Back home for a few days now after a great Social Connections in Munich and still recovering from a very nasty cold (so my apologies for this one being a bit after the fact..).
This was the first real conference dedicated fully to HCL Connections since the takeover earlier this summer. Much anticipated by both customers as well as partners. So how was it?
Well to be honest I don’t envy the HCL folks. After such a long period of no, to very little news from IBM, everyone is clamoring for positive and concrete news from HCL. But with only a few months between the actual takeover and this conference it’s impossible to expect too much from a team that is in the midst of a major move in terms of culture, organization, location, infrastructure and market. They seem to be hitting the ground running though and the enthusiasm and spirit that seems to have affected all of them is definitely contagious!
Name & branding:
So did they deliver? I think so. First and foremost the product now has a definite new name and branding: HCL Connections
And a slogan to fit it’s purpose and goal: “PEOPLE POWER YOUR BUSINESS HCL CONNECTIONS POWERS YOUR PEOPLE”.
But more importantly, it is setting clear and thought out targets for the future. With a position in the overall market that no longer sees Connections just as a standalone product to ‘fix it all’ but as a platform that integrates into the multi-factor, multi-platform, multi-provider realities of most organizations. Focusing first and foremost on it’s strength in bringing people and knowledge together and offering ways to bridge gaps where other products still often function in silos. Integration within other platforms like O365 and SharePoint therefor is no longer the rather forgotten step child grudgingly acknowledged but firmly set on the roadmap. I think this message of open doors, of all that was announced will be the most important thing going forward.
But there was of course the second big glaring thing… Cloud. What to do if you’re on it. Well as we know HCL is considering multiple options and it seems that HCL is now also researching HCL hosted cloud as well. In that regard it was good to see that the session on this topic was so full that the room was completely overbooked. So overbooked in fact that I couldn’t attend but there should be more information forthcoming in the next few days. It also meant that there were quite a large number of cloud customers represented which was good to see. Overall the event was very well attended with approximately 170 people from a wide variety of partners, customers and HCL departments. I especially loved the fact that there were not just the regular ‘front-facing’ product managers and ‘usual suspects’ but also a a good number of representatives of development and innovation departments within HCL. Some of which had no experience with the product before and are therefor not hampered by old concepts and ideas that could steer away from finding new and innovative solutions.
The first real concrete thing shown for the upcoming HCL Connections 6.5 release was the announcement (and demo!) that the Activities module has been redesigned with the help of ISW and brought into line with Kudos Boards. Allowing for a much better interface and more intuitive operation in the activities view. Activities Plus as it is called will be available with HCL Connections 6.5 (expected November/December) for all HCL Connections customers at no additional cost. Kudos Boards functionality will remain an add-on product but with the new interface the interaction between the two features and the consistency in working with either or both will be much better. As a nice bonus, Activities Plus will also be able to be implemented with older versions of Connections! https://www.kudosapps.com/blog/2019/09/16/activities-plus-7lhgy
With everything going on it was inevitable that the conference itself would also undergo a metamorphosis. During the opening general session it was therefor announced that not just IBM / HCL Connections but also Social Connections is being renamed. The term ‘Social’ is no longer covering the full load of what this conference and the Connections platform is all about. So from now on Social Connections is rebranded to LetsConnect with a new LetsConnect website with a new @_Lets_Connect Twitter account and a new hashtag #letsConnect.
I will miss the old name and hashtag but I love how we are finally in a mode where things are moving again. Lets keep the momentum going and build out what was announced, discussed and requested during these two days and the subsequent design workshops in Munich and make a real difference with HCL Connections!
Most of the session slide decks should be published on the LetsConnect website in the coming days. My own slide deck for my session on the challenges of community management can be found here:
Shining a light on the dark side of community management
Going cloud, migration, GDPR, compliance…. All topics which touch on the same question: How do you do community management for IBM Connections? From getting insight into what’s there, to how it’s being managed as well as to how to take measures to get things to change. What does IBM Connections offer you for this and what other options are out there? This interactive session goes into what things customers are working on to tackle these topics. We will discuss existing use cases at various customers, what the options are and what your organization is doing about it. So this won’t be just a session to listen but also a session to actively participate in discussing the problems you face and the solutions you’ve found to tackle them. Sharing and learning from others who face the same challenges you do at a daily basis.