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IBM Named the Worldwide Market Share Leader in Enterprise Social Networks for 6th Consecutive Year by IDC

Surely being voted SIX TIMES in a row as the worldwide market share leader is one of the best reasons why, if you are considering moving your business into the 21st century of communications and collaboration, you should be using IBM Connections and Connections Cloud?

Our competitors would have commercials running on TV, posters at every stadium, in every airport and basically in your face telling you that they were the best.  I think IBM prefers to let people come to their own conclusions, guided by independent experts.

Even if you exist in a Microsoft-only locked-in environment, IBM Connections will still give you lots more than you have today and will deliver on the promise of social collaboration where others simply can’t.

Check out Jeff Schick’s blog for more information.

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Strategy, not Technology, Drives Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a hot topic these days.  The world of e-commerce, e-business, whatever you want to call it, is maturing.  Organisations have file servers, intranets, mobile devices, security concerns, firewalls, on-line presences on Facebook, Twitter, and so on.  Yet with all this technology we still don’t see the kind of up tick in business performance we were promised.  Why?

There’s a really interesting read over at the MITSloan review which, in summary, says, that without a strategy, you will not get the kind of transformation your business needs.  While I have been rambling about this for several year, the people at MITSloan have put it in such a good way that I’d recommend you head over there and download a copy of their report, free of charge.

The strategy you follow comes from a vision of what your business will look like in the future.  Digital Transformation – where all that IT is put to work instead of merely being there in the hope that it will help – requires adoption.

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Working in a Browser at Last!

It seems like the day has finally come.  I think it has taken about ten or more years, but it has now arrived, from what I can tell.  It’s the day, in fact the week so far, that I have worked exclusively in a web browser.  No client software, no productivity apps installed – all in Safari on my Mac.

For years the promise of working in a light application such as a browser was dangled in front of us as a solution to the bloated applications we laboriously install on our laptops.  Then it became clear that the kind of functionality we needed the browser could not produce so we had to have plugins.  Along came java and Flash and who knows what else to provide that functionality.  These were compromises at best and we went back to our applications and used our browsers for watching videos of cats on YouTube.

But things have changed.  Nowadays technology like HTML 5 and all those groovy javascript frameworks are making life in a browser much more liveable.

For example I am writing this blog post in IBM Docs, which comes as part the the IBM Connections Cloud product.  It’s a great word processor for the 99% of the time I need a word processor.  Sure it doesn’t do some of the really fancy things that Microsoft Word can do (like build indexes), but then Word can’t let me co-edit this document with my colleagues in real time regardless of operating system they’re working on.  I have more need to work with my colleagues than I have to create indexes, so I think Docs is just fine.

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I also don’t need to worry about where to save my file, or have I uploaded it to my cloud storage as its already there.  I also don’t even need to remember to save the document as every few minutes it saves it for me.

OK, so other products out there do this kind of thing too, and I am not claiming a world exclusive on cooperative document editing in the cloud.  What I am saying though, is that as a complete suite of products that I need to do my work, I think I am pretty much sorted now, working in a browser, with IBM Connections Cloud and IBM Verse.

I get a great email experience with Sametime instant messaging embedded, the ability to detach and attach files directly into my IBM Connections files (the same place IBM Docs saves them) plus I get all the social networking and community capabilities you probably already know IBM Connections Cloud provides:

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The really nice thing about this, however, is the fact that the walls to collaboration have been broken down between my IBM colleagues and my customers, Europe’s IBM Business Partners.  Both groups of users work in IBM Connections Cloud.  Both access communities I access, and so at last – and believe me when I say I have been waiting for this for a long time – I now have ONE PLACE to work.  I am beginning to make more and more use of the audio & video capabilities now included in the web meetings in Connections Cloud so I don’t need to make so many phone calls too.

I think if you realistically look at what you need and do to collaborate with your colleagues and with your customers and suppliers, you will be surprised about the basic needs you actually have.  You want somewhere to make information, somewhere to store them, a means of sharing them and communicating.

If you fancy trying these features out for yourself, go sign up for a free trial.  Or, go speak to one of my customers, an IBM Business Partner.

 

 

 

 

 

ICON UK – IBM Connections User Group 21-22 September

If you use IBM Connections or Connection Cloud, or SmartCloud and live in Europe then consider coming to London for the ICON UK conference on 21st and 22nd September.  This year it is being held at IBM South Bank, right in the centre of London and on the banks of the river Thames.

There is an illustrious group of speakers including, ahem, myself, all of whom are dedicated to your success implementing IBM Connections as the premier social collaboration solution for your business.

 

 

All Change

It seems to be the season for changes in the IBM Social Business Community and the same is true for me. As of 1st April (and it’s not an April Fool’s joke) I am moving to a new post within IBM as Channel Technical Leader for Europe for the Social Business Unit.

For me this is a bit of a homecoming, having spent most of my career so far as an IBM Business Partner. This move means I get to work with the people who have a genuine and deep passion for IBM’s collaboration solutions like I have, whilst at the same time still banging-on….er, evangelising, about the need for social business adoption.

My new role covers the whole ICS portfolio and the whole of Europe, so I will likely be coming to a town near you before long. I am working with your existing IBM Business Partner reps and my job will be to help you gain the skills you need to make money from IBM’s collaboration solutions.

Some of you will know my predecessor, Alex Forbes (@axeforbes), who is moving to pastures new in the IBM Security brand. Alex’s focus was primarily technical. My role, although still being technical, will be widened to include some of the professional services aspects of being a collaboration solutions partner as well as helping on technical issues.

So look out for some announcements in the next month or so about blogs, events, and other engagements happening in Europe which I hope you’ll take part in.

If you are attending the very exciting ENGAGE conference in Ghent at the end of March, I’ll be there and would really welcome the opportunity to get re-acquainted and start work on some plans with you.

The need for adoption

Quite rightly customers of IT solutions over the years have seen the use of collaboration tools as ways to improve how their business operates.  It can provide competitive advantage, it can make their business more agile, able to scale more easily, to share the experiences of others to the common good.  All of these things are possible and I believe essential if an organisation is to remain competitive in today’s market.

Employees entering the employment world today consider using email in the same way as we would now consider the telex or, perhaps, the fax machine.  It’s an unusually old-fashioned way of communicating with each other.  Yet, as we all know, business thrives on email and it is not the default communications mechanism for companies the world over.  Many of us are struggling under the weight of email we receive.  Bring in a new member of staff, less used to an email-focused culture, and you immediately burden them with something they are uncomfortable with.

Social collaboration solutions bring the best of social networking technologies to a business context.  They fuse status updates, comments, recommendations and sharing with more “traditional” collaboration tools like document sharing, wikis, blogs, and so on.

We have highlighted here, and in many other places, the need, however, to not only implement social collaboration solutions in business, but also to address the culture of the organisation.  Unless your business wants to be better, wants to share, wants to compete, then the best laid plans will surely fail.  That culture change must come from the top of the organisation.  The senior leadership needs to recognise that business is changing again.  They have probably overseen the move from paper to email and now they must adapt again to a socially-connected organisation.

As if implementing culture change is not enough, another barrier stands in your way towards becoming more profitable, more agile and having better staff stay with you – adoption.

A social collaboration solution must have a purpose – it needs to be there to solve a problem, or many problems. The requirement for its use must be clear and simple for people to recognise without being convinced too hard.  Line of Business solutions like a purchase order management system are now the only way purchase orders can be raised in your business.  A social collaboration system remains an optional part of communicating at work (we could still actually speak to each other or pick up the phone).  Thus, finding the purpose and driving the adoption of social collaboration is vital to ensure success.

Indeed, increasingly customers will connect their purchase of a solution to the success of its deployment.  In cloud-connected worlds “deployment” means “people using it”.  In the traditional sense “deployment” meant “installing it”.  It’s here that the fundamental change in our mindsets must happen.

Your organisation must recognise that in order to be successful with anything, people must actually use it. You must drive benefit from a technology solution in order for it to be worthwhile implementing. Getting people to use it requires adoption techniques which involves thinking about the business processes, the communications, engagement and support of the people who will use it.

If you are considering rolling out any new solution in 2015, please consider how you will involve your users in the uptake of it. If you don’t, you might find this time next year that you have paid a lot of money for something and still haven’t managed to make that fundamental change your business needs to compete in 2016.

And with that, I’d like to wish my readers my compliments of the season and I hope that your 2015 is prosperous, healthy and exciting.