When should I use Connections and when should I use Quickr?
Louis Richardson 120000HRWE firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  connections social-software quickr | 13 Comments | 9,220 Visits
Within IBM's social software offerings, we have a couple of great products (Lotus Connections and Lotus Quickr). While on first glance, they may appear to serve similar functions, they each have their own strengths in meeting certain social business needs. You may have heard this question around which one to use or maybe you've pondered this question yourself. If you look feature vs. feature, you could get confused, but it's really not that difficult. Let's take a minute and think about this from another perspective.
I imagine that many of the "techies" reading this can relate to this scenario. A relative calls you…because you work in technology and tells you they want to buy a personal computer and they want you to recommend one. What is the first question that you ask them? “What do you want to do with the computer?” We ask because our recommendation depends on the specifics of what they are going to need. It’s not a problem with the variety of computers that are available or the richness of the features. It’s not an issue that there isn’t enough material and documentation out there that spells out specifically what configurations are better for one use or another. It’s only an issue of getting down to the use cases and expectations of the user. And doing so in terms that are easily understood.
While we could develop comparison charts of features, it's really not true that Quickr and Connections may compete with one another. The fact is that Quickr and Connections complement one another. I’ve been around information sharing for a long time and I have difficulty thinking of ANY company that doesn’t need the features of BOTH Quickr and Connections.
But like the PC example above, you have to go beyond the simple feature statement. For instance, “I want a PC to store stuff.” That’s a content question and if we look at it simply, it’s a matter of storage device. But if we go behind the “store stuff” statement, it would beg the questions “What kind of stuff?” and “What do you plan to do with it?” Office documents are one thing. Scanned images are another. Photos, video and multimedia are yet another. Maybe they want to store video games. Each answer could lead you to a different suggestion.
So back to Quickr and Connections. Let’s take a similar example. A prospect states, “I want to share files.” Both Quickr and Connections offer file management and sharing features. Let’s ask the next level of questioning.
“What types of files?”
We get the reply, “You know, Word documents, spreadsheets. Stuff we have out on shared drives and things that are overloading our email system.”
So now you can ask, “Under what circumstances are these files shared? And who are they shared with?”
At this point you need to listen to some key answers that would lead you to suggest Quickr or Connections. I've done this often and this is the way I approach this...some may take a different approach...so don't take this as the only way.
I take the approach where
I start off assuming Connections...until I hear something that leads me to Quickr as a solution.
In basic terms, Quickr is well suited for team and project related information sharing. The following are not always true...so again, these aren't rules...just guidelines.
So using the “Assume Connections until I hear something that speaks to Quickr”, let's take a couple of examples.
The guidelines above are just one way to help determine the solution to use.
I have also found that the following “generalities” are helpful in describing Connections and Quickr:
Both Quickr and Connections are needed in most organizations and industries. In Manufacturing, the Engineers could have a Connections Community to share ideas, but individual Engineers might have roles and responsibilities to projects managed in Quickr Places. In Banking, Customer Service could be served by a Connections Wiki to share best practices for handling account complaints, but Quickr Places may serve to manage the creation and development of new financial products for their customer base. In Insurance, Claims Adjusters might use Connections Blogs to keep running accounts of home owner claims, but specific Quickr Places could be used to manage specific events, like hurricanes and other catastrophic events. In Retail, Connections Activities could be used to assign tasks to individuals involved in developing store displays, while Quickr Tasks and Team Calendar may be used to manage new store openings.
It's not about a formula that clearly states one solution over another, but like the opening “What kind of PC do I need to buy?” question, there are some requirements that will definitely point in one direction or the other.
While it's not all SCIENCE and it's not all ART, I have actually found it quite rewarding to listen to user's requirements and then work with them to determine the best fit. The main thing is not to commit to a specific approach BEFORE you (and they) figure out what they need. And if you think about your own company, you're probably going to have to admit that your organization probably needs both Quickr and Connections. So you can begin looking toward Connections for your entire enterprise (think about everyone having Profiles, Files and Activities). Then look for key points in information sharing with groups of people to determine best fit for Quickr Places or Connections Communities.
Louis Richardson serves as the Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM Social Software and can be reached at Rich