, we socialized a mainframe application.

And it gets better! Since the person card has instant messaging awareness embedded into it, we basically integrated Instant Messaging and a mainframe application!

And it gets better! Since the person card can provide links to Quickr and Sharepoint, we basically integrated Quickr/Sharepoint with a mainframe application!

When I was finally able to speak again, I asked him how long it had taken him to do this. He replied: "Oh, not even 5 minutes".

200808291244.jpg

Now that's very cool. I never thought mainframe applications would go social! Isn't SOA beautiful?? Erasmus will be presenting at the upcoming Portal Technical Conference, so stay tuned for details!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yes, I use 2 feed readers!

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20080826-k7m891jbhsx6166uxf218h15hd.jpgThis week I'm in Chicago enabling fellow co-workers on Lotus Connections. The goal is to discuss the following topics:

  • What's new in 2.0
  • Installation and Deployment
  • Loading data using Tivoli Directory Integrator
  • Integration and customization
  • Administration
  • etc

As part of hyping up Lotus Connections and our social software offerings, I mentioned how it has reduced my inbox clutter.

Social Software fits your lifestyle

As I was talking to one of my co-workers, he "discovered" that I use 2 feed readers! "Am I crazy??", you might think. Well, maybe, but I would like to think that I'm not. There's a method to this madness, I promise. Last month, I argued that there's no right or wrong way to implement and use social software. Instead, I argued that social software must adjust to your needs!

Now, as one of the Americas evangelists for Lotus Connections I need to stay in touch with various things: Twitter, internal blogs, competitor blogs, industry blogs, friends' blogs, local blogs, etc. At one point, I was subscribed to over 100 feeds. The problem ? I can't deal with unread marks!!!

Classify your feeds

20080826-dnytxxnc7877q3m34bafe7fkw9.jpgSince "some people" claim that your feed reader is your new inbox, I figured I could have two "inboxes" just like I have a business email and personal email. Therefore, I decided to divide the feeds between business critical and other. Business critical feeds are those that meet the majority of the following criteria:

  • Need to know the information ASAP (e.g. new features on our competitor's systems, press releases, information from product management, etc)
  • Need to be able to read the content offline
  • Internal / confidential blogs

Thus, I use NetNewsWire on my Mac for business critical feeds and Google Reader for the rest. In my local feed reader I subscribe to blogs by person and by keyword (e.g. 'web2.0').

So, are you going crazy managing your feeds ? Consider splitting your feeds between two feed readers. And there you have it! A perfect example of how social software adopts to my needs! And yes, that's how I become more productive following and managing all this "information overload". I hope this serves as a tip for those of you who are feeling overwhelmed with all those millions and billions of feeds that exist out there!

How about you? What do you do to manage all the feeds that you are following ?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Trash talking is such bad taste

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As you know, I use Summize (now part of Twitter) to follow what the world thinks about Lotus Connections (good or bad). Throught that real-time feed I've gotten to meet key people at our competitors' organizations. It also gives me a chance to correct any FUD that they may be creating. If you are following me on Twitter, you also know that I was recently disappointed with our competitors using our anonymous forums to trash talk about our products and, worse, simply by copying and pasting existing blogs that were over 1 year old!!!

Now, I know that the IBM social computing guidelines prevent me from picking fights. Thus, you'll notice that I won't mention names or anything like that .

In one case, I wanted to comment on one of the blogs from our competitors. In the blog, our competitor discussed why one of the Lotus Connections components is no good because it's missing one feature. So simply because it's missing a single feature, a product is no good ?

This particular competitor doesn't have a social bookmarking component like Lotus Connections. Does that mean that their product sucks? That it's horrible? That it's poorly designed? No. It just means that their software meets a different business need than we do. That's why it's important to define the business goals before considering an enterprise social software implementation.

Anyway, guess what? When I tried to comment on the blog, I had to register and wait for my comment to be approved. Isn't that anti-social ? Shoulnd't a social software vendor be more social ?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Another competitor to Dogear: Ma.gnolia!

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Ma.gnolia has just announced that they are going open source! In this morning's Gnomedex in Seattle Ma.gnolia announced their plans to throw away their current code, and re-write the system entirely from scratch. While they do this, they will also re-architect, re-brand, and re-package ma.gnolia so that it can be distributed as open-source!

This means, that our beloved Dogear is about to get some serious competition. Maybe this means that we'll start selling Dogear by itself? (Hey, I'm just speculating here!!) And while ma.gnolia may not be as famous as digg or del.icio.us, I know some people who love ma.gnolia and are big fans of it. Here's the announcement that I got via email (I'm a ma.gnolia user):

[We] wanted you to be the VERY FIRST to know about a very exciting announcement we are making this morning at Gnomedex in Seattle:

Ma.gnolia is kicking off development of Ma.gnolia 2, or M2 for short. What does that mean? Well, for one, M2 is a ground-up rewrite of Ma.gnolia, re-creating features we love today, taking a second run at what didn't worked as well as planned, on a distributed, service-based architecture designed to handle the large volumes of data we've seen. But even more significant, M2 will be an open source project that can be downloaded to remix and run as your own.

Yep. That's right. In a few months, you will be able to download and install your very own Ma.gnolia!

So who's going to win? Only time will tell...

dogear-small.jpg VS.
Let the fight begin!

I'm officially part of GONAD

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Now, don't go out searching the web for what a GONAD is, I didn't know what it was either. I didn't know there was a whole club of GONADs out there. I didn't know it existed until I ran into this tweet in Twitter. (BTW, if you think I'm connected to Twitter all day long, you are wrong!! I subscribe to Twitter search results via my feed reader ).

Anywho, after meeting @dominoyesmaybe , and expanding my social network, I was able to figure out what GONAD was: Geeky Order of Notes and Domino administrators!! "Phew!!!" I thought, I had done some searches on the web and the results weren't pretty! Thus I'm hoping that Google would crawl this blog entry and "change" the definition of a GONAD .

In the meantime, take a peek at this certificate I was sent:

gonad
I thought it was pretty cool how they included a picture of a Medalla bottle, a local beer in Puerto Rico. That is very original. Now I have to print it, and put it somewhere in my home office .

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Banco Popular launches new website and e-account

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Earlier today I announced via Twitter that I was going to Banco Popular's (the largest bank in the island) new web site launch party. You may remember that a couple of weeks back, I was the first to announce Banco Popular's new online account management site. The site went into production early this month in a quiet beta were only certain people were invited (plus those that saw my original posting).

Today, the site has been completely switched over and when someone logs in they get to see the new online account management web site. I have to say that it looks very very pretty and works on my Mac's Safari, so that's always a plus! The site looks very simple and streamlined, unlike some other banking web sites which simply try to fit too much in too little space.

Because of my original blog posting, I was invited to attend today's official launch and press conference. We first had some cocktails where I got a chance to talk to the CEO, Richard Carrión (it doesn't hurt we went to the same college :) ). I also got a chance to talk to other executives and the actual developers, programmers, and testers. Even the employees who initially conducted the market research on user needs and design requirements were there. I really thought it was great to meet all these people and see them enjoy their new "baby".

After the initial cocktail, Richard Carrión talked a little about the bank's history and showed some pictures from the 1950's when "Mobile Banking" meant something else. Back then, Banco Popular had vans (similar to those shown) that would go from town to town and people would line up to do their transactions. I had no idea that's how it was done back in the day!!

The story continued with the 80's when the bank introduced ATM's. In the 90's they introduced PC Banking (via dial-up modems) and in 2000 their internet banking site, which ran on top of the same infrastructure that was created for PC Banking! In 2002, they started a project to modernize their infrastructure and provide real-time transaction information.

Finally, today, the bank has a new look-n-feel. And another new feature is an e-account which you can open online without ever going into one of the branches. They also showed their new TV ad. At the end of the presentation, they opened up 6-7 MacBook's and encouraged people to go out and try the new site.

I tried the new site and even tried to open a new e-account (to see if it was really as easy as they said). To my surprise it was, though I'm an existing customer. I counted a total of 6 clicks to open an e-account. Simple. Easy. Congrats to the whole team! It was great to meet you all and hopefully the rest of the banks will follow suit.

Approving blog entries through a workflow in Lotus Connections

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Genaro Nieto, a colleague from IBM Spain, sent me a link to this presentation and integration he created and I thought it would be valuable to share it with you.

A couple of weeks ago, you may remember that I talked about adding workflow to social software. In that blog entry, I talked about how a customer wanted to create a set of approvals before a forum topic or a blog entry would go live. I argued that approvals would be a huge turn off to user adoption. For example, it really bothers me when there's comment moderation on blogs, but I understand there may be a need for it in some cases.

Now... I'm not one to say that the customer is wrong . And since they asked for it, we deliver!! In this presentation (sorry no audio), Genaro shows how to use Lotus Connections Activities to create a workflow behind a blog submission. Perhaps it's an executive blog with external visibility and, as such, needs approval by the legal and marketing departments before it can be published.

So here's what happens:

  1. User 'posts' a blog entry
  2. Business process kicks off and automatically creates a Lotus Connections Activity via the Atom API
  3. The activity contains a To-Do assigned to each person who needs to approve the content
  4. The activity also contains a link to the pre-published version of the Blog
  5. Once all the approvers mark their To-Do's as complete, the blog is then Published!

This is also a very nice example of how you can integrate WebSphere Process Server with applications over their Atom APIs.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

IBM earns award from CIO.com for Social Tagging

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2008-08-19_1447In this month's issue of CIO magazine IBM is listed as one of its CIO 100, a list of 100 organizations that over the past year have "generated business value through creative and cutting-edge uses of technology. IBM's submission for the award ? A social tagging service built on top of Lotus Connections Dogear!

I've said it before, and I'll have to say it today. I love Dogear!! It's my favorite search engine, and social tagging is simply awesome. Why is Dogear such an awesome search engine? (In fact, it's so good, that it's my primary search engine now.. and I use Google second!!)

Previously, search was based on keywords. If web developers didn't include appropriate keywords on their pages, then computers would have to crawl and understand the content using Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies. Sounds complicated? It is!!!

Social bookmarking and social tagging has changed that! It allows readers (read, humans) to tag pages with whatever words they see fit. And who can better understand content on a computer screen?? Humans of course!!! Therefore, social bookmarking and tagging eliminates that web developer dependency and gives the power back to the searcher. Searchers can now help guide fellow searchers toward content they believe will be relevant to their needs.

Internal surveys show that:

  • Social bookmarking and tagging have reduced each internal search by 12 seconds
  • There are, on average, 286,568 visits per week, yielding a total of 955 hrs/week in time reduction

IBM calculates the financial benefit of social tagging to be $7.5 million!!!! You can see IBM's Winner Profile here. Congratulations to the social bookmarking and tagging teams.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Has Social Software killed eLearning ?

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I've been wondering about this topic for a while now. And as I keep blogging, the more convinced I am that social software is replacing eLearning. When I joined IBM 6+ years ago, I came in as a software developer for the Lotus Learning Management System or LMS. That product was the first J2EE product launched by Lotus. Soon after that Lotus released other J2EE products such as Workplace Collaboration Services, Quickr and (my personal favorite) Lotus Connections.

Anyway, after developing the LMS, I moved into IBM's consulting division and soon started traveling all over the world to help customers implement and deploy our eLearning solution. Since I was one of the developers of the product, this job was really easy . I did eLearning within IBM for about 4.5 years and it was real good to me.

Early 2007

In January of 2007, I started to pick up Lotus Connections as a consultant (though I'd been blogging since mid-2006). I started to work with customers deploying and integrating Connections with existing applications. More importantly, I also helped customers figure out an adoption strategy and help them understand why viral adoption is simply not enough. Other consultants in my group followed suit: they started to leave behind eLearning (as it was also declining in popularity) and picking up social software and Lotus Connections.

As my blog gained popularity, the success stories wouldn't stop rolling in. At that point, I still had the perception that Blogs were all about sharing knowledge (authors) and gaining knowledge (readers). I was convinced that the only reasons bloggers, well, blogged was because:

  • They wanted to share knowledge as required by their job
  • They wanted to get known within the company
  • They wanted to get more recognition
Is eLearning Dead ?

I soon discovered how wrong I was!!! Through my blog I started to learn. "How?" you may ask. Well, as I blogged, people would leave their comments sometimes agreeing with me.. sometimes disagreeing. And that was the beauty of it!! By publicly sharing my concerns and/or challenges, people voluntarily shared their opinion with me, fostering "out of the box thinking". In some instances, I even blogged about my frustrations with Sharepoint and customer feature requests. Through my blog's comments, I got the answers that I needed, even though I wasn't, at first, looking for them. I was getting unsolicited knowledge! I honestly felt, and still feel, that I learn more as a blog author than a blog reader!

As I kept learning, success stories just kept piling up, and more and more people started to leave eLearning behind, the question kept coming up again and again: "Is eLearning dead?"

Social Software, of course, has the answer

I went over to my favorite search engine, Dogear (a social bookmarking site), and searched for "is social software replacing elearning". Interestingly, I'm not the only who shares this opinion. In fact, there were 1,225 search results on our internal deployment of Dogear!! Here's some resources that I found:

Based on this, it seems the industry is split. Some eLearning purists say that social software is a nice add-on to eLearning systems. Others say that social software is the next evolution of eLearning systems.

So, help me out. Is eLearning is dead ? Does that also apply to KM? Or is social software what some people call eLearning 2.0? I definitely think social software is KM 2.0, but eLearning...?


Friday, August 15, 2008

My first Twitter hack - Traffic alerts

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2008-08-14_1437Last week, a fellow Twitterer, Jorge Bauermeister, created an account on Twitter called elTapon (the traffic jam, in Spanish). The idea is for local Puerto Ricans to send a message to that account and Jorge would re-post the message. That way locals have a way to have real-time traffic information.

Twitter Bot

There are already hundreds if not thousands of Twitter bots out there. And I knew that Twitter had an API I could use to tackle this. Thus, I figured it would be a good idea to put on my hacker hat and create a Twitter Bot that simply reposts the messages that it gets and adds everyone that follows it as a friend (so it can receive direct messages). I mean, how hard can this be, right ? Remember, I still have a day job!

Turns out that it wasn't hard at all. Total labor time: 3 hours! (thank goodness that the baby is sleeping more now ). Given Twitter's popularity, I figured that someone must've created a Java wrapper for this. 1-2 Google searches led me to JTwitter, a Java wrapper for the Twitter JSON API's. Unlike some Java libraries that I've downloaded in the past, this one was very well documented and easy to use.

Once I found the Java wrapper, I launched Eclipse on my Mac and got to work.

The Code

To show the simplicity of this, I thought I would share the code here with you. Hopefully, you can also take this code and create your own hacks/mashups...

First we initialize the Java wrapper:

twit = new Twitter(this.username, this.password);

Now, we get the replies (messages sent to the bot)

replies = twit.getReplies();

Finally, we iterate through the replies, check that we haven't already posted it (in a previous run), and then post the update to our timeline:

// Loop over replies first
int repliesLength = replies.size();
for (int i=repliesLength-1; i >= 0; i--)
{
Message replyMsg = replies.get(i);
if (replyMsg.getId() > lastReplyProcessed)
{
String toUpdate = replyMsg.getText();
// remove my username from the text
if ( toUpdate.startsWith("@" + username))
{
toUpdate = toUpdate.substring(replyUser.length());
toUpdate = toUpdate.trim();
}if ( canPostMessage(toUpdate) ) { System.out.println(" Re-posting reply: " + i); twit.updateStatus(toUpdate); lastReplyProcessed = replyMsg.getId(); } } }

Now, I, of course, have simplified the code a bit, but I just wanted to show you the core of the code. Some of the missing pieces are error handling, thread creation, etc. But check this out...if we count from the top, it's ~20 lines of code to get something going!!! Beautiful! Simple! Love it!

Hope this sample code helps you on your own Mashups/Hacks.

The Result

If you live in the island, you'll want to follow @eltapon for real-time information on traffic chaos here!

Note: The link to download JTwitter doesn't work for me at this time. Not sure if the site was taken down for some reason...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How popular is Lotus Connections throughout the world?

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Yesterday, I ran across this entry over at The App Gap blog. I found this blog through a link in the Synch.rono.us blog which is run by members of the Lotus Connections development team. In the first entry, Bill Ives provides a great tour and introduction into Lotus Connections. And since they like Lotus Connections, I like them!

Google Search Insights

But I digress. You already know how I like to keep tabs on what the world is saying about Lotus Connections via Twitter. I do this by subscribing to the search results provided by Twitter's search service Summize. Now thanks to yesterday's post by Anita Campbell I have an additional way of keeping track of Lotus Connections popularity.

You see, Anita illustrates how you can use Google Search Insights to try and determine a product's popularity world wide. In her example, she compares Wordpress (a blogging platform) to AMember ( a membership site software ). After looking at the pretty screenshots, I decided to check how Lotus Connections fares across the world. So I did a search on "Lotus Connections" and here's what I saw (Google starts at a global level and then you can drill down by states/cities, etc)

2761467820_acece6a328.jpg?v=0Surprisingly, perhaps, is the fact that there's more interest in Lotus Connections in India than in the US. Does that mean that India is more open to social software ?

Looks like Europe is pretty well covered. Now, it definitely looks like we need to do more social software evangelizing in Latin America and Africa. You know how I blogged about my customer visits in Brazil and México? Check out the map, those are the only 2 countries in Latin America that show interest in the software. Not that I'm taking credit or anything...

Lotus Connections Vs The Competition

I then did a search for one of our competitors to see how well they fared. I thought, if Africa and South America are also "empty" then it's most likely an issue of adoption in those continents. Now, if they are not empty, then it probably means that the Lotus team needs to start doing more marketing in those continents. And here's what I saw:

2008-08-13_2038

I won't mention my competitors, but I'm sure you know who they are. This, however, tells me that it's clearly a marketing thing. So for my fellow readers in South America and Africa, let's start marketing social software there. And if you need help, you know how to find me!!

Want to try this Google tool out? Go ahead and check out Google Search Insights.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Guest Blogger: Why I love to blog...

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Today's blog post has been written by my friend and co-worker Carrie Davis. I met Carrie about 3 years ago when I was still a consultant for Lotus Services. We worked on a massive eLearning project for a customer in the automative industry using IBM Lotus Workplace Collaborative Learning. After that long project, we lost touch for a while (though we had an occasional IM via Gtalk every so often). We recently found each other through our blogs and it turns out we both have babies ~ 1 month apart. She runs one of Atlanta's mom blogs: Davis, Party of 3. She recently shared a story on her blog where she details why Blogs are so valuable to her. I thought it would be appropriate for my "Why I Love Social Software..." series. Enjoy!


The Affair Begins

I love blogging. I have loved it from the moment I read my first blog. Some (my husband) might even say that it is an addiction.

My love affair with blogs began while pregnant with my daughter. Like most new mothers, I couldn't get enough information. I began to Google baby equipment, baby names, soothing techniques, breastfeeding, labor stories, and the list goes on. As my search results led me to more and more moms blogging about their experiences, I knew that I wanted to document my experiences as a first time mother as well. So, "Davis, Party of 3" was born.

The Rationale

A few of the reasons I love being part of the blogosphere:

  • I'm learning about people that I have lost touch with over the years as more and more of my past acquaintances have started blogs. In fact, I feel like I now know more about some of them than I did when I saw them every day.
  • It is a source of socialization. As a mother of an infant, you can feel very lonely as you spend each day stuck in the house with a crying baby. Blogs are a way to stay connected to the world - and no one knows that you are wearing the same pair of yoga pants 5 days in a row.
  • It is inspiring. For me, it is especially inspiring to see blogs that are now a business. Or, on a completely different level, the posts themselves are inspiring. I am inspired by all of those moms out there that are so dedicated to their children, or artists that have quit their "real" jobs to chase dreams.
  • It's easy. I have never kept a journal more than 3 days. I am thrilled that on Feb. 1, 2009 I will have my daughter's first year of growth and development documented. It is fun to know that when she has her first baby, she'll look back on her first year to compare milestones.

Can't Forget Social Networking

But, the main reason I love blogging is that it is a wonderful form of social networking. For instance, I was recently a matchmaker for two mothers in the Austin, TX area. Through a photography forum, I found a mother blogging about her son and the pregnancy of her daughter. While at work, I ran into a mother of a 7 month old. She was using the lactation room in our office. We met one day in passing. She lived in the Austin, TX area as well. I gave her the name of the blog and said she should check it out, maybe they could meet up and swap stories. They met for lunch a few weeks ago and have plans to meet again!

How to integrate Lotus Connections with Facebook and others

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I have to say that the power of SOA applications is simply, endless. As part of the Lotus Connections RedWiki, one of the authors has just documented how to integrate Lotus Connections Profiles with external social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Skype, and Facebook.

Oh and the best part? The integration just can't be any simpler. How simple? Well, all it takes is 1 line of code per service! That's right. All it takes to integrate Lotus Connections Profiles and LinkedIn, for example, is modify 1 file and add 1 line of code to 1 file. You have to agree with me that that's pretty darn cool!

But wait, it gets better!

We just added this integration to the person card, right? Now remember that the person card can be added to any web or rich client application regardless of which technology is being used: ASP, JSP, PHP, Java, .NET, C++, etc.. So think of al the places where a name appears and you most likely can add the person card. As an example, the person card already works (out of the box) with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, WebSphere Portal, Lotus Notes, Sametime, Quickr, and Symphony.

Based on experience, most enterprises are deploying the person card with either Confluence Wikis, Microsoft Sharepoint, Quickr and/or WebSphere Portal. Therefore, by adding that 1 line of code from above, you are integrating all of Confluence Wikis, Microsoft Sharepoint, Quickr and WebSphere Portal to external social networking sites. Now that's value added!! If you remember, that's how Lotus Connections helped integrate Confluence Wikis and Microsoft Sharepoint at a customer a couple of months ago.

Take a look at the RedWiki instructions for other things you can do with the person card.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My first video on YouTube

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Over the weekend I started to play with YouTube as an active user (meaning not just a lurker like the majority of the social software audience, but rather a person who actually uploads videos).

The first challenge I had was figuring out a username for my account. As you would expect, my preferred choice of lbenitez was unavailable. I tried different combinations of my name and all were taken. I finally came up with lbenitez3000. I was going to go with lbenitez2008, but I figured that would go old in 4 months. And while I don't expect to live 992 years more, I figured a number of 3000 was certainly safe enough into the future to last my entire lifetime (which I do hope is longer than 4 months).

My first video was about me teaching my 5 month old boy how to upload videos to YouTube from our iMac. My second video was shot today just before bath time. My wife and I could tell he was a bit tired so were trying to keep him awake as much as we could. I started playing with him and asked my wife to record. Here's those 87 seconds just before bath time.

Enjoy!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Wow, wow, wow....

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By now, you've probably already watched the 29th Olympics Opening Ceremony. I'm sure you will agree that it was spectacular! Here's a couple of pictures from yesterday's grand opening:

The whole thing was simply jawdropping. Just amazing. If you missed it, you have to get a friend who TiVo'ed it and watch it. Here are my favorite things:

  • The 500 foot long LED TV
  • The 2008 drummers
  • The 15000 performers with the rowing paddles
  • The 2008 boxes 'mechanically' driven by humans!!
  • The TV around the stadium's roof
  • The 29 fireworks footsteps from the center of Beijing to the stadium
  • The choreography as a whole!
Are these too many things to be considered favorite ? Perhaps. Ok.. so the whole show was a favorite! :)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Universities set social computing guidelines

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Social Computing Guidelines are the craze now a day. Ever since 2005, IBM has made its Social Computing Guidelines public. Recently, through the magic of Twitter, I learned that other companies are following suit:

Now, some universities are also setting up their own guidelines. The interesting thing, in my opinion, is that these are targeted mostly for schools' athletes! Some schools have even set up specific monitoring policies. Talk about injecting fear! The USA Today article seems to position it as a way to protect the players: "Administrators and monitors don't get involved unless issues are brought to their attention".

It's interesting that most of these guidelines are for athletes. This makes some sense, though, since the athletes kind of "work" for the school. So just like corporations set social networking guidelines for their employees, colleges are now setting their policies. But what about the actual school employees: Teacher Assistants, Professors, and the rest of the faculty? Shouldn't there be guidelines for them? This kind of feels like the school is trying to supervise children.

The article cites Ben Stone, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, as being concerned about extending these athletes' policies to the rest of the student population. And I have to say, I see his point. Students are actually paying the university for an education.

If colleges set social networking guidelines, will this start to influence the type of students that apply to certain schools ?


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Who says social networking is a waste of money?

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Social networking, of course, is nothing new. In fact, several self-help books encourage social networking as a way to grow your career, generate new ideas, etc. Moreover, I think it's safe to say that social networking has been recommended for at least the last 20 years.

What's new is all these new social software that's out there. It helps us network faster, easier, and more conveniently. It even helps shy people who would otherwise be overwhelmed with the fact of going out, meeting new people, and collaborating with them.

But there's still a speed bump ahead. Just like some companies still see Instant Messaging as a waste of money and productivity, there are many who don't see the value of social networking. So here's a story to help show the value of online social networking. It was written by Tim Bull, Strategic Architect for a large multi-national firm. In it, he shares the story of how we met each other and collaborated to create a new asset.

I promise, social networks are not evil! Enjoy!

Oh, and the output of this collaboration? You can find it here. Stories like these are important to share and help

Mas compañías boricuas se unen al software social

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Estos dos días, mas compañías boricuas se han unido al software social. Será a lo mejor porque vieron que WAPA lo hizo primero y ahora no se quieren quedar atrás? Bueno vamos al mambo:

200808062259.jpgPara mi sorpresa, uno de los 'bloggers' del Banco Popular es un ex-IBMer! La entrada del Banco Popular a la blogósfera es bien importante en mi opinión porque indica que se quieren conectar mas a sus clientes. Por este medio, el Banco Popular podrá obtener 'feedback' directamente de sus clientes y mantenerlos informados en 'real-time'.

El blog del Banco Popular está bastante lindo y simple (me gusta mas que la página de ellos principal ). Traté de entrar al beta y usarlo, pero parece que solo es para empleados ahora mismo.

Con estos ejemplos, espero que el resto de las empresas boricuas (y latinoamericanas) sigan el ejemplo que líderes como WAPA, El Nuevo Día y el Banco Popular han puesto. De mas está decir que la adopción del software social me alegra muchísimo!!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Awesome: Mac search now indexes Lotus Notes!

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When I was a Windows user (seems so long ago now), I relied heavily on Google Desktop Search to search across my Sametime chat transcripts, Notes mail, Notes replicated databases, and other documents on my local computer. When I migrated to Mac, I quickly discovered Spotlight, but it couldn't index my Lotus Notes databases .

That all changed today! I discovered in an internal forum that the latest Notes 8.5 build integrates with Spotlight. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Open your Notes 8.5 inbox
  2. Go to Actions -> Desktop Search...
  3. On the dialog that opens, check the box Enable indexing of local Lotus Notes databases. 200808061531.jpg
  4. Click OK on the warning that comes up 200808061531.jpg
  5. Add... or Remove databases as you see fit. For example, I added my archive mail file.
  6. Set your indexing preferences (I only changed mine to index every 60 minutes)200808061534.jpg
  7. Click Apply. Indexing starts... 200808061535.jpg
  8. Click OK to close the pop-up

In a couple of milliseconds, you'll be able to search your Lotus Notes documents! Simply. Beautiful!

A couple of changes here...

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2739478698_5754c26b8c.jpg?v=0Based on feedback from @ITSInsider and @elsua, I've gone ahead and started to create a brand for myself. Therefore, I'm now broadcasting from www.lbenitez.com. If you still go to the old address, you'll be re-directed to this new one. Unfortunately, it'll probably take Google a couple of days/weeks to replace the old address with the new one.

200808061415.jpgI also wanted to call your attention to a new feature in my blog. I wanted to make it easy for users to share blog entries with their friends. I also wanted to keep things simple. I've seen some blogs where all the icons for sharing a blog take about 10-30% of the screen!! I reached out to my network in Twitter and asked people what were their favorite social bookmarking engines to figure out which ones I should add.

I was alerted to a nice solution by @curiousmitch. You'll notice that at the end of each blog entry, there's a ShareThis button. Also to the right of each page, you'll find the ShareThis widget.

Clicking on the link brings up the following dialog:

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This has a couple of nice features:

  • You can do social bookmarking, post to Facebook, MySpace and others, or send via email (eeck!)
  • The sites are automatically sorted based on popularity
  • New sites are automatically added
  • If you don't see your favorite site here, you can click more on the lower right hand corner of the window
  • It doesn't take a lot of screen space, until expanded

See, I'm trying to adapt to your needs! Enjoy!

(oh and if you can update your links to point to www.lbenitez.com, I would appreciate it. Feed readers should be ok since they go through FeedBurner).


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A PoC that went downhill

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Last week, I received the sad news that the social software PoC (Proof-of-Concept) at a customer in the West coast has failed. For all vendors involved!!
I have to say that I'm pretty disappointed, but not surprised. Tried as we might, the customer didn't want to follow our recommended practices. Reasons for the PoC to fail became clearer as I read the explanation from the customer. Let me give you some background first.
Now, I wasn't heavily involved in the PoC, but assisted on an as-needed basis. My teammates on site kept me on the loop as needed. The PoC was led by the organization's IT department. There was a sponsor from the business side, but it seemed, in my opinion, that their feedback was not considered at any time.
There were 4 vendors participating in the pilot and all systems were deployed as-is and "thrown" at over 200 users. The users were given no instruction on how to use the system. They were simply given a URL and a survey with over 20 questions: "Did you like this? Did you like that?, etc". Is there any surprise all vendors failed in this scenario? Not at all.
Looking at the 10 Principles for Social Software Adoption, I don't see that this company followed them. One of the users' complaints was that the system didn't provide valuable information. I don't think that's a surprise given the system wasn't properly populated with data. Think about it... if you go to a social site and it's empty.. Would you like it? I remember when I first joined Facebook I was loner and didn't really use it since my friends were not there. For the longest time, I only had 10-20 friends . Even my wife, who's a graduate from MIT didn't find it cool for a while! But as more people joined, I was hooked!
Additionally, the customer was considering and making the 4 vendors compete in their best of breed areas.. i.e. profiles vs blogs vs communities vs social bookmarking etc. They even tried integrating all of them to provide a "better" user experience, but the user experience was the biggest complaint from end-users.
So let me throw out some recommended practices for a social software PoC (Mike Stopforth blogged about this earlier too):
  1. Identify business goals - In order to measure the success of a PoC, there needs to be a goal to be met. Define it (e.g. improve communication with blogs)
  2. Choose your audience - Needs to be people who need to share knowledge (e.g. R&D, development, etc)
  3. Choose your evangelizers - These will be your salesmen. They already exist in your enterprise. Who do people go to most often for answers? That's who you need. Or you can use Atlas for Lotus Connections to find out. Have them start populating the system.
  4. Conduct a pre-assessment - Ask your audience how they accomplish, today, their day to day tasks such as finding people, finding collateral, keeping up with topics, etc.
  5. Get input from evangelizers - Based on the enterprise's culture what should be deployed first? How should it be deployed?
  6. Train your evangelizers - so they can train others...
  7. Conduct a post assesment - After a reasonable length of time, figure out what worked and what didn't, fix it and keep going.
  8. Integrate with other tools - Is your enterprise mobile? Deploy the BlackBerry plugin. Do they mostly live in a portal? Deploy the Connections portlet. Make sure that employees can access Lotus Connections from where they work! Hey, it's all free, so you might as well!!
And there you have it. If you follow those tips and hints, you'll be on your way to a successful PoC. Need more ? Contact me and I'll be glad to help your organization through it.
How about you? Have you had any successes / failures deploying social software? Any that you want to share with us?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Need your opinion: My new business card

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So I'm thinking of getting a new business card, and this is what I have right now. Notice that I am NOT including an email address, instead the address to my blog (which tells outsiders how to contact me). I hope that this makes Luis Suarez proud.

Is this too radical? Should I include both my email and the address to my blog ? Are there any guidelines about this ?


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or I can be traditional and radical too:

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Or I can be totally traditional...


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Thoughts ?? What are you all doing with your business cards?