That time of year again – IBM Champion nominations

Every year IBM recognizes people for their outstanding work to aid and support the technical IBM community. It’s a prestigious honor and a way for us all to thank those in our community that tirelessly help others. After all, it’s often forgotten how much people do for each other above and beyond their normal day-to-day job. That total stranger that answered your question on twitter which helped you solve a problem, the blog post from someone across the globe that set you on the track of success, the volunteers organizing the user event where you met your peers and the speakers at those events that helped you expand your knowledge. All of that is often done by people who do not necessarily get payed for those things but do it simply to help others. It’s because of the people who do all that that this community is strong and living and it is something we need to cherish. So if you feel someone directly or indirectly helped you, or the community this year, in a way that goes beyond and above their normal job then think about nominating them to be an IBM Champion. https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/champion/nominate.html

And if you wonder who the IBM Champions have been in the past take a look at this overview:

 

Tableau & MakeOverMonday – Learning new skills

For the last few months I’ve been steadily training myself into a new skill: data visualization. As data analytics is an ever increasing part of my job and something I’m highly interested in, it makes sense to do so and after working with Watson analytics it seemed logical to also explore Tableau. I have to admit I love it as it lets me be creative as well as forces me to deep dive into data, patterns and processes to fully understand the data you are working with. But learning a new skill and new software can be hard and apart from using some online materials I found, the thing that really helped me learn this new skill was to be challenged and use it hands-on.

Hello chicken and egg story: As you can’t get hands-on experience without doing it and you can’t get jobs to do it if you don’t have the experience….

So while searching for ways to get more hands-on experience I stumbled upon this tweet about a #makeOverMonday challenge and got intrigued. It’s organized by two people from the Tableau community who, each week on Sunday, select an article or online publication that has some sort of data visualization in it. They provide a link to the article as well as a data set with the data used in the article on a designated website. Everyone who is interested can then take that and make their own viz with it. The goal is to either redesign and improve the original visualization or do something totally new with the provided data and visualize that in a data dashboard or data visualization. You post your result to Tableau Public as well as tweet it with the hashtag and at the end of the week the organizers write a recap of that weeks entries and provide information on things they found great or not. It’s a fantastic way to learn as you can see what everyone else is doing, can ask questions or feedback and see multiple ways of what is possible with data.

It’s also fun as you never know what the topic and data set is going to be about and they really can be on nearly every topic imaginable. Ranging from the percentage of people who report reaching an orgasm by sexual preference (no kidding!) to March Madness in USA Basketball (I had to brush up on my sports knowledge there) to NHS doctors’ prescription data.

Those that I did can be found on my public Tableau profile.  Although I haven’t been able to do them every week I do enjoy making them as often as I can. It is intriguing to see what you can do with data and how visualizations can help get insight into whats going on. I look forward to making many more!

Some of the ones I did so far….

Is Brexit causing the UK economy to slip?
Size matters, which diets have the most followers?
Bicycle theft in England & Wales
  Internet users per Region/Country world wide
  Sydney’s public ferry system
NHS data: China’s Vitamin C monopoly
Robots taking over
March Madness: Underdogs versus upsets

 

What is IBM Connections? And how to explain it to users!

In my work a big part of what I do is to explain both the reasons as well as the interface of IBM Connections. Why? Well because once you get the hang of it it’s not that hard but to a newbie user who opens it up for the first time it can be very daunting and alien.

So then you start to explain and it often comes out a little like….:

Connections is a platform that enables people to work together, offering a box of tools that you can use to share information, tasks and knowledge with others. It’s an environment where you’re connected through your profile to others by way of their profiles so that you can share information and work together with them. Individually or in groups (Communities). The information can be shared through various independent or community apps like Files, Activities and Blogs or through simply sharing status updates.

Which can cause certain people to become even more confused! So what I usually use to help me explain IBM Connections is this simple picture:

 

In short it explains, the concept of:

  • a person-centric environment,
  • that brings together people, one-on-one through profiles or in groups (communities)
  • allowing them to share information & expand knowledge.

But more importantly, it also visualizes the reasons behind the interface of IBM Connections. Allowing you to go through the various elements and helping them understand the differences between the various screens and options.

So next time someone asks you to ‘explain this IBM Connections‘, perhaps this image can help you too!

 

Session slides for my Engage & SNOUG sessions

It has been a while since I posted and it’s time to catch up. Times have been rather busy so this post is mostly to just distribute my slides from Snoug & engage. Both wonderful events that really do deserve a big round of applause for setting up great events for people to come together and learn about all there is to know about IBM ICS’s products!

SNoUG

At SNoUG, the Swiss User group for IBM Notes & Connections users On March 22nd I did a session on the “Ten things every Connections User should know”

 

Engage

At Engage in Antwerp on May 9th I was able to do two sessions: One with my coworker Franz Walder on Watson Analytics (which was a repeat of our Connect session) and one sponsor session on panagenda ConnectionsExpert. As that session mostly consisted of demo’s I will not upload slides for that one as without the demo they don’t make much sense. If you would like a demo of panagenda ConnectionsExpert though please don’t hesitate to contact me!

It's conference season!

With IBM Connect just out of the way, SNoUG (The awesome Swiss usergroup event in zurich) coming up in just a few weeks, followed by Engage in May and then being part of the organization for Social Connections in early June my agenda is happily buzzing with event prep and travel plans.

I love this! The ability to be a part of a community of people who share, learn and exchange knowledge at conferences is awesome and each of these conferences offer ample opportunity to collaborate, learn and meet new people.

IBM Connect – Feb 20-24th San Francisco, USA

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor ibm connect 2017 logoI probably should have done this blog before it but as it is you get the “after” view on this event as I simply was too busy to write a blog about it before the event itself. So what did IBM Connect bring for me? Well I have to admit that I unfortunately didn’t get to see a whole lot of sessions this time due to meetings, being a presenter myself and other obligations so I won’t do any recaps of the most important announcements here. If you are interested in those please go to blogs like those of Adam or Gab (#1, #2, #3) who give excellent summaries of that. The one main thing that stood out for me personally though and that I find really exciting is that with it’s whole PINK strategy IBM is doing something that I think will set them apart. And that is that it is committing to both a cloud AND on premises future for IBM Connections. Better yet… by streamlining and uniforming the code streams for cloud & on premises it is offering ways to go fully hybrid where organizations will be able to select where data lives per application.

In a world where all the big providers seem to focus solely or mostly on cloud solutions that is setting IBM apart and making it a player in a very significant market of customers who, for various reason, can’t or won’t go cloud. For them this news is absolutely crucial and it also means that IBM Connections will appeal to a potentially larger group of customers who were waiting to see which direction IBM would take in this.

The whole PINK redesign with a focus on integration and dedicated API’s also means that for partners it will become much easier to develop third party applications for the platform.

That news was excited me most about this conference and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this is going to develop!

SNoUG – March 22 Zurich, Switzerland

https://i2.wp.com/pbs.twimg.com/media/C57UIw_WYAAcU9C.jpg?resize=285%2C135&ssl=1On March 22nd it will be time for my second SNoUG event. After having been there last year and seeing what a stellar organization is behind it I can’t wait to go back. I will be presenting a session on  Top tips for IBM Connections – “10 things every User should know”. Which is my play on the Swiss army knife session for IBM Connections users.  I’m very much looking forward to doing it as it is a lot of fun and there should be things in there that even the most seasoned users of IBM Connections aren’t familiar with. But even if that is not your cup of tea there should be more then enough other sessions there to keep you occupied. So do join me in Zurich for this great event!

Engage – May 8-9th Antwerp, Belgium

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor engage.ug logoWhich brings us to Engage. The largest user group event in Europe and traditionally one of the most spectacular. Theo’s ability to find the most extraordinary locations for his events has not betrayed him as far as I understand so I’m very much looking forward to this event that will take place in (or next to?)  the Antwerp zoo. Sessions haven’t been announced yet but the quality of sessions is sure to be high as there apparently have already been over 150 sessions abstracts submitted by experts from all across the globe! Definitely an event to put on your radar therefore if you want to really learn about Business & Strategy, Development, Administration & Deployment, Emerging Technologies and Big Data & Analytics this season.

Social Connections – June 1-2nd Chiago, USA

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor social connections logoAnd last, but by no means least Social Connections. The only dedicated IBM Connections user group event that organizes their events all over the world is landing in Chicago this June. Ok, I admit, as I’m partly organizing this one I’m probably a bit biased but seriously: If you want to learn about how Social Enterprise networking, IBM Connections, Watson Work Services or Analytics can help your organization thrive then this is the event to be. Better yet, if you have a story to tell about social collaboration yourself then don’t hesitate to submit an abstract and share your experiences with others just like you!

So that is most of my free time planned for the next few months. And it’s not even all conferences that are on the books. Other great conferences like DNUG can be found in the Social Business User Community Event list that lists all events relevant to the IBM ICS brand. Go check it out if you want to see more.

I hope to see many of you at one of these conferences!

IBM Connect 2017 – Adoption Analytics with Watson Analytics

Yesterday I had the pleasure to present with my coworker Franz Walder a session on: Socialytics: Accelerating IBM Connections Adoption with Watson Analytics

These are the slides for the session.

Abstract: Social adoption is a challenge for many companies. What is the most effective utilization of the environment? Who is using which resources, what in the environment is dormant or orphaned? Where should efforts focus in order to improve adoption? All of these questions can be difficult to answer and there is no “one size fits all” solution as each organization has their own unique needs. Join Femke Goedhart and Franz Walder and learn how to tackle this topic using IBM Connections and Watson. Starting out with IBM Bluemix Data Connect to collect and combine data from relevant sources, they use the cognitive power of IBM Watson Analytics to answer those tricky questions and provide solutions to real-world adoption challenges.

Distrust and its potential effect on Cloud & social

It has been a while since I blogged. And frankly, not just blogging has been a bit on the low side, all my social media presence has. It’s due to all that is been going on in the last few months in the world and that has me and I guess many others too reeling and trying to make sense of it all.

My work is in Social enterprise and collaboration. It’s about enterprise social, about cloud, about big data and most importantly about getting people to open up across organizational, across regional and across cultural divides to work together, to learn, to share and to participate as valued partners in their organizations so that they can help drive productivity and innovation. On top of that I work for a German/Austrian company with coworkers all across the globe. All things that are only possible because of the global access to the things we find so normal today. Like high speed access to the internet, the devises and technological advances that allow us to be always connected wherever we are and whenever we want and most importantly because of a highly globalized world that trades and interacts with each other in an open and connected way. We don’t find it weird anymore to collaborate with coworkers, partners or colleagues across the world and as an employee we play a much bigger role within our corporate environments…. but is it really as successful as we think it is…..?

Faith in system

source – Edelman Trust Barometer report

It’s all down to trust

Is all this globalization really working and are we finding the benefits of it or have we moved so fast that we’ve lost track of the people side in all this. Because let’s face it, what it all comes down to and what all this is based on is: trust. Trust in each other, trust in the people we work with, the companies that we work for, the companies that control our cloud data and ultimately the governments that govern those companies. And do we really trust all these?

That’s the question I’ve been struggling with and it seems I’m not alone. The Edelman trust Barometer is a global research study by a marketing & PR firm that is done annually in 28 countries and looks at the way we trust our NGO’s, our governments, our businesses and our media. Their assessment: Trust is in a crisis. And globalization is one of the biggest fears.edelman2

source – Edelman Trust Barometer report

 For the first time ever more people distrust than trust these institutions and especially government & media are experiencing an all time low. And one of the biggest fears, right after corruption, is: globalization.

“50% of those interviewed believe globalization is taking us in the wrong direction” - Edelman report

So what does that mean?

Frankly…. I don’t know. If we stop trusting in each other and in the organizations (business) and control mechanisms (government & media) that make global collaboration possible & accountable and start isolating and protecting ourselves against “the big bad world” outside then what will that mean for things like cloud computing and Social Enterprise Networking that depend on a networked and global landscape? Will we go back to more on premises computing and stop initiatives to tie our collaborative eco-systems of interconnected partnerships with suppliers, partners and customers together or could in fact business be a driver to start gaining back some of that trust?

The Edelman report raises an interesting thought. They state that 1/3 of the interviewed people is unsure whether the “system is failing” or the “system is working” and that out of the 4 institutions (NGO’s, business, government and media) its surprisingly ‘business’ that still holds the biggest trust for this group. It suggests that business could play a big role in turning the tide on the global Trust crisis we are in and it also highlights how the role of the EMPLOYEE is most important in that. As it is not the CEO, senior executive of media spoke person who is most trusted to give honest and credible information on various topics but the employee.

edelman3

source – Edelman Trust Barometer report

Now what….

And that’s where I start getting back a glimmer of hope. Because in order to win back that trust Edelman states that companies can – and should – take a role of leadership. Centering around respect, education, openness towards and emancipation of the employee. All factors in which social enterprise networking can play a big role but also factors in which it will be even more important for organizations to take a lead.

However the time of assumptions of “bring it and they will come” and bottom-up initiatives is over, organizations will need to show leadership and commitment to the changes and the initiatives they deploy, lead by example and put their people at the center of whatever they do as it will be them that will be the trusted source for information about how well they are doing but it’s also this group that is currently in a position of distrust. So let’s take this on and demonstrate to the world that working together is still better than retreating back into our own little bubbles. We momentarily halted because we got afraid, now let’s get over it and continue building our future instead of sidetracking into building walls.

DominoPoint MeetIT16 Conference slides

Attached is my slide deck for the DominoPoint MeetIT16 conference in Milan on 14th of December 2016.

Original abstract: “IBM Connections is so full of features and capability, even well versed IBM Connections users, admins, community owners and managers may not know them all. Curious about trips and tricks on getting the most out of Connections?
Join Femke as she shows you 10 things you might not have known about IBM  Connections that provide an even better grasp on social enterprise. Ranging  from why “likes” are actually useful, all the way to the intricacies of  activities and files. This session is valuable for your own productivity development or to expand your companies knowledge base! “

IBM Connections Explained: all about files!

Ok, I admit, this one was a long time in coming but it’s finally here! The next video in my little series on IBM Connections usage questions. This time it’s all about files and especially about the difference between :

  • Attachments vs Files
  • Personal vs Community files

I hope it helps explain a little what the difference is between them and how to use each. Good luck!

 

Excited about data!

As a business consultant that focuses primarily on enabling organizations to collaborate better with their ecosystem of employees, partners and customers, a big question is always for me: “What are the numbers saying? How are our systems being used, what data is out there that I can use to analyze what is happening?”. So that I can track real activity and turn it into actionable content to use in my adoption strategies. As, let’s face it, what we think is happening and what really happens can be two totally different things.

But those are not easy questions to answer as they require insight into the data held in databases that most admins won’t let you even get close to. Simply because it requires too much security level access or could potentially cause performance issues by putting too much strain on a production environment. Plus: even if they did, making sense of it would be very difficult to most.

iDNA & ConnectionsExpert:

Joining panagenda earlier this year though opened up a whole new way into this data. panagenda products like iDNA (analytical reporting on IBM Domino Mail and application environments) and ConnectionsExpert (analytical reporting on IBM Connections) recognize the limitations specified above and selectively and in a controlled way (to prevent overload) retrieve relevant metric and analytical data from your production environment and store it in databases on its own appliance. Data that is then used to create instant reports, graphs and visualizations on how your production environment is doing without putting any strain on it and without having to take the data outside your firewall.

Working with the data:

Since joining I’ve felt like a kid in a candy store. With ConnectionsExpert I now have access to a wealth of information I can show and play with. Visualized and presented in the form of out of the box analytics, graphs, visualizations and exports that I can immediately use.

ConnectionsExpert vizualisation of Community usage
ConnectionsExpert – Community usage
ConnectionsExpert - Dashboard
ConnectionsExpert – Dashboard

But as always, we also get specific requests. Reports that customers want that are really only relevant to them. And that’s where the true beauty of what I’ve been able to do these last few weeks comes into play. Because both iDNA as well as ConnectionsExpert have their own data warehouse independent of the platform they are polling information from. Now why is this good? Well, it means that with the right access levels, the right tools and knowledge we can then work with raw data that for instance ConnectionsExpert collects and make specific analytical reports out of it without having to have direct access to any production databases.

The things you can do with what ConnectionsExpert is collecting are really mind boggling and this world of reporting and data mining is opening up a whole new exciting layer of knowledge and opportunity to me I never had before! Over the last few months I’ve been working hard on understanding the specifics of the database model and on using Tableau to get relevant reports out of that. And I love it 🙂

login trends vizualisation
Example of a custom report on login trends for a fictitious organization

It’s truly exciting and thrilling and I’m so happy to have all this opportunity to do this. Not just from a point of view of getting the tools and data but also in having a fantastic and very knowledgeable team behind me that can help me when I can’t figure things out myself. The combination of their technical knowledge and my own experience in the world of social adoption is creating some really interesting new perspectives and making me hungry for more!

To be continued….