Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Easily Mash It Up with Lotus Mashups and Lotus Connections

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Last week I saw a very cool blog entry internally. It was from a colleague in the UK who had no development experience, yet wanted to create a mashup between data stored in a spreadsheet and Lotus Connections. The use case is where someone has a list of employees in a spreadsheet and would like to see an employee's Report-To Management Chain when that employee's row is selected. The Report-To Chain is easily available via the Lotus Connections APIs.

What caught my eye was how easy she made it sound (especially for someone who is "no developer"). I encouraged my colleague to share her success story in the Lotus Connections Wiki so others could benefit. Early in the morning yesterday, she went ahead and published the wiki article which you can find here.

Honestly, I haven't had a chance to play with Lotus Mashups. I took this as an opportunity to learn more about Mashups and confirm how easy it would be to create such a mashup. Based on my experience, I took the liberty to make a few edits and add some screenshots to the wiki article (which I've also included here):



The article now contains step-by-step instructions on how to link up a spreadsheet to Lotus Connections' Report-To API. Hope you get some value out of it!

Monday, April 27, 2009

How To Add The Lotus Connections Person Card to Confluence Wikis

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Last week, I posted an article to the Lotus Connections Wiki. I typically like to share How-To's here in my blog, but I thought this one would be better served in a community place because I'm expecting that it would need changes as time goes by.

Anyway, you may recall that a couple of posts back I showed you a demo of the Lotus Connections person card running in Socialtext wikis. Well, thanks to a customer who brought it up, I noticed that I never shared the code on how to add the person card to Confluence wikis. Last year, I shared with you some screenshots of the person card in Confluence, but not the code. Shame on me!


Anyway, if you interested in on how to add the Lotus Connections person card to Confluence wikis, check out the wiki entry now. And if there are changes needed to the document, feel free to edit it!

Friday, April 24, 2009

My First Lotus SalesTalk

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As I had hinted last week, earlier this week I had the chance to present at my first Lotus SalesTalk. The topic was: New Features In Lotus Connections v2.5 Help You Close Deals Easier. We had 100 attendees and some great questions both via the teleconference as well as through Unyte. I co-presented with Larry Oglesby and Stephen Londergan. They actually went through the actual 6-7 slides and I got to do the cool stuff: the actual demo!

If you are an IBMer, check the internal version of this blog for the presentation and recording. Business Partners, I think you have access through PartnerWorld. Anywho, based on the comments from IBMers' status updates and the Twitter stream, most enjoyed and liked the demo.

As you listen to the recording (or if you witnessed the demo live), you'll notice that I focused on the business value of each new feature. I hope that it helps you when positioning 2.5 with your customers. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to cover everything that I wanted or even show some of the new stuff that wasn't even announced at Lotusphere.   

(IBMers/BPs: check my internal blog for more details.)

Overall, it was a great experience. Sametime Unyte held up and there were no technical glitches. I hope to be invited to do more SalesTalks like this in the future.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Business Value of Social Software for SMB

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(I originally wrote this article for Sowre , a Lotus Connections business partner in Spain, and was posted originally here. I also posted it in this blog here. This is a translation of that post.).

A lot of friends come up to me wondering what I really do. They are amazed as to how much time I spend with social software. They want to know what benefit, if any, I get from using these tools. Usually, I tell the story of how easy it is to find expertise within IBM, a company with 350,000+ employees. Additionally, as an individual, it has helped me get some exposure to executives and other divisions of IBM. In fact, I honestly believe that a recent promotion was largely due to my contributions in IBM's social software space.

Now these friends mostly work in small companies (<100 employees) and say... "Ok, I see how this can help in a such a big company, but how can it help small companies like ours where we all know each other" That's the question I would like to answer in this blog post. This is nothing new and was actually answered in a 2006 blog post: The Top Ten Ways Business Can Use Social Networking.

I've picked my top 3 and summarized them here (specially the ones that I think apply to SMB):

  1. Recognition

    Social software does a very good job helping people and organizations get recognized. For example, a small and medium sized business can use social software (blogs, social bookmarking, profiles) to get themselves known in the external world. There is a HUGE number of people using the internet and blogs are an efficient way in giving a personal voice to a company. And while more and more users subscribe to your blog, you now have a cheap marketing tool (to announce new products, events, etc).

  2. Customer Service

    Today, customer service is extremely important. Before, if a company does something wrong to someone, that person would tell their family and friends and that would be the end of it. These days hundreds, if not thousands, of people will find out about it when that person posts about it in sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Therefore, it's very important to provide the best customer service possible. The communities module of Lotus Connections and its forums are perfect for this. End users can register and support each other (which has a side benefit of reducing your support costs).

  3. Provide the whole solution

    Small companies tend to provide one service/solution. For example, one company may be focused on solar-powered water heaters. But when you are thinking of 'greening' your house you also have to look at other services/solutions: batteries to store excess power, water collection systems, etc. SMBs can use social software to create a whole network of complimentary services / solutions which in the end provide more value to your customers.

These are some ways in which small and medium sized business can use social software. In summary, SMBs can use social software to get themselves known, and improve customer service. In fact, you may want to read how a company with only 5 employees is using Lotus Connections in this blog entry.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Second 24 Hours With Lotus Connections 2.5

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(This is a delayed post from a post I did internally to evangelize Lotus Connections 2.5 to IBMers -- posting here cause I think this is just way TOO cool.)

Yesterday, I summarized My First 24 Hours With Lotus Connections 2.5. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I was going to summarize the second 24 hours with Lotus Connections.

Our super awesome product designer posted in his status that he got first dibs into a "tool" developed by an IBMer that leveraged the new 2.5 APIs. That's right, within 24 hours of 2.5 being available internally, IBMers were already hacking away at creating new plugins for it! I, of course, wanted to check it out so I asked him for a link. Marty said that the tool was not his to give away... Bummer!

But not really, then I remembered our super awesome new tab in the Lotus Connections Homepage: Discover. After reading through the list, I quickly discovered the name of the IBMer who had developed the plugin. I installed the plugin on my Mac and WOW!! It's really amazing what came up in just 24 hours!!

So there you have it.. the Discover tab really does work!!! Testing complete!

But wait, it doesn't stop there. The next morning when I came in, I started to catch up with latest profile updates. Then I stumbled upon another interesting tid-bit.... Adrian had loaded an IBM VPN client for his iPhone. Jokingly (cause I thought that was something super special that I didn't have access to), I asked him to send me a link for more info. Minutes later, he replied back with the link to join the pilot for theVPN client for the iPhone/iPod Touch!

With so much information discovery going on, I think I need to figure out how to make room in my brain. It's only been 48 hours since Lotus Connections v2.5 has been up and running and I feel like a robot that has 4GB of RAM but runs on a 32-bit operating system (not sure what that means, but that's how I feel).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My First 24 Hours With Lotus Connections 2.5

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(This is a delayed post from a post I did internally to evangelize Lotus Connections 2.5 to IBMers -- posting here cause I think this is just way TOO cool.)

My first 24 hours with Lotus Connections 2.5 inside IBM were AMAZING. Ok, I know you all think that I'm biased.. but I'm not.. ok maybe I am.

I woke up Thursday at 4am for some reason. I initially thought it was a bathroom break, but when I went back to bed, I couldn't sleep. I decided to check whether the environment had been upgraded to 2.5.

To my surprise it was, so I started updating my status. At around 6 am, I already started getting value out of it. Yes, two hours after the system was up, its new features were already allowing me to discover information!

At that time, Heath McCarthy had just uploaded some new presentations documenting new ways to customize and integrate Lotus Connections. Awesome!

30 minutes later, I posted a question related to one of the new features. Within 20 minutes, the product designer responded that it's high but that he's looking for feedback!

At 10:45am (four hours later), it was my turn to present at Lotusphere Comes To You in Des Moines. When it came time to demo Profiles, I pointed to how useful it is to ask questions to my network and get immediate answers. But even better, how the product designer was able to get feedback from a wide array of users.

By the end of the day, there had been 19 responses from all over IBM... How would have this conversation happened before? Yes, you are right.. via email!!! You would have had 19 emails going back and forth!! Another advantage? Since this was an open discussion, anybody within IBM could have participated! Everyone has a voice, and the more people participate, the more information the product designer has to make an informed decision. It's a WIN - WIN all around.

The crowd agreed. They were all nodding their heads. Some had their eyes wide opened in amazement. I then re-emphasized that at this point, the system had only been live for 6 hours!

Throughout the day, I was flooded by new invitations (I got about 20 new invitations) from people asking to join their network. Where they discovering me somehow?

Finally, I uploaded some files into the new Files module. [Some time ago] I noticed that those files already have 40+ downloads. The 'Discover' tab in the home page is sweet!

Believe it or not, I still haven't been able to play with all the new features of Lotus Connections... but I wanted to quickly share with you my first success stories of the first 24 hours. More success stories are just down the road...

Monday, April 20, 2009

How To Add A 'Dogear This' Button To Sharepoint

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Today I had a wonderful all day session at a customer that wanted to know more about Lotus Connections and Sharepoint integration. They were wondering how the can make their Sharepoint environment (WSS v3.0) and Lotus Connections play nicer together. Ted Stanton and myself helped them brainstorm in several ways.

One of the ideas that I loved actually came from the customer: use the Homepage News API to add events that occur in other applications, specially Sharepoint. That way if a user creates an announcement in Sharepoint, for example, that event is reflected in the Lotus Connections Homepage. I thought that was a great idea!

One of the topics we discussed was adding a 'Dogear This' button to Sharepoint. That way their Sharepoint pages/sites would be more easily searchable (apparently this is one of their pain points). I've discussed how to add a 'dogear this' button to pages before, but figured I would update those instructions specifically for Sharepoint. Here you go:

  1. Go to C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\GLOBAL
  2. Save a backup of default.master
  3. Open default.master with your favorite text editor
  4. In the <HEAD> section of the document, add the following line (specify the URL to your Dogear server):
    <script type="text/javascript" src="http://connections.lotus.com/dogear/tools/doglink.js"></script>
  5. Now, search for the following text:
    <td style="padding-top:8px;" valign=top>
    <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderSearchArea" runat="server">
    <SharePoint:DelegateControl runat="server" ControlId="SmallSearchInputBox" />
    </asp:ContentPlaceHolder>
    </td>
    
  6. Just before that code, insert the following:
    <td>
    <a class="dogpost" href="javascript:DogLink.post_to_dogear(location.href, document.title, '','');">
    <img border="0" src="http://connections.tap.ibm.com/dogear/favicon.ico" />Tag This!</a>
    </td>
    
  7. Save and close the file
  8. Reload Sharepoint
That's it! As a reminder, here's how it looks: Enjoy!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Value of Social Networks

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Last week, I hinted at a new research publication by IBM, MIT, and NYU where they scientifically proved the value of social networks for the enterprise. Now, we actually have the research to back ROI discussions of social software!

Many studies on social networks have been published to show that certain types of networks are optimal, but there has never been a large-scale study that shows what the real dollar value of social networks is. And literature on networks within a single organization tends to be focused on small, static networks. The study is an integrated analysis of financial capital, human capital, and social capital using SmallBlue network data.

They linked anonymized network data with anonymized corporate financial revenues at the employee and project level. Read the study to find out:

  • The dollar value of each person in your ego network and your 3-degree network
  • How a diverse network impacts financial success of a project
  • The cost of "too many cooks" on a project
  • ...and many other interesting findings!

This social network value work was fully conducted inside IBM and jointly published with researchers in MIT Sloan Management School.

Here's a great quote:

The study suggests that today's generation -- accustomed to electronic social networking practically from the cradle, using instant messaging, texting, emails, Facebook, Myspace, and Second Life -- is well positioned for a workplace in which meaningful connections to multiple and diverse social networks spread over a wide area.

Are you ready ? You can get all the materials from the research study from this IBM Research Extranet page: The Value of Social Networks. The actual research paper can be downloaded from here: Value of Social Network -- A Large-Scale Analysis on Network Structure Impact to Financial Revenues of Information Technology Consultants.

Additionally, there's a presentation that summarizes these results.

The Dollar Value of Social Network -- IBM Social Network Analysis Community Seminar April 3, 2009.

Now you have something to read for the weekend!

Beneficios de Software Social para PYMES

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(I originally wrote this article for Sowre , a Lotus Connections business partner in Spain, and was posted originally here. I'll be translating to English in a future post).

Ya varias veces se me han acercado colegas y conocidos que quieren saber mas de lo que yo hago. Ellos saben que yo trabajo con software social y se preguntan que beneficio yo le saco. Usualmente, les cuento como se ha hecho super fácil encontrar expertos dentro de IBM, una compañía de mas de 350,000 empleados. Además, como individuo, me ha ayudado a resaltar ya que tengo mayor 'exposure' a todas los ejecutivos y divisiones de IBM. Es mas, recientemente fui promovido dentro de la compañía gracias a mis contribuciones que hice a través de software social (que en este caso es Lotus Connections).

Muchos de mis amigos trabajan en empresas pequeñas (<100 empleados) y me dicen... "Ok, veo como el software social puede ayudar a una empresa tan grande como IBM, pero como puede ayudar a las pequeñas empresas donde todos nos conocemos?" Esa es tremenda pregunta que me gustaría contestar en este post.

Bueno pues hay muchísimas maneras en las cuales una compañía pequeña puede usar software social, pero me voy a enfocar en las mas importantes.

  1. Reconocimiento

    Una de las cosas que el software social hace muy bien es ayudar a reconocer a las personas y entidades que lo usan. Por ejemplo, una pequeña empresa puede utilizar el software social (blogs, dogear, profiles) para darse a conocer en el mundo exterior. En el internet hay muchísimas personas y los blogs son bien eficientes en dar una voz a una compañía. Y mientras se vayan subscribiendo mas y mas personas, se convierte en una herramienta indispensable para mercadeo (anunciar nuevos productos, eventos, etc).

  2. Servicio al Cliente

    Hoy día, el servicio al cliente es importantísimo. Si una empresa hace algo malo, no solo se enteran 2-3 personas... sino que es probable que se enteren centenares y/o miles de personas a través de Facebook, Twitter, etc. Por ende, es importante proveer el mejor servicio al cliente. El módulo de comunidades de Lotus Connections con su capabilidad para forums es perfecto para esto. Los clientes se pueden registrar y colaborar entre ellos o con la misma empresa para resolver problemas. Además, esto provee otra ventaja para la empresa, reducción de costos de soporte.

  3. Proveer la solución completa

    Las empresas pequeñas suelen proveer un servicio. Por ejemplo, una empresa puede estar enfocada en calentadores solares. Pero cuando uno piensa en remodelar una casa, uno tiene que contactar a contratistas, alguien que haga los pisos, la cocina, los baños, etc. Las pequeñas empresas pueden usar el software social para crear redes de servicios complementarios atrayendo mas aún a los clientes.

Estas son algunas de las maneras que pequeñas empresas pueden utilizar el software social. En resumen, pequeñas empresas deben utilizar el software social para mejorar su presencia en la internet. Es mas, el cliente mas pequeño de Lotus Connections tiene solamente 5 empleados: The Film Foundation. Para aprender como ellos usan Lotus Connections, pueden ver este post.