Rooted in same projects that gave birth to Watson, IBM's cognitive technology, several products have been in development by our collaboration consulting group to do one thing: unlock Corporate Knowledge. Three words may sound simple but they have huge implications given expertise is typically spread across multiple niche applications (e-mails, presentations, communities, databases, etc.) which often spans across different vendors. From emails with short-lived visibility to communities that mushroom so fast in growing organizations that self serve search time and human switchboards become key impediments, Corporate Knowledge is often partly hidden or spread too wide to support well an agile workforce.
That's exactly the agenda behind the six years of work done by our consulting practice. Expertise 360 refers to a series of growing apps that take different angles at discovering and planning the expansion of Corporate Expertise. Let me give you some examples:
One tool is set to recuperate the knowledge stored in various product structures, whether the applications are IBM's or third party, to build a central corpus accessible through our social software.
Another application studies social sharing patterns to identify experts and their readiness to share to help the workforce route their queries. No human can keep up with it fast enough in large organizations so technology helps greatly here.
Another tool builds FAQs for reuse: this is helpful to avoid wasting expert cycles on questions already answered and to programmatically ensure the corpus remains current with actuality. The workflow ensures that answers are gathered timely and new, Watson can be one of your experts!
A couple more help build mobile learning campaigns and follow the progress of your enablement initiatives via a dashboard and measure them against goals.
These are just a few of the tools under the umbrella of Expertise 360 that you can discover while at ConnectED. Drop by the Expertise Zone and see for yourself how they can help build your Smarter Workplace.
If you are not attending and would like to hear more about these tools, just let us know and we will connect you!
As you read in previous blog posts, we have a product called IBM Event Connect. It's actually a product and a turnkey service. When hired, our team provides not only this Cloud-based, mobile and social app and platform for planners and participants, but we also run it for you from the planning, during your business conference and for reading the insight that the analytics reveal to improve the next event.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be sharing humoristic advice for event participants and planners. Here is the first in the series: Check The Badge Before You Speak !
Follow the action on our LinkedIn Event Connect and don't hesitate to chip your own experience!
A good way to avoid personal entertainment expenses at events is to be well plugged into the happenings. Don't miss a thing! Ahead of the event, start connecting with other attendees. Explore the planned activities so you can bring along what you need. Plan ahead!
For those last minute changes to the agenda that cannot be avoided, conference planners do appreciate being able to reach the participants with an event management social platform. For the attendee, it means no more walking through half the hotel to find the door closed because the room number changed unexpectedly. On occasion, attendees can also be treated to a second session added by the planners to make up for the first one that was overcrowded with participants. These are just a few examples of the advantages of having a micro network to support the delivery of a business conference.
It's up to you to find your entertainment by making the best of the event. Happy conferencing!
Our discussions with customers have begun to identify use cases for Expertise solutions in different lines of business. Recently, we explored Customer Service and how processes within that group can be enhanced with Expertise services.
Often, there is a need to collect the additional information from end-users, making sure tacit indicators of expertise get reflected into systems. For that, we use IBM Connections Touchpoint to assist a customer service representative in completing their expertise profile.
Answering the Question
A common scenario resolves around a supported constituent having a question. The question is posed to the support team and one of the service representatives answers it. Many support departments use question categorization and support queues to align the question with a targeted workgroup of service representatives. By using IBM Connections Social Q&A, we can streamline that process. When the user enters their question, related questions are served up as links, allowing the user to obtain their answer from previously populated repositories. When entering the question, the user does not need to know whom is the best expert nor where is the best queue to place it within. The Social Q&A solution will automatically route it to the best team of experts based on the question content, the expertise profiles, and contributions of the support team. The experts are notified within their workstream and do not need to monitor queues nor switch context in order to access other systems. Once answered, the requester sees the response within their news stream.
Finding the Expert
Additional experts are sometimes needed to address a support inquiry. IBM Expertise Locator quickly finds experts based on geography, job role, and expertise topic from any workstation or mobile device. Once identified the experts can be contacted via phone, message or social platform and added into a growing network of favorite and connected experts.
Indications of expertise can be found in many systems throughout the enterprise. By using IBM Expertise Discovery, data from many systems can be aggregated and analyzed for use in the scenarios above.
Common Support Systems
IBM Expertise Solution
Requester navigates through a tree of categories or call queues
Requester can pose question directly and the solution will route to the proper queue and team of experts
Requester must perform a search of FAQ and previous answers
Related questions and their answers are automatically linked for the requester to access
Support personnel are assigned to monitor a queue
Work items are automatically routed to support personnel based on their expertise
Support teams are assigned based on supervisors understanding of their expertise
Expertise is systematically based on certification levels; declarations made by the enterprise, peers and individual; published contributions; and willingness to assist.
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.
Interested in creating solutions and applications for IBM Connections and Connections Cloud? Developers are invited to a virtual Meet the Labs event to be held October 1 and 2 during United Kingdom business hours. For details, go to Meet the Labs: IBM Connections & Connections Cloud Development. Ready to register? Here are the short links for the sign-up pages:
Companies invest in social platforms to involve their entire workforce and external collaborators in a cycle of change and creativity. Connections is like a canvas: ready to host the colors of this wider collaboration with very malleable tools. Today's post is at the heart of what I value the most: injecting creativity in the use of our social platform.
Is a blog necessarily monotone? With its personal journal format, some may think this is a boring format but it is not. A blog can be entertaining, informative, and inspiring. It can be more than a two way conversation happening sequentially. Here is an example. Last year, a friend sent me a Powerpoint containing over a hundred pictures of the most amazing places in the world... none identified. I recognized some but identifying the others was an impossible task for one. I ran an Advent calendar, crowdsourcing the pictures in a blog - "Please help Santa pick a place to rest after the Holidays... he received the following postcards without insight on where they come from". With the diversified background and cleverness that only a team can provide, we identified every place and created new bonds. Whether the pieces of your puzzle are words, concepts or images (as in this case), no challenge is too large for a team. With a little enthusiasm and imagination, blogs can bring people together.
Ideation blogs surface ideas that are most popularwith a crowd. It's the triumph of the most ingenious ideas. Beyond its expected use of bubbling up the most popular ideas, what can it be used for? How about to reveal affinities? By asking worldwide account managers to vote or add to an ideation forum to represent their customer priorities, we defined our team's agenda for the year! I have also seen an ideation blog ingeniously used on a restaurant's Web site to allow its customers to rank their menu items. Aside from providing the restaurant great insight on their food for continuous improvement, I made the most of my visit thanks to the previous customers. Picking my meal from this ideation forum was much faster than reading a series of comments to sort it out!
Forums organize a discussion and questions by topic. Yet, it allows some disorder by pinning a topic or two for higher focus. Forums are great for brainstorming, for thinking with peers. We used forums to collect and share the insight from critical situations, gathering post mortems and lessons learned. To reinforce the learning across the globe, we organized friendly competitions in popular game formats (like Jeopardy and Family Feud), hereby inviting a second exploration of the content. We are using forums to collectively curate educational content - social learning. With its ability to flag questions answered, forums are the best to ask questions to a wider network when you are not sure who might be able to answer, providing you plan for a moderator to move along unanswered questions.
Wiki is the most structuredof the collaboration tools, the most organized as it was originally created to support co-authoring and collective reuse. A hierarchy of pages and subpages, peer and child relationships, wikis also help draw mental maps of a topic. A third dimension, versioning, allows readers to travel through time and see how the knowledge morphed under collective action. I have used wikis to support collective writing, to assemble documentation and to produce dashboards. They are one of the most helpful social structure that merits a blog post on its own. I plan to go into more details in a future post.
Activities are guardians of recipes of success. Activities are made of comments, to dos (multiple levels of depth) and sections to group them logically. One of the best use of activities is to organize a project. Once completed, you can reflect on what worked and what did not, and create from it a template for reuse. It takes the guessing out of repeating success, especially practical for less frequent procedures. Activities are of great help to ramp up new hires or to build agility within a team, putting every chance of success on their side. I used activities to plan deliverables, to log activities and discussions, to track results. From a single drag and drop, it's a great way organize in a snap noteworthy information for future reference.
Beyond looking at these social tools included in Connections separately, you can also mix them for your needs. For instance, I used wikis and activities together to build a two part tool to help managers support career development. Because they are relatively static, activities provided the common steps for the professional to follow. The activities linked to sections of a more dynamic wiki for choices and suggestions. This wiki was crowdsourced with my peers and was updated as the year went by. So it was always current for the professional with the most recent discoveries of an entire team of managers. A perfect combinaison for the need.
When tied up by routine work, you can spend less time being creative. We don't meet people always through the same way, why should technology force us? A set of flexible tools in a social platform is important to stimulate creativity. In your social toolkit, which tool is your favourite to stimulate the creativity of your network? I would love to hear about it.
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.
The C2040-TBD: IBM Connections Cloud Fundamentals V1 is currently in the works and will also be a brand new addition to the portfolio. This exam is an entry-level exam covering the features and functions of the IBM Connections Cloud family of products and subscriptions. This overview exam covers all the Connections Cloud subscriptions, including IBM Verse. Candidates successfully completing this exam will receive the IBM Certified Associate - Connections Cloud V1 certification. This exam and certification pair is expected to be released around the first of April 2015.
In this Open Mic 6 minutes replay, AVL Jim Dewan describes how to incorporate Connections into your software solution monitoring/troubleshooting and performance analysis into a dynamic dashboard to oversee your Connections environment. In this short video, he presents how to collect client response time data throughout the environment and share it within the friendly confines of a Connections Community. Leveraging the Connections mobile client for this data provides access from any place, any time, and anywhere. The key to adoption rates of Connections is to deliver necessary data within various teams. Real time system status and response times metrics, information that is constantly changing, is a great way to increase usage of a Connections Community. Teams then document their knowledge around these real time stats leveraging the powerful features of Connections.
Available also for other ICS products, Watchit is a no cost monitoring and performance reporting tool available via IBM Greenhouse. It is a platform independent tool with some great Connections monitors and stress testing. There are minimal software requirements such as Python and a JRE. For Connections, it leverages the REST apis to create content for performance/functional analysis and to then push the results into a Connections Community if desired.
Have you heard about IBM Event Connect? It's an event management software, allowing participants to connect through a social network, ahead, during and after an event. The social approach is great to extend the event beyond these few days that are so expensive for everyone - the planners as well as the participants.
Available prior to the event, participants can meet other attendees and presentors to plan their event. It is a clear advantage to be able to find new contacts in a network of people with similar interests and whom you may decide to plan to meet. The conversation can mature sooner than if it just starts at the event. This is similar to the experience you get when you take a course remotely and then meet the other course participants in person: you don't start from scratch and you are already clear on who you want to prioritize to meet.
More ecologic, an event management tool saves a ton of weight on the participants shoulders and a ton of work to the event planners with the simplified logistics. The analytics also allow the planners to adjust the delivery in real time, like to add more high demand sessions and be able to communicate it to the participants. It also provides them insight for the planning of their future events.
With the large scales of today's conferences, you want to make sure you don't miss anything or anyone when you invest to go there. Conferences are for accelerated networking because so much is already available locally and virtually. If I go out of my way to participate to a professional event, I want it to be worthwhile. A tool like IBM Event Connect provides accelerates the quality of the networking, leading to higher quality discussions sooner and a more satisfying event experience. This is good for both the participant and the planners!
Find out more about IBM Event Connect by visiting regularly its home page which I also bookmarked in this community.
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.
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.
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.