Monday, April 19, 2010

How to Socialize Your Learning Management System with Lotus Connections

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When I first joined IBM 8 years ago, I was a developer for the IBM Lotus Learning Management System (LMS). As part of IBM's Workplace strategy, the product matured into IBM Workplace Collaborative Learning. Shortly thereafter, I left the development division of IBM and became a consultant. At that point most of my customer engagements where about planning, architecting, designing, deploying and integrating our LMS product with our customers' enterprise applications.

Then Lotus Connections showed up. Initially, I started looking for ways in which we could integrate LMS with Lotus Connections to create Social Learning. At the time, I believed ( and I still do ) that our LMS product is great for formal training. Lotus Connections on the other hand, is fantastic for informal learning. I thought: "what if we could integrate both to create Social Learning?".

I quickly made a list of all the integration points I thought would be valuable. Today, IBM is reselling the Saba Learning System, so you could consider this a "how to integrate Saba with Lotus Connections" list:

  • Add the person card to wherever a name shows up in Saba
  • Add 'My Courses' as a widget in the Lotus Connections Profiles
  • Add 'Courses I'm Taking' as a widget in the Lotus Connections Profiles
  • Add 'Courses I Want to Take' as a widget in the Lotus Connections Profiles
  • Add 'Recommended Courses' as a widget in the Lotus Connections Profiles
  • Attach one course to a community so users have a place to interact and talk to each other
  • Add 'tag this' capability (via Dogear) to LMS so students can tag pages/courses in Saba
  • Use Lotus Connections to generate a list of 'Related Courses' (based on tags) while browsing Saba courses


Thursday, April 15, 2010

LinkedIn widget for Lotus Connections

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On Thursday, one of my favorite Lotus Connections developers, Ronny Pena, released the new IBM Lotus Connections widget interface to LinkedIn. The widget, which has been available in MyDeveloperWorks for some time, allows users to enhance their Lotus Connections Profile with information from LinkedIn. To the right, you can see a screenshot of how the widget looks inside my profile in MyDeveloperWorks.

Now along with their Lotus Connections Profile contact information, report to chain, and details provided in the About Me section, Profiles can be used to share and discover data from the LinkedIn network such as education, honors and awards, and work experiences. The widget can be easily added to your Lotus Connections Profile and gives each user control about how much they would like to share from LinkedIn.

Lotus Widget Catalog that was announced at Lotusphere last month. The direct link for the widget is here.

Here's what the widget can do:

  • The iWidget allows you to view another user's current work experience, education, number of recommendations, as well as a link to the user's LinkedIn profile in the LinkedIn Web site.
  • The iWidget fetches LinkedIn profile data using the LinkedIn authentication protocol.

  • Users are prompted to authenticate with LinkedIn if they are first time users of the widget.

  • Users can specify what LinkedIn profile data they want to surface in their Lotus Connections Profile via the edit dialog of the iWidget.

  • Links to a user's LinkedIn profile into the Lotus Connections profile of that user.

  • Supports 24 languages and bi-direction


Monday, April 12, 2010

5 Tips to Energize Your Enterprise 2.0 Community

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As you may know, I lead the World Wide Social Software community within IBM. The Social Software Community @ IBM was launched on March 2007 with 200 initial members. Today, it has over 2000 members. On Friday, I got the following email from one of my peers at IBM.

I realized that this is a question that I get frequently from various parts of IBM (as they are launching their own communities) and even from customers as they launch communities on their Enterprise 2.0 platform (which,typically, is Lotus Connections). And even though it's a question I get a LOT, I never thought about blogging my answer. So here it is.

Here's my response, word-for-word:

  1. Community membership: One thing I believe has really helped us is the diversity of our membership. We have people from all kinds of organizations at IBM: Services, Research, Marketing, Development, Sales, Support, Documentation, etc. In any community, participation is always low ( I would say ~10%), so the more members you have, the more participation you'll get.

  2. Regularly Scheduled Activities: Make sure you have regular activities, whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, monthly. Community members should expect some sort of activity at a predefined date/time on a regular basis. We initially started a weekly call with no agenda. it was an open forum to answer questions. As Connections matured, we've now moved to a bi-weekly call. Every once in a while, we hijack a call and we actually put an agenda when we have guest speakers come join us.

  3. Keep Members Engaged via Alternative Methods: I've gotten tremendous feedback that members really like the newsletter. Therefore, plan to create a monthly newsletter to keep members engaged. This is very useful in global communities where members are in different timezones, geographies, or not online all of the time.

  4. Community core team: Whlie I do most of the work as the community leader, I rely on other co-leaders to provide me content for the newsletter and ideas for guest speakers. The core team is made up of the LC Distinguished Engineer, LC WW Sales Leader, LC Product Manager, LC Sales Evangelist, LC Services Liason, LC Business Partner Lead.

  5. Face-To-Face Meetings: although very hard in our world, I take advantage of Lotusphere to set up face to face meetings and at least get to know each other personally.

What do you think? What would you add / change ?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Source Code for Lotus Connections Portlets Now Available

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Mac Guidera, Product Manager for Lotus Connections gave us some wonderful news recently. The Lotus Connections development team has released the source code for their portlets. To recap, the portlets, which you can download from here, provide the following features:

  • Create/edit/view Activities
  • Create/edit/view Blogs
  • Create/edit/view Bookmarks (Dogear)

These portlets were built with IBM WebSphere Portlet Factory. By releasing the source code to these portlets, you can now:

  • learn how these portlets were built
  • built on top of these portlets to create your own functionality
  • use it as an example to build your own portlets

Download the source code from here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Microsoft OCS iWidget for Lotus Connections and WebSphere Portal

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Yesterday I told you how Epilio was able to get the Microsoft OCS presence awareness information in the Lotus Connections person card. Well, it turns out that the same company has also created an iWidget which can be deployed to Lotus Connections. That way, directly from the Lotus Connections Homepage, users will be able to communicate with others via Microsoft OCS, even if they don't have the Microsoft OCS client installed!

This integration is very timely because this is something that customers often ask me about. The nice thing about this widget is that since it complies to the iWidget standard, it can also be easily deployed to WebSphere Portal.

Epilio, an IBM Business Partner, has put together another nice video (sans audio) to demonstrate this capability:

You can find the source code and the documentation for this iWidget here.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Microsoft OCS in Lotus Connections 2.5

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Almost 3 years ago, I was working with a customer who wanted to add instant messaging to Lotus Connections, IBM's Enterprise 2.0 collaboration platform. As you may suspect, Lotus Connections is integrated out of the box with the IBM instant messaging client, Lotus Sametime. The challenge with the customer is that they were using the Microsoft solution, something called Office Communicator Server (OCS).

Then, I was able to successfully show presence information in Lotus Connections based on Microsoft OCS. And I even documented how to do it in this developerWorks article. One thing that I was never able to do was add the presence information in the business card (the little widget that pops up next to a name).

I'm happy to inform that Epilio has actually done this and has even created a YouTube video (sans audio) to demonstrate the functionality:

Very cool, huh? Update: You can find the source code and the documentation here.