IBM Connections introduced the External Collaboration feature in version 5.0, released in June 2014. With this feature, you can add external users from outside your firewall to your own internal IBM Connections deployment. Once registered, external users can be added to Communities and Files, enabling them to collaborate with your internal users but with a refined user experience, limited access to content, and special identifiers that alert internal users when content is visible to external users.
Being able to collaborate directly with your external partners, customers, and suppliers in communities inside IBM Connections, increases the speed and scope of communication and enhances productivity.
This white paper was first published last September, and focused on configuring your LDAP topology to facilitate the on-boarding of external users. This update explains the security considerations that you can follow to securely allow access through the firewall. Single sign-on solutions such as IBM |Security Access Manager and CA Single Sign-On are discussed in detail.
Support @mention in a Linked Library (CCM): This function allows @Mention other users in comments on documents in libraries.
Metrics Reports for Linked Libraries (CCM): Metrics reports are now supported for Link Libraries in a Community.
Open Questions and Answered Questions tabs have been added for Forum Topics: This function allows a user easily view the Open Questions and Answered Questions in either a Standalone or Community Forum.
Launching a Video Player on supported file types in the Activity Stream and Embedded Experience: For ActivityStream entries based on Status Updates or Files where a supported video file format is present, there is now the option to play the video directly inline on the ActivityStream and from within the related Embedded Experience. Supported video file types are the same as for the existing Media Gallery and Files video player (.mp4(H.264 endoding) and .mov)
Previews of non-image filetypes in the Activity Stream and Embedded Experience: When IBM Docs or the File Viewer document conversion service is configured with Connections, it will automatically generate a front page thumbnail image of supported document types (e.g odp, odc, .doc etc)
Monthly repeating Events are now supported in Community Events: This function allows repeating Monthly Events to either occur monthly on a specific date (between the 1st - 31st) or a particular day, for example the first Friday of the month.
Abbreviated Business Card for external users: Visitors (external users) who are not part of your organization that enter a community will view an abbreviated business card with no clickable licks for employee names.
Performance optimization updates for the Activities Seedlist: This function optimized and improved performance for searching in Activities. Some new configuration properties were added to a-config.xml for this performance enhancement.
It has been out for a little while now, but the Connections 5 install process included some significant updates for CCM. As we get more and more adoption on 5.0, we've been getting more questions on this. In Connections 5, you'll see a much shorter list of post install steps for CCM.
There is now one task for Configuring IBM Connections Content Manager with a new FileNet deployment. This task has no subtasks. Compare this to what we had in Connections 4.5 where the similar task had 5 dependent subtasks.
We previously had this as a list of "post install" steps specific to new CCM deployments. What happened to these? Let's go one by one through the old post install steps and see what we did to improve in 5.0.
Configuring Libraries automatically
This task was mostly configuring the FileNet domain and object store through a post install script we provided - something we called the ccmDomainTool. The step remains with IC 5, but we've rolled it up into the parent document in the Knowledge Center since it's the only required post install step now. The parent topic used to be a table of contents for the subtasks, but with no subtasks remain, the table of contents is no longer necessary, so the documentation was simply reorganized here. You can read more in the documentation about what a domain is and how it relates to CCM.
We've also made quite a few improvements to the ccmDomainTool itself. The tool now sets up a Collaboration Configuration document inside FileNet to enable the Activity Stream. If an anonymous user was specified during the Installation Manager process, the ccmDomainTool will complete the anonymous setup. The ccmDomainTool also has improved input and output, better logging and prompt to confirm all information it is using to configure the system before it proceeds.
Generating Security identifiers to be used in configuration
This step was just a helper task to enable other steps. Specifically, you needed to get FileNet's internal security identifiers to set up anonymous access fully and to set up the Activity Stream config. Since anonymous setup and Activity Stream config are now included in the ccmDomainTool, we've moved this task to the Administering > Administering Libraries > Configuring the FileNet deployments used by Libraries > Generating Security Identifiers to be used in the configuration. You might need to reference this is you change something in the config, and it's useful reference, but isn't required for initial installation anymore.
Configuring FileNet to be an Activity Stream producer with a new deployment
This task previously instructed you how to manually set up the Collaboration Configuration object in FileNet to enable the Activity Stream. This step was basically telling FileNet how to find the Connections Activity Stream and how to connect to it. Activity Stream configuration is now automated in the ccmDomainTool. The task may still be useful especially for altering configuration in some situations, so it remains for reference in the Administering section. The task is now moved to Administering > Administering Libraries > Configuring the FileNet deployments used by Libraries > Configuring collaborative features in FileNet.
There are a couple other improvements worth noting to the Collaboration Configuration. If you look at the Collaboration Configuration object in FileNet which is created by the ccmDomainTool in Connections 5, you will notice that config2 and config1 and the Activity Stream Extended Settings are empty. This is not a mistake. As of FileNet 5.2 FP 3 which we use in Connections 5, these fields may be left blank. As explained in the new documentation, if config2 and config1 are blank, FileNet will use the connectionsAdmin J2C authentication alias to post stories to the Activity Stream. This J2C authentication alias is a way of storing a user and password in WebSphere's configuration, instead of directly in FileNet. The alias is also required for the rest of Connections to function, and is created by the installation, so it will already be set up if you have a functioning Library widget.
There is one known character encoding issue on Windows when config2 and config1 are empty. When users create Community or File Names with NLS characters they appear corrupted in the Activity Stream. This impacts only Windows deployments of Connections Content Manager version 5.0 where config2 and config1 are empty. This is resolved with FileNet CPE 184.108.40.206 IF002.
Setting an LDAP group to be domain administrator in addition to, or instead of, a specific user
The ccmDomainTool now prompts for a group to be used and will set up the group's access to the domain and object store. Since you could still do this after the installation, the old documentation remains for reference under Administering > Administering Libraries > Configuring the FileNet deployments used by Libraries > Setting an LDAP group to be domain administrator in addition to, or instead of, a specific user. One way or another, you must add an LDAP group to the administrator access of the system, but we've now included this in the ccmDomainTool.
Changing the bootstrap admin password
While this wasn't a step in the initial installation, you previously had to use this to change the password of the FileNet admin in FileNet's configuration. Now with Connections 5, the out of the box bootstrap config for a newly installed CCM system will use the filenetAdmin J2C alias here (similar to how we use the Connections alias for the Activity Stream and for the rest of Connections), so this step will be used less and less. With this change we will no longer need to store any user passwords in FileNet's own configuration. They were stored encrypted before, but now we're move consistent with the rest of Connections and WebSphere. There are still user IDs stored in FileNet though, so IDs of users and administrators should be kept consistent throughout the user's lifecycle.
We know there is always room for constant improvement, and so we always love being able to remove steps from our documentation. Our install team is focused on constant improvement.
TIMETOACT Group's recently released a new tool for IBM Connections customers who are interested in using the new external user feature but do not have an external user registration system in place. User Access Manager (UAM) for IBM Connections registers external users and also provides features for internal users such as password administration.
With TIMETOACT's UAM, you can:
Register External Users for Access to IBM Connections
Approval Workflow for (Internal and External) Access Requests
Terminate Access for Individual Users
Change Password (with defined strength)
Recovery / Reset Password
Check out more with the new slide deck they released recently
Two significant enhancements were announced today for IBM Connections V5.0. The product now supports IBM i, the cost-effective and intregration-ready operating sytem for IBM Power Systems and IBM PureSystems. Also supported is IBM Forms Experience Builder V8.5.1, which integrates with the IBM Connections polls and survey widget to produce community surveys. This enhancement allows external users to view the results of community surveys.
The wiki article has been updated with instructions for configuring for IBM Tivoli Access Manager and SiteMinder (now called CA Single Sign-On) for secure external collaboration.
Available for the first time in IBM Connections 5.0, External Collaboration allows you to add external partners, customers, and suppliers to communities inside IBM Connections, increasing the speed and scope of communication and enhancing productivity.
A new article in our documentation wiki explains how to add external users from outside your firewall to your internal IBM Connections deployment. Once provisioned in your directory, external users can be added to Communities and Files.
We have some great new integration news for IBM Connections. This month's release brings new features to those of you working with Microsoft Office Desktop apps (even if you use the desktop apps with Office 365) and Microsoft Sharepoint.
For some time now, we've had integration into Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook) via the ribbon and Plugins and Widgets for Sharepoint. Today, we've added new functionality to the ribbon and additional support for Sharepoint.
Microsoft Office and Desktop Additional Features
With the new features, you can now do the following directly from Microsoft Office:
Lock a file to prevent others from editing while you make changes
Share the file and add others as readers or editors
View version history
View download history/audit log
Like, pin, and follow
Check out this quick 2 minute demo that the team created to show some of the new functionality:
Connections Profiles search integrates with your Microsoft SharePoint directory, and you can easily add people to your Microsoft SharePoint group or site.
Connections business card for getting contact and social networking information about users in your organization appears within your Microsoft SharePoint environment. From the business card, you can easily email, instant message, open their Blog, Bookmarks or full Profile.
Connections tag cloud Web Part can be added to any Microsoft SharePoint site for finding content contributed to the social network. Clicking a tag, launches a query against all Connections services. From the results, easily explore the social data in Connections using the tags as a gateway to the Connections federated search.
Includes the needed API's to support the IBM Lotus Connections 220.127.116.11 Widget for Microsoft SharePoint.
Recently, Omar Davison, a colleagues in technical sales, created this video showing how IBM Connections can enhance Sharepoint. It's a creative spin on how these technologies work together. Nice job Omar & team!
One of the most anticipated new features in IBM Connections 5.0 is External Collaboration - the ability to invite your external partners, suppliers, and customers to collaborate with you inside IBM Connections.
Instead of sharing information with external users though email, meetings, and phone calls, you can now invite them to join a community where they interact with your internal users, and together you can leverage the power of IBM Connections, helping you improve communications and productivity, and enhance business results.
External users can work with all the content of a community; they can also work with files that have been shared with them. However, external users cannot see content in Connections that has not been explicitly shared with them. For example, they can see communities only if they are members of them, and they can only see files that have been shared with them.
This video demonstrates just how easy it is to invite external users to join a community (or just share files with them). It points out the different capabilities for internal and external users, and shows you how to identify communities and files that are shared with external users so that you don’t share internal-only information by mistake. Also, when you view the business card of an external user, a special icon tells you that they’re external.
For a quick overview about the External Collaboration feature of IBM Connections 5.0, check out the video demo:
The video was created by Information Developer Paddy Barrett and Associate Designer Danielle Naughton, with guidance from Senior Product Manager Suzanne Livingston and Senior Product Designer Amy Travis.
For those who aren’t familiar with the Reviewer’s Guide, here’s what it is:
This Reviewer's Guide provides a brief summary of the applications that are included in IBM Connections. It is important to note that these applications can be used within an organization as needed—all together or as individual applications. Organizations may start with a single application and add other applications when they choose. As in previous releases of IBM Connections, applications can be installed to naturally fit into the user experience making it simple to expand as needed.
So, if you are looking for an end-to-end review of the features in the release and it's capabilities, this a great document to go through. We've included tons of screenshots as well.
There's a couple of things that I would like to call out here. First, IBM Connections 5.0 will be available for download next week. This is the first time that we have released the desktop plugins before the actual new server code is available. This is because the new desktop plugin also adds new features even if you are not using 5.0.
Second, this is yet another simultaneous release for cloud and on-prem. Cloud customers can download the update directly from the "Apps - Downloads" page within Connections.
Fourth, this release also adds access libraries from IBM Connections Content Manager. Of course, this was already possible before but required installing a separate plugin. In this release, you now install only one plugin simplifying the deployment and adoption process.
Lastly, but not least, this release also adds the ability to browse and access community folders.
Here's a demo that walks through the File Sync capabilities:
For those of you who have been with us for a few years now, you are used to consistent updates to IBM Connections. To best summarize what is new for you, we create the "What's new for existing Customers" slide deck. This covers all the shiny new features that will be brand new for you.
What might those be?
External collaboration in Communities and in Connections
So back to File Sync. As you can see from the screenshot in the right, when you install the latest IBM Connections Desktop Plug-Ins (which will be available for download in a couple of days) a new Sync folder will be created under Favorites.
There you can save files directly to IBM Connections and use Connections as your personal backup drive where everything is sync'ed automatically (including of course edits that you make offline).
Another added benefit and differentiator is that right from within your desktop you can right click on a file and act upon it. In other words, you can comment on it, tag it, like it, lock it (to prevent others from editing while you are offline) and even share it with other colleagues without ever having to open a browser. By default, all files are marked as private and only you have access to them. From there you can choose to share with individuals, groups, or communities.
On the mobile side, you can use our native apps for Android and iOS and sync files to your favorite mobile device/tablet. On each device you can manually specify which files you want to have available there. For example, you may want some key presentations on your iPhone, while you have documents, spreadsheets and other assets available in your iPad.
Here's a quick 5 minute demo that show the enterprise file sharing and sync capabilities of IBM Connections 5.0.
If you are an on-prem customer, get ready to download the code next week! Stay tuned for other new features in the coming days.
We're very proud to announce IBM Connections 5.0, the latest version of IBM Connections available in market. This release packs in many new capabilities, including external user collaboration, updates to the home page that make it easier to focus your attention, and updates to files that make it easier to work with content, among other features.
External User Colaboration
The team had been working hard to bring you this feature, which enables you to add external users outside your firewall to your own internal IBM Connections deployment. Once registered, external users can be added to Communities and Files, enabling them to collaborate as your internal users do with a refined user experience, limited access to content, and features to ensure internal users know their audience.
Check out this brief video that describes the feature in more detail.
@mentions on content throughout
Smarter content filtering in the Activity stream
View the number of new @mentions and notifications on your home page.
Type-ahead search for people
Preview link content in status updates
Pasting images directly into the editor.
Consistent access to search feeds and improved ability to subscribe.
Notify and select all members in an activity
Join sub-community and parent community in one click
Create folders in communities
Landing page customization in communities
Identify and act on open questions in forums
Multiple Ideation Blogs per Community
File grid view provides thumbnail views
Preview files without the need to open a new window to simplify reviewing and commenting
We are pleased to announce that IBM is a leader in The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Social Platforms, Q2 2014! Forrester Research uses 65 criteria to rate each of the 13 vendors they selected to be part of the evaluations. Our team worked hard to ensure Forrester knew everything IBM had to offer, and we are proud to announce that we have been selected as a leader with the highest score for current offering, second highest rating in market presence and one of the second highest scores for strategy categories.
What sets us apart? We received the highest scores for core functionality, engagement workplace readiness, and the highest score possible for event logs, monitoring & reporting, cross platform support, and partners criteria.
Forrester states in the report that "IBM continues to tap assets across its broad portfolio to build the value of Connections....With the release of Connections 4.5 in April 2013, IBM introduced robust, scalable document management with Connections Content Manager and pushed the product into the role of a full engagement workplace....with the increasing integration of Kenexa, IBM is bringing social to talent management..."
Well done team!
UPDATE (6/12/14): You can now read the entire report from our website here.
Source: The Forrester Wave™ is copyrighted by Forrester Research, Inc. Forrester and Forrester Wave are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. The Forrester Wave is a graphical representation of Forrester's call on a market and is plotted using a detailed spreadsheet with exposed scores, weightings, and comments. Forrester does not endorse any vendor, product, or service depicted in the Forrester Wave. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change.
Whether you are just getting started with your Social Business Adaptation Journey, or whether you are already a very well seasoned 2.0 knowledge worker, this workshop will provide you an opportunity to learn with other fellow practitioners through plenty of practical, hands-on advice, good practices, lots of hints and tips and, most importantly, all of the necessary knowledge resources available to date. This is a great opportunity to learn how you can get the most out of your IBM Connections deployment. It will help you as well to even break free from the email yoke: Outside of the Inbox.
This will be an all day workshop and capacity is limited to 25 people to ensure that it's personal and focused. Therefore, if you haven't yet, go ahead and register now.
On May 21st the IBM Connections team held an event launching the newest version of IBM Connections. I'm excited to take a deeper dive on the Community Gallery App and the thumbnail preview we're introducing in IBM Connections Next.
The Community Gallery and Files Preview
The Gallery App, coming in IBM Connections Next, allows community managers to showcase files from their Community on the Community Overview page. A folder of mages, Videos, slideshows, documents, or more can be chosen to be shown on the Community Overview page. Small thumbnails will be shown as a preview of the content and a user can click to preview the contents of the folder.
Adding a gallery
In the “Add Apps” view, select the Gallery app to add it to the Community Overview page.
Populating the Gallery
The App will be added, and you will be asked to set up the Gallery.
You’ll be asked to select a folder to showcase, or showcase all the files that have been shared with the community.
On the Community Overview Page
After selecting a folder, thumbnails for the files will be added to the App and users can preview the files, or view all of them right form the overview page.
By clicking on one of the thumbnails, a preview of the files in the Gallery are shown in a preview pane. Users can navigate between the files in the Gallery without leaving the Community Overview page.
Since when the Gallery is set up a folder from the community is chosen, when a user chooses to "view all" they are taken to a view of the folder that shows thumbnails for each item in the folder. This view is not just available for folders in Communities, but also Community Files and Personal Files
When a thumbnail is rendered, important information about the file can be garnered by hovering over the thumbnails.
Want to learn more?
My colleague Rene Schimmer will be speaking tomorrow on a Webcast for IBM Connections Next. Check it out here!
I am pleased to announce the latest update to the IBM Connections Mobile is now available in the app stores. The app provides a native set of collaboration capabilities so you can work seamlessly with your team, anytime, anywhere. In this update you will find that you have a new hidden navigation which provides for more on screen real estate. The new navigation also can be personalized based on the individuals needs and preferences, so that you can organize the navigation based on what is most important to you.
Some of the new capabilities include:
The Favorites section allows you to add content that is more relevant and important to you.
You can rearrange your Apps or Updates section based on your preference or usage. The personalization provides quick access to the apps that you need or use most often.
The History view allows you to scroll through all the items you has recently accessed and provides a quick and easy way to find information you have previously seen. This history view is unique to the IBM Connections Mobile app. Now with just 1 tap you can go back to any item reducing your time searching for it again.
The newly redesigned Blogs provide a Blogboard to allow for easy scrolling of all recent posts and your blogs. The design provides easy navigation and ability to mark a Blog to Read Later even while you are offline.
This is just a small preview of some of the exciting features in this release of the mobile app.
For more information about the app and the upcoming release of IBM Connections Next, join us on May 21 for our Virtual Event - REGISTER TODAY - and check out the awesome mobile demo there!
If you got here, you are either a regular subscriber to this blog, a fan of IBM Connections, or you are looking for tips and tricks to get the most value out of the enterprise social collaboration platform. Maybe you have a question on how to drive adoption, how to tune your email notifications, how to better structure your community navigation, or you are looking to learn more about IBM Connections.
Jim Claussen, a colleague of mine in IBM, has decided to take it upon himself and created the AskJim podcast to provide 5 minute answers to IBM Connections questions -- daily! For the past 4 weeks he's kept up the pace and has produced 30 episodes so far.
To listen in you can just do it directly from here (see below) or you can download the SoundCloud app for your mobile device (iOS and Android). You know you want to listen to these episodes while on the go, working out, etc.
IBM today announced that for the fifth consecutive year, IDC ranked the company number one in worldwide market share for enterprise social software. According to the press release, IDC's analysis of 2013 revenue, the worldwide market for enterprise social software applications grew from $968 million in 2012 to $1,242 million in 2013.
The press release quotes IDC's Vanessa Thompson:
Customers are increasingly assuming that all applications must be social. IBM's focus on a core social networking platform to support application environments, such as Smarter Commerce and Smarter Workforce aligns well with this customer intent.
Here's a look at the key innovations in the past 5 years (click to see it full screen):
IBM's Social Business portfolio, including its industry leading IBM Connections and Smarter Workforce technologies, allow organizations to integrate social solutions with critical business applications and people-centric processes that empower employees, increase workforce productivity and deliver exceptional customer service. Deployed on cloud or on premises, these solutions also enable business leaders like the Chief HR Officer (CHRO) to attract and retain top talent when combined with social workforce analytics that ensure the organization has the skills and expertise to meet emerging market demands.
The press release also quotes our General Manager, Craig Hayman:
The transparent nature of today's business environment, combined with the integration of social, cloud and analytic capabilities into everyday processes, has fueled the emergence of a Smarter Workforce. We’re thrilled to be recognized by IDC as the market share leader for the fifth consecutive year as our clients continue to harness Social Business to accelerate innovation, increase agility and remove boundaries to collaboration.