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!

 

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….

 







 

 

IBM Connections explained: Why a "Like" matters!

I often get asked about things in IBM Connections that need some explaining. One of them is the value of using the Like button in IBM Connections and whether people really should use it in a corporate environment. Let me be clear: You should! But in stead of writing another blog on why I decided to do it a little different this time and try my luck on explaining it in a video. I hope this will help!

 

I’ll try to do a few more like these over the coming weeks and in case you guys have questions you would like to get an answer to in regards of IBM Connections functionality let me know! who knows, I might do that one next then 🙂

Launch of ConnectionsExpert, getting insight into your social platform

CE

I’ve only joined panagenda for a month now but I couldn’t have chosen a better time. With the launch of ConnectionsExpert (which was launched yesterday at Social Connections in Toronto), panagenda is taking a big new step into the world of building insights into the going on’s of your IBM Connections platform. With real time user simulations, analytics, historical monitoring and visually strong graphics of activity and interaction.

panagenda isn’t new to this area. Traditionally it has had a strong presence in the markets of server monitoring and client management. With it’s iDNA product it also build up a very strong foothold in the world of reporting and in depth insights into communication and collaboration patterns across multiple platforms like your mail environment, your collaboration platforms and even across file shares.

With ConnectionsExpert panagenda is taking the next step and providing a lot of that knowledge and expertise at the fingertips of those that make your IBM Connections platform run. Not just offering information relevant to the admins but also providing valuable management information and indicators for adoption programs. As a business consultant and someone with a strong tie to all topics related to social adoption and collaboration insight this of course thrills me to no end. Seeing what can be done with the data iDNA and ConnectionsExeprt are able to obtain and deliver is truly exciting!

I’m lucky that I got to join panagenda at such an exciting time and being able to work with and learn from this team of dedicated and passionate developers and experts. To be honest, I’m still pinching myself at times to see if it is really true!

So if you are interested go try it out the basic version is free indefinitely! No reason therefore not to benefit from this.

And if you want to know more about how analytics and collaboration insights can help drive your social adoption strategy or if you are curious about the possibilities of deriving meaningful insights from your platform don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to talk to you about the possibilities of social analytics, what you think is important, and what would or could help your organization!

Salesforce & IBM Connections integration – keeping your organization connected

With so many solutions touting social capabilities out there and being used for different situations it can be daunting to decide on when to use what and why. Your organization might already have Salesforce, IBM Connections, Sharepoint and solutions like Jira that offer social capabilities but how do you get all these worlds together? The last thing you want after all is to have one department ‘being social’ in one platform and another somewhere else. That completely undermines the whole aspect of cross company collaboration….

Social Islands

but there might be good reasons why they need to use those different platforms. Your sales departments might live and breath in Salesforce and need that direct connection between their Chatter posts and the accounts they pertain to and your developers might scream bloody murder if you take away their JIRA wall. But what if Salesforce and JIRA aren’t being used in the rest of your organization and other solutions are required or used there? Like IBM Connections. How do you prevent a ‘social island’ culture in your collaboration landscape?

Bringing it together

There are several solutions and integration options out there that address the problem of ‘social islands’ and offer integration for a large number of platforms like JIRA, BOX, SharePoint and even Salesforce already. Mostly orientated on pulling information from these platforms into the IBM connections environment or integrating specific parts of IBM Connections into them. But when it comes to integrating IBM connections into the Salesforce environment or two way integration there really was still a lot to win. This is changing as QKOM has been working hard on creating a solution that will allow for deep and seamless integration of Salesforce and IBM Connections.

Seamless Integration

By allowing the user to connect through OAUTH to use, create, search and post directly and effortlessly from within Salesforce to IBM Connections communities, files, activities and update streams – Salesforce users will be able to collaborate and work in both systems at the same time without having to leave their environment. Keeping other organizational users (or even external partners!) who might not have access to all the info in the Salesforce environment up to date of developments and statuses and utilizing the many great options each system offers. This will save your organization on potentially expensive licenses and allow for a connected yet still also secure and specialized collaborative landscape.

QKom

logo_qkom_gifI’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with QKOM on this topic discussing further use cases and functional requirements and am excited to see more bridges between the Salesforce & IBM Connections worlds being build. After all, it’s all about finding ways to collaborate!
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Please see the following clip for a first glance of what is possible but keep in mind that there is more to come very soon so stay tuned