Monthly Archive for February, 2011

The Business Value of Surprises

I still have my doubts there is a fast way to convince german customers about “getting social”. But the message IBM sent out at Lotusphere 2011 is right, and IBM leads the discussion about integrating business applications the Facebook way.

This is an articel worth reading on forbes.com about “IBM’s Strategy to Manufacture Social Networking Surprises“:

… The news feed from Facebook or LinkedIn is one of the first ways people encounter surprising information that expands understanding. You might see that someone in your network is having a party, getting married, or has gotten a new job at a company you want to do business with or left a company he or she had been at for years. In a consumer environment, Amazon’s book recommendations give us new ideas about relevant content. In both contexts we find out information we were not looking for. That’s what I mean by surprise, an expansion of what is on my mind. I distinguish this from serendipity, which is having the good fortune to encounter something beneficial. Modern systems intend to create surprises instead of leaving them to chance.

Contrast this with most of the business tools we use. There is almost zero potential for surprise in most of our environments. Our email inboxes are about the only place we can truly be surprised by something. In most other business applications, we get answers to questions that we have asked…

-> Read on

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Here Comes IBM

What that means for IBM in 2011 is that this year they’ve decided to fully embrace social business – and to not only eat their own dogfood but to breed their own dogs. That’s the level of their commitment. … Their level of commitment is astounding and potentially game changing.

Why?

Because a $100 billion company is driving all their resources into transforming their company into a social business. They aren’t just selling it, they’re doing it and evangelizing it and marshalling whatever they have to so that it will be globally hugged.

Good thoughts on Lotusphere 2011 on -> zdnet

Telekom Hotschpot – revisited

Wenn man sich in den USA herumtreibt, keine horrenden Data-Roaming-Gebühren bezahlen will und man zudem drüben auch keine extra Karte kaufen will, dann ist das iPhone der richtige Begleiter.

Denn in jedem Starbucks meldet sich das iPhone problemlos an. Voller Internet-Zugriff. Mails lesen und senden, via Skype nach Hause telefonieren – alles schön.

Zurück in Deutschland frage ich mich: Warum geht das nicht hier? Mache ich was falsch?

An jedem Hotspot der Telekom poppt ebenfalls ein schönes Fenster hoch. Aber da kann man nicht einfach den Knopf “Connect” drücken, sondern man muss als Telekom Kunde jedes mal wieder Username und Password eingeben. Das nervt ungemein und sollte doch einfacher gehen. Die Telekom kennt mich doch und mein Gerät.

Früher war alles ganz prima. Ich hatte mir den Link, der gleich Username und das kryptische Password enthält, im Safari als Lesezeichen einmal abgelegt. In Hotspot-Nähe dann einfach Link ausgewählt und fertig. Das geht aber jetzt nicht mehr, weil man bereits vorher in dem automatisch einem entgegenspringenden Anmeldefenster die Credentials eingeben muss.

Weiß irgendwer, wie man diesen Quatsch wieder vereinfachen kann?

Lotusphere

Socialsphere. Cloudsphere. Lotusphere? This Lotusphere was about “Social Business”. I do not like that term very much. I used to talk about Enterprise 2.0. But as IBM spreads the word now, we will use it in the future anyway.

It was my 12th Lotusphere, and for sure this was an historic Lotusphere. Not only for seeing “Lotus” disapearing slowly, but for the fact, that we talked about so many interesting things over the last few days – but less about Lotus Notes than ever. Lotus Notes is still there, it is mature, it is a big pile of software code which still grows from time to time. So while we were talking about Activity Streams, Followers, Share Buttons, Embedded Experiences I asked myself. What does that mean for Lotus Notes?

Perhaps it is now the time to de-assemble the whole client? Break it up into browser based components? Componentize, like I wrote back in 2005? I have my doubts. The last years we saw the client grow and grow, thanks to Eclipse. Was it really a good idea to wire things in the frontend to multiply problems by thousands which would be there only one time if you integrate at the backend?

Of course future versions of Lotus Notes will integrate seamless into hybrid- and on-premise-components in the backend. People will not care anymore if this is a Websphere, Lotus Domino or another backend. IBM will tell customers to migrate the services / applications to LotusLive. And if the pricing and service quality good, customers will follow IBM. So what stays? A really fat Notes Client which renders basically HTML-Code from XPage enabled Notes Databases? Will Lotus Notes get social by replacing the good old inbox to an “social inbox” aka Activity Stream?

I am not sure. It will be long way for german customers to understand the message. I talked to several companies from Germany. Most of them run test environmens with Lotus Connections. Some are in stealth mode by making the service public to employees – but they better don´t talk about this with the CFO.

As I read the postings from the analysts (Gartner, Forrester) I see they liked the message. Maybe because IBM followed the analysts message.

So we all are on our way to the top right of Gartner´s Magic Quadrant.

Dr. Andrew McAfee @ Lotusphere 2011

Watch live streaming video from ibmsoftware at livestream.com

This is Dr. Andrew McAfee, who initially used the term “Enterprise 2.0” and wrote a book about it. So if you have not seen the keynotes at Lotusphere – you should see the first 16 minutes of this video from the Technical Keynote.

There are other videos available -> here.

People Centric vs. Content Centric

So this is the kind of session you will like at Lotusphere.

CloudSphere

More than a year later after I tried to bring a customer to the LotusLive cloud cuckoo land without success I was surprised what happened in the meantime.

Unfortunatly I had not the chance to put my hands on the new LotusLive offering till this years Lotusphere. Guess what: My account expired. But today I had the chance to have a closer look at the offering.

What I see here at Lotusphere looks really good now. Messaging, Collaboration, Documents in one place – and from what I was told much more integrated than in the Google offering. Take a presentation, give access to everybody who should work with it inside or outside your oranization (that´s what others can do too), edit the document collaborativly and simultaneously (thats what you could do with Google as well, but now you can do it with LotusLive too) and push you slides right away to an instant web conference with your collaborators (this part is missing at Google Apps – yet).

All in all a very nice user interface. But is it fast like the Google Apps UI? I don´t know. Again: If I could test it with my ID, I would be happy. (Hint: Microsoft and Google have a free offering, you can test their offerings at any time).

Most interesting for Lotus shops is the “non-disruptive shift to the cloud” for existing Notes infrastructures. Notes shops can now deploy Domino images to LotusLive. User who still live in the Notes client will not notice if the components they work with are provided by an online service or reside on an on-premise infrastructure.

IBM did its homework to start competing with the other vendors in that market space. Will this help selling LotusLive in Europe, in Germany? As I visited a BOF session with a handfull IT managers discussing issues with cloud computing it became very clear: While companies in Europe still hesitate moving IT infrastructure to the cloud, for many US companies the cloud hype has passed the peak of inflated expectations and is now on its way to the trough of desillusionment. Most of them face only other problems than before they moved to the cloud – not less problems.

There is no doubt about the growth of the cloud market. It would be easier for IBM if LotusLive would be as popular as the Live offering of Microsoft or Google´s Apps – because young people use this every day.

Tell us about the future of social business

Looking for Predictions

SocialSphere

Lotusphere 2011 is about a thing that is called social business. It is about adopting technologies from social software tools we use in private life every day for business. It is about redesigning our traditional software tools for commmunication and collaboration into a new set of tools that meet the needs of todays employees. Working together the Facebook way.

After several session about social software, Enterprise 2.0 and our fast changing world of communication I try to put together the pieces I learned.

First there are many important buzzwords:

Activity Streams. No, these is not Activity Explorer Next, it the Facebook way of presenting the “river of news”. The news may come from everywhere. Your mail file, your Notes application, your Siebel system, SAP or the feeds of external sources you are subscribed too.

Embedded Experience. You will live in your activity stream of information, to dos, e-mails, videos, documents – and you will stay there. A click on a report will show you the embbed view of the – of course – Cognos charts. Think of the way Twitter presents links or pictures when clicking in the river of news. Its everything right there in your browser window.

To sort this all out, you need Analytics. On facebook you have to deal with all that content that put your friends in your stream. Funny links, new youtube videos – it really doesn´t matter if you miss something. But you should not miss important things that are related to your work. So this is why IBM says “analytics, analytics, analytics”. The system will decide whats important – based on your settings, but also based on some kind central intelligence service in your company. The analytics engine will constantly make recommendations for a better decision making process. This means: You will only see whats important for your work and for the quality of your decisions. And management will analyze all the streams outside (think of brand awareness on twitter, etc) and – if corporate and legal policies let them do – the streams inside the organization.

Sharing. Share everything. With a Facebook like sharebutton. Right within the information flow, from your activity stream. Ad content, no matter what it is. Videos, documents, or just a short twitterific note – in this case with more than 140 chars.

And finally Content Management. The things you share have to be stored somewhere. So this is why Content Management from IBM is now social.

Mobile? Well. In my opinion there will be no separation anymore. Mobile or not? It simply does not matter. IBM will deliver the Activity Stream to every device. Notebook with all kinds of browsers, iPhone, Android, Blackberry or iPad and Playbook. It – does -not – matter.

This is the vision as far as I understand it. And I think this vision of working together the very good approach to our brave new workplace. It is not about building a robust, scalable, secure, IBM version of Facebook. It is about learning from social networks how people want to communicate, collaborate – and to coordinate the business processes.

So the pieces fit together. I can see clearer now, what they tried to explain monday morning.

Where does that leave Lotus products? Thoughts about this a little bit later.

Want to earn money @ Lotusphere?

Want to earn money at Lotusphere? Stop by at Point Alliance, Booth 534. Listen to the nice guy for a few minutes. He has something to say and will pay for it. No boring giveaways. Just pure money and pure information.

IBM loves Social Media – where does that leave Lotus?

First of all: I love learning about IBM´s approach to adopt social media for business. It is great to talk about this here at Lotusphere. This is one of the main reasons why I am here.

The mission for IBM: Deliver robust, scalable and secure technologies that enables companies to adopt social media technologies to drive business, respond fast to market needs, etc.

Most of the examples of the CIOs at the keynotes yesterday and today are about connecting people and knowledge. Finding the right people with the right expertise, connecting in real time, working together on projects at any time and any place. You heard that before? Right. This is still the same discussion. Roll back 10 years and see the slides about Knowledge Management. And 20 years history of Lotus Notes show us: It is always about enabling people to communicate, to collaborate and to coordinate the business processes. About handling unstructured data. And much more. Still hot, today probably much more important than 20 years ago. So far I really enjoy what I hear at Lotusphere 2011.

But where does that leave Lotus?
There are a few thousand attendees at Lotusphere. Most of them have been here for more than one time. Some of us visited Lotusphere ten or more times. Most of attendees still fight with their Domino Infrastructure, they roll out Notes 8.5.2 because the end of Notes 7 is near, they have to maintain Notes applications that were build with Notes 5 or 6 technologies. When I talk to these guys I realize: What IBM talks about in the keynotes at this conference is far far away from most attendees reality. Even more far away when you work for a non US-company – let´s say in Germany.

If these guys return home and spread the social media word, the boss will cut their budget. Facebook-like applications? Twitterize our messaging infrastructure? Share-Buttons? Rollout a complete new social software infrastructure? The CIO will ask: Are you nuts? If not – the CFO will ask that question.

I know all the pros to engage NOW in social media technologies. But I fear IBM is up in the cloud, too far away from the customers needs. The analyst say: Companies who adopt social media technologies are more succesfull. I would say: There is no causality. There might be a coincidence, meaning succesfull companies often are engaged in social media, they live the Enterprise 2.0 way. But I don´t see companies becoming successfull by adopting these technologies. This is much more a culture issue. But besides a few CIOs, analysts and press people there are a few thousand people here that would have loved to see some more Notes and Domino related stuff – not only in the very good sessions, but in the keynotes.

Update: Excellent statement from Bob Balaban on vowe.net.