Category Archives: lotus-connections

Modernize your Lotus Notes applications (webinar)

Keeping applications is a perennial problem in any IT organization. This is particularly the case for critical collaboration applications like Lotus Notes, where security, performance and feature enhancements can significantly increase business value.

With the launch of Transformer 2.0, GROUP Business Software provides a package that combines software engineering with consulting services to help organizations leverage their significant investments on the Internet and on a cloud platform of their choosing.

In this webinar, GROUP will detail the key features in Transformer 2.0 pulling highlights from the recent event at MIT featuring a panel of IBM Executives. You will learn how to:

  • Rapidly modernize existing Domino applications with no data migration required
  • Extend applications to private and public clouds with no lock-in
  • Leverage existing infrastructures (hardware, middleware, directory services)
  • Standardize application appearance across your organization 

Transformer 2.0 accelerates the modernization and web enablement of your Lotus Notes applications. Don’t miss this presentation that will show you the easiest and best path to the future for your Domino investments.

The webinar is FREE – Watch the webinar now

Creating a social business through developerWorks: the GoMidjets story

Even though I wasn’t at Lotusphere this year, I did get a sneak peak at Stacy Pschenica’s presentation on the value of the developerWorks community: to members, partners and thankfully (given the source of my salary) IBM.

One particular slide jumped out:

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This is the impressive story of GoMidjets, a provider of configuration management plug-ins for IBM Rational software. GoMidgets founder Tamir Gefen was a user of Rational CM and ALM who originally used developerWorks Rational forums to solve problems and pick up tips. Before long he found himself contributing heavily on Rational forums – providing simplified and automated processes to help other users work more efficiently. This led to the creation of GoMidjets: an IBM partner offering plug-ins and professional consulting for IBM Rational ClearCase. Tamir continued to use the developerWorks forums for obtaining product feedback, development and brainstorming around ideas. 

As he pointed out in an earlier interview with Valerie Skinner,

"I use developerWorks as a focused network to communicate with professionals from the Gurus to the users. Through developerWorks, I get to hear what people have to say, learn new ideas, get technical information and more. I like to think I don’t just gain from it but also contribute. More than anything, I use it to answer questions in the Rational ClearCase and ClearQuest forums. I enjoy solving users’ problems."

Tamir now receives 40% of his leads from the developerWorks network. How’s that for a living, breathing example of social business?

Some key points that come out of the GoMidjets story:

  • Social networks represent great assets for business development. Forums contain detailed market intelligence: users openly share their pain points. If you can help address these, you could be looking at a viable business proposition.
  • Don’t underestimate the altruistic motive. Look to add real value to the community. Spend time answering questions rather than just pumping out sales/marketing messages. Develop relationships: who know where these will lead in the future?
  • Take the risky business of product development out from behind the closed doors of your organization. Think of forums as focus groups where you can obtain user feedback and find out if a new feature really does have legs, or is just an attempt to solve a non-existent problem.

Want to replicate the GoMidjets story?

Our forums are one of the most popular areas of our site – check them out. If you would like to setup a specialized group with the opportunity to collaborate over files, activities, bookmarks and more, go right ahead. If you have a message to share or would like to provide regular updates to our community, request a blog via the link on this page.

Stacy took the opportunity to talk a little further about the developerWorks mission to the Lotusphere video press gang:

Have your own social business stories to share? Comment below!

#LS11

IBM unveils the Social Business Toolkit: the dawn of the ‘everything inbox’

What if your company inbox could show you a lot more than just emails? What if you could see all the recent blog posts by those in your network. And the presentations they’ve recently posted? What if you could also see updates from that revenue tool you check every week to see whether you’re on-target to hit that all-important quarterly quota? Oh, and voicemails: can they be added to the stream too?

Such dreams (and more) can be realized with the launch at Lotusphere this week of the IBM Social Business Toolkit. This package includes a set of APIs that can be used by developers to feed updates into the Lotus Connections Activity Stream (effectively a corporate version of the Facebook Wall). The big news here is that whilst in the past this was restricted to activity that took place within the Lotus Connections environment (blogs, groups, tasks, etc.), the toolkit cracks open this functionality, allowing for updates from any application. With APIs based on all popular web development frameworks, exactly what gets pumped into the Activity Stream is limited only by a developer’s imagination. Integrate this stream into your email client and you have an inbox that goes way beyond showing just your latest emails.

What bloggers are saying about the Social Business Toolkit

Dan Burger, writing in the IT Jungle puts the toolkit in the context of IBM’s wider social business play. With Lotus Connections now becoming available on every major mobile platform, the Activity Stream becomes a central repository available anywhere:  

"An example of this could be a report from a sales analyst prompting a team meeting, or other business systems on premise or in the cloud. It conveniently allows a user to view and interact with the Activity Stream from a central location. IBM has indicated it will integrate the Activity Stream into the next version of social collaboration products accessible from mobile devices."

Meanwhile, Alex Williams on ReadWriteWeb sees the Social Business Toolkit is an implementation of a technology which is gaining widespread adoption in the consumer market, suggesting "Developing a tool kit is a smart, natural step and a necessary one for IBM."

Over ten days ago, the prescient James Governor alluded to this announcement when stating the need of IBM to produce solutions meaningful to developers as well as the line of business crowd:

"The winner in any tech wave is the best packager- so far no enterprise company has nailed and packaged the web development wave."

With the social business toolkit, are we seeing the first iteration of such a package?

IBM’s own Luis Benitez does a good job of summing up the Social Business Toolkit:

"The idea is to take all your existing apps (and even those from 3rd party vendors) and merge all the activity and information across those existing silos into a single, unified view (or stream)"

and goes so far as to show an early-stage mock-up:

Interested in learning more about creating an ‘everything inbox’ with the Social Business Toolkit? We have more information on developerWorks.

#LS11

Lotusphere 2011 opening session: mobile, social business has arrived

Lotusphere Opening General Session So IBM’s premier social business event, Lotusphere 2011, is now fully underway.

Who better to get things started than Hollywood legend Kevin Spacey: few have done a better job of capturing the zeitgeist. Whether it’s a portrait of middle-aged, middle-America ennui in American Beauty or producing the Aaron Sorkin-scripted dissection of the rise and rise of Facebook (‘The Social Network’), Kevin Spacey is a man with his proverbial finger on the pulse. (If you missed it, I can recommend his recent appearance on the Colbert Report). “Stay open and listen to other’s points of view” is one of his takeaways.

Key themes from this year’s opening:

Marketing page creation

The energetic Brian Cheng shows off some of the powerful new features of Lotus Connections 3 (LC3) for building an external web presence. Drag-and-drop functionality allows a marketer to build a web landing page on the fly – fully incorporating those social features demanded by the market today. You can even see how the experience will be for someone who is logged in to the community (eg. maybe they see their network connections and have the ability to comment on specific parts of the page) versus what a new visitor will see. Full integration with Coremetrics and SugarCRM means you have can see instantly just how well the page is performing.

Interesting development from Lotus Connections given its general perception as an intranet tool. Will we see a further crumbling of the iron curtain that separates the intranet from the external presence of an organization? 

The mobile experience

As mobile usage continues to soar, we demand more of our web applications to be accessible from our smart phones as we wait in line for our Chai Tea Latte. This morning we see multiple demonstrations of just how LC3 performs in the mobile space. Cheng shows how marketing pages created with the Customer Experience Suite can have a specific look for a specific device (in this case demonstrating how the site will appear on an iPad). We also see how presentations shared within LC3 can also be viewed via a Blackberry app. The Sametime messaging system will have mobile support, making it easier to get on the phone when your Sametime instant-messaging chat conversation goes south.

Video support

During the demo, the Lotus Connections team show new web-based video capabilities integrated with enterprise communications systems like Polycom. For instance, video conferencing a la Skype can be embedded directly into the page of a presentation, creating a more interactive experience. The team showcases web-based video so there is no need for the installation of any plugins. Not quite sure what technology underpins this but there is the announcement of a big commitment to HTML5 in the later press conference (yey!). 

Sub-communities

So you want to organize your communities by brand, function, department, etc. LC 3 now supports sub-communities so that you can group together related networks. All settings (including permissions) can be defined at the sub-community level. So, for instance, you can use one sub-community to surface part of a project for external stakeholders whilst keeping the internal workflows more private.

Integration of mail and social

Activity streams can be woven into the mail experience (regardless of mail server) so a user can see all conversation in a single interface. No doubt this will continue to grow and form the segue of modern corporate communications, especially amongst the younger workforce who relate to email the way I relate to fax technology.

So, a lot to look forward to in the next three days in Orlando as IBM’s vision of social business unfolds.

Be sure to check out the live stream recording and live blogging from ReadWriteWeb.

Photo courtesy of Jacques Pavlenyi.

#LS11

Lotusphere 2011 is coming to a social network near you

Collaboration, social networking, disruptive technologies, social media… the list goes on. Lotusphere is IBM’s premier event dealing with this emerging space where technology intersects with people intersects with business.

The event takes place from Jan 30 – Feb 3 in that last vestige of sunshine at this time of year: Orlando, Florida.

As you’d expect for a conference covering all things social, there are a number of ways to connect if you can’t make it down there this year.

Definitely check out the social media aggregator pulling together relevant content from blogs, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. If you are planning on generating one iota of content around the event, register and remember to use #LS11 or #LotusKnows  in your blog posts/tweets to bask in the social glow this aggregator provides.

For the big announcements, keep an eye on the Livestream channel which will be broadcasting highlights from across the conference.

For the extended community (albeit in Twitter, YouTube, Facebook…), the developerWorks team have done an excellent job of putting together a community page.

Let’s face it, Orlando’s a fitting place for a conference on social business: this has to be one of the ‘hottest’ areas of the tech industry right now.

#LS11

Lotusphere 2011: building collaborative business intelligence with Cognos 10

Over on the IBM Software Blog, Cognos Product Marketing Manager Brendan Farnand explains just why business intelligence solutions from Cognos have a place at the Lotusphere social business event:

"Everyone involved in a decision or a solution needs to know who else is involved, what transpired before they were asked to contribute and what other ideas are out there for that decision or solution."

Business intelligence shouldn’t happen in isolation. As I’ve pointed out before, many reports from sales figures to customer service levels have added value if key constituents can comment on the results and define follow-up actions. Pairing key functions from the Lotus suite with Cognos Business intelligence allows exactly that:

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As I won’t be at Lotusphere this year, I’m looking forward to following Brendan on Twitter

If you can’t make it to Lotusphere, check out this Tech Talk webinar where Brendan highlights Cognos’ built-in collaboration and social networking functionality.

Cognos 10: what does social networking bring to business intelligence?

In my previous life as a webmaster I was called on to develop monthly web performance reports for consumption by the whole marketing organization. At one time these had been documents that were mailed around, but we decided the best approach was to build a web interface with charts and diagrams that would be updated monthly.

We showed standard metrics. Stuff like this:

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Each month I’d send out an email with a link to the latest report with my notes on site performance each month. For instance, I’d point out from looking at the graph on the left that although traffic had dropped this month, this is a seasonal variation. For the graph on the right, I’d say I wasn’t sure why our search traffic had grown: this is something I’d investigate with the various individuals running search campaigns (meaning for 90% of the people on the email distribution, the answer would end up in an Inbox far, far away).  

How much smarter we could have been if we’d have had access to a system like Cognos 10 that marries business intelligence/analytics with social networking capabilities that allow you to add that layer of insight on top of the data.

For instance, here’s a standard chart:

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and here’s the same chart with the addition of related Lotus Connections discussions:

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Going back to my examples above, if I was showing yearly traffic figures, I can use this discussion area to record what I know about seasonal variations. Now if someone receiving the report didn’t agree with my evaluation, they are free to comment on it. As for the discussion I’d need to have with my search marketing folks about why the search traffic has spiked, I can set this up from the same page:

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…with the thread of the discussion unfolding below the graphs and charts to which it relates. Anyone wishing to follow up on the status of the question can go to that page and scan the thread to see the outcome.

I should point out that the Cognos folks have taken this a step further: integrating activities as well as discussions. The data is now more ‘actionable’. Let’s say you are looking at global sales data and you notice a slump in a certain geographic region. You can use the new functionality to setup an Activity to address this, with a number of associated tasks assigned to different sales people or teams. Over time you can evaluate their actions against the performance data all from within the same interface.

And while we’re talking about the sales team, another new feature in Cognos 10 makes it easier to access reports while on the go, directly from your smart phone:

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One feature I’d love to see in future releases of Cognos is the ability to tie conversations/activities to given points on a graph, as opposed to just having these attached to the page of a report. As an example, the popular SoundCloud music hosting service has gained a lot of traction by allowing music enthusiasts to comment on a particular point in a music track:

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(each blue bar represents a separate comment)

Maybe something for a future release?

Delaney Turner has a post with more information on Cognos 10, including a link to an excellent interactive demo.

Also check out the Cognos product pages.