Category Archives: IBMConnect

Someone was missing in Orlando

So we had this insurance client 13 years ago. The whole SNAPPS gang visited their offices in Minnesota a couple times, me a few more times as necessary, and we did some great work for them for three or four years on Sametime integration and QuickPlace before they were acquired. Even after the main contacts had moved on, we kept in touch and saw them every year in Orlando.

We were introduced through my Lotusphere sessions. At every single “Great Code Giveaway”, every solo session, in fact every session one of the other guys gave, the main technical “Lotus” contact from this company would be there. Front row, every time. He must’ve come to 75 of our sessions over the years. This was a guy highly dedicated to learning everything he could to help him at his job. He asked smart questions, took notes, and basically was a fixture at our sessions for all those years. The kind of audience member that made a speaker feel good and even calm you down, knowing you could always look their way. He even came to Collaboration University twice in Chicago, and I think at least one Advisor conference back in the day. When I visited his offices, he’d be sure to take me out for a beer and extol the virtues of wild rice (Minnesota!).

I didn’t see him this year at IBM Connect, but given all the other people I didn’t see for the first time thought nothing of it. I’m sure I would have noticed had I been speaking, he was such a fixture in my audiences.

Today I discovered that my learned colleague, speaker calming element, and go-to audience member passed away last August from a rare cancer. He had been battling it for five years. He was just a couple years older than me, and left behind a wife and three daughters.

There are members of our community who are well-known, outspoken, “Champions”, speakers, authors, and general protagonists and antagonists. And then there are the members of our community who simply work hard for thirty years, don’t speak or write, don’t seek glory or notoriety, but rather spend their energies using, promoting, evangelizing and making better the technology we all love.

Let’s never forget that the latter far outnumber the former. The folks who do the day to day work, training, admin and development in companies, spend their spare time learning, and bring our solutions to the people on the front lines – and don’t get to walk away after a sale or an engagement – they are the real champions.

Rest in Peace, Randy Nelson. I’m pretty sure you have a front row seat.RandyNelson

IBM Connect 2016: So Bill Gates walks into a bar…

ic400Today’s Opening General Session was well received. There was good energy, the room was completely full, and the audience was very receptive to some very well done demos. And, everything ran more or less on time (which if you’ve been to more than three of them, you know is rare). We were introduced to Jason Silva, host of Brain Games and futurist speaker. We were treated to glimpses of our future selves, the underlying theme along the lines of “our software is making our hardware” – how the tools we use are beginning to self-propagate in ways that our future selves will barely recognize. I did have a bit of an LOL moment when he described our 100,000-year-ago selves in sub-Saharan Africa beginning to use sticks to reach for food and how that represented an extension of ourselves, and how much we have grown since then. All while about fifteen modern geeks in the audience were using their selfie sticks. Think on that.

From then on Jeff Schick ran the show.

There was a short but very good bit from an IBM Research’s Vinith Misra on computational humor. That one tells itself.

The first half wrapped up with Clive Lightfoot and James Weru from Kenya discussing how collaboration and specifically solutions from IBM Partner WebGate have increased trust and prosperity in the community of African farmers, distributors, markets, buyers and traders. Fascinating story.

The OGS was split into two just-over-one-hour sessions, which let us stretch our legs between the “guest speakers” half and the “demos and customers” half. Chris Crummey did a bang-up job on demos, and the story was quite obviously well-rehearsed and delivered in a very polished way. He clarified “new way to work” for the first time since it was introduced, and I think the audience appreciated that quite a bit.

Katrina Troughton from IBM introduced the Social Student program (a Connections implementation at three universities supporting a competition across borders) – and while I cringed initially at the appearance of tall chairs on stage, they actually brought up the professor and two of the winning students and had just a short chat that was informative.

I have to say I really enjoyed the case study from Texas Children’s Hospital, and recognized the promo shots from my days with Children’s Hospital Association. While they didn’t get into details (neither technical nor naming the partners who I know have been involved in their rollout, that would have been nice…), the story and specific goals were discussed and made sense to the general audience as well as someone with a understanding of the way technology can help in a hospital setting.

Lufthansa’s case study was short and sweet. It landed.

And, the “what we’re working on” section/demo was well done. They didn’t take the chances they have in the past with live demos, but on the flip side people enjoyed it and got out on time…

Overall assessment? On a scale of “two lane highway” to “R5 launch”, I’d put it squarely with “four pillars”.

P.S. For those of you dying to know: “…and everyone becomes a millionaire. On average.”

Just wait. A Second!

IBM Connect 2014Second session that is. In all the excitement of getting early notice of my first session “Running a Successful Pilot Program with Social Business Software” I somehow had it in my head that it was going to be my only session accepted this year. So I was a little surprised and happy to learn that another of my submissions has indeed been accepted.

This one will be a lot of work, but hopefully worth it for the attendees.

So look for it you Quickr fans and don’t miss it. I’ll have supporting materials available for download, but all the reasoning and logic will be in the room. Not necessarily me, but I’m sure it will be there somewhere.

Where Do We Go From Here? A Decision Matrix for Quickr Customers

Lotus Quickr fans! As you now know, your heir apparent — and entitlement — comes in the form of IBM Connections Content Manager (CCM), which provides rich social networking and content management experience inside IBM Connections communities. In this session with Rob Novak (who has done a bit of work with both), we’ll do a capabilities mapping, demo a live Quickr-to-CCM migration, and review strategy and deployment options for Quickr customers. How much can you migrate? What new features will you gain, and what will change? With custom applications, what are the options for moving forward? Are multiple strategies right for you? This session will answer all these questions and more, allowing you to build your own “decision matrix” for your social software deployment.

On a side note, in case you were wondering. Yes, that’s the first time in 50+ presentations in Orlando I’ve been able to incorporate a BTVS reference into my title. I win.

Thirteen must be my lucky number!

IBM Connect 2014With IBM Connect 2014 around the corner (we all know…it’s closer than the calendar leads one to believe!) the awesome content team folks decided to leak out some of the “Lotusphere” sessions early, a week at a time.

I’m very excited to have been chosen to speak again this year. And, I’m joining forces with my friend and colleague Mac Guidera to offer twice the goodness for the same price. 🙂

This will be my 19th “Lotusphere” and 13th as a speaker. Some years it’s been one big session, some in the past have been as many as nine sessions. Personally I enjoy putting a lot of effort into one or two so attendees get as much value as possible in an hour.

It’s also a year in which I’ve tried to focus more effort on strategy and cultural impact of the technical work we all do. I gave my first “non-industry” talk to groups of executives, and it resonated. They are hungry for the type of marketing-free strategy advice on a decidedly uncomfortable topic (technology) that normally takes hours of poring over analyst reports or months of study. That’s the kind of thing I enjoy distilling down to an hour or two.

But I digress, on to this year’s session. We’ve all been part of both successful and failed (or at least strained!) projects, and I have consulted with many companies that see the same challenges getting new initiatives off the ground. What goes wrong in pilot roll-outs? Is it all technical issues? [Hint: no.] What are the human factors involved, what kind of staffing does it take, and who are the absolute wrong people to be running pilots? Our session is all about increasing the likelihood of success when embarking on a Social Business Software pilot:

Running a Successful Pilot Program with Social Business Software

Much of the publicly available marketing and technical information on IBM’s collaboration solutions focuses on features, prerequisites, support and implementation details. In this session we’ll address success factors involved in running a pilot social software deployment.  Our topics include setting goals, gaining executive support, managing expectations, aligning with business strategy, measuring outcomes and defining success. More about business than PMRs, more about success than installation, this session is the perfect accompaniment to your technical education and will round out your best practices experience. Come join veteran speakers with a combined 35 years of experience and watch them try to wrap this up in 60 minutes!

Rob Novak is president of IBM Partner SNAPPS, has 20 years in the Lotus/IBM community, two Masters degrees in business and has delivered 50+ Connect/Lotusphere sessions in 13 years. Mac Guidera is a Social Workforce Strategist at IBM, and demonstrates Social Business adoption and integration into organizations that have an impact on their cultures and collaborative process.

So that’s our challenge for the next 52 days. Less weekends, 36 days. Less holidays, 31 days. Less lead time for IBM legal, 16 days. Less other client projects, 5 days. Less procrastination, about 45 minutes.

Crap. Uh, I have to go. Maybe write something. See you there!

A subtle change over there to the right

It was 7:26 AM today when the email came. I am pleased and honored to be included once again in the group called IBM Champions! Here’s what it takes to be an IBM Champion, and what the benefits are…

One benefit is that you can use the logo, so I got to tag “2014” onto my caption over there on the right.

Per the announcement site:

These individuals are non-IBMers who evangelize IBM solutions, share their knowledge and help grow the community of professionals who are focused on social business and IBM Collaboration Solutions. IBM Champions spend a considerable amount of their own time, energy and resources on community efforts — organizing and leading user group events, answering questions in forums, contributing wiki articles and applications, publishing podcasts, sharing instructional videos and more!

87 Champions were chosen for inclusion in 2014 — I have to say it’s great to see so many new names along with a core group of longstanding contributors to the community. Congratulations to all the new Champions…see many of you next month at IBM Connect in Orlando!

Adam Brown

Andrew Barickman

Arshad Khalid

Benedek Menesi

Bill Malchisky

Brad Balassaitis

Brian O’Neill

Bruce Elgort

Chris Miller

Christian Güedemann

Christoph Stoettner

Cody Burleson

Daniel Lieber

Daniele Grillo

David Leedy

David Price

Dennis Rot

Femke Goedhart

Francie Tanner

Frank Van der Linden

Fredrik Norling

Friso van den Berg

Gabriella Davis

Gary Swale

Giuseppe Grasso

Glenn Kline

Handly Cameron

Howard Greenberg

Jan Valdman

Jérôme Deniau

Jesse Gallagher

João Vendruscolo

John Head

John Jardin

Julian Robichaux

Karl-Henry Martinsson

Kathy Brown

Keith Brooks

Kenichi Sato

Kenio Carvalho

Kenji Ebihara

Koichi Hatanaka

Laks Sundararajan

Liz Albert

Luis Carlos Garza

Marion Vrielink

Mark Calleran

Mark Leusink

Mark Roden

Masahiko Miyo

Matteo Bisi

Mike Ostrowski

Mikkel Heisterberg

Mitch Cohen

Mitsuru Katoh

Olaf Boerner

Patrice Vialor

Patrick Hope

Paul Calhoun

Paul Della-Nebbia

Paul Mooney

Paul Withers

Per Henrik Lausten

Ray Bilyk

RenéWinkelmeyer

Rob Novak

Rupert Clayton

Russ Maher

Salvador Gallardo

Sandra Bühler

Sarah Carter

Sasja Beerendonk

Serdar Basegmez

Sharon Bellamy

Simon Vaughan

Sjaak Ursinus

Steve Pitcher

Stuart McIntyre

Takeshi Yoshida

Theo Heselmans

Tim Clark

Tim Malone

Tom Simmons

Tony Holder

Ulrich Krause

Vincent Perrin

Wannes Rams

SnappLinks for IBM Connections adds SlideShare support

slideshareNot long ago we announced SnappLinks for IBM Connections, a set of social link helper plugins for IBM Connections. This week we’re adding a new plugin to the mix, one to embed SlideShare presentations. You’ve seen them all over the web on blogs and articles, and now it’s a matter of a couple clicks to add them to your Connections Blos and Wikis.

Here’s a video introducing them where I grab my IBM Connect 2013 presentation and embed it in my Connections wiki. The video is a little over a minute, but as you’ll see the activity takes about 10 seconds just to get the embed code on the clipboard.

Enjoy! And of course, feel free to contact me if you’re interested…

SnappLinks with SlideShare

Lotus Quickr is only Mostly Dead

So you’ve heard by now that Lotus Quickr is dead. Doornail, zombie, Betamax, rotary dial, dead. Somebody came back from what used to be called Lotusphere, said there were no sessions, saw a tweet and now has you scrambling for an answer to the pressing, urgent, mission critical need to provide a replacement. Dead, I say!

MiracleMax“Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do.”
-Miracle Max, The Princess Bride

A side effect of thundering silence, which is what we heard about Quickr for a year, is a desire for new direction. I recognize that, and of course counsel clients to be best of my ability when they are making strategic, tactical, or weekly conference call decisions.

So, I shall put my powers of deductive reasoning to work here and provide you with my view of the situation and perhaps, some direction.

Quickr is far from “dead.” In the IBM software world, “dead” takes place over a period of years and takes the shape of changes to the official product lifecycle status. First we’ll see a version reduction (there are two, some could argue three, versions) with the older versions being withdrawn first. In our case, Quickr for Domino has version 8.2, and two slightly different versions of 8.5.1 – one that runs on Domino 8.5.1 and one that runs on Domino 8.5.3. By “withdrawn” I mean that the lifecycle status will change to what they used to call (and I still do) “EOL” or “End of Life” then eventually “EOS” or “End of Support.” When a product hits EOL, it is removed form IBM’s offerings and no longer sold, a letter is published about its withdrawal from marketing, and maintenance is no longer extended. EOS comes later, as customers can actually buy a product until the EOL date and expect support. Even after EOS, companies can purchase extended support contracts to keep themselves covered for longer term use.

SecondOpinion

OK, here’s one:

“First of all, I want to make it very clear, that Quickr is going to be continued to be supported for a very long time. So, there is no immediate action required on the customer side to do something right now. You can all continue to use Quickr.”
-Rene Schimmer, IBM (Ask the Product Managers, IBM Connect 2013)

But really, all that is just the mechanics of availability. What about you thousands of Quickr customers? Well IBM has laid out a roadmap, and that is a partial migration to IBM Connections Content Manager 4.5, to be released next month, and a utility to migrate Quickr for Domino or J2EE libraries to it. Problem solved! Well, for some of you.

When you start classifying your current use of Quickr, the answer you’re after gets a bit more complex.

Customizations
You see, many companies (I claim 50%) have some sort of a) non-library, b) custom, c) workflow, or d) extranet use for Quickr. Or a combination. Here’s a sample from memory: Quickr is used for law firm caseloads, extranets, group calendars, marketing campaign tracking, oil exploration scientific taxonomies, network procedure tracking, drug approvals, multi-phase editing cycles, leave approvals, insurance certificate delivery, employee timesheets, global trademark legal processes, quality assurance reporting, global feedback management, training delivery systems, on-demand surveys, trade ministry envoy support, and presidential speech delivery.

Let’s say you have some level of customization, but at the end of this article believe you should still migrate to Connections Content Manager. You’ll need some services to get your Quickr server data in order, or migrate the customization work and data. That effort might be an item of value for you, or it might not. It will take individual analysis to come up with the best strategy.

Size Matters
There are indeed customers who may fit the use profile but do not have Connections today, are running Quickr on a single Domino server or cluster, who in order to migrate need multiple high powered servers, a services engagement for installation and configuration, and a need to acquire or hire WebSphere skills. If you’re a small shop or operate on a smaller budget, this could be a challenge.

Extranets
As a replacement strategy IBM is offering a solution that does not YET have an extranet or external user story. Quickr Domino is very often used for these purposes. In fact this was the original marketing message for QuickPlace in 1999. Also, when Quickr customers use local users, the additional burden of converting to an LDAP solution comes into play.

Conclusions
The best advice I can give a Quickr customer is more like a meme: STAY CALM and CHOOSE WISELY. It’s a bit obvious. IBM has said that Quickr Domino will be around and supported for many years to come. It’s just not going to get new features. It will receive what they’re calling “currency updates” which means support for new browsers and operating systems on the client end…at least what can be supported based on the architecture. For those who choose to follow the migration roadmap, I propose an analysis of the current environment, feature comparisons and a readiness check for your Quickr environment.

So to migrate or not to migrate? Start asking these questions.

  1. If you have no customizations but use Quickr for document storage only, plus for migration
  2. If you already have IBM Connections, plus for migration
  3. If you don’t have IBM Connections but do have WebSphere skills, small plus for migration
  4. If you have customizations that are functional or business process oriented, plus for Quickr stability
  5. If you have an extranet, plus for Quickr
  6. If you have a small installation and no IBM Connections, plus for Quickr
  7. If you want some stability for several years while you work it out, plus for Quickr
  8. Keep in mind there are a few other options besides the roadmap — other products for collaborative document management
  9. More than likely, you have mixed answers

A final thought – being up to date on Quickr will be key to that “stable” environment, if sticking with Quickr is your choice. And once you’re there, there is no harm in investing in add-on products, MODERATE customizations and additional support services to enhance your business processes and client experience. Quickr is quite flexible today, and the stability of several years of support for the same version means your risk associated with ISVs and customization is actually lower now than at any time in the past. Think about that as you make your choices for 2013, 14, 15, 16…

On Becoming a Connections Developer

I had the pleasure of presenting at IBM Connect 2013 last week on this topic in the Show and Tell track. Normally I keep presentations a bit closer to the vest as they’re reused in parts throughout the year. This one, though, is more instructional in nature and I thought wider distribution would be a good thing.

Jerald Mahurin and I put some 200 hours into preparation for the session, not including the slide prep. Believe me when I say that this track is quite intense. I had perhaps four hours of material, fit into two hours, noted on arrival that I only had one hour forty five minutes, and had to start ten minutes late due to the OGS overrun (saw it coming…)

My goal with the session wasn’t to show everyone exactly how to code for Connections. That’s a job for weeks or months. Rather I wanted to get across some key points:

  1. What tools will I be using?
  2. What languages, toolkits, and big concepts must I understand?
  3. What can I do with them?

This third point was key to the session’s stated goal, which is the ability to “frame” business problems and integration possibilities with skill and speed. Like we do with Domino applications — we know at a glance what we’re going to build in most cases, and how. Never mind that there are 50 options in the Designer navigator, we know how all those pieces fit.

So, please enjoy what I call the “ridiculously long” presentation. I might suggest breaking your reading and exercises into several smaller sittings. Don’t forget to stretch. Do not go into the water until one hour after finishing.

Of course, feel free to use the form at the end to contact me! I’m happy to help with strategy, consulting, development approaches, and integration possibilities.

 

More on our Connections Development session at IBM Connect 2013

Now that the slides are done* I can go ahead and tell you more specifically what Jerald and I will be presenting at IBM Connect in 17 days. Yep, a Monday this time, right after the opening general session to boot.

The session is for Domino (or other) developers of any skill level who are interested in how to get started with IBM Connections core development. Consider what you have to do on your own here — install a server, find documentation (official, wikis, blogs, etc.), figure out what works with what versions, learn troubleshooting and logging, and just “get” the platform at the level required to start developing solutions and customizations. It can take some time. In fact, with 19 years experience each, Jerald and I combined for 150 hours invested in this effort culminating in the session we’ll present. The goal is that you can invest two hours and skip much of our learning curve.

So here is our agenda and a sentence about each section, so you know what to expect.

  • Session assumptions and goals
  • OpenSocial & iWidgets
    – Rob introduces OpenSocial, sets up OSDE on Eclipse, develops and deploys an OpenSocial gadget to our Connections server, then follows with one method to deploy an iWidget. More emphasis will be placed on OpenSocial, reflecting the product direction.
  • Connections SPIs
    – Rob explains the Service Provider Interfaces for Connections, then develops and deploys an Event SPI from an example, bringing your attention to the common problems with deployment.
  • REST APIs
    Rob describes the REST APIs for Connections, then shows you how to use browsers and plugins with Firefox and Chrome to manage the request development environment. Where you go from there is up to you…
  • Branding & Themes
    – Jerald introduces Connections branding and how (and more importantly, where) JSPs, HTML, CSS and JavaScript are modified in order to customize the user experience in Connections. Branding can be done at a granular or server-wide level.
  • Business Card integration
    -Jerald has developed a sample external application that reads Connections business card information into a page not related to the Connections installation, and will share the methods (REST, HTML, JavaScript, CSS) used to accomplish this.
  • Open source overview
    Rob introduces the IBM Social Business Toolkit (with four more sessions later in the week) and points to available resources in the open source community, including OpenNTF, that help developers understand and work with Connections and Social Network development in general.
  • Resources, other sessions, community heroes, and Q&A

That’s it. I think. Unless we come up with more cool demos to slide in at the end…hope to see you there, 10:45 on Monday Jan 28!

*Done is a term developers use when something has been sent to someone else for review. I bet I’ll be degugging these slides for a year.