Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Connections CR3 now available (and other updates)


If you didn't catch the news already, IBM Connections Cumulative Release 3 (CR3) is now available for download from Fix Central!

Our focus for CR3 has been on helping you focus on your work, increasing user adoption, and making it easier to customize and install Connections.  You can find the list of new features in Rene's post over on the Social Collaboration blog.

I'll share from personal experience, my two favorite new features are that Files now remembers the last view I was using (e.g., if I was last using a list of files shared with me, sorted by when they were last updated, Connections now returns me to that view the next time I click on Files in the nav bar), and the new "Recently Visited" view, which has greatly reduced the time spent getting to the file I want to resume working on.  And there's plenty of other updates besides those (new Community Catalog page, updates to Metrics, a preview of the new Highlights capability to provide community managers more options for laying out their community landing page.

In addition to what was formally included in CR3, I want to make sure everyone is aware of the "Visual Update" option now available to both on-premises and Connections Cloud users.  This update (code named Periscope, for those that might know it by that name), provides a modern, clean style to Connections that gives it an entirely new look and feel.  I can't recommend it enough - even speaking just as someone who spends a lot of their day working in Connections as a user.  You can find more information about it here.

Links:

Announcing the new collaboration solutions developer center


As Sam shared over on the Collaboration Solutions blog, earlier today we unveiled the new collaboration solutions developer center.

The site will pull together essential tools for developers, feature hands-on labs, code samples, and highlight projects built by the community.  There's already a lot there - please check it out.  And 'by the community' means we're looking for your involvement to help contribute articles, videos, and blog posts.

The new Developer Center replaces previous developerWorks pages and will be the single destination for developers. We have migrated over relevant existing content and will be publishing new content regularly. With the launch of the new Developer Center, our passionate subject matter experts have curated a series of fresh new content focusing on emerging technology in collaboration: server-less computing, artificial intelligence, and low-code programming.


You can read more on the background behind the developer center here, and the check it out for yourself.

Links:

Where to find Connections (and me) at Think


I'll be spending the next week out in Las Vegas for the Think conference, and while I know it won't be the same as Lotusphere/Connect, I am excited to get to spend time with those of you who will be attending.  While a smaller crowd, it's good to already see a lot of familiar names on the speaker and attendee lists.  

Here's where to learn more about what's going on with Connections (and find me) at Think.  (And when I'm not in one of these places, I'll probably be down somewhere on the Business and Innovation campus.)  I'm always up for discussions on Connections - or anything else I might be able to help you with - so please come find me.  This isn't an exhaustive list - there are many other hands on labs and deep dive sessions that I didn't include, so please look through the agenda guide or app to find those.  (And if you're not able to join us in person this year, see the links below for the livestream.)  

Where to learn about Connections (and find me) at Think:
Sunday:  
Champions Day

Monday:  
Lots of 1:1 meetings, but probably at the campus for the opening reception

Tuesday:  
8:30 - Chairman's Address with Ginni Rometty
10:30 - Connections Grid hands-on lab
12:30 - Client Session - Collaboration in a Regulated Industry with IBM Connections:  How Wells Fargo is Building Community
2:30 - Connections Grid (Project LiveGrid) Think Tank
3:30 - Keynote - Collaboration in the Age of Disruption (Bob Schultz)
4:30 - Keynote - Empower an Agile Workforce by Putting People at the Heart of Collaboration (Danielle Baptiste)

Wednesday:
8:30 - ICS Community Day
1:30 - Keynote - Reimagine Work in the Era of AI (Bob Schultz)
3:30 - Client Session - The Power of Social Data at a large Telecom provider

Thursday:
8:30 - Keynote - The Future of Collaboration and Engagement (Adam Gartenberg/Rene Schimmer)
10:30 - People Service Think Tank
11:30 - Engagement Center Think Tank
12:30 - Client Session - How IBM Connections Helped Dislub to become one of the Beset Companies to Work For in its Region
1:30 - Client Session - Transforming Revenue Collection in Kenya with IBM Collaboration Solutions

Livestream Coverage:
ibm.com/events/think/watch
Live coverage kickoff: Monday, March 19 // 10:30 AM PDT
Chairman's Address with Ginni Rometty:  Tuesday, March 20 // 8:30 AM PDT

Upcoming Change in Connections Metrics


For those of you who use the metrics function in Connections, we published a tech note today regarding an upcoming change that you should be aware of.  (The formal announcement on this change should be published in the next 2 weeks.)

The Component Pack for Connections 6.0.0.4 that shipped last month includes an alternative  for the metrics component of Connections, using Elasticsearch instead of Cognos 10.2.2.  As the tech note published today describes, Cognos metrics in Connections will no longer be supported after April 30, 2018.  (While you can continue to use Cognos for metrics, after that date only the Elasticsearch-based metrics will be supported.)

We made this change based on feedback from our clients and alignment with the longer-term roadmap for Connections.  As always, we are interested in your feedback and experiences here.  Please feel to comment below or to reach out to me directly with any questions, comments or concerns.

(And if you haven't checked out the Component Pack yet, it also includes new capabilities for customizing the IBM Connections user experience, the IBM Connections App Registry for storing specifications from IBM Connections Customizer and other sources, and the latest release of the IBM Connections Orient Me home page feature.)

Getting started with IBM Connections Engagement Center


An excellent guide on getting started with IBM Connections Engagement Center is now available on DeveloperWorks.  Head on over and check it out!

IBM Connections Engagement Center (ICEC) provides an easy way to build a social intranet by creating a portal-like experience using various out-of-the-box and custom widgets. ICEC does not have its own content store, but aggregates content from different backend systems. Mostly, IBM Connections is the back-end system, since it is the underlying foundation for a set of key ICEC services, such as user authentication and authorization, personalization, top-level navigation, and news.

The goal of this article is to explain basic ICEC concepts and get you started using it, to give you a basic foundation on which you can build in later development work. To do this, we’ll use an example Community called “Global Communications."

Link:
Getting started with IBM Connections Engagement Center

Connections Customizer now Generally Available


An important part of the "Pink" vision for the future of IBM Connections is the ability to extend and customize the environment.  We took a big step forward in that vision with the general availability this week of the Customizer capability.

As its name implies, Customizer allows you to customize the look and feel and behavior of Connections, such as inserting your own company's branding, modifying standard UI elements such as photos or buttons, or even making larger changes (e.g., replacing a Community name list with tiles.)  Heath McCarthy shares more details on Customizer and how it works on his blog post here: IBM Connections Customizer Is Now Available!  I've also linked to more technical details and the Customizer video series below.

Customizer is available in the Americas and European Connections Cloud, and will be coming soon to AP.  If you use Connections on-premises, you can download it as part of the IBM Connections Component Pack 6.0.0.4.  To register to use Customizer in the Cloud, send a message to ibmcndev@us.ibm.com.  (See here for more details, especially if you were already using Customizer on a trial basis.)

Examples of customized sites:




Additional information:

Now Available: IBM Connections Engagement Center on Cloud


As of today, IBM Connections Engagement Center on Cloud is now available.  This is a big milestone, and my thanks goes out to the many, many people involved in getting us to this point.

You can read the announcement here, and head over to the IBM Marketplace to try it out for yourself!


IBM Docs 2.0 CR3 Now Available - Track Changes and Linux Conversion Server


The IBM Docs team shipped Docs 2.0 CR3 yesterday, with a couple of much sought-after features, notably a conversion server on Linux and track changes functionality:


Support for the Conversion Server on Linux:

This way you can know deploy all of Docs one platform of your choice: Windows or Linux. No need for a mandatory Windows server at customers, that run a Linux only strategy. Important note: currently the Linux Conversion Server does not, yet, support the Graphical Installer. So if you are planning on deploying using it on Linux, install all needed components except the Conversion server first in version 2.0, then upgrade them and then in the last step install the new Conversion Server manually via scripts.

New track changes functionality in the text document editor:

This will show you not only who has changed content in the document since the last time (and longer periods) you had been in this document, but also what they changed and what they might have deleted. Especially the last part was something where the color marking of the content by editor fell short: You could only see what they had written. But if the removed something or replaced it with new text, then you would not have been able to see it. Now you can see exactly what has been changed. You are able to filter the changes by time or by person.

The SocialIBMer blog has the details on the full list of enhancements, and you can download IBM Docs 2.0 CR3 from FixCentral.

Additional information:

Introducing Connections Engagement Suite


It's been really encouraging to see the interest that we're getting in the IBM Connections Engagement Center (previously known as XCC).  And one frequent request we've received is for a way to simplify the purchase of Connections and Engagement Center for businesses completely new to the portfolio.

With that in mind, today we are introducing IBM Connections Engagement Suite.   Designed to give organizations the tools needed for collaboration and improving employee engagement, the Engagement Suite is a bundle of Connections, Engagement Center and IBM Docs (and priced very attractively -- if you reach out to your sales representative or Business Partner, they can fill you in on the details).

For those new to Engagement Center, here are a brief overview a few customer case studies



Case Studies:

  • Ernsting’s family:  Fashion retailer creates a digital workplace hub to help employees thrive in their roles.
  • Berge & Meer:  Travel company strengthens collaboration, fosters innovation and consolidates communication.

Links:

IBM Connections Engagement Center now Availabile (7/28/17)


I missed posting about it while away on vacation, but IBM Connections Engagement Center was released for general availability on 7/28/17.

It's encouraging to see all of the interest we're already getting from customers (both large and small), and if you're an IBM Business Partner, hopefully you're checking it out for your customers, too.

You can read more details on Connections Engagement Center on ibm.com, and we will have additional resources for viewing and downloading added to the site shortly.

My thanks go out to everyone involved in getting the solution to this point; it's exciting to see it out in the world!