New features and functionality are regularly introduced to IBM Verse. We recommend that you regularly check the "What's New" newsletter, which is updated monthly with detailed descriptions, including pictures, of newly added features and functionality.
IBM Verse: The Reimagined View of What Email Should Be
In an interview delivered to IBM Thoughts on Cloud at the recent IBM Innovation event, renowned public speaker Guy Kawasaki shared how Cloud has been an enabler for innovation. A summary of the interview along with the recording can be accessed by cliking on the image below.
During the interview, Kawasaki noted that Cloud computing made innovation and entrepreneurship more affordable for the past decade. Cloud lifted important set up cost barriers, opening markets to more suppliers of all means and consequently, more choices for the consumer. His suggestion is compete on a strategy of a differentiated valuable product.
Creating value in today's competitive market happens through a series of success or lessons by the customer side. In that context, he shared that entrepreneurs never loose: they either succeed or they learn. This iterative process leads to steady and meaningful progress.
Reflecting on his career, he sees two key roles in a business: making a product or selling it. This observation is very much in line with American management consultant Peter Drucker, who stated that "because its purpose is to make a customer, the business has two - and only two - functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation create value, all the rests are costs."
As an enabler to make innovation accessible to all, Cloud helps reduce the costs component of the equation so businesses can focus on creating value.
Diane Morneau, M.Sc.
Manager of Communications, Offerings and Knowledge Development
Based in Canada, Diane has been working in the Collaboration Services division for eighteen years. Her team supports the Social Business Support and Services team for their Communications, Marketing, Service Offerings, Knowledge Management and Education needs. Her favorite blogging topics are subjects related to creativity and innovation.
IBM Customers can get started on their own Expertise journey. The IBM Software Services team has made the Expertise Analytics, Expertise Locator, and other applications available for customer deployments on-premises and in the cloud...
One of the key advantages of moving to Cloud is, of course, no longer having to worry about engaging into upgrade exercises, big or small. But for those still in that mode today, please be aware that Notes, Domino or Sametime releases 8.0 are coming to end of life in April.
If you are running these releases, you may want to bridge over quickly to a supported release OR to your new platform (like Cloud). To save cycles and do it safely, we have an offer called AVP Upgrade Bridge that can be added to your maintenance contract to stay supported. Through the assistance of an Accelerated Value Leader, you will get priority service to expedite the resolution of issues, keep your production humming while you focus on your destination.
Between now and the end of March, IBM will also include, free of charge, a Multi-Media Library/User Adoption tool kit, complete with training videos, presentations, tutorials and more! This toolkit will significantly reduce training expenses and help your users adopt more quickly.
Want to hear more about the Upgrade Bridge offer? Visit the Expertise Zone while at ConnectED or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Jason Gary, IBM Distinguished Engineer, explained in a previous post how much of a challenge it is to find expertise in a growing company and how it has become an exercise where search engines using also analytics and behavior analysis increase the ability to find the RIGHT information and the RIGHT expert. We call it "Unlocking Corporate Knowledge" because really, that expertise is often spread across multiple niche applications (e-mails, presentations, communities, databases, etc.) which often spans across different vendors. As this expertise grows daily, it's an ONGOING challenge that humans switchboards can't keep up with. Expert systems could not be maintained fast enough to stay current either: switch from human configured expert system to auto learning expert system was necessary. Welcome the cognitive era!
On August 4th, our Watson division is hosting a webinar to discuss how the combination of intelligent search and content analytics can help provide better synthesized insight to improve performance and decision making in an organization.
If interested by the topic of IBM Verse or IBM Event Connect, we invite you to join our two starting LInkedIn groups. We will periodically summarize in here some of the discussion but to be in the know more timely and get the full story, visit these groups regularly.
In this entry, we'll explore in a little more detail how to capture indications of user expertise during the onboarding process.
Previous entries have mentioned the IBM Connections Touchpoint application, which is a solution positioned to address the "blank page" problem: a social platform has been deployed, user accounts have been activated, and the message goes out to people to start using the system. The trouble is, that without proscribed tasks or guided actions, new users may navigate to the solution and not engage because profiles are empty, social networks do not exist, or communities or practice have not been established. Touchpoint helps to kickstart these activities.
Enhancing the Experience
As we developed the family of Expertise solutions, it was natural to use the initial and engaging Touchpoint experience as a mechanism to gather additional indications of expertise.
We chose LinkedIn as an important external system from which to capture data, and utilized an opt-in model for each user to access their profile, social network, and contact info.
- Details from the LinkedIn profile were used to populate the IBM Connections profile
- Skills & Endorsements from LinkedIn were added as Tags on the IBM Connections profile
- 1st and 2nd degree connections in the LinkedIn social network generated invitations to corresponding users in IBM Connections
The users choose whether to incorporate LinkedIn data or not; if not, they can skip over this section. They can also selectively choose which elements from LinkedIn gets added to their IBM Connections profile.
After the LinkedIn extraction, we retained the remainder of the core Touchpoint features:
- Additional Tags were recommended based on the user location and job role
- Additional People were recommended based on the data captured in the steps above
- Communities were recommended based on the data captured in the steps above
By priming the IBM Connections profile with these details, we were able to drive user adoption in the initial weeks of deployment. Some statistics from recent projects include:
- Manufacturer with over 30,000 profile completions within the first 2 weeks
- Technology company with 80% profile completion within 4 days
With expertise more accurately indicated in the IBM Connections Profile, we found that in one case of 2,000 users they saved at least 30 minutes each week locating experts to answer questions. The result for them was $130,000 in annual savings
For More Information
To discuss how best to utilize IBM Connections and IBM Expertise solutions in your environment, please contact your local ISSC representative or send inquiries to email@example.com
IBM Collaboration Solutions Education is pleased to announce the immediate availability of the CNW50W - IBM Connections 5.0 Administration course! This intermediate-level course is designed to enable administrator to install core Connections 5.0 (without customization) in a lab environment and to test the basic features of Connections 5.0.
After completing this course, students should be able to:
Install Connections 5.0 core components (no customization)
In order to allow you to fully enjoy all of the action at ConnectED, this year, we decided to distribute complimentary ICS certification vouchers rather than running a Certification Lab. Certify when you return, within the next 6 months, and ON OUR TAB!
Vouchers are good for 6 months, until July 31, 2015.
Vouchers can be used at any Pearson Vue testing center worldwide. Locate one at pearsonvue.com
Vouchers may only be used for ICS exams. Find those at ibm.co/1k9htjw.
A maximum of one voucher per attendee.
Come to meet us at the Expertise Zone to get a voucher.
In this 3 minutes video, Jeff Marshall, CIO at Havas Creative, talks about why a move to IBM Connections Cloud made perfect sense as a way to reduce cost and streamline operations at Havas Creative. He explains the value gained from hiring Services to assist their move. He also provides his view on the 'new way to work' he is experiencing first-hand with IBM Verse.
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.