In today's press release, Kevin Cavanaugh (VP IBM Collaboration Solutions) was quoted as saying:
The time is right for wide scale enterprises adoption especially with the upcoming end of support for Microsoft Office 2003. By choosing Apache OpenOffice, enterprises will free up resources for their cloud and mobile infrastructure investments.
Additionally, as you are probably aware, we have a plug-in for that brings social to OpenOffice available today. In a couple of weeks, we'll also be releasing a new version of this IBM Connections Plug-In for OpenOffice which will surface in the new sidebar. I'll be sharing more about this plugin in the coming weeks as we approach the release date. Here's a screenshot just to give you a sense of how it's going to work:
For reference, the full list of What's New in this release is available here.
We have just released the latest mobile apps for IBM Connections, IBM's Enterprise Social Network (ESN). I haven't blogged about the mobile apps lately. However, I'm sure you've been up to date thanks to Chris Reckling's posts. By now, you know that we've been releasing monthly updates with new features every month!
In this month's release we've added various new things, with the most powerful one being real-time co-editing of documents directly from your iPad. Last week, Forrester cited IBM as a Leader in their File Sharing and Sync Wave. As the product manager for Files, I don't want to just sit idle now, but instead want to keep pushing our leadership position further ahead.
Imagine being on the go and being asked to review a document. Why wait until you are back in the office, when you can make quick changes directly from your device?? Just edit and go, and yes, as others throughout the world make changes to the document, you see them in real-time! And since Connections provides document editing, the document never leaves the secure container. You probably remember this from the IBM Connect OGS earlier this year, so it's extremely exciting to roll this out today!
Here's a quick and simple 2 minute demo I captured to demonstrate some of the new capabilities in this release.
So what are you waiting for? Go get the latest apps from your favorite app store! If you are not using Connections today, start your free trial by going to http://ibmcloud.com/social !
In Forrester's 26-criteria evaluation of file sync and share vendors, we identified, researched, analyzed, and scored products from the 16 most significant solution providers in this market: Accellion, Acronis, AirWatch, Alfresco, Box, Citrix, Dropbox, Egnyte, EMC, Google, Hightail (formerly YouSendIt), IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Salesforce.com, and WatchDox. We scored factors like mobile support, security, links to systems of record, organizational commitment, market experience, and deployment architecture to give you the decision tools to create the right shortlist for your particular environment and scenarios. This report and accompanying spreadsheet detail our findings about how well each vendor scores based on our criteria and where they stand in relation to each other.
Chris Reckling wrote about our sync features here and shares his view on the user experience:
The first thing we wanted to do it make it super easy to sync a file on the device. This caused a bit of redesign on all the actions to make them more consistent and visible. Most people I asked in the lab understood what the icons meant. On the details page for a file, tap the sync button to add it to your offline storage. Here you can also determine whether you want that file automatically updated. (There is a setting to always sync, too - we found that people wanted options available, depending on their own patterns.)
Offline files are stored in a device-encrypted database which you access via the "File Sync" tab on the left navigation. We wanted it to be really easy to access these, so we moved the view to the main left navigation. From this view you can quickly open or view files and perform other file management tasks, like update and remove from sync. The app alerts you when a file is out of date and you can decide when to sync it.
With the availability of IBM Connections 4.5 Cumulative Refresh 1 (CR1), customers have even more flexibility with providing a customized look and feel of the Connections user interface. This Next Generation theme was made available Cloud First to our IBM SmartCloud Connections customers. Now, on-premises customers can deploy the theme on top of IBM Connections 4.5 CR1 and see an enhanced navigation and more visually appealing design.
The IBM Connections team is dedicated to making our social platform work with whatever E-mail service you may be using. This post will focus on our integration with IBM Notes and Microsoft Outlook.
The IBM Connections Plug-ins for IBM Notes are provided in a single install package.The Plug-ins are meant to surface many of the strong features we have in IBM Connections that our users live by.
Activity stream within Notes
Post a status with attachments
View, comment, delete, Like, or forward updates
Lock and unlock files
Drag and drop, copy, or paste a file from Files to your desktop or vice versa
Send an HTML link to a file
Collaborate on a project using the Activities sidebar
Display Activities to-do items in the Notes calendar
Bookmark a Notes document and add it to your bookmark collection in IBM Connections
Search across the IBM Connections applications
Save chat transcripts to an activity
Show contact and status information federated from various available collaboration sources such as the IBM Sametime buddy list, IBM Connections Profiles, and the IBM Notes Directory.
Find out more about the people you work. Read a person's blog, download files authored by the person, browse the person's bookmark collection, or find content contributed by the person to the wikis and communities that they participate in right from the Business Card.
IBM Connections is dedicated to empowering your workforce through social, so we have a Plug-in for Microsoft Outlook to allow IBM Connections users across the board to access their social information and interactions. Watch this video to hear what we offer today:
An activity Stream portlet which brings the IBM Connections Activity Stream experience into your Portal pages
Enhancements to the Ideation Blog support in the Blogs portlet
Support for IBM Connections 4.5 servers
WebSphere Portal users can integrate the IBM Connections Activity Stream, Activities, Blogs, Bookmarks, Communities, Forums, Profiles, Wiki, & Tag Cloud applications.
This integration allows you to view and interact with events from your communities. Events include updates to documents, wikis, blogs, forums, profiles and status updates and other content updates to your communities.
Deploy community pages, which are portal pages associated with communities from IBM Connections Communities. Portlets on community pages are automatically scoped to the community membership and display content from the community in the portlets. For example, if your community contains a forum, adding the forum portlet to a community page lets portal users view and interact with the forum content from a Portal application.
View and contribute to discussion topics using the Forums portlet.
Blogs, Forums, and Profile summary portlets
Portal Search Center integration
Security integration allows community membership to be used for access control decisions in Portal through a new VMM adapter.
Create and work with IBM Connections Activities within WebSphere Portal. Users can easily set prioritization, activity status and to do items for their activities. Manage the membership to add and leverage the expertise and experience of others in the organization by working together.
Within WebSphere Portal create IBM Connections Blogs postings and comments. View and contribute to Ideation Blogs you can access.
Easily create, edit and discover bookmarks in IBM Connections that have been qualified by others with similar interests and expertise.
Search a directory of colleagues you can use to build a network and locate expertise. Update and comment on Status Updates from your network.
Collaborate on a project with Wikis. Wiki members can view and edit the pages, or add their own pages.
Incorporate meaningful keywords to find associated content and filter the items in other IBM Connections portlets.
The IBM Connections 4.5 Portlets support:
IBM Connections 4.5 CR1
IBM Connections 4.0 CR3
IBM WebSphere Portal Server 18.104.22.168 CF4
IBM WebSphere Portal Server 22.214.171.124 CF 20 (Note: Activity Stream Portlet is not supported with 126.96.36.199)
Microsoft Windows XP SP3 (32-bit), 7 SP1 (64 bit)
Mac OS X 10.7
Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, 9
(IE browser needs to be running in IE7 Document Standards mode for Activity Stream Portlet)
Michael Sampson, Collaboration Strategist, shared with us his news about his latest book on IBM Connections!
For the past year I have been writing a book for organizations using IBM Connections. I felt there needed to be a book that pulled together good practices, effective approaches, and examples of how organizations are using IBM Connections today. The book is now completed, in print, and is starting to show up in customer organizations around the world.
The book takes what I call a "collaboration scenarios" approach to exploring where and how IBM Connections 4.5 can be used for doing business. This means the fundamental premise is to start with the common ways that people collaborate today, and then explore how these can be brought to life using IBM Connections 4.5. The book examines ten collaboration scenarios, as well as presenting a chapter on the importance of having your profile filled out. The ten collaboration scenarios include co-authoring documents, managing meetings, holding discussions, capturing ideas for innovation, and finding expertise, among others.
We are very pleased to announce Albert Nichols has joined the IBM Connections Product Management team! We're excited to have him on board! Here is a brief interview with Albert on his experience and future. Welcome Albert!
What is your background?
I graduated from Tufts University with a Bachelor's of Science in Computer science and an additional concentration in Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies. While at Tufts, I founded the Tufts Entrepreneurs Society; a society dedicated to funding, mentoring, and creating student ventures both in and outside the University ecosystem. During my time at Tufts I worked at a startup in the online privacy space in their very early stages (abine.com) in addition to being a student fellow at .406 Ventures. The roles I've had have led me to develop skills within software development, interface design and user experience, user research, and now product management.
Where within IBM have you worked?
I spent 6 months with the IBM Watson Research Lab in Cambridge, MA working with the Collaborative User Experience group. I contributed to a project focused on enabling and enhancing decision making in the enterprise through software experience. The project Beyond Discusssions is a collabortative deliberation tool that combines analytics, visualization, and user experience to support and enhance business decsions of all shapes and size.
What inspired you to join the Connections team?
Connections is a product that has the ability to enhance and better the way the world does business. For hundreds of years social interaction has played a large role in business and commerce. As more business is done online, and electronically, Connections is in a position to take advantage of online business content and leverage it to create a better and more efficient work experience. I felt inspired to join the Connetions team because it's a product that allows companies to focus on what's most important to them; the business they do every day.
What do you plan to work on as a product manager?
Working on the Connections team, I will work on creating a focused user experience allowing users to be most efficient in leveraging their data and colleagues to do their job. Additionally, I'll be working to find new partners, add new features, and grow IBM Connections into a compelling product that will enhance how customers do business around the globe.
Today we have an interview with another fabulous IBM partner, Mikkel Flindt Heisterberg. Mikkel is an IBM Champion, and talked with us today from Copenhagen on how he works with the IBM Connections ActivityStream.
How long have you been working with IBM Connections?
Well a looong time :) I've been installing and working with IBM Connections since version 1.0.2 so that's a long time - almost 6 years. Of course the product has come a long way since that and has been steadily evolving ever since.
How long have you been working with ActivityStreams?
Not that long as it's a newer concept and wasn't introduced until IBM Connections 4 but it's fast gaining traction. I didn't really put my mind to it until this December when I participated in the IBM lead Social AppDev workshop in Dublin, Ireland. This was a really good event and gave me some of the foundation and contacts within IBM that I needed. Since then I've slowly worked to get my head around it and finally "got it" this spring.
What approach did you take in learning to integrate with the ActivityStream?
Well the material and labs from the Social AppDev workshop in Dublin was extremely helpful and there is an excellent presentation from IBM Connect 2013 by Brian O'Gorman and Bill Looby from the IBM Lab in Dublin (AD104 - IBM Connections ActivtyStream Integration). The main issue with learning about the activity stream is that good solid documentation, information and examples are still pretty scarce and just reading the OpenSocial specification wont help you much as some of the IBM Connections specific extensions are really important and not documented in the specification. Those are only available in the Info Center or if you know the people to ask.
So in essence I did a lot of reading across the web, perused the IBM Connections wiki and the read parts of the OpenSocial specification. Plus being the fortunately position of being able to talk to some of the developers really helped me tremendously. This is why I put my mind to doing a solid write-up of my own.
What is the best resource for new ActivityStream developers?
Well honestly, and very humbly, I think that the presentation I did at the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG) this spring is the best material out there for a number of reasons. Firstly the presentation discusses both the business side and the conceptual aspects of the activity stream, secondly it explains "what" the activity stream is and thirdly it dives into the technical implementation and shows some good examples. The activity stream really requires that you as a developer to think outside the box and think of notifications in a new way and it does take time to get your head around it. But once you "get it" it makes lots of sense.
Today we have a special interview with Rob Novak, President, SNAPPS and IBM Champion, 2011, 2012, 2013! Rob has been busy working on a new tool for use with IBM Connections, SnappLinks.
We understand you have a new product called SnappLinks for IBM Connections. Can you tell us what it does?
SnappLinks is a growing set of social link generators for the rich text editors found in IBM Connections. With SnappLinks we give users point-and-click options to generate links to popular social resources like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, generate Google maps, embed SlideShare presentations, and several other capabilities. It makes complex, rich document creation simple. Below is a quick demo of SnappLinks.
How was your experience integrating with IBM Connections?
Once we discovered how the web resources in IBM Connections were packaged and interacted with one another, we found ways to work with the editor that were not intuitive at first, but solid as a rock once implemented. Like any enterprise software there's a learning curve, and we took that challenge to heart. After nearly a year working with IBM Connections development, it's becoming easier to envision and scope out solutions.
Do you have plans to do any more integration with Connections?
Definitely. We've already done some integration work with OpenSocial gadgets and iWidgets. We've embedded parts of the Wolfram-Alpha search engine into our IBM Connections environment, worked extensively with themes for corporate branding, and have two other projects underway to enhance IBM Connections for specific markets.
"Social" is revolutionizing all aspects of life, from our personal communications to how work is accomplished in an organization. Social business can transform the enterprise: enterprises are increasingly applying social tools to become more efficient and gain a competitive advantage, and soon these tools will reach deep into an enterprise's architecture. The demand for interoperable social standards is growing, yet the landscape of specifications is fragmented, making it difficult to create new software that serves the needs of both users and organizations. At the same time, specifications like the Open Graph Protocol are gaining widespread traction.
W3C and OpenSocial are jointly organizing a Workshop, hosted by AppFusions, to address a number of important questions:
What use-cases and requirements are driving social business?
What technologies can be standardized to solve the problems facing social business?
What is the overall architecture of social business?
What is the difference between standards inside the enterprise and across enterprises?
What approaches are organically emerging as best practices in areas without standardization such as user engagement?
What are the next steps for social specifications, ranging from OpenSocial to the Federated Social Web (Open Graph Protocol, ActivityStreams, PubSubHubbub, PortableContacts, Salmon Protocol)?
The OpenSocial Foundation and W3C believe that now is the time to make progress on the standards in this space. These standards will enable the transformation of today’s enterprises to tomorrow’s cross-enterprise social businesses and to create a whole new round of innovation across the Web.
BestCommunications has developed an integrated solution of their Notes/Domino based CRM application and IBM Connections. Their CRM application is named "e-Kokyaku" which means customers in Japanese. It provides a web interface to manage customer information such as company profile, call memo and information on past deals. Also, mobile access interface is provided. When in e-Kokyaku, comments or questions will be also posted to IBM Connections as status updates, where you can engage your network.