It’s summer and that means that news is sometimes announced during a period while people are about to go – or just coming back from holiday. This happened to me when ConnectionsExpert 2.0 was released just before I went on holiday. Which meant that I wasn’t able to share my excitement over its inception as much as I would have liked to and that’s also why you are now reading this blog post with a few weeks delay. Don’t worry though, my excitement over this release is still the same!
So what’s ConnectionsExpert?
For those that don’t know, ConnectionsExpert is a tool from panagenda that allows you to gain deep dive information about the health status, usage and adoption rates of your IBM Connections environment by collecting and displaying key metrics and monitoring information about the platform and its usage. As a team we’ve been working hard to further expand the features of ConnectionsExpert and that has resulted in this new release! Continue reading ConnectionsExpert 2.0 released!
I admit freely that I’m still learning every day when it comes to how best to visualize data and that means that I look at other visualization much more in detail than I would have done in the past. There are many best practices around how to visualize data and when a data visualization doesn’t keep to them I can’t help but go into analyzer mode (yes, even my own and I’m in no way perfect!).
One of those that caught my attention this week was the following.
Two weeks ago I was at SocialNow conference in Lisbon and was honored to have a short session on ‘social analytics’. The conference has quite a unique setup in that it is completely based around a fictitious company called Cablinc which is thinking of implementing an Enterprise Social Network. All speakers address the conference as if they are presenting to the company trying to either instill knowledge as a ‘consultant’ or get them to buy their product as ‘vendor’. Several speakers and vendors are invited around various topics and they are provided with information about the Cablink company as well as specific use cases they could use in their presentation.
As this is quite a different approach to what I would normally do I decided to really go ‘analytics’ on this challenge of talking social analytics as one of the ‘Consultants’ and build Cablinc a dashboard around the theme “What does Cablincs current usage of mail & file storage facilities say about the need for implementation of an ESN?“…
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
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….
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.
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 🙂
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!