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juli 27, 2012

The social arena match begins!

Is SharePoint 2013 catching up with IBM Connections?

Recently Microsoft released the SharePoint 2013 public beta. And on july 16th there was a press release with Steve Ballmer's announcement of Office 2013.

Many are eager to stress the point that this beta release is now much more social than SharePoint 2010 was. Up until now it was generally agreed that it was more document centric (which it does very well) than people centric, and IBM Connections has therefore been leading the social entprise market.

With acquiring Skype, and more recently Yammer and now also announcing Facebook and LinkedIn integration in Office 13 Microsoft is clearly making a huge effort to enter the social arena.

And indeed it seems there are many social improvements. The newsfeed provides social features such as commenting and liking. And also an embedded experience for document/media preview so there is no need to open a new window and you are not taken out of the context. It is possible to do statusupdates including hashtags and @mentions, to all or specific groups (sites members).

Users are able to follow sites, documents and hashtags (the latter are also searchable). Communities have been introduced, something that was clearly needed and they even include some form of gamification through badges.

Since it has always been strong with document management, it is no surprise Microsoft came up with Skydrive Pro. Documents are automaticall saved to Skydrive by default and allows users to sync document libraries to their computer for offline access. Instead of granting someone access to files, this has been renamed to 'sharing' which is ofcourse a much more social term.

Allthough Yammer isn't directly visible in SharePoint 2013, it has become part of Office 13. Microsoft seams to be buying these social companies to use them as a free gateway to paid premium services. Hotmail leading to Office 365, Skype to Lync, and Yammer to SharePoint?

What does that mean for IBM Connections?

Many of these SharePoint 2013 social features have been around for a while in IBM Connections, or will be available in Connections 4, which is being released in beta on Greenhouse today!

Communities, Blogs, person card info everywhere, and microblogging through statusupdates has been key functionality of IBM Connections. Connections 4 will be enhanced with searchable statusupdates with hashtags and Communities will get many great improvements such as a Community Calendar. The Activity feed will give an embedded experience so files and media can be viewed directly without changing windows, and allowing for workflow applications to integrate into Connections. And Mail and Calendar will be available straight from the browser as well.

Similar features, but what of the future?

So feature wise, the two really start to be more alike. The same thing happened with email programs. All vendors grew more closely together, up to the point where since Lotus Notes 8 - and especially iNotes - many couldn't really tell at first glance if they were looking at Outlook or Lotus Notes.

But, will the social features in SharePoint really cut it? Is it still in time for Microsoft SharePoint to position itself as social software ? What will IBM do in response? Only time can tell. What it tells me now though, is that social is really the arena where the players will fight for their customers. Social is now and it's the future. Social is here to stay. And it is going to be interesting.

But for now, we still have to wait for the final release of SharePoint 2013. It is believed that it will take at least another 6 months, as that is usually the case for Microsoft between the public beta and final release. I am also curious what IBM will do with Connections after release 4.

juli 25, 2012

Vote: IBM Connections vs SharePoint ?

Want to express your opinion ? Click to add to the count for IBM Connections or for MS SharePoint. Which tickles you more?

You can now vote on the Live Enterprise Blog:

I have made my choice.

e-office Gold sponsor Social Connections IV event

e-office is happy to announce we are Gold sponsor for the Social Connections IV event on november 30th in Amsterdam.


After Cardiff and Dublin, Social Connections is coming to Amsterdam at the IBM venue. Social Connections is THE IBM Connections event. A usergroup completely focused on social collaboration with IBM Connections. My ex-colleague Pim presented at the 2nd event about the LeasePlan adoption program , and I presented last time about leveraging user adoption using gamification.

The event is very exiting, fun and informal. It's a great place and time to meet other Connections users and see and hear what they are doing and what experiences others have. There are visitors from around the world. Unfortunately last time there were hardly any Dutch clients, but I am sure that is about to change!

The 1st event attracted some 60 visitors, the second already grew to about 75, and the 3rd got around a 110 visitors. The organisation is expecting around a 150 visitors for Social Connections IV in Amsterdam. But frankly, I think we could easily beat that number!

You can register already for the event on

Hope to see all of you there!

juli 23, 2012

Migrating IBM Connections to 4 Beta

Today is the day that we will be migrating our e-office Connections environment to IBM Connections 4. Allthough still only in beta, for us it is critical we experience quickly what possibilities it offers for us as IBM Premier business partner.

Testing mail integration and Activity Stream

We can't wait to test drive mail integration, and to start working with the Activity Stream API. Lots of suitable Domino applications are available to integrate, such as timesheets notifications. So we can enter those Tinstantly through the embedded experience the Activity Stream will provide.

At a loss without it

In the meantime, I'm sort of at a loss, as Connections for me is where I do most of my daily work activities. It's my connection to what's going on at the office while I am at clients or working from home. It's how I organize information that I want to store for later reading or for processing work later. Connections is where I keep my colleagues informed of what I am doing. If I need help or want to communicate I use Connections. Projects are organized into Activities, and I use Activities as my GTD tool.

Hopefully the homepage will soon display something else:

juli 18, 2012

Hoe krijg ik een levendig intranet? Alles draait om adoptie!

Vanochtend heb ik een summerschool workshop gehouden bij e-office over Sociaal Intranet.
Mijn slides vind je hier.

Een leuke groep van 15 deelnemers uit verschillende organisaties heb ik meegenomen door de ontwikkelingen van het intranet tot een sociaal intranet.

De deelnemers gaven vooral aan dat het fijn is om anderen te horen hoe zij hun intranet doen, en tegen welke problemen ze aanlopen. En wat blijkt dan vaak? Iedereen heeft zo'n beetje dezelfde ervaringen.
Wat de deelnemers als meest interessante onderwerp aangaven is de adoptie. Dat is waar toch de meeste organisaties mee kampen. Je bouwt iets moois, geeft alle technologische mogelijkheden naar beste kunnen, en wat blijkt? Medewerkers komen niet op je glimmende intranet af!
Een volgende sessie zal ik zeker nog meer ruimte bieden om te discussiƫren over adoptie, nog meer praktijkvoorbeelden te geven en meer elkaars ervaringen te delen.

Al met al gaven de deelnemers een mooi cijfer, en vertrokken enthousiast na de gezamenlijke lunch.
de volgende summerschool gaan we wel aanscherpen met de feedback!

juli 17, 2012

Make it personal: Give Thanks with Kudos Thanks

I have been a huge enthusiast for applying gamification in the social software for the enterprise arena, and today I got even more thrilled. Our administrator just finished installing Kudos 1.4 on our Connections environment.

Human interaction: Give Thanks

With this next version of Kudos, which was recently released, it is now possible to add some human interaction. Previous versions were mainly measuring activities and behaviour through defined metrics and rewarding them with points and badges. Kudos Thanks lets you interact with a colleague by showing them your appreciation. You may give any of your colleagues your Thanks through some peer-to-peer badges.

What this means is that aside from the machine doing some rewarding through metrcis, you may now be rewarded personally by one of your colleagues. it is more intuative, not based on any metrics.

Build a culture of trust

We all like to get thanks. Kudos Thanks can help organisations to change their culture into a more openly and appreciative one. Many times I come across organisations where saying thanks is not the most common thing in the world. Showing your appreciation for good work done, though, is crucial for social software. To dare to share by collaborating more openly there needs to be a culture of trust. Appreciation for ones transparency and public sharing will build this trust.

Employee of the month

One of the Kudos Thanks Badges is the 'Employee of the month' Badge. At many organisations there is already such a thing. The employee of the month may be put out on a poster or a billboard, or be announced at a group event. Now that appreciation van be displayed in Kudos as well. I changed the settings for this badge so that it can only be awarded by a specified group: management. It's very easy to create a group, just add the names from the addressbook type-ahead.

For any of the Kudos Thanks badges you may specify which group can award them, and how often it can be awarded. This makes it possible to design very targeted Thanks Badges. You may want to design one specifically aimed at rewarding the top sales person of the month. You could set that one to be awarded only by the sales director.

How to give Thanks?

From your Profile page there are two ways to give thanks:

  • Go to the ThanksSummary widget and click on Thank Someone
  • Go to the Kudos Thanks tab

From the left box you can select whom you want to give thanks to, what kind of badge you want to give, and write your personal message as to why.

Give Thanks using Kudos Thanks

Gamification for social software serious business

Now that social software usage is taking a giant leap, and focus on adoption is becoming key, gamification is becoming mainstream too.
Social software is becoming more and more mainstream in the enterprise. Along with the rise of social software I also see a rise in the recognition of the importance of user adoption. During events in the recent past, such as Social Connections III in Dublin and the Social Business Convention in Rotterdam, this became very obvious as almost every presentation (even the ones that didn't have it as its main subject) somewhat mentioned user adoption. It seems the days of 'build it and they will come' are definately over.
According to the IDC research study Worldwide Enterprise Social Software 2012-2016 Forecast companies will invest 42.4% more each year on enterprise social collaboration software. In 2011 the revenue from this category was US$ 0,77 billion and by 2016 this will be a soaring US$ 4,5 billion. According to this study, IBM Connections is the number one social software platform (US$ 105,4 million revenue).
At the same time gamification has entered the enterprise arena and is quickly becoming more accepted. Until 2011 gamification was mostly seen in business to consumer applications. But since 2011 gamification has become more widespread in combination with social software for the enterprise.
For IBM Connections there are now several vendors that integrate gamification. Bunchball, a long-time gamification solution provider, added support for IBM Connections with Level Up back in february 2012. Since june 2012 Badgeville introduced a connector to leverage their gamification engine to IBM Connections. ISW recently released their new version of Kudos, which introduces peer-to-peer badges (Thank You). And last week yet another player entered the arena - The Hive - which got an interview with Chris Miller on IDoNotes episode 126 Tembo Social interview. Apparently there is a huge demand for gamification to leverage user adoption of social software, for them to emerge.
It’s not enough to just provide a social software tool and expect your employees to start sharing knowledge and collaborating in a more open, transparent manner. A social platform itself does not change the routines and attitude/behaviour of employees. They must be stimulated to start using the tool, to learn more of it's features and to become more engaged. Gamification does just that.
It seems that the time is ripe. All three components seem to come together and are a perfect fit: growth of social software, general agreement on the importance of user adoption and gamification for social software as a means to accomplish that.

Collaborate in the open

A significant characteristic of collaborating with social software such as IBM Connections, is that you work 'in the open'. When you share your work, your experiences and what you're doing you may do so only with specific people. But preferably you can share your knowledge with anyone in your organisation, by making it completely public. When you collaborate openly all your knowledge and experience is available to anyone in your organisation. With all your colleagues doing the same, thecollaborative brain will be leveraged.

When you work in the open, your knowledge and experience may be seen and used by others in your organisation. Possibly it could expose you are working on exactly the same thing as one of your colleagues from another department. And now you can get in touch to share and collabrate!
Maybe you will get an answer to a question or problem you wrote about, from an unexpected colleague outside your personal network or your community. Why? Because you posted your problem out in the open, maybe in a statusupdate or your personal or community blog (which is public). And maybe it caught some colleagues' eye. That is serendipity.

Share what you are doing

By posting statusupdates on your profile board that indicate what you are currently working on, or where or with whom, your colleagues in your network can easily keep up to date. Anything you post is always connected to your profile page. Your profile is what provides the context: who you are, who you are connected with and what you specified as your expertise through personal tags.

Share what you are contributing, build your expertise

With anything you do in Connections you leave your footprint in the sand. All the files you share, communities you take active part in, blogs you write, they are all footprints, that lead back to your profile page. When you provide your contribution with the appropriate tags your colleagues will be able to find your footprints. While doing your work in Connections you build your knowledge and expertise and leave a legacy.

Discover knowledge and expertise

When you do a search in Connections you can find someone's legacy. Any file, wiki page, discussion in a forum or blog entry can be found through search. Especially when the information is properly tagged finding information on a specific topic is easy. And then when you find information, you always see the person behind this information, the knowledge expert. How different this is to collaborating through email! When sharing information using email it is contained in a silo, consisting of just the addressees. For example a report of a project meeting being sent to the whole project team is only available to those who are team members at that point. Any possible newcomer will not have access to past information. If the information was shared through a community blog though, all the newcomer needs to do to get all past information and communication is to become a member of that community.

Networking: the strenght of weak ties

Just like in real life, when collaborating online with social software, you do not work alone, but in a team, department or group. Make sure you add your direct colleagues to your network in Connections because its the direct connections that will eventually connect you to others. When another colleague comes to your profile page, your network is visible to them. This information is valuable, because it adds context to who your are and what you contribute.

The strenght of weak ties

In fact your direct connections are the least interesting. You already know them, and what they do and what their expertise is. You are already collaborating. But every colleague in your network has a network of their own. These may be people you do not know, but could be having knowledge and epertise you need at some point. Every time you click through to another profile page from the network widget, another network is shown. The 'Do you know?' widget even shows colleagues that you have something in common with, based on what each of you has shared in Connections, such as being part of the same community or sharing the same bookmark. Through exploring networks you may discover colleagues you otherwise would have never met!
You can follow people in your network through your newsfeedpage. You might even discover an interesting colleague because they posted something on the board of a colleague in your network. Through serendipity you may discover interesting information and find out more about the colleague behind it.
When you do a tag search to find specific information you may not only find content in files, wikis etcetera, but maybe alsocolleagues that tagged themslves with that particular expertise. So now you can read up on the topic in the found content, but you can also get in touch with a matter expert! That expert could be separated from you by several degrees in the online network, and even fysically be very far apart (different floor, office, or even country). Yet now this colleague is at your fingertips through an email, chat or board message.
The colleagues in your direct network (strong ties) are the colleagues that you know well, and that you speak to or collaborate with regularly. You can keep them informed through statusupdates, and you stay informed through following their activity and collaborate with them directly.

Source: Granovetter: the strenght of weak ties
All of your direct colleagues each have their own network of olleagues. You are connected to them by one degree of separation (weak ties). Maybe one of those weak ties sees your statusupdate through the newsfeed by following someone who is a connected to you as well. Or discovers a file you and the shared colleague are working on. Maybe this weak tie decides to have a look at your profile and finds you might be useful for a new project and adds you to his network and you start collaborating. At that point the weak tie becomes a strong tie. And the network of colleagues of this new connection is instantly closer at hand than it was before. These former potential tieshave now become weak ties themselves!
Even when a colleague is seperated far from you, and you are not connected at all (none), collaborating openly could bring you closer together. All it may take is sharing a file with everyone (public) and tagging it well so a search may present your file to the unconnected colleague. And from that file it is only a click away from going to your profile page and getting to know more about you or asking you more about it.