Perficient Digital Transformation Blog


Posts Tagged ‘connections’

IBM produces a preview video of Connections Next

Social and cloud technologies are connecting us to more people and information than we ever could have imagined. The challenge is to get the right information from the right sources in the right context at the right time. IBM’s cloud collaboration platform helps you collaborate with extended networks, focus on the relevant and filter out the rest.

There is a lot of excitement around this update, as from the video it appears as though people are placed at the center of collaboration.

Have a look at this video.


IBM is Enterprise Social Software Market Share Leader Again

IBM announced that it is once again the market share leader in Enterprise Social Software according to IDC.  This marks the fifth year in a row that IBM has maintained the market share leader position. Image of IBM Market Share Leader Banners for 2010-2014 According to IBM, “Tens of millions of users today rely on IBM’s Social Business software…”, IBM Connections.

IBM has spent a lot of time and money making Connections a strong platform for both on-premise users (branded IBM Connections) and cloud-based users (branded IBM SmartCloud for Social Business).  IBM has also done a good job of integrating Connections with other products, including IBM Digital Experience Suite, Smarter Workforce, and Social Learning systems.

CMSWire asked IDC about other companies it cited in its research, however a IDC spokesperson declined comment. IDC does not release market data from its Worldwide Software Tracker to the media. According to CMSWire, it will publish reports in May and June that contain market forecast information, which provides more context of where the market is headed.

Successfully Piloting Social Business Software

Rob Novak and Mac Guidera presented tips on how to make a pilot in social software successful. First why pilot?  A pilot is critical to success because it provides for an experimental trial on a small scale for the future change that you anticipate.A well run pilot reduces the risk of large scale failure and improves chances of strategic success.  You only have to look at the roll out of the website in October 2012 to see how a large scale failure can happen.

What are key components of a pilot?  Pilots should have a defined scope, examples include:

  • a specific business unit
  • a class of employees
  • a region
  • a particular business process.

A pilot should also be short term, but each pilot has to determine the length of time based on several factors:

  • How big is the scope?
  • Are there technologies hurdles that must be overcome?
  • Is there sufficient hardware to start fast?
  • Are personnel available for training? Are these people willing and wanting to participate?
  • How long will it take so determine measurable results?

When conducting a pilot, you must have clear goals.  Goals will vary by company and what you want to pilot.  Little academic and real-life work has been focused on pilot goals, however Rob has identified some Goal Driven Software Development Processes that may be helpful in setting goals for a pilot.

Collaborative Goal Identification is one process.  This starts with a top-level goal and then drives down to sub-goals.

Goal, Question, Metric (GQM) is another approach developed by NASA and others.  Here you have a conceptual, operational and quantitative levels for goals.  Each of these goals have specific metrics.

IBM has a set of collaboration solutions patterns that focus on ROI and strategic process.  These Customer Experience Patternpatterns show how social can be used in the processes and provide a starting point for a pilot program.  Patterns are available for:

  • Customer Engagement (shown here)
  • Innovation
  • Recruiting & Onboarding
  • Supply Chain
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Workplace & Public Safetfy
  • Expertise & Knowledge.

Gaining executive support is always mentioned as critical for success, but nobody explains how to pursue executive support.  Here are some tips for help find the right executive:

  • Open Door Policy
  • Active involvement
  • Must be identified at the beginning
  • Must have same level of decision making influence as the individuals controlling the budget
  • Project should be linked to the executive sponsor’s area of expertise.

Here are some guiding principles for a pilot:

  • Select fertile ground since a pilot is an experiment, not proving what you already know
  • Pilot team is critical, both participants and sponsors
  • Design around business applications or benefits NOT tools
  • Define scope but encourage experimentation
  • Design pilot to learn lessons
  • Provide training and guidance
  • Create visibility
  • Monitor progress and cut or expand

Of course, you need to measure outcomes based on your goals.  During the pilot you want to have interim assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of particular aspects of the pilot.

Infusing Social into Digital Experiences

Adding social capabilities to your digital experience site can bring some nice benefits. One benefit that is often overlooked is the multiplier effect of social sharing.  If you can can get people to promote your brand or product, you can reach larger audiences and save advertising costs as well.  A single “Like” on your product page can translate into millions of people seeing that someone they know endorses you.

Infusing Social Into Digital ExperiencesIBM spoke about combining WebSphere Portal and IBM Connections into a Social Digital Experience.  Traditionally, IBM Connections has been seen as an internal social tool that works on the intranet.  But, in fact, Connections can be useful on your external site as well.

  • Support communities are often a way to engage with customers and then direct them to your other sites.
  • Blogs on your external site can attract visitors
  • Innovation or ideation capabilities let people give you input and can cause those people who engage to reach out on other social platforms.  On twitter:  “Hey Perficient is looking for ideas about enhancing X, go to their site and weigh in…”

WebSphere Portal now exposes and seamlessly integrates all IBM Connections features making it easy to infuse social capabilities in your Digital Experience site.  Portal also has the ability to publish content directly to social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and internal Connections.  You see a video of these capabilities

Be a Successful Social Business in a Highly Regulated Industry

Just because you are in a highly regulated industry doesn’t mean you can’t also be highly social.  You just have to be more careful about how you do it.

At IBM Connect, TD Ameritrade and IBM shared how they made became a social business despite all the regulations and compliance issues.  TD Ameritrade used IBM Connections as the basis of their social business platform, but they also integrated back end systems, gamification, and micro applications.Be a Successful Social business in a Highly Regulated Industry

The first major decision was to figure out their Mobile access strategy.  TDA heavily used mobile devices and needed to address security and authentication strategies for the new social platform.

A second big decision was to figure out how to implement metrics.  Compliance tracking was a big question and has to be addressed early on.  TDA also wanted to measure the success of the program, so figuring out which metrics were most important was a critical task.

Setting up user profiles was another major decision.  Where is profile data stored, what data should appear in the profile, which should be editable and how to sync profile data are all key questions.

Some results that TDA shared:

  • Launched in May 2013
  • Now (January 2014) over 50% of employees engage in social on a daily basis, even though the social platform is not part of the intranet
  • 1000 communities have been built and 85-90% of those are business based communities. 65% are hard business use, 25% are soft business use and 10% are non-work related.
  • About to release a mobile version

TDA had to overcome lots of perceived risks to start with a social platform:

  • Why disrupt our business?
  • Cultural shift?
  • Creating more channels?  Its not about creating more channels, but creating the right channel.
  • Non-business use?
  • Increased managerial duties?
  • More governance and compliance issues?
  • Productivity Drain?

How to get beyond compliance:

  • Partner with Compliance/Legal/Risk Management early on and make them an ally in the effort
  • Leverage monitoring and archiving tools which helps compliance
  • Create simple, practical governance that is based on your organization and includes cross departmental representatives
  • Create rules of the road – don’t post illegal activity, no posts about trades, no client info, no personally identifiable information (PII) etc.

Everyone wants to know about moderation.  At TDA, they do not moderate posts before they get put out.  Everything is moderated by the communities after posts are available.  In one year, they have only had 3 posts that had to be removed.

TDA used several tools to manage compliance and eDiscovery which helped ensure they were meeting state and federal regulations.

  • Everything is using SSL to ensure messages are encrypted
  • Real Time keyword flagging and notification (Actiance Vantage)
  • Uses Global Relay worm device to grab all messages going through the cloud, which aids with eDiscovery
  • Passive moderation is done by employees (crowd sourcing) when they see something inappropriate




What’s coming in WebSphere Portal and WCM

Rob Will, Chief Architect at IBM, presented the future vision for Portal and WCM today.   He started out talking about how the concept of customer experience has been evolving over the past few years.  A core shift has been to enable non-technical users to do more and more with less reliance on IT.

What's Coming in WebSphere Portal and WCMA slight change with profound implications has been the change from a Web experience to a Digital experience, which implies support many more devices and output streams.   Portal and WCM has always been about web sites, not mobile applications.  Portal is now in the mobile web site business to enable multi-channel web site business.  Portal is still the integrating platform for content, applications, etc.  Everything done in Portal and WCM is now done with mobile in mind.

IBM Worklight is the hybrid application platform that integrates with Portal and WCM.   Worklight enables access to all the mobile device features through portlets.  Its easy to create a Worklight adapter to grab content from WCM to display in a native application.  WCM’s personalization engine can also be leveraged from Worklight so you see the same promotions on the web as you see in the mobile app.

Mobile Directions

  • Improving integration to support device classes
  • Fine tuning seamlessness of the theme integration
  • Co-deploy Worklight on Portal

Content and Rich Media

  • More and more convergence between portal and content management
  • Projects and Templates (in Portal 8) are heavily relied on in future releases
  • Content Template Catalog 4.1.2 came out last week – uses latest CKEditor for inline editing
  • Vanity URLs- in beta now.  You can completely control the URL.  URLs are stored in WCM to support Syndication.  This feature will deprecate URL Mappings in Portal.
  • WCM Content Security is more seamless with Portal.
  • Attribute based security means you can control access to content based on Attributes.
  • Project templates make it easier to set up projects, including predefined workflow
  • Now everyone is entitled to EditLive! Enterprise version
  • Customers on have entitlement to WebRadar which is content reporting and analytics
  • Cross Version syndication is supported to ease content migration.  You can syndicate from WCM CF26 or higher to WCM CF09 or higher
  • Syndication – improvements in error messaging, error handling, more retry capabilities.  Also in the Authoring UI, you can see a status of each object’s syndication.
  • Rich Media Edition seamlessly integrates with MediaBeacon.
  • Deliver and Stream HD Videos – this includes integration with BrightCove

Personalization and Targeting

  • In 8.0 IBM added in-context rules editing.  New minor enhancements are coming here.
  • Marketing Management is more of a focus for a richer experience, including Unica Marketing Center and IBM Interact.
  • New Portlet allows user to enter a few details about the spot and the portlets does all the work to bring in offers from Interact.  This reduces the rules that you have to write in portal.

WCM and Commerce

  • This is available now.
  • You can link content from WCM directly into a commerce site.  This also includes preview capability


  • Social rendering in takes content from connections and delivers them inside portal mixed with other content and applications. WCM presentation templates are used to make the social content look like other content on the page.
  • In the next version, IBM provides a bunch of enhancements.  Discussion threads hosted on IBM Connections, but linked to WCM content.   Here the visual experience of the discussion is controlled by WCM.
  • Now you can Like, create posts, comment, etc right in line.
  • Dynamic filters for social lists – these lists cooperate with other page components to filter content and drilling down in lists.
  • This is all available in mobile web too.

For a sample of how well Portal, WCM and Connections are integrated together, take a look at the Connect 2014 Site:

  • News and updates are blogs in Connections
  • Events are in WCM.
  • Session info is in WCM,
  • Speaker profile is in Connections.
  • Downloads are in Connections Files.
  • Session add is a DB2 application

Digital Data Connector (DDC) – this is a new concept and we’ll more information on this shortly.

  • Extends social rendering and WCM to any type of data source.
  • Can take most data source and bring into Portal through social rendering

I had to leave this session early, so I will follow up with another post on the rest of the new features coming in the future.

A beta version of Portal is now available if you want to try out some of these features.




HootSuite connecting to IBM Connections

One of the challenges with managing social media is getting your message out to the many, many social platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc.  I wrote recently how I use IFTTT to send blog post announcements to various sites from our WordPress blog.   Companies like HootSuite have created platforms that solve this particular problem.  So using HootSuite and others, we can easily publish and manage content across lots of social platforms.

However, none of these platforms that I know of let you cross over from external social sites to internal social sites. If you want to publish to Facebook and your internal social platform, you had to do it twice.  Not any more.  HootSuite has announced a new integration with IBM Connections.  This program is in a beta stage right now, but the potential synergies look good. hootsuite

According to HootSuite, here are the things you will be able to do with this new integration:

  • Access IBM Connections communities and content in HootSuite streams, alongside social network streams for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more.
  • Share social content and messages from Twitter and Facebook with colleagues and communities in IBM Connections.
  • View and interact with IBM Connections community updates, including viewing and leaving comments, viewing and downloading file attachments, liking posts and more.

I didn’t see an anticipated date for a non-beta release.  You can request access to the beta version here: HootSuite IBM Connections Beta.

IBM Launches Exceptional Digital Experiences

Larry Bowden kicked off IBM’s webcast today about their new focus on Exceptional Digital Experiences.  In the past couple of years, IBM has introduced the Exceptional Customer Experience suite of products and the Exceptional Employee Experience suite.  These suites combine various IBM products such as WebSphere Portal, Connections, Sametime, etc into pre-configured suites focusing on specific target segments.

With Exceptional Digital Experiences, IBM is now broadening their  focus to the larger concept of digital experiences.  To address the digital experience needs of the market, IBM is adding and enhancing capabilities in the areas of:

  • Mobile experiences include mobile browser and mobile apps across the product suites
  • Analytics and Optimization introduces better integration between the analytics engines and marketing management solutions such as Unica.
  • Rich Media Management allows for displaying and managing rich media including video.  Not only can you display video easily, you can now manage video, including editing clips and right sizing it for multiple devices.
  • Social technologies includes tight integration between Connections and other products.

So does this mean IBM is announcing a new product or new suite?  No, but this not just a marketing campaign.  The focus is on enhancing the existing IBM solutions to deliver capabilities needed for even better digital experiences.  There are new editions of existing products, such as the Rich Media Edition of Web Content Manager.  But really, the Exception Digital Experience is about better integration and added capabilities to WebSphere Portal, Web Content Manager, IBM Connections, IBM Forms, Web Experience Factory, Sametime and Worklight.  You can learn more about IBM’s Digital Experiences here:

If you want to get in on the conversation with IBM, you can join in Twitter and Facebook chats.  IBM is hosting an online radio show about Exceptional Digital Experiences.  For dates and times, take a look here:  You can participate using the following hash tags:





Edit: You can view a replay of the presentation here:


IBM Connections theme update

In working with our IBM Connections clients, we usually recommend not changing the standard Connections theme much.  The theme controls the color scheme, fonts, headers, footers, page layout, etc.   Making significant changes can impact features on the system as they can be somewhat connected to each other.

IBM has recently introduced a new theme for Connections.  Luis Benitez, with IBM announced this new theme on his Socialize Me blog.  This new theme was shown at IBM Connect in January this year.  The image below shows Connections using the new theme.

The new theme removes some of the boxiness of Connections and introduces more background color on the left and right sides.

Overall I think this is a nice improvement over the existing theme.

IBM Docs V1.0.3 Now Integrates with IBM Connections

On June 25, IBM announced the availability of version 1.0.3 of IBM SmartCloud Docs.  If you haven’t heard of IBM SmartCloud Docs, it is similar to Google Docs. You can store and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations right on line without having to have desktop software installed.  IBM allows you to edit both Microsoft Office and Open Office documents.   I have linked to a introductory video here so you can learn more about IBM Docs.

There are two important new features in this version of IBM Docs.  First, this new version allows you co-edit a document or spreadsheet with another person or a group.  Each person involved in the edit session can see exactly what the others are doing and changes are highlighted in colors associated with each editor. This goes beyond the typical feature of allowing multiple people to edit and then merge changes into a master document – this is real-time collaborative editing.  The second video shows the co-editing features of SmartCloud Docs.   

The second new feature is the integration with IBM Connections.  According to IBM’s announcement letter, here is how Docs and Connections work together:

IBM Docs leverages the file management features of IBM Connections Files allowing users to upload and share documents and manage versions – and letting users always work on the most current version or restore back to a previous version if needed. Furthermore, IBM Docs lets users share online documents with others as readers or editors. Editors have full rights to edit the document with other editors. Readers have the ability to view the most recent version of a document. IBM Docs also leverages the features of Communities so that community documents, including Microsoft Office templates, can be shared or edited within the context of that community. IBM Docs can be purchased as an add-on to and requires IBM Connections Files.

Note that you need to use IBM Connections Files to make this work.

Here is a summary of the new features.

  • Author presence awareness, letting you know who has been in your document and who is currently making changes to content
  • Real-time or asynchronous co-editing support designed to help quickly edit content and meet deadlines
  • Directed contextual commenting and discussions designed to help team members collaborate on the content
  • File version management that helps keep everyone working on the latest version and reduces the time required to manually merge input from multiple users
  • Allows the creation of new documents or upload existing Microsoft Office or OpenOffice documents to edit and share
  • Share templates with individuals or a community, designed to reduce the time needed to create new documents based on your templates