IBM Insights highlights

Last week I had the privilege of attending IBM Insight 2014 in Las Vegas. The largest Big Data conference in the world that focuses on Business Analytics, Information Management and Enterprise Content Management. As someone with a keen interest in both Analytics as well as ECM it was the perfect place to learn a bit more of the solutions IBM offers – or is planning to offer – in this space.

Out of the many highlights of this week three stood out for me personally:

1. IBM Watson Analytics: A cloud  based solution that allows you to upload a data set and get an in depth data quality & relationship analysis back in the form of graphs and infographics. Combining cognitive computing & analysis to deliver predictive business analytics.

I was a bit skeptical about all this but had the chance to play around a bit with it in one of the usability sessions and must say I really liked it. It’s currently in Beta status but I can’t wait to see the end result and to use it in my own environment.

2. IBM Navigator:  This one threw me a bit because of the name as there is also the IBM Content Navigator that I was familiar with already. Where Content Navigator is an on-prem user interface & toolkit that allows access into existing CMIS enabled ECM systems and offers a great level of integration with other systems -without being tied into any of them-, IBM Navigator (without the “content”) is a cloud implementation of that same interface but with a fully functional cloud ECM solution already behind it. Allowing organizations the ability to utilize the cloud ECM with user interfaces & mobile applications without having to install or maintain the heavy systems that are required for most enterprise ECM’s themselves. Now I have to admit I don’t know the full extent of what this product is going to offer and what its limitations will be as I’m currently still awaiting access into the IBM Navigator beta to try it all out but what I’ve seen and heard so far is promising. Especially for SMB customers who don’t have the knowledge or capacity to maintain an Enterprise level ECM but do require the functionality.

3. Case Management: This isn’t a new product but simply one I hadn’t been around yet and that really ticks a lot of boxes for me as someone with a strong interest into ECM related business processes.  “Case management is built around the concept of processing a case, which is a collection of information and coordinated activities by knowledge workers or case workers. […] It looks at repeatable business problems from the perspective of the knowledge workers, and empowers the knowledge worker to solve those problems. Bundling the case information, documents, rules, and all the tasks that might be required to solve the business problem into a flexible solution“.

I really enjoyed working with this one in one of the labs. It allows you to quickly create and adjust case oriented applications with workflow, task management and content management by easily configuring properties, forms and process flows. Currently this is not yet available in the cloud but I understand there are plans for it. If it does become available as a cloud solution (perhaps as extension to the IBM Navigator platform?) it will open up a lot of possibilities to the larger SMB market as it provides a single ECM framework that includes case management, content management, processes, records and analytics in a easy to manage way.

There were many more products and announcements there and I’m sure others would have probably named other highlights but for me these are the things that really peaked my interest. Some might have been around for a while now but were simply not on my radar before. Others were entirely new.

Currently I’m signed in and awaiting access to several of the beta’s and reading up on more documentation. I hope to post more about these as I continue learning!

 

Session slides for our ICONUK session

Session as delivered by Sasja Beerendonk & me at ICONUK in London on September 12th 2014

Beyond theory: Trials & tribulations in becoming a successful social business

Abstract: There is lots of theory about how to become a social business but what really does or doesn’t work? We wanted to know and interviewed 32 companies in various stages of their journey to becoming a social business. Not just highlighting the big wins but also talking about the struggles and small successes that really made the difference.

Taking the experiences of 32 companies and combining it with the theories surrounding change management and change adoption, we’ve created a Social Business journey scenario that can help you identify the successes and avoid the pitfalls in becoming a social business.

Speaking at ICONUK 2014

Next week I will be flying out to London to join my coworker Sasja Beerendonk to deliver a session at ICONUK 2014 on the trials & tribulations of becoming a successful social business. I’m really looking forward to this session in more then one way:

First of all because it will be my first time presenting together with Sasja whom I’ve know for years as a specialist of social business adoption and who, I’m lucky to say,  decided to join the great team we have at Silverside earlier this year. Secondly because our session will be drawing on the real life experience of quite a number of real life customers who’ve gone through or are right in the middle of the process of becoming a social business.

This experience comes from a project Silverside has worked many hours on this past year in which 32 companies were interviewed to see what really worked and what didn’t work in getting people within their organizations to adopt a different way – and in many ways  – philosophy of working. Not just our own customers but many companies we’ve never done business with and who use all kinds of social tools. Not necessarily even the ones we support. After all, in social business the tooling isn’t necessarily the major stumble point, it often is the adoption or lack thereof that makes or brakes a social business project. These interviews resulted in a wealth of information that is being used to further perfect our methodology of user adoption as well as to create white papers and a book that was written by my coworkers  Mirte Bouwmans, Evelyn van Kelle and Roland Driesen in which the combined experience of these companies was translated into a comprehensible and easy to read novel. The book (sorry it is only available in Dutch for know) was published and launched last May.

ICONUKLogo250

With our session Sasja and I will also be drawing upon the knowledge gained from these interviews to explain some of the obvious (and less obvious) pitfalls and we hope to give a bit of insight into the struggles many of you are probably facing right now. So join us this Friday in room 4 at ICONUK for our session:

“Beyond theory: Trials & tribulations in becoming a successful social business

There is lots of theory about how to become a social business but what really does or doesn’t work? We wanted to know and interviewed 32 companies in various stages of their journey to becoming a social business. Not just highlighting the big wins but also talking about the struggles and small successes that really made the difference. Taking the experiences of these 32 companies, the likes of Dutch Railways, DAF, Saxion, Forbo Eurocol and Bavaria, we’ve created a Social Business journey scenario that can help you identify the successes and avoid the pitfalls in becoming a social business.”

ICONUK September 12th 2014, 11:00 Room 4

Engage user group – session slides

I had the honor of being able to present two sessions earlier this week at the Engage usergroup event in Breda, the Netherlands with two great co-speakers. The slides of both sessions have been published to Slideshare:

Getting to the core, requirements gathering in the wild

Sophie Lavignac-Le Madec & Femke Goedhart

The basis of any good project is good requirements. Knowing what it is you are going to build / get determines whether your project will be a success or a flat out failure. In reality though the requirements phase is often trivialized or even forgotten. This session will give you tips & tricks as well as explain to you the basic techniques on how to effectively get to the core of the requirements, identify ways of prioritizing them and explain some core concepts of Functional and Technical design elements. Coming from a requirement gathering as well as development & customer point of view Femke & Sophie will take you through some of the real life examples they have come across and a lot of do’s & don’ts they have seen (and despaired over)

Social sharing vs. organised structure. Must you select only one?

Stuart McIntyre & Femke Goedhart

So you have connections (or you are thinking about it) and you want to know what it can do for you in the sense of *socialy* managing files but you don’t really know how that concept works or if it would work for your organization.Tags or folders, share or private, community files or personal files, meta-data and document types? What does it mean and where do you start?
Stuart McIntyre and Femke Goedhart will take you through the ups and downs of social file management. When to use it, when not and what you need to know about file and document management to have the discussion if this should replace the department file share.
Coming from two different backgrounds – and often butting heads about this topic – Stuart & Femke will pitch the points and concepts that you need to think about with managing your documents in a social environment and show you examples on how and where to use IBM Connections to do so.

IBM Connect-less… NOW WHAT?!?

A few years ago around this time I wrote a blog for those of us unlucky enough to not be going to IBM Connect (which was then still called Lotusphere) that year. It listed helpful links and tips on how to stay connected & informed for those not attending in person. As I won’t be going this year – and therefore will be clinging to the different online resources to keep connected myself – I figured it was time for an updated version.

After all, you might not be able to be there physically, you can still be there online!

  • Try and find a Live feed that allows you to follow what’s going on. Each year quite a few sessions and the OGS  are broadcasted live. It’s a great way to stay in the loop. The link for the livestream isn’t public yet but keep an eye on the Social Business Insights Blog and the IBM Connect twitter account as those usually are the first to post links to it.
  • Check out the #IBMConnect hashtag. Anything going on at or around IBM Connect will in general be tweeted with this hashtag. Even better, check out the IBM Social Aggregator for Connect site that lists tweets, videos & blog posts about Lotusphere all in one convenient web page with link backs to authors profiles and other blogs (this aggregator is also embedded on the IBM Connect site itself if you forget where to find it).
  • Listen to the podcasts that are around. There are several out there like IDoNotes and NotesIn9 for instance that are really worth listening to if you want to know what’s going on in the IBM collaboration community. Leading up to and during IBM Connect they tend to do lots of interviews and often also live recordings from the conference itself.
  • Check out PlanetLotus. The place to go for all blog’s in the IBM collaboration community and during IBM Connect the place to get the latest scoops. Or visit CollaborationToday for a curated and categorized list of blog articles.
  • Check out the IBM Connect Community on SocialBizUG. An online Connections community where people can connect, post pictures, links and video’s, search for information, post questions and get involved while at IBM Connect. But also open to anyone not there and therefore interesting to keep an eye on. And if IBM Connect is simply never going to be in the books for you this site also lists a lot of information on other user group events that are being held across the world. Check out your local one to see if they do a “Connect Comes to You” event in the months after IBM Connect.
  • Mobile? Little birds tell me Vivastream will most likely be used as an event tool this year (red. the event isn’t listed on it yet and therefore this is still speculation on my part). Vivastream is an event tool for Android & iOS that allows users to create a session schedule and interact with speakers & other participants. Why would this be interesting for you as a non-participant? Well, because it allows participants to not just create a schedule of sessions but also post updates, comment on sessions, ask questions and answer polls. Information that can be interesting even if you aren’t there.
  • But don’t just follow the official channels, the best (and often fastest) way to know what is really going on is to connect to actual attendees. So follow and connect with people on the different social streams that are there. Who to follow? Well there are lots and finding the right ones can be difficult if you’re new to this. But check out the “top Contributors” section on the social aggregator or search for users who often mention the hashtag #ibmConnect on twitter. Another good basic set of active IBM community tweeps is the IBM Champions twitter list. These are some of the most active members in the community and it’s an easy starting point to broaden your network. Don’t be afraid to interact with them either. These are people that were recognized by IBM for their active role in the Community so in general they are really open and willing to engage with you.

So although none of the above really replaces the actual ‘IBM Connect experience’ itself and you will most likely still pine away behind your desk while colleagues and friends enjoy the Orlando sun and IBM Connect vibe, there are still ways to stay in the loop. And let’s just take a little comfort out of the fact that with the freaky global weather we’re all experiencing right now it might actually be warmer where you are then it is in Orlando (it is here at least right now!).

So use these links to stay informed, keep connected  and -if you’re smart – use the information you gather to get arguments to convince your boss why he should let you go to IBM Connect next year!

I hope to meet you there 🙂

Red.: I’m sure this list is far from complete. Any more tips I might have forgotten? Add them to the comments!

Times are changing so are the names…!

The anticipation for Connect 2014 is growing. The yearly conference in Orlando that brings together the best of our technical IBM community and an opportunity to meet with experts, build or renew friendships and learn about upcoming changes and improvements in the IBM Collaboration Software stack. I’m not planning on being there this year due to other circumstances (breaking my foot being one of them) but I look forward to reading all the updates and post that are sure to come!

What I most definitely plan on attending is Engage, formerly known as BLUG, the BeNeLux user group that will be hosted in Breda, The Netherlands on March 17th & 18th this year. Knowing the people behind it and seeing the list of sponsors already committed I’m sure that it is going to be another great success and with a location so close to my hometown (30min) and Silverside committed as Platinum sponsor I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Engage is not the only user group renaming itself at the moment, with INFORM (formerly AUSLUG) the gulf of renames that started with Connect (formerly Lotusphere) and ICONUK (formerly UKLUG) is definitely setting through. On the one hand I feel sad seeing the Lotus brand name slowely disappear, on the other hand, it’s just a name and I’m happy to see that the names these conferences take on now are more general, allowing them to cover the broader spectrum of products and information that is already being handled by them.

Another thing that changed is the names on the list of IBM Champions. After much anticipation the list for 2014 was announced last Friday. I’m feeling fortunate and honored to be named among them and look forward to meeting some of the new names on it as there seem to be quite a few this year!

A healthy community thrives on it’s ability to renew and rejuvenate itself. Seeing all these “new names” is promising, I’m looking forward to see what else 2014 is going to bring us!

 

Social Connections V – or the story of a STRESSful city

The 5th Social Connections in Zurich last Friday was a great success. It is always a joy to see when things come together and they certainly did this time!

I flew out of Schiphol airport on Wednesday night after dropping off my car at the massive car park to meet up  with the rest of the Social Connections team in the Zurich airport arrivals lounge for a short commute to the hotel. A celebratory drink ensued as this was the first time in over 4 months we’d been together. Most people don’t realize this but all the organizing of these events is done primarily through social media, mail, a Greenhouse community and Skype. Due to the geographical dispersion of the team (England, Wales & The Netherlands) most of us only get to see each other during the events themselves so in a sense they are our little reunions too.

Thursday morning started with a very early arrival at the IBM Client Centre at the “Vulkanstrasse” (“vulkan street” or as the English SatNav hilariously called it: “VulkanSTRESS”) for our first glimpse of the venue.

We’d seen pictures but it is almost impossible to get a really good impression and always a bit nerve wrecking to not have seen a location until you get there. Luckily it turned out to be a fantastic location with more then enough room for our 11 sponsors and the 185 people we were expecting.

First thing required was to prepare one of the three auditoriums for the Michael Sampson Masterclass on collaboration strategies that would kick off the two days of Social Connections as the first of the 16 participants for this masterclass were expected to arrive around 8:30am At 9am sharp the masterclass started.

At this point it was time to start inspecting the materials that had been ordered and delivered to Zurich ahead of time and start preparing for the Friday event. I won’t go into details but it involves a lot of tedious work folding folders, creating & sorting badges, checking and back-checking lists, then editing those lists and checking them again and handling lots of mails with last minute questions from participants. Culminating in setting up the sponsor area and sponsor booths and discussing the best possible layout and locations for each of the sponsors (the closeness to the catering forms an important factor).

You might be surprised but this took a 7 person team (thanks Brian, Klaus and Nathan!) most of the day. So after a full day of preparations it was time to head over (through Zurich rush hour) to the other side of Zurich for a short inspection of the Friday night dinner venue, and another traffic jam filled mad dash back into the city to the hotel. Where I had just enough time to change clothes – and head back down to the hotel lobby for the Speaker/Sponsor dinner. Our speakers & Sponsors are what makes Social Connections possible so having this complimentary dinner is our way of saying ‘thanks!’ to them. It was great to see no less then 47 of them where there for this occasion and that many of them were first time speakers/sponsors. I my eyes that diversion shows just how vibrant this community really is!

At around 1am it was time to head back to my room for some last minute mails (things I thought of during the dinner) and one last round of editing of my slides and then it was time for lights out. The alarm would go off at 6am.

Arriving at the IBM Client Center at 7:15 on Friday morning, it was time to get ready. Instruct the volunteers, help sponsors to their stations, welcome speakers and guest and getting ready for the opening. After having told the speakers several times to NOT forget their AVG and power adapters it of course was no surprise that I had forgotten it myself. Luckily Michael Sampson – organized and perceptive as he is – produced one before I even noticed I had forgotten it.

The day was started by a welcome by Stuart McIntyre, a few notes from me on the days logistics and a general welcome by Peter van Buul, Sales leader for IBM Switzerland. Followed closely by an excellent opening Keynote by Heidi Ambler, Director of Social Computing at IBM.

It is very special sitting there looking around and realizing that the day that we’ve been working on for so long is finally there and that people from all over the world (we had people traveling in from locations as far as South-Africa, Japan, Australia, Russia and Saudi-Arabia!) are there to enjoy it. That really is the moment when you realize what you are doing it all for!

The day flew by in a flurry of conversations, checking up and making sure everything was ok which unfortunately also means that I didn’t get a chance to see many of the sessions myself. I made sure though that I got to see the great “Pardon the interruption” panel with Louis Richardson, Michael Sampson, Brian O’Neill, Sandra Buhler and moderated by Stuart McIntyre as well as Helen Crumble’s excellent Case Study session on SSP’s -no pilot- implementation of IBM Connections. After closing the program off with the Keynote by Michael Sampson on collaboration strategies & adoption it was time for a group photo (a tradition started in Amsterdam) and then the drinks reception and speed sponsoring.

There were some excellent prizes to be won during the speed sponsoring although some prizes posed a bit of a problem (how do you get a bottle of excellent Tasmanian wine safely back to Japan?!? And what do you do when you win a Swiss army knife but only have carry-on luggage?!?) but all was solved in the end (the wine was consumed, the knife will be send by mail).

Social Connections wouldn’t be Social Connections if it didn’t include a ‘social’ component too so after the speed sponsoring a double decker bus was ready to bring those that had registered for it to the Lake Side restaurant for a fantastic dinner with a view over lake Zurich. A great way to have some quality time discussing the day with those you’ve just met. At 22:45 the bus waited for us to take us back to the IBM Client Center & hotel while others choose to head into town for some extended Zurich night life.

At 23:30 we dropped off the last people at the Client Center with the bus and returned to the hotel lobby bar. And that is the moment when you sit back as a team, smile at each other and finally relax. It’s done, and it was marvelous.

Organizing these events is a long and not always easy process. It involves lots of discussions, phone calls, mails, thousands of Skype conversations and a fair amount of sleepless nights. It also involves a team of people to do this as this absolutely is a team effort.

I feel very fortunate to be a part of this excellent team that helps organize Social Connections. It’s the diversity and different angles we all bring in that make each one such a success.

So a big Kudos to Stuart McIntyre, Simon Vaughan and Sharon Bellamy for allowing me to be a part of that amazing team for the last three Social Connections. It’s their friendship and humor that have often kept me sane & going and seeing them is as if we never said goodbye…

also a BIG thanks to all the volunteers (Sandra, Rachel, Brian, Klaus, Christian, Nathan and many others…), to the speakers (without whom we wouldn’t have a program!), the sponsors (who make it possible) and not in the least all the participants… You make Social Connections a success!

I got home from the many ‘stresses’ (that SatNav kept cracking me up) of Zurich on Saturday feeling a bit lost and lonely. I will have to wait another few months before I get to see my friends again. Luckily I don’t have to miss them completely and Facebook, Twitter and Skype have already fired up again (after going quiet for a few days while we were onsite).

Social is what keeps it going and Social is what makes Social Connections tick!

 

If only I could remember where I parked my car now….

 

 

 

BLUG – speaking of social document management

Yet again Theo Heselmans and team have managed to do the impossible: get an absolutely fantastic line up together for the upcoming BLUG event in Leuven, Belgium on March 21-22.

I’m honered to say my session “Folksonomy versus Taxonomy, Social Document management in IBM Connections” about document management in general and the new integration of libraries in IBM Connections (CCM) in particular was accepted and I look forward to seeing so many from the IBM community in just over a month!

 

Document Management sessions at IBM Connect-o-sphere

People who know me know that I have two soft spots. One for  for everything relating to Document Management, another for Social Business. Managing information and document collaboration are topics that have been my focus for years so I’m really happy I’ll be getting to speak about this during my session “Taxonomy Versus Folksonomy: Document Management in a Social Age” at IBM Connect 2013 this year.

BP303: Taxonomy Versus Folksonomy: Document Management in a Social Age
“With the rise of social business and platforms like IBM Connections, many companies are re-evaluating their document strategies. Ideals of employee-driven sharing, tagging and folksonomies are desired, but is all documentation really suited for the freedom of ‘social’, or do some types require more structure, process and control? If so, how do you determine this and integrate it with your social ambitions? This session will cover the principles of document management and social file-sharing. You’ll learn how concepts like versioning, meta-data, retention, record and lifecycle management are important to you. We’ll show you how to identify key requirements for document management within your organization and teach you how to strategically plan your way forward.” 
Wed 30 Jan 04:14 PM – 05:15 PM, Swan SW 1-2

If you are, like me, interested in Document Management and ECM integration in Social Business then here’s a few other sessions you might be interested in too:

  • ID501 : Come One, Come All! Integrations for a Next-Gen Social Organization – Mark Neumann (IBM) Tue, 29 Jan 08:15 AM – 09:15 AM, Dolphin S. Hem IV-V
  • AD106 : Customizing Your Document Management System in a Social Environment – Jessica Forrester&Jonathan Brunn (IBM) Tue, 29 Jan 11:15 AM – 12:15 PM, Dolphin S. Hem I
  • ID502 : What’s New in IBM Docs — Everything! And You Need to Know About It – Sean Brown (IBM) Wed, 30 Jan 08:15 AM – 09:15 AM, Dolphin S. Hem II
  • ID308 : Social Content Management Solutions for IBM Connections – Diane Loomis & Jonathan Brunn (IBM) Wed, 30 Jan 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM, Dolphin N. Hem E
  • SPN105 : Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Corporate Content! – Margeret Worel (IBM) Wed, 30 Jan 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM, Swan 3-4

To see details on these and all other sessions please visit the IBM Connect 2013 Session preview tool. I look forward to seeing you at IBM Connect!

 

Social Connections – Making the connection

After months of preparations, endless Skype chats, mails and phone calls, lots of hard learned lessons and some of the funniest situations I’ve found myself in ever, Social Connections IV, the IBM Connections user group event is now a fact. It was a lovely day with great speakers, fantastic sponsors and most importantly with lots of people there to make it real, to make that social connection….

Sitting on my couch going through the pictures, the tweets and the blog posts written about it I can’t help but be proud of what we as a team managed to get together. It was so much better than I could ever have hoped for. Thank you everyone but especially Stuart McIntyre, Sharon Bellamy, Simon Vaughan, Jon Mell and Janneke Kamhoot for what you guys have done. It was a fantastic day!

nerdgirls rule!

getting ready for opening session & keynote…

(pictures courtesy of Social Connections facebook group)