My team, part of the Collaboration Services team, brings innovative applications built on the Connections platform to market. Right now we're working with IBM Research, IBM CIO and the Analytics Strategy team to introduce a solution that measures employee social engagement. So, for the past few weeks I've been learning about Engagement Analytics.
Not sure what that term means? Engagement analytics measures levels of participation and the value of contributions to a social environment. At IBM we are strongly encouraged to share information / ideas / files socially in IBM Connections and, as a result, I now spend more of my time working in Connections than I do in email. Our internal engagement analytics dashboard gives me feedback on how I'm doing (pretty well, actually).
The dashboard provides a numerical score on a scale of 1 to 100 for my level of engagement as compared to others in my organization and IBM overall. The overall score has several components including my level of activity (how often I post and share content) and how others react to content I've shared (are they commenting on it or liking it). Eminence measures how often people reach out to me (are they tagging me, mentioning me) and my network score rates the size and diversity of my network. It's fun to see my score climb and it's also fun to compare scores with teammates. Additionally it helps me understand where I can improve.
Engagement analytics goes beyond just providing my personal social dashboard. By compiling the data for business units or organizations, managers can better understand the social health of their teams. This is an emerging area of research with many possibilities that I'm just starting to understand. One thing I know for sure is that when we start talking to customers about this solution we'll get great feedback on how it needs to evolve to better support their needs. Stay tuned for more information on our offerings over the next few weeks.
If you're interested in learning more about this topic, I highly recommend the information Marie Wallace has shared here as well as well as in her blog. Oh, and don't forget her Ted Talk!
Cynthia L. Oehmig
Worldwide Program Manager, ISSC Apps Program
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Cynthia has worked at IBM for almost 20 years. Always focused on collaboration software, she has worked on both services and education teams. One of her favorite things about IBM is meeting and working with people all over the world.
What's the Difference Between Search and Expertise Analytics?
During discussions with customers about the advanced capabilities of IBM Software Services' Expertise solutions, I find myself describing the differences between simple searches, enterprise searches, and the expertise analytics that we utilize. This blog summarizes those thoughts and explains why expertise analytics provides much better results than keyword or attribute searches.
Let's build up a series of layers representing different data sets and what results can be made available when trying to find an expert.
Directory - a simple attribute search
The foundation layer is the directory; that simple repository used for authentication and authorization which provides basic information like name, email address, phone number and office location. It provides answers to questions like "What is Scott's phone number". When extended to include job functions and titles, it can be used in a limited sense for expertise location by surfacing results to a search for "Certified Project Manager".
User Profile - aggregating what we know about a person
The next layer up is the user profile; a container into which we can aggregate additional details about a person. Solutions like IBM Connections provide a rich container of structured and unstructured data, aggregating details in three different dimensions
What the organization declares about me - the IBM Connections Profile is initially built from the corporate directory, with all the attributes from the directory layer incorporated into the profile. It is then extended using data integration tools to aggregate additional data elements from enterprise systems like Human Resources, Corporate Training, Skills Certifications, and Patent Databases
What I declare about myself - the IBM Connections Profile contains data elements for me to fill in, including personal background and resume information. I use social tags to stamp my profile with expertise topics, declaring the topics in which I have skills and interests
What my peers declare about me - the IBM Connections Profile then allows others to use social tagging to validate my skill areas. Peers add tags to my profile as I interact with them. The more peers tagging me for a certain skill, the more it becomes an indicator of my expertise.
With this rich profile in place I have a strong foundation for a profile search in order to locate experts. I can search for keywords and be presented with the people that have a match on that topic based on profile attributes and tags. The rich social profile is so important that we've developed a solution to rapidly capture information into it. More on IBM Connections Touchpoint in a future blog.
Content Contributions - expertise inference through publication
Any content that is contributed by a person is also a strong indicator of their expertise. IBM Connections have many containers for this purpose in the form of Files, Blogs, Wikis, Forums and Activities. Looking for an expert based on a topic keyword at this layer is similar to an enterprise search. It is very powerful and returns a large results set based on different content types. By focussing on the authors of the content, we can screen the results down to the most likely people having expertise in the needed area, and pivot to their profile to find out how to contact them. However, enterprise search results typically return a large volume of results, causing the searcher to segregate and apply filters to sift down to the real experts.
Recommendations - an application of profile and content analytics
So content and enterprise searches produce a lot of results that might overwhelm a user, and in large systems it is impossible to keep track of new people and new content as it is created. Hence the need for the Recommendations component within IBM Connections. This is an application of profile and content analytics to serve up important people and publications based on your areas of expertise. In this scenario, potential experts are served up for you consideration based on the attributes and actions you share.
The power of IBM Connections searching...
All these layers combine to form the core of IBM Connections, using search and recommendations to locate experts. It is very powerful stuff and many customers are at this part of the journey. They may have just determined a corporate directory strategy, deployed IBM Connections Profiles and begun aggregating additional data sources onto the profile, and started to use some of the content elements to capture the contributions from experts.
These elements form a repository of explicit expertise: we have specific tags, published content, and certification tracking levels stamped on the profile. What else do we have as an implicit indicator of expertise, or ways to make the results set of potential experts better?
...but let's harness the social platform and do more
Since IBM Connections is a rich social platform and we use these additional elements to reach out to more experts and refine the results to present the best experts to meet the need.
Social Validation - increase the expertise ranking based on the reaction of peers. As a content item is Liked, Reshared, and Commented upon
Social Network Analysis - knowing who is connected to whom, refine the results to promote the experts that have the most interactions with me
Engagement Analytics - based on the levels of participation in the system, promote the experts that are the most active and engaged. They are more likely to provide help
Inferred Expertise - Expertise in one area implies possible expertise in related areas. Add inferred experts to the results.
Prospective Experts - Who else has matching characteristics to known experts? It is likely that they have expertise, even if they haven't contributed yet. Seed the results with these prospective experts to get them engaged and active
Workload Balancing - It's not fair to route all inquiries to a single set of experts. Take their workload into account and even out the requests.
By taking these additional factors into account, the results set of experts moves from "Who has the skill?" to a much richer answer of "Who is the best at helping on this topic at this time?"
These additional factors are what IBM Software Services is incorporating in our series of IBM Expertise Solutions. Content within IBM Connections, as well as external content in enterprise systems, is analyzed and indexed according to standard full text practices and the more advanced social factors. We can then incorporate the expertise analytics into a variety of use cases:
IBM Expertise Locator - quickly find the best expert within the with organization on a specific topic and connect with them
IBM Social Connections Social Q&A - post a question and allow the system to route it to the best team of experts to get answered
...And more to come
For More Information
To get started, we recommend customers schedule a free IBM Expertise workshop. Contact the IBM Software Services representative in your area to learn more.
Things are progressing rapidly in the world of IBM Verse, our new intelligent mail assistant, with a neat "Getting Started" wizzard just released and the Android version of Verse Mobile expected this week (the iOS one is already out).
Personally, I am very impressed by the genius behind the important contacts toolbar, highlighted in red in the enclosed picture of the desktop version. I consider it the "dashboard to my mail file". It presents the counts of unread emails, of what I owe others, of what they owe me, along my important contacts. On Mobile, important contacts appear in a full screen, from which you can see a person's mail by selecting their picture.
What is so great about it?
It helps me be more dynamic! Verse scans my inbox and identifies important correspondants based on the moment. I can make a suggestion of important contact stick through a simple drag and drop or work with the dynamic choices identified by Verse's smarts. Prior to using Verse, I did not adjust to my actual workload my list of important contacts. Verse does it for me now. Verse's recommendations on my cyclic important friends is priceless: they help me adapt to the changing demand.
One clic replaces scrolling. Verse saves me from scrolling to attend my mail. While color coding previously helped me spot important mail, now, I am informed of important arrivals without any browsing thanks to visual cues on this dashboard and a single clic. Nothing falls off to screen.
You've got mail! No, Better: You've got important mail! Verse advises me of any new mail from an important person by a red dot. I can't miss it. Dynamic. Visible. Timely. Effective. If I click on the circled icon representing this person, it shows me the mail related to this person. I am no longer in chasing mode through a list of emails: what is important comes to me in a click.
Act on me! Just as brilliant, are the counts of unread mail and follow up emails, now split in two categories: what I owe others and what they owe me. I always found that I did not attend as regularly as I would like to, my follow up folder. Here, the numbers are nagging me for action!
Without a doubt, the important contacts toolbar is key to my new way to work, a huge time saver and organizer.
What is your favourite feature of Verse? To read more about Verse, visit the IBM Verse product page
Only one of the following statements applies when it comes to ramping up a new social environment. Which one?
a) Social software is intuitive and requires no end-user training
b) You should pick pilot users from all parts of the organization to ensure a fair representation
c) You can rely on social enthusiasts who will significantly contribute to driving onboarding success
d) Special attention is needed on the completion of user profiles as it can be a bottleneck to success
To find out, join ISSC consultant Scott Rogers as he discusses some of the myths about Social Adoption to explain how they can be addressed.
Follow this link to access the replay of the April 22nd Accelerate Adoption with Apps event.
Would you like to hire Watson to be part of your workforce in action? You will be pleased to hear that Watson can now participate in Connections in the same way a human worker can, as an option available through Social Q&A.
Social Q&A is part of the Expertise 360 suite. It enables users to obtain and reuse answers from questions intelligently routed to subject matter experts throughout your organization. Social Q&A leverages smart analytics to route new questions to the appropriate subject matter experts for timely handling and to build a central repository of questions and answers for reuse.
We now have the capability of adding Watson as an expert that can be polled by Social Q&A, allowing Watson, as an expert in your organisation, to support your workforce in unprecedented ways. An employee could post a question, say, related to one of your products requirements, corporate policies, a question regarding local laws, traveling, etc... Watson will apply the extent of his expertise to answer questions with unmatched speed and efficiency.
Find out more about Social Q&A and about hiring Watson to support your workforce by visiting the Expertise Zone set up at Peacock 1. Jason Gary or David Byrd will be pleased to tell you more.
Earlier today, we conducted a webnar entitled: "Sharing in the Digital Economy Just Got Easier: See how the number one social business platform can help you do it all"
During that presentation, we annouced a targeted services offering to migrate customers onto IBM Connections. It combines the best aspects of our services deployment experience, solution assets, and capabilities to provide a fully-managed solution for customers coming from Jive, SharePoint, or other solutions.
Let's look at the components of the solutions in a little more detail, using the scenario of 5,000 users in a managed service.
Infrastructure provided by IBM Softlayer
We configure a private cloud environment, with all the needed web, application, directory, database, and storage services for a full-fledged solution. Public cloud options also exist, but we expect customers to want a dedicated environment with the flexibility to customize to their specific needs.
Operations provided by IBM and Certified Business Partners
Infrastructure, operating system, and applications services are managed and monitored by IBM and our business partners. A customer could chose to manage the infrastrucutre with their IT team, but we expect IT staffs are fully utilized such that it makes sense for IBM to take on those operational responsibilities. Either way, an IBM Solution Specialist is the primary point of contact for managing the service and acting as liaison with the cusotmer.
The Full Power of IBM Connections...
IBM Connections is then deployed to the private, managed environment. Our customers can control the features, and add additional capabilties as needed. IBM SmartCloud Connections and IBM SmartCloud Engage offer many of the standard Connections features in a full SaaS model, but if a customer has unique requirements this environment can support them.
...and Much More
We then load some extra capabilties into the solution.
Figure 1. TimetoAct XCC
XCC provides content presentation management and is great for a department like corporate communications. A home page is configured to showcase important announcements, from one, or more, communities.
Within that managed page you can present controlled and personalized content, some items make sense for employees, others for contractors, and the page includes the logic to present the proper content to the right people.
The idea here is that key communications are presented to end users without the need for them to navigate to the different communities. And it can be controlled by the line of business personnel; administrative access is not required.
We'll use our automated migration tools to move the people, places, and content from your existing solution into the managed Connections environment. For example,the places, groups and project sites in Jive transition into IBM Connections Communities. As part of that move, membership lists and access roles are preserved. The Jive content then becomes Connections content within the community.
Figure 2. Jive to Connections Content Map
For More Information
To get started, we recommend customers schedule a free Move To Connections workshop. Contact the IBM Software Services representive in your area to learn more.
Figure 3. Move to IBM Connections Workshop
If you are interested by the topic of innovation in the workplace, you will want to read this research paper for the IBM Institute of Business Value titled "More than Magic - How the most successful organizations innovate" .
This paper shares conclusions of a survey conducted with 1000 c-suite executives from 17 industries in cooperation with the Economist Intelligence Unit.
It defines innovation as "the art and science of anticipating the future", a very accurate definition in my view. It highlights that the out performers master three things sooner than the others:
1. Being able to understand and drive the full potential of new technologies
2. Understand their customer needs and wants, and even anticipate it before them
3. Building an organization and an ecosystem to deliver on those
It then studies specific actions that the most successful companies have engaged into and which may contribute to their lead. Very smart graphics illustrate the delta between these top performers and the others, effectively drawing interest to solutions that may have been overlooked.
For instance, I learned that these leaders achieve higher Return On Innovation by:
putting in place special innovation teams to build and maintain a creative momentum;
aligning their actions with new territory, specifically, new business opportunities in their industry or their new products/services;
defining financial measurements to measure and tune their progress.
I was surprised by the wider variety of input channels that innovation leaders find to inspire their plans. Contests and competitions appear to create just the right amount of pressure to stimulate the genius in them. As expected, analytics and big data give them additional smarts for their decisions. These actions, along with the usual and recognized value of social networking, surveys and research, bring creativity to the table.
The report concludes with valuable tips for a more innovative organization, an innovative culture and related processes. It is really an inspiring read for all interested in this topic.
Diane Morneau, M.Sc.
Manager of Communications, Offerings and Knowledge Development
Based in Canada, Diane has been working in IBM's Collaboration Services division for eighteen years. Her team supports the Social Business Support and Services teams for their Communications, Marketing, Service Offerings, Knowledge Management and Education needs. Her favorite blogging topics are subjects related to creativity and innovation.
IBM Collaboration Solutions Certification is pleased to announce the release of the IBM Certified Associate - Connections 5.0 certificate. Candidates wishing to receive this certification must successfully complete the IBM Connections 5.0 Fundamentals exam.
This certification is entry-level and is for tech sellers and beginner administrators just getting started in supporting IBM Connections 5.0. More information about the certification and exam can be found at the links above.
ICS Certification Program Manager
Based in Austin, Texas, Rena has worked at IBM in a variety of roles for the past 17 years. In that time, she has worked in IBM Notes and Domino Support, the Accelerated Value Program, and now, ICS Education with Certification. She has always stressed knowledge as a way to plan and solve problems.
Let’s say you need an internal expert on polymer filters. Typically the easiest way to discover the elusive expert is to do a web-technology search of your internal collaboration system to find someone, anyone, that may have created content or been labelled via their title as being associated with, polymer filters. But are you really finding what you are looking for?
Expertise involves working with and identifying the most mercurial of resources in any organization, people. Finding an expert isn’t about search, at least not search as defined in the post 90’s computing world, it’s about analytics and behavioral sciences. Experts and finding expertise is about discovery, looking at people via a variety of parameters and attributes to answer what is at least on the surface a simple question: “Whom in my organization is ready, willing, and able to serve as an expert to solve a business problem?”
IBM has spent the better part of seven years of research and active experimentation in creating software, an engine that can find the right person at the right time to solve the specific business challenge that awaits their expertise. IBM’s Expertise Engine can take a query such as, “I need an expert in polymer filters to be in Frankfurt on the 12th of August to meet with Acme customer on a sales opportunity”, and find the right person.
How, you might ask is this even possible? Well Expertise Engine can analyze many of your organizations systems including traditional collaboration systems such as instant messaging and email. It can analyze not only the data in these systems to assign weight and breadth of expertise but also monitor the behavior of experts. If an expert is asked three questions a week and answers them promptly but typically on the fourth question exhibits delay in response the Expertise Engine will absorb that specific expert’s ability to respond and throttle requests accordingly.
Behavior is important. Once the Expertise Engine determines that an individual is an expert in a specific field or fields and routes questions, groups, or other people to that expert, what happens next is just as important as the fundamental identification of expertise. Is the expert thanked after the interaction? Is the thanks made publically or privately? Does the interaction end with a single query or does it vault the expert and the group seeking expertise together into a social graph? Do others seek out that specific expert on that topic?
The Expertise Engine can also look at relationships. If someone is a well determined expert in basket weaving and regularly contacts two other individuals on the topic then the Expertise Engine will begin a determination of expertise of those two individuals in spite of the lack of data establishing them as experts in basket weaving.
So what can you do with an Expertise Engine? Well quite a lot actually. IBM’s Expertise Engine is a platform that we are actively building and selling clients for including Connections Social Q&A and Expertise Locator. With Social Q&A, a question from a user, whom may have no idea of what kind of expert to turn to, is routed to a series of experts, answered, and then the answer itself is curated for the next time a user asks a similar question so an answer is given without ever involving the highly valuable expert. Expertise Locator helps a user find an expert, now, based on the user knowing what kind of expert they need, just not how to find them.
Business Partners of IBM are looking to leverage the Expertise Engine for many diverse use cases. Imagine a project manager setting up a project and having the people they may need to bring the project to fruition already recommended. In learning, what if instead of taking a course, at random being able to simply tell the system I want to be more like one of your mentors, heroes, or colleagues; and have the system identify what makes that person an expert and tailor a program to achieve the enablement goals.
Expertise is truly an elusive find, but it certainly isn’t about search. It is a process of discovery of something that isn’t static but a dynamic fluid of relationships, knowledge, willingness, readiness, and ability. And the expert you may need today, might not be the expert you need tomorrow. While it sounds like science fiction, it isn’t. This technology is available today along with its associated applications from IBM Lab Services.
Jason Roy Gary
IBM Director - IBM Distinguished Engineer
CTO IBM Enterprise Social Solutions - Exec Apps and Assets Program
Asia Pacific Lab Services Business Leader - Senior Board Member OpenSocial Foundation
Jason is the thought leader behind the innovative IBM Apps and Assets portfolio. He is the executive technologist behind Expertise 360°, a suite of apps that helps discover Corporate Knowledge and uses analytics to identify sharing patterns to involve the right expert timely, for higher speed in action and greater competitivity.
IBM Verse takes a vastly different approach to enterprise email by integrating the many ways employees connect each day – via email, meetings, calendars, file sharing, instant messaging, social updates, video chats and more - all through a single collaboration environment. It is the first messaging system to feature 'faceted search,' which enables users to pinpoint and retrieve specific information they're seeking across all the various types of content within their email.
IBM Verse uses built-in analytics to provide an ‘at-a-glance’ view that intelligently surfaces an individual’s most critical actions for the day. By learning unique employee preferences and priorities over time, it provides instant context about a given project as well as the people and teams collaborating on it. Clients using IBM Verse will also have the option to embed a Watson feature into their collaboration environment, which enables users to query Watson on a given topic and receive a direct reply with answers ranked by degree of confidence.
“The convergence of analytics, cloud, social and mobile technologies is not just impacting our personal lives, it's profoundly changing how we work,” said Bob Picciano, Senior Vice President, IBM Information and Analytics Group. “These forces are reshaping how people make decisions, create and share new ideas and collaborate across teams to get work done. With IBM Verse, we challenged our design teams to use analytics to completely reimagine the social collaboration experience to focus on engaging people and driving outcomes, not managing messages and inboxes.”
Cemex Chief Technology Officer Gilverto Garcia talks about his experience with Verse:
"The overall design and visual interface immediately caught my attention, there is a simplicity and purpose in how information is presented that makes the entire experience very intuitive. I quickly realized just how much was happening beneath the surface. It gives you a seamless blend of email, social and collaboration capabilities that didn't force me to jump between my inbox, calendar and other apps to share and connect with people. It's hard to even call this email anymore, that's just one facet to what they are delivering with IBM Verse."
In this book, the author explains how to build a strong professional social reputation to protect and advance your career. She describes How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It, to be recognized by others as an authority in your field, clients and employers.
"Stand Out" is June's IBM Social Business Book Club title.
Join the discussion!
Get this free 42 pages workbook and participate in our #socbizchat on Twitter on Thursday, June 11th at 1pm Eastern.
Read this post from Dorie Clark
The move to the Cloud does not have to be a lonely journey... in fact it should not be! The move to the Cloud is driven by cost,improved agility and innovation, in order to improve business results. Whether it is a back office application that tracks customer behavior, a self service application that reduces cost and improves sales, or a CRM system, they all have one common denominator, business results. Successfully leveraging Cloud computing requires making sure your organization is properly aligned and all roles and responsibilities accounted for. As we accompany various Corporations through their different stages of maturity with their use of the Cloud, I identified five patterns which I would like to share:
1: IT organizations must adapt
A successful move to the Cloud requires awareness and planning for the new roles and responsibilities that come with the move. Today's organizations are built to accommodate the traditional on premise computing model that has been around for decades. Even if parts are outsourced, the model as well as roles and responsibilities remained the same. The life cycle of on premise is spans the gamut from product/technology evaluation, architecture, deployment, operations and support. The environment is under the control of the CIO and the teams are organized for best results. With move to the Cloud,the environment as well as roles and responsibilities required for success are different
2: Change is constant, get used to it
One often overlooked change in moving to the cloud is what is needed to manage change. With on premise computing, change is a critical part of any organization. I have a long history in the change management discipline. I have sat through weeks or months of planning meetings for new hardware and software. Changes to the environment are painstakingly planned, and tested before deployment. Introducing a change with out due diligence can have catastrophic results, taking down mission critical systems and impacting the business. Cloud is much different. No longer do changes come in waves or "releases", instead there is a constant delivery model where changes are made weekly or even daily. To take the best advantage of Cloud an organization must be constantly informed and updated on new features and functions. Business units need to plan to take advantage of the new features and functions, help desks must be aware in order to support users. Above all the customer IT organization must be well informed and as agile as possible.
3: Opportunities abound, the agile will win
Cloud computing brings with it many great opportunities but to fully exploit them, you need to look at your organization. The constant delivery model necessitates changes to everything from application development to help desk. While we typically think of a deployment phase, now we must think of constant exploitation of what the Cloud has to offer. The organization that can identify the way to best leverage Cloud capabilities and do it quickly and constantly, will succeed. Organizations that do not will find the move challenging and will not optimize their investments.
4: Partnership is required for success
We in the IT community have talked about "partnerships" for decades. With the Cloud it is even more imperative that vendors and customers build strong and true partnerships. With the rate of change and today's highly competitive business environment no one can afford time lost due to finger pointing. Instead, the communication needs to be as partners, not as vendor and customer. This applies not only to any issue encountered during the initial set up or migration, but throughout the complete process. Good communication is the key to success.
5: It's ok to be in the dark
Introduction of new features and products, like many aspects of Cloud computing, is vastly different from the on premise model. Unlike on premise, where upgrade decisions are made based on a new release or version of a product, Cloud leverages "dark launch". New features or upgrades can literally be introduced at any time, with limited access granted by the vendor. Now, instead of a 6 month beta period, customers can involve themselves in programs where they can pick and choose new features they want to try. Instead of a "waterfall" approach, the customer must position themselves to constantly evaluate and take advantage of new features.
To help customers to get the most of the Cloud, we crafted a Premier Support offering that offers a higher level of support and can be personalized to the needs.
To find out more, I invite you to read this overview of our Cloud Premier offering. If you have any question, do not hesitate to comment on this post or to contact me directly.
Program Director, ICS Accelerated Value Program (Delivery)
Did you know that IBM has created an exclusive member services site just for IBM Certification Professionals?
The IBM Certification Member Site is full of great resources to help you share your certification experience with the world. For example, members can create a unique profile page that will share your certifications and allow you to describe your accomplishments. Then you are able to share this unique profile with anyone you choose using a friendly URL. Members may also order premium or wallet-sized certificates and update their demographic information at the site.
To register at the site, you will need an IBM ID and a testing ID.
The instructions are described in the IBM Certification program page.