Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Book Review: Doing Business with IBM Connections Suite

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Thanks to a long flight yesterday, I just finished going through Doings Business with IBM Connections: Opportunities for Improving Processes, Driving Results, and Achieving Great Outcomes with IBM Connections 4.5 written by Michael Sampson. You will notice that the title of this post mentions the IBM Connections Suite and I'll get to why soon. Michael Sampson is an independent consultant focused on helping organizations optimize collaboration.

After going through the book, I must say that this is going to be a recurring recommendation to all current and prospective customers. The book is intended for collaboration strategists, line of business managers and users of IBM Connections. I think the book hits the mark and is perfect for that intended audience.

At its core, the book focuses on how to best use IBM Connections to address various collaboration scenarios such as:

  • Finding Expertise
  • Co-authoring documents
  • Capturing ideas for innovation
  • Managing meetings
  • Running a project
  • Making decisions
  • and more (a total of 10 scenarios are covered)

For each collaboration scenario, Michael follows a consistent flow. First, describe what the collaboration scenario is and how organizations typically tackle this (i.e. "the old way"). Next, a typical work scenario is laid out to highlight the challenges that users face today.

Next, the process is clearly laid out on how to use IBM Connections to solve this challenge (i.e. "the new, faster, better, optimized way"). The author does a tremendous job of not only giving you a set of steps to follow, but also explains why he is providing that recommendation.

Next, each scenario includes case studies from customers that have been successful using Connections for the particular collaboration scenario (and it even includes customers that I hadn't heard of before!! ). Finally, each scenario has a section for Advanced Concepts where the author provides additional best practices (e.g. when talking about ideation, he references how to avoid a repeat of the "suggestion box").

One of the most common use cases (or scenarios as Michael calls them) that I hear is running a project. Coincidentally, we published a video showcasing these capabilities last week:

Throughout the book, the author constantly emphasizes the IBM Connections Mobile apps, which I believe recognizes the increase demand of the mobile workforce and strategies for bring your own device (BYOD). Additionally, the book is not limited to just the core Connections product but includes real-time meetings, document libraries and more which are all capabilities of the IBM Connections Suite.

This book provides independent advice on how to drive business with IBM Connections, accelerate adoption, and reduce time to value.

To purchase a copy of the book and/or learn more, go here.

Disclosure: I wrote a quote for the front page of the book and received a copy of the book.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

TemboSocial Extends IBM Connections Mobile App

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In mid 2012, TemboSocial introduced the world to their peer-to-peer recognition add-on for IBM Connections, the market leading social business platform. Earlier this year I also shared how TemboSocial had further integrated into the IBM Connections platform.

Today, I'm happy to report that TemboSocial continues its integration work into our platform. As an enterprise social network (ESN), IBM Connections is uniquely positioned to be the one stop destination for all the collaboration needs you may have. As such, TemboSocial now provides their peer-to-peer recognition and polling capabilities directly from the IBM Connections mobile app.

Here's a screenshot of how the polls from TemboSocial show up in the tablet mobile app (which we just updated last week):

And here's how The Hive looks within the mobile app:

It's extremely exciting to see how the partner eco-system for IBM Connections continues to grow and that partners continue to expand on their existing and are keeping their solutions up to date with our latest release.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

OpenOffice 4.0 is Available Now - Go and Download It!

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Today, OpenOffice 4.0 has become available ! Today, more than 58 million people have downloaded OpenOffice v3.4 since its release last year.

One of my favorite features in this release is the new sidebar which comes of course as part of the contributions from IBM's Symphony. The timing couldn't be better as we recently also introduced a document an awesome document editor in OpenOffice format for the iPad.


In today's press release, Kevin Cavanaugh (VP IBM Collaboration Solutions) was quoted as saying:
The time is right for wide scale enterprises adoption especially with the upcoming end of support for Microsoft Office 2003. By choosing Apache OpenOffice, enterprises will free up resources for their cloud and mobile infrastructure investments.
Additionally, as you are probably aware, we have a plug-in for that brings social to OpenOffice available today. In a couple of weeks, we'll also be releasing a new version of this IBM Connections Plug-In for OpenOffice which will surface in the new sidebar. I'll be sharing more about this plugin in the coming weeks as we approach the release date. Here's a screenshot just to give you a sense of how it's going to work:


For reference, the full list of What's New in this release is available here.

So don't wait!! To download, get it here: http://www.openoffice.org/download/ .

Friday, July 19, 2013

IBM Connections Mobile App Updated - Docs Galore!

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We have just released the latest mobile apps for IBM Connections, IBM's Enterprise Social Network (ESN). I haven't blogged about the mobile apps lately. However, I'm sure you've been up to date thanks to Chris Reckling's posts. By now, you know that we've been releasing monthly updates with new features every month!

In this month's release we've added various new things, with the most powerful one being real-time co-editing of documents directly from your iPad. Last week, Forrester cited IBM as a Leader in their File Sharing and Sync Wave. As the product manager for Files, I don't want to just sit idle now, but instead want to keep pushing our leadership position further ahead.

Imagine being on the go and being asked to review a document. Why wait until you are back in the office, when you can make quick changes directly from your device?? Just edit and go, and yes, as others throughout the world make changes to the document, you see them in real-time! And since Connections provides document editing, the document never leaves the secure container.  You probably remember this from the IBM Connect OGS earlier this year, so it's extremely exciting to roll this out today!

Here's a quick and simple 2 minute demo I captured to demonstrate some of the new capabilities in this release.

So what are you waiting for? Go get the latest apps from your favorite app store! If you are not using Connections today, start your free trial by going to http://ibmcloud.com/social !

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

IBM Connections Cited as a Leader in File Sharing and Sync

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Amazing news to share today! IBM was among the vendors Forrester Research 
invited to participate in their latest Forrester Wave: File Share and 
Sync, 3Q 2013 . In this report, IBM SmartCloud for Social 
Business, built on IBM Connections, was cited as a leader. W00t !


IBM SmartCloud for Social Business is IBM's premier cloud-based online 
collaboration platform (or enterprise social network). I've been working with my peers on this report 
showing Forrester the capabilities that we have today and what we are 
going to deliver in the rest of 2013. Needless to say, I'm extremely excited that 
Forrester considers IBM a leader in this Forrester Wave report!


More and more companies are looking at leveraging cloud-based 
collaboration solutions. A recent example is Apex Supply Chain who chose 
the IBM Connections platform on the cloud to better collaborate with its 
global employees. Their success story was published in the SMB Group Blog 
a couple of weeks ago and why they chose 
IBM SmartCloud for Social Business.

Check out the following video that was recently shared by them:



Congrats to the entire team who worked on this. To purchase the Forrester report now go 
here.

Updated on 23/Jul/2013 - You can now download the report from here.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Mark Your Calendars: Webcast - Engage Your Customers with Exceptional Digital Experiences

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Next week, we'll be hosting a can't miss webinar on building Exceptional Digital Experiences. While the pace of business and the speed of content continue to accelerate, so does the demand to reach your audiences through a rich and robust digital experience on multiple devices. Customers and Employees alike expect the same high quality experiences whether externally on the web or internally on the company intranet.

Cars.com, for example, increased web site traffic by 145 million visits using an Exceptional Digital Experience.

Retailers, on the other hand, lost about $44 Billion in sales due to online customer experience problems:

At the webinar, Larry Bowden (VP of IBM Digital Experience Software), Nicole Carrier ( Chief Strategist of IBM Digital Experience Software), David Apanovich (Sr. Analyst of Forrester Research) and Aaron Pickrell (Director of Online Systems for Performance Bicycle) will share strategies to listen to your customers, deliver exceptional service and engage individuals and customers.

The webinar is on July 17th @ 11am ET. To register, go here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

New Theme Available for IBM Connections

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I'm happy to announce that we just made a new theme available for IBM Connections, IBM's enterprise social network (ESN). This theme was first shown at IBM Connect earlier this year and has been used by our cloud customers for a while now.

The feedback from our cloud customers has been extremely positive so far. I've also been getting a lot of requests from our on-premises customers that they would like to use this new theme. The good news for them is that the theme is available today and it's ready for download!

Here's how Connections looks with the new theme (Updated 10/Jul/2013 with new screenshot):



You can download the theme from our catalog here. Deploying the theme takes just a few minutes so go on and get it!

Note: Please read the read me ( hey, it's a good reminder! ) for system requirements and installation instructions.

Enjoy!

How to Extend IBM Connections in Less Than 100 Seconds

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Some time ago (5 years actually) I blogged about extending IBM Connections and integrating with Facebook in no time! My colleague Niklas Heidloff has now put together a series of videos of extending IBM Connections, IBM's enterprise social network (ESN), in less than 100 seconds.

In the video series, Niklas takes advantage of the IBM Social Business Toolkit and SDK to either add OpenSocial apps to Connections or use the API's to retrieve the information and aggregate feeds together. You will also want to follow their YouTube channel to stay informed when new videos are added.

The short videos do a great job demonstrating how quickly app developers can extend IBM Connections or build integrated apps on top of Connections.

So far, Niklas has published 5 videos which I've added to this playlist. I'll keep the playlist updated as new videos are added.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Updated Mobile App for IBM Connections - Goodies for all

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Refresh your app stores, the latest monthly update is now available! A new mobile app update is ready for IBM Connections, IBM's enterprise social network (ESN) for collaboration. Last week, Chris Reckling did a great job summarizing the new features in the June 2013 release of native mobile apps.

My favorite feature is viewing events in the Action Required view of the activity stream. This view looks in the activity stream and can figure out which events require end user action. Thus, this view displays your latest to-do items from Activities, network and community invitations, requests to join moderated communities, and any third-party events requiring an action on your part.

For example, imagine an expense reporting application or a workflow application (e.g. IBM Business Process Manager ) where you are notified that you need to approve or reject something. You can do it directly from the activity stream, and now, directly from the mobile device!!! Mobile workers don't have to be a bottleneck anymore.

So if your App Store (or Google Play) icon looks like this:

it's time to update!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Demo: IBM SmartCloud Connections Plug-In for Microsoft Windows

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As promised a few posts ago, I wanted to share a demo of the desktop plugin for IBM SmartCloud Connections, IBM's enterprise social network (ESN) offering in the cloud. Well, I was out last week when the plug-in was available so here it is! First, here's what you can expect to see and do from Windows Explorer, Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook.

The IBM Connections Desktop Plug-ins for Microsoft Windows provides the following features from Microsoft Windows Explorer:
  • Upload local files to IBM Connections from Windows Explorer or from your desktop
  • Share uploaded files with people, communities, or folders in IBM Connections
  • Work on files locally and publish them to IBM Connections
  • View people's contact details and get in touch with them
  • Pin, follow, or like IBM Connections files and folders
  • View or contribute comments for a file
  • Lock a file when you are editing it to prevent file conflicts
  • View and restore files from IBM Connections Trash
  • Share folders with IBM Connections Communities
The IBM Connections Desktop Plug-ins for Microsoft Windows provides the following features from Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel):
Word:
  • Add a document to IBM Connections Files or Communities
  • Attach a document to an Activity or Wiki page
  • Publish a document to a Blog entry
  • Add someone's profile information from IBM Connections into a document
  • Add a bookmark from IBM Connections into a document
  • Add a URL from a document as a bookmark in IBM Connections
  • Search for content in IBM Connections
PowerPoint:
  • Add a presentation to IBM Connections Files or Communities
  • Attach a presentation to an Activity or Wiki page
  • Search for content in IBM Connections
Excel:
  • Add a spreadsheet to IBM Connections Files or Communities
  • Attach a spreadsheet to an Activity or Wiki page
  • Search for content in IBM Connections
The IBM Connections Desktop Plug-ins for Microsoft Windows provides the following features from Microsoft Outlook:
  • Add an email to IBM Connections Files or Communities
  • Attach an email to an activity or wiki page
  • Search for content in IBM Connections
  • View social activities for email recipients and people in your network
  • Invite people to your IBM Connections network
  • Outlook 2010: View IBM Connections business card for email senders and recipients
Check out the quick 3 minute demo below:

To download the plugin, you can get it from the Downloads page within SmartCloud. If you want to start a trial, go to http://ibmcloud.com/social