Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

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, 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!

IBM Acquires TIMETOACT GROUP’s XCC Solution; Introduces IBM Connections Engagement Center

Earlier today IBM announced that we have acquired the XCC solution from TIMETOACT Group and that we will be making it available in 3Q as IBM Connections Engagement Center, an add-on to IBM Connections.

I’m guessing that many of you may be familiar with XCC already, but for those that are not, it extends the collaboration functionality in IBM Connections by making it very easy to create a “social” intranet homepage and landing pages based on content from Connections (and elsewhere).  It can have you up and running in a matter of hours, with setup and customization as simple as dragging and dropping widgets around on the page.

There are many advantages to this approach. It makes it easy for companies (and Internal Communications teams, in particular) to aggregate and surface important and relevant content from Connections without requiring that people jump around to multiple communities, blogs, or other sites.  For example, you can automatically present employees with the latest updates from the CEO’s office, from HR, and from a departmental or regional head, as well as listings for upcoming events, search tools, and so on, all aggregated on a single page.

This approach also removes the need to manage separate content stores and authoring tools, and since content is all stored in one place (Connections), it eliminates the need to separately search across the intranet and Connections to find the content you may be looking for.  On the authoring side, anyone who can author a blog post can now become an author for the homepage or landing pages, greatly increasing the number of potential content contributors.

The biggest benefit, however, may be that all of this is integrated with the social tools in IBM Connections.  Each post on the homepage includes like and comment capabilities, which all feed back into the Connections activity stream.  Similarly, personalization is tied into Connections and Profiles roles, eliminating the need to maintain that information separately in order to tailor the content each employee sees on the intranet.

The end goal here goes beyond simplifying the environment and reducing redundant content.  As the product name indicates, our goal is to improve employee engagement.  A traditional intranet is focused on one-way company communication to employees.  We are looking to help companies establish an “engagement center” that can be a single destination for both company-to-employee communication and peer-to-peer collaboration.  

The use of the same underlying content store, expanded authorship and integrated commenting turns what for most companies is likely a slow, rigid intranet into one that is dynamic and responsive and allows for two-way dialogue that will help employees feel heard and will ensure that management understands how they are being perceived. It also opens up the possibility of extending Connections content to employees who might not have been given access in the past, or might not have been comfortable navigating through Communities and the other components to find the information they need.

I’m really excited about expanding on the success XCC has seen to date by making it a formal part of the IBM Connections portfolio, and look forward to increasing awareness for everything it stands to offer to both existing and new IBM Connections users.  

You can read more about today’s acquisition and the existing solution at the links below.

Now Available - IBM and Cisco Integration

Yesterday marked the general availability for the integrated solutions combining IBM's collaboration offerings with Cisco's communication capabilities.  These solutions, which were first announced last year and have been undergoing early adopter testing for the past several months, provide organizations with single sign-on for Cisco collaboration capabilities and the ability to launch them from within IBM Connections Cloud and IBM Verse.

As we have been discussing since the we first announced the partnership, we are focused on providing organizations with the ability to choose the real-time collaboration solutions that best meet their needs, while still offering all of the advantages of a seamless, integrated experience.

As noted in the solution brief, highlights of the integrated capabilities include:


  • Launch Cisco WebEx from Connections Cloud
  • Leverage my Cisco WebEx Personal Room as the default
  • meeting in my IBM VerseTM calendar invites
  • Launch or join a Cisco WebEx meeting from Verse

Share content from Connections Cloud or Verse within Cisco WebEx and Cisco Spark on your iOS device:
  • In the Cisco WebEx Meetings app, share a file from Connections Files Cloud mobile client
  • From the Connections mobile client, choose a file to be opened in the Cisco WebEx Meetings app or Cisco Spark app
  • From the Cisco Spark app, share a file from Connections Cloud mobile client
  • Share an email attachment in the Verse mobile client to the Cisco WebEx Meetings app or Cisco Spark app

  • Click to launch Cisco Spark from Connection Cloud Navigation bar
  • Click to Chat from Connections Cloud business card to Cisco Spark
  • Click to launch Cisco Jabber from Connections Cloud Navigation bar
  • Click to Chat from Connections Cloud business card to Cisco Jabber

IBM VP Marcy Pearson, writing on the Social Business blog, highlights the benefits that organizations can see:

Collaboration Solutions with IBM and Cisco allows your organization to re-think end-to-end collaboration. IBM’s Connections Cloud redefines enterprise engagement by helping workers make better-informed decisions, speeding up access to the right information and expertise inside a connected enterprise. The new Cisco Spark platform redefines real-time communications by changing the way teams work together before, during, and after meetings. Meetings can become simpler, easier, and more effective – all while the technology seems to disappear. Together, this solution joins knowledge and decision-making, in the cloud, to change the way enterprises get things done.
The solutions are integrated not only through single sign-on, but through cross-platform launch, use, and share of capabilities, making users’ each and every workday lighter, simpler, faster and more effective. We accomplish this by providing both real-time and asynchronous collaboration functionality through a single, integrated solution offering. The offering is cloud-based, subscription model, with automatic updates and improvements over time.

The integrated solution can be purchased from IBM sellers and IBM Business Partners.


Connections 6.0 now available for download

IBM Connections 6.0 is now available for download!  Congratulations to the entire team involved in developing and bringing these new capabilities to market.

In addition to the core offering, add-on packages for Orient Me, Touchpoint, the Ephox editor and type-ahead search are available for download from Fix Central or the Business Solutions Catalog.


IBM Connections Compliance for Social now available

It's been a busy month.  In addition to Connections 6 shipping today, IBM is also announcing the availability of the new IBM Connections Compliance for Social solution.

Connections Compliance for Social is provided by Actiance and offers monitoring and compliance for the cloud-based social and chat capabilities of IBM Connections Cloud Social and Connections Cloud S1.

IBM® Connections™ Compliance for Social helps protect your brand image, and supports communications governance and regulatory compliance. The platform actively monitors and provides alerts, as well as captures and stores information in an easy to view format. IBM Connections Compliance for Social is provided by Actiance, an IBM Business Partner and industry leader in security, management, and compliance solutions for unified communications, collaboration, and social networking systems. This offering requires an existing subscription to IBM Connections Cloud Social or IBM Connections Cloud S1.

More details and pricing/ordering information can be found here:  IBM Connections Compliance for Social.  (And for those interested, here is the announcement letter.)

IBM Connections 6 - Availability Announcement and Orient Me

It was great to see the official availability announcement for IBM Connections 6 come out yesterday, with general availability coming at the end of this week.  (Sorry for any confusion on the GA date from the press release the other week - the ship date is in fact 3/31.)

Rene Schimmer does a great job summarizing the new features that will be introduced with this release, and over the next few days I'll dive into a few in particular, starting with Orient Me.  

Orient Me is important both for the features it offers (more on that below) and because it represents the first step towards the Connections "Pink" vision that is the future for the offering.

For those that didn't catch the details from Connect, Pink is not so much an individual product or a specific release of a product, but rather an evolution in the approach that IBM will be using to build and deliver software in our social collaboration portfolio.  The Pink vision includes being designed for extensibility with APIs throughout, flexibility in deployment and data residency across on-premise and cloud environments, a micro-service architecture where every small capability is isolated in its own small service, and cognitive capabilities integrated throughout the offering.

The easiest first step you can take - and one you can take now (well, soon) - to get a taste for what's coming in "Pink" is to deploy Connections 6, and in particular Orient Me.  The Orient Me capabilities are the first features built on the Pink principles, and like Pink, Orient Me is built on modern opensource technologies and deployed as individual Docker containers.  If you're not yet familiar with Docker deployments, now's the perfect time to start. (And for those interested in more technical details, on the front-end, Orient Me uses Bootstrap, React and Redux.  The backend is built on Nodejs and Loopback and separated into various microservices communicating with PubSub via Redis.)  

So, now that I've discussed the strategic importance of Orient Me, what does it actually do?  In a nutshell, it creates a personalized and prioritized home page, using advanced analytics to bring forward the information that is most relevant to you.  

Orient Me allows you to:

  • See, at a glance, the updates and information most relevant to you, displayed in a new visual layout and prioritized based on their interaction with content and people.
  • Apply new content and people filters to better control what you see.
  • Easily view updates grouped by a person, a Community, or content
  • Receive suggestions about the people most likely to be important and relevant to your work
  • See a snapshot of your day in the Action Center, accessible throughout Connections.

Please take a look for it when available on the 31st, and let me know what you think!


All you need to know is…

I was introduced to a story shared by Larry and Ann McDuff about the lessons they learned long-distance hiking by Seth Godin a while back, and it immediately resonated with me.  I went to share it with my son’s FIRST Robotics coach recently and was dismayed to discover that the original link no longer worked.  Fortunately, the Wayback Machine didn’t disappoint.

Five years ago we started the Appalachian Trail with nearly three times our starting pack weight this year. Two weeks into that hike we met Keith, trail name Wolf, a legendary long-distance hiker.

On the trail, the most respected hikers are the ones with the fewest possessions. Wolf was carrying a super-small pack which weighed 14 pounds including food and water. When asked how he got his pack weight so low, Wolf would reply, "All you need to know is that it's possible."

Think about that last line for a minute. Can you think about a time where simply knowing that something was possible allowed you to rise to an occasion, to solve a problem you might have otherwise have given up on?  

And now, what if you take it one step further.  What if you assumed that the task you were tackling was solvable... does that present a different set of options for you than if you had gone into it not knowing whether or not it can be solved?

 Lightweight Living

Recent Announcements (Cisco, Feature Pack 8, Connections 6)

I wanted to make sure that I posted on some recent announcements, as they do (and will) offer some significant improvements in our offerings.

Cisco Integration: Chapter 2

At the Connect conference, IBM announced the April General Availability of our first set of integrated collaboration solutions between Cisco and IBM Collaboration Solutions.  Expected integration for phase 1 includes the following:

  • Launch a Cisco WebEx meeting, or host your own WebEx meeting, directly from Connections Cloud and Verse.
  • Click to Chat from Connections Cloud or Verse navigation bar and business card to Cisco Spark or Jabber.
  • Use WebEx meetings as your Verse calendar default e-meeting.
  • Easily share content from Connections or Verse within your Cisco Spark or WebEx iOS app.
More details on our progress and plans can be found here.

Notes/Domino Feature Pack 8

Earlier this month we released the first enhancements to come out of the Feature Pack approach to updates for Notes/Domino.

Highlights include:
  1. Optionally move views outside of NSF for increased data store in NSF
  2. Java Upgrade to 1.8 runtime.
  3. Increase document summary limit from 64k to 16mb  
  4. Add support for ADFS 3.0
  5. Document encryption for XPages
  6. Optionally enable displaying internet addresses in mail and calendar documents
  7. Mail template update
  8. Improvements in rendering forwarded MIME messages
  9. Optionally add "Group By Date" And "Beginning Of Message" to desktop policy settings

A full list of updates and download information can be found here: Notes/Domino Extended Support
While on the topic of Notes/Domino, I want to call attention to a blog post from Ed Brill regarding product updates from the Connect conference.  Among other important highlights, I want to call out this line in particular (emphasis mine):

"For IBM Notes/Domino 9.0, we have announced that product support will be extended through at least 2021, and extended support through at least 2024. There is no end of life planned for Notes and Domino, and we will continue to update the timeline for support as appropriate based on future releases and market requirements."

IBM Connections 6

Last week IBM announced that we plan to release Connections 6 at the end of the month.  This is a very exciting release, both for the enhancements it brings to creating and managing communities and folder/file sync, and importantly for the new Orient Me capabilities that are being introduced.  

The Orient Me capability in Connections 6 applies advanced analytics to create a personalized and prioritized Home page that surfaces the information that is most relevant to each individual user.  Orient Me is also important because it represents the first release built on the principles that are central to the Connections Pink model we will be employing going forward. Like Connections Pink, Orient Me is built on modern opensource technologies and is deployed as individual Docker containers, the new industry standard for agile, continuous development.  On the front-end, Orient Me uses Bootstrap, React and Redux.  The backend is built on Nodejs and Loopback and separated into various microservices communicating with PubSub via Redis.

I'll be writing about Connections 6 a lot more as we approach the availability date.

Connect 2017 - The Future of Domino Application Development

Here are my live notes from the Future of Domino Application Development session. Nate mentioned getting a video of the demos and integration out on YouTube in the near future.

Update:  Here are the slides used in the session.

Refresh and extend your Domino apps

Barry Rosen, Adam Kesner, Nathan Barry, Ed Brill

Barry Rosen

Forrester did a study.  Employees find business apps to be complicated, inefficient, un-intuitive, too divided and difficult to learn.  Because of the need for multiple apps, 65% of employees said data is often ignored.

Technologies are disrupting the way people work and resetting their expectations.

Domino Is a 27 year old product, but still being used today because of things it does that no one else in market can do.  (Security, Replication, Customization, Workflow, etc.)

What do employees want?
74% want personalized, relevant data
69% want a mobile-first experience
62% delay completing tasks because of multiple systems
61% want consumer-like features in applications (Notifications, Anywhere access, ability to work in real-time, personalization)

A path to refresh and extend domino applications

  • Update user experience, look and feel
  • Legacy apps running on a variety of access models

Why it matters – Thousands of custom Domino applications are business critical.
  • Enabling modern access to that data extends your investment
  • Updating your apps helps employees get work done.

Path to refresh your applicationss:
  • Analyze what applicationss are most valuable to your business
  • Use enhanced APIs and/or partner tools to simplify and refresh Domino apps
  • Notes/Domino will be continuously updated so applications run smoothly and are easy to maintain (Start in Feature Pack 8 with Java 8)

Demo’d Sapho at OGS, will show details on the other partner offerings we're highlighting this week.  

Analyze your applications
How much are they used?  Who uses them?  How complex are they?  Are there mail dependencies?  Which views are used in applications.

IBM and panagenda introduce ApplicationInsights.  Intend to make available to all Domino customers active on S&S.  

Determine which applications are used most, determine which are most complex, analyze your most complex applications with code analysis.  Drill down in those applications to see where complexity (e.g., hard-coded server names).

Will show 50 most used and most complex applications.  Will have part number can purchase to unlock additional instances in 500 instance increments.  Will help you find diamonds and pearls in environment – allow you to show business value in the applications in your environment.

[Screen shots of ApplicationInsights]  Shows total number of database instances, Focus databases are all mail-in and application instances.  Total number of unique designs for focus dbs.  Application list – will let you drill into exactly where in the code you need help.

Refresh and extend portion of roadmap.
We’re doing things at IBM, and also working with partners.

Nate Barry

Intend to enhance API framework to extend capabilities and enable the use of modern application development tools.

What have today:  “DAS” services that expose Domino data vai REST APIs to web and mobile applications.
Mail Service, Calendar service, Freebusy service, Data service.  (Some ship with Domino, all available on OpenNTF).   Will continue investment in these 4.  Taking feedback and see where extend.  Each need additional enhancement, and will do over course of next year.

Additional services intended to be added over coming year:
Directory service:  Browse or search directory over HTTP
Contacts service:  Manage personal contacts in your mailfile
Mail Search service:  Search your mailfile
Subscription service:  Poll for changes or register for push (long poll) in an application
Management service: Register users and manage groups.

Define all services via the OpenAPI Specification.  IBM intends to publish YAML definitions according to the OpenAPI specification for all REST services (formally known as Swagger specification; enables integration with a number of 3rd party tools, including Swagger tools.

Freebusy definition is available and in process of pushing to OpenNTF page.  Calendar will be coming soon, followed by updates as enhance and get to new services.

[Demo with Swagger Tools]

Will have YouTube videos showing integrations.  Will post to openNTF.

Another project – SmartNSF.  On OpenNTF right now (thank you to Christian and Alex).  Access Notes application logic via RESET APIs
Allows you to expose embedded business logic for apps to web and mobile via REST APIs, the same way you can with your Mail.  Developer defines a microservice for the application with domain-specific language.  Build your UI based on the technology you want.

Allows developer to define the API.  Map what you want to expose and how you want to expose it.  Can also expose your agents, create document with a form and will look just like you created it in the Notes client.  New, open source, on OpenNTF.

Some things coming next to make it even more powerful – auto-generate Swagger definitions for your application’s APIs.  Dialog-based wizard for generation of REST APIs for your applications.

Adam Kesner

Three partners that can help modernize apps.  There are more, but these are three highlighting right now.

Sapho – Create micro apps with Sapho builder that can surface notifications and micro-apps and take actions.
Aveedo – Wizard to convert whole application
Darwino – Build own mobile/Web UI into Domino data, bidirectional replication

[See slides for details on each and when use - sorry, was too hard to capture what was in the slides here.]

Ed Brill

Candidly, a year ago this story was pretty inconceivable. It was your vocalization and encouragement and clear message that this product and platform continues to be important to you and your organization that led to these announcements this week.  It shows the importance of this community and relationship we’ve had for decades.  We know you have done amazing things with this product and can continue to do so and want to give you the options to continue to go forward.

Some things we won’t do organically – true to how we’ve leveraged partners and groups like OpenNTF in past.

We wanted to show you that we’re going to put actual investment in, putting team to work developing new capabilities.  There’s some great stuff in the feature packs, and we couldn’t cover all of it in OGS.  

Thank you for your continued support of the platform and hopefully this message to continue support for at least next 5 years and probably beyond that is coming across, continuing to add value to your subscription (things like Verse on Premises).  

Mike Gotta (Gartner) – Workstream Collaboration

Mike Gotta, VP Research at Gartner, opened the IBM Watson Workspace and Watson Work Services Strategy and Roadmap session with his perspective on the dynamics we’re seeing today around the emerging workstream collaboration market.  

A couple of things that stood out for me (my comments in italics):

  • Conversation is the new binding fabric for teams.  (This idea of conversation vs. collaboration is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, so it was good to hear this from him, too.)
  • Work is becoming more and more non-routine, and non-routine work requires conversational insight (and a different set of tooling than we’ve had in previous generations of tools).  (Also points to need to automate as much of the routine work as possible, leaving only the non-routine for manual handling.)
  • There is no shortage of vendors approaching this space, and they’re mostly coming at it from the angle of their existing solutions (e.g., when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.)  (My view: Bridging the old and the new – or more to the point, integrating the old and the new – is going to be important both to ease the adoption pain, but also to allow people to naturally figure out which tool is right for which situation.)
  • Importance of not just making this “another inbox.”

Live notes:

Still trying to untangle team coordination and performance

The basic core dynamics on what makes for better team dynamics and performance is something still trying to get hands around.

Work is becoming more and more nonroutine.  More squishy, dynamic, situational.  And that requires different way of thinking, different set of tooling than we had in previous generation of tools.  

Two attributes – situational awareness and self-synchronization.  (Came out of military.).  Workstream collaboration – allow one team-member to self-synchronize without impacting others.

Can we find a way to replicate the dynamics and practices of high performing teams to create network effects?

Conversation as the new binding fabric for teams.

How did we get here?

Starting in 1990s – influenced by Productivity suites (document workspaces) --> influenced by market convergence (real-time collab workspace) --> influenced by consumer social media (community & professional networking workspace) --> influenced by consumer mobile messaging (conversational workspace)

Focus on productivity --> Focus on relationships --> Focus on performance

Routine work --> Non-Routine Work

What collaborative activities work best?
  • DevOps
  • Cross-functional work
  • Rapid & Incident Response
  • Exception Handling
  • Innovation Groups

Gartner Findings:  The Optimist
  • Conversation models are broken across collaboration & unified communication tools.
  • Vendors entering market from different “heritages” emphasizing different core features.
  • Nonroutine work requires conversational insight.
  • Conversational insight occurs between people & between people & conversational AI platforms (CAP)
  • Workstream collaboration can improve team coordination and performance in ways that delivers compelling business results.

Garter Findings:  The Pessimist
  • Early stage market with evolving collection of vendors.  New entrants still to come.
  • Technical maturity varies.
  • Focus on business use cases weak.
  • Conversation overload (“another inbox”).
  • Solves some work styles but not all.
  • Better support needed for collaborative work management.
  • Employee learning curve as well as the digital dexterity needed for effective use.

  • Assess how the market is delivering workstream collaboration solutions to understand your options
  • Expect to manage a small, diverse portfolio of workstream solutions (early stage market, avoid standardization)
  • Apply workstram collaboration for team activities similar in behavior and team dynamics as found in the use cases presented
  • Act in a bottoms-up manner but manage as a portfolio and program.
  • Assess deployments to gauge effectiveness and make necessary adjustments.