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Get Out the Vote…For your pick of the 2016 edition of Lotusphere

Lotusphere, IBM Connect, IBM ConnectED.  Whatever you call it, There is a 4 question Anonymous survey asking for your feedback on what you would like to see in 2016.

It is done by Survey Monkey.  Go Here and speak your opinion.  My opinion is not so anonymous.  I find Las Vegas to be the most useless city in the country.


Connectosphere 2014 Final Day: GURUpalooza!, Ask the Product Managers, Ask the Developers sessions

(Long article. Jump to the meat at the end if you don’t want the full story) If you left before the end of the conference, you missed the best part. Thursday always holds the crown jewels: GURUpalooza, Ask the Product Managers, and Ask the Developers.  Each of these sessions have a panel on stage and give attendees a chance to ask any question they wish or give their suggestions.  If you were there, you already know this is my favorite day of the conference. No surprise given my love for product design and chronic divergent thinking (I don’t think outside the box. It’s more like there is no box.)  This can be a curse at times, but on Thursday I revel in it.

At GURUpalooza, the panel consists of all the conference speakers who are not IBMers (not counting Susan Bulloch  who hosts the session and Mat Newman who recently transcended the independents to become an IBMer).  The big selling point of this session is you won’t get marketing fluff and they won’t skirt the question; just direct, truthful answers.  And if they don’t know, they will candidly say “I don’t know.”

Then comes Ask the Product Managers.  Originally started at Connect 2013 by Ed Brill, probably in response to the many questions that were more befitting of the product managers than the developers, as they were more about product direction than specific bugs or features.  This is where all the hard questions are asked that the audience tries to put the panel on the hot seat.  Since Ed started his new role in Mobile at the end of the conference last year, this session was hosted by Kramer Reeves, Director, Product Management, Messaging and Collaboration.

Third comes Ask the Developers.  This session has a long tradition of being the final session before the closing session.  It has taken on a more light-hearted atmosphere as most of the toughest questions have already been fielded in the Ask the Product Managers session, hosted by John Woods, Director of Development, Domino and SmartCloud Notes.

To paint the picture, these Q&A sessions are all held in the Swan.  they open up the 5 large conference rooms to make one large, wide room.  There are 4 wide isles between the chairs and at the front of each isle they set a microphone for anyone in the audience to line up in front of and take a turn to ask their question.  The rules for these sessions are all the same: Each person gets to ask one and only one question and must then go back to the end of the line at one of the mics again to ask another question.  Questions are taken from each mic in a round robin format.  I took my usual spot at the mic in the isle directly in front of the stage.

I believe these sessions were recorded this year and are available for replay on the web.  I am working on getting a complete list of all questions asked in each of the sessions.  Meanwhile, here are the questions I asked this year.  I am hoping that by publishing it, next year we can reflect back on what happened over the year and see if our input made a difference.

1.  Roaming is not officially supported by SmartCloud, even with the data stored on a local server.  Do any of the Gurus have personal experience using Roaming with SmartCloud that can speak to any issues using it in a SmartCloud environment?
A:  No one on the panel has experience with it yet.

2: What is your opinion of the impact adding Kenexa to Lotusphere has had on the conference?
A: As expected, the responses spanned the board.  Great that it draws people from line of business (HR users and decision-makers) so they can see what solutions are available and not rely on IT staff to spread the word.  Bad that the Opening General Session had all the technical details of substance removed to appeal to the non-technical audience.  Interesting to see them focus on the solution and not the technology behind it, but unfortunate that they made no references whatsoever to what software was used in the case studies they showcased.  Also disappointed that the party at a park was moved to Tuesday night because the kenexa sessions only ran through Tuesday.  I expect there will be much controversy on this conference merger for a long time to come.

Ask the Product Managers
1. While the “Hollywood Squares” style multi-camera web conferencing is a great stride forward, most of us still operate our web conferences from a meeting room with a group of people.  When will Sametime support a roundt able camera like the competitors have?
2. We need SAML to work with Sametime and Traveler.
3. The Notes admin client hasn’t been updated since R6.5.  Can the UI be updated and possibly include integrated tools to administer SmartCloud?
4. When will we see migration tools to move from Microsoft Outlook and Office 365 to SmartCloud?

Ask the Developers:
1. In the user preferences on the Basic Notes Client Configuration tab, Additional Options list, Can you add numbers to the list so it is easier to find and to refer to the items?
2. SmartCloud web mail has a button to mark messages as SPAM.  Can this function be added to the Notes client experience?
3. SmartCloud does not update the person documents with the users’ client version.  Can this functionality be added?
4. The Notes Workspace originally designed by Ray Ozzie has proven to be a great design by being copied by iOS and Android.  Can the workspace be revitalized and clean up the functionality?  Dragging and dropping icons between tabs and 5. adding applications to the workspace are examples.  (This one actually got HUGE applause and was noted by the team.)
6. Add official support in SmartCloud to use Roaming with the data stored on local servers.
7. Add support for middle initials in SmartCloud.
8. Allow the customer full control over all SmartCloud system-generated emails sent to users.
9. Improve the SmartCloud administration website and consider integrating it into the Notes Admin client.

Here are more suggestions I made in the Meet the Developers lab during the week:
1. Provide functionality to remove the icons of the old mail files when a user is migrated to SmartCloud.
2. In the SmartCloud OPT tool, add the test to count the number of messages in the inbox and the number of folders in the mail file before migrating to alert to possible performance problems.

I’m sure I offered many more ideas, but this it what I remember.  What are your thoughts about these?  Do you have ideas of your own?  Please share them here. Or better yet, Call IBM technical support and open a PMR for it.  From that they will create an SPR and if enough people request it, you will almost certainly see it in the product. You should also post them on IdeaJam to get more visibility.  Just know that IBM doesn’t monitor that website.  They only listen to PMRs and Lotusphere attendees.  Don’t think they are listening? Think again. The Purge Interval Replication Control is just one example of a feature I pushed for that made it into the product (after presenting it in the Meet the Developers lab and at Ask the Developers session).


Get the most out of your Connections account at IBM Connect 2014 (Connect O’Sphere)

If you’re attending IBM Connect 2014 next week you can get much more out of the experience by taking the time to get set up in the community on the conference Connections community well in advance of arriving in Orlando.  This will give you access to the session information, allow you to create your own schedule, connect with other attendees, and get a more socially interactive experience at the conference.

First, you should have received an email from with your login credentials.  Your credentials for logging in should consist of long numbers.  Secure, but difficult to remember if you’re trying to log into the website.  My advice: don’t.  Instead, go to the app store on your mobile device and download the IBM Connections app.  I actually like using the app better than viewing it in a browser. The website is great, but in the app everything just flows a bit more smoothly.  But best of all, you don’t have to keep logging in.  Enter your credentials once and you’re done.

The details:
1.  Download and install the app on your mobile device.
2.  Launch the app.
3.  Add your account credentials for the Connect 2014 Connections server.  (The app allows configuring for multiple Connections servers)
Enter a title:  Connect 2014
Server URL:
Username:  <your user ID from the email>
Password: <your password from the email>

You’re good to go.  Start by entering your profile information so people know more about you.  Be sure to post a photo of yourself (a photo or bitmap of anything other than you is really quite useless.  A simple head shot is perfect.)  Add tags about yourself to indicate your areas of interest.  Next, go into the profiles and search for people you already know and add them to your network.  After you connect, tag them with relevant tags that will help define who they are.  Then go into the schedule area and add the sessions to your schedule so you have a plan.
Unfortunately, the forums do not appear to be available via the app.  This is disappointing given that most people will want to interact on the forums via their mobile device.  Who wants to log into a website to get to the forums, especially with those numeric credentials? Still, I think you will find the app very handy for getting the most out of the conference.

See you at IBM Connect O’Sphere 2014!

W3C Social Business Jam Report Just Released

(If you’re following my Grand Canyon story, the next post is coming soon.  This week is Lotusphere.)

The W3C sponsored an online forum to study opinions on social business. The results of the Jam have been compiled and they published their results yesterday.
The jam focused on 6 aspects of social technology:

– Identity Management for Social
– Mobile and Social
– Information Management
– Business Process Meets Social
– Seamless Integration of Social
– Metrics for Social Business

The jam was hosted by W3C member IBM using IBM’s Collaboration Jam platform.  (Not to be confused with IBM’s Social Business Jam, an entirely different report made by IBM )

Not familiar with who the W3C is?  In their words, The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web.”   This is the organization that tries to define industry standards that make integrating computer systems possible.  Without them, the world wide web (www.) would not exist.

As Lotusphere 2012 is all about Social Business, the timing of this report is appropriate.  The report provides some great insight into the future of social business from the viewpoint of the jam participants.  A few points:

– Only 18% of the participants Social Business is just marketing hype.  I don’t hold much faith in the longevity of their businesses.  But that also means 82% of those surveyed see Social Business as a real part of business today.  That is important if you are in the business of Social Business.  That means opportunity.

– Only 7% of the participants have only one identity on the web. Does that mean we all suffer from dissociative identity disorder?  I hope not.  Does it mean we don’t trust the world enough to let our whole self be seen by everyone?  Perhaps at least to some degree.  For example, many people don’t use the same identity on LinkedIn as they use on Facebook because they don’t want their employer or prospective employer to know about their personal life.  But it may also say something about how people play many roles in their lives and that one identity cannot represent us appropriately.  You see this in twitter profiles all the time: “CIO, whitewater kayaker, father”.  This becomes relevant because it’s the commonalities you share outside of business that make the strongest bonds for doing business.  It’s the fraternity effect, as I call it.  For Social Business to be most effective, it will need to be able to handle our split personalities.

– The report reveals how we treat our constant-connections of mobile phones so differently from all other devices.  Not just that technology must accommodate this in many ways including partial data wipes that remove corporate data while leaving personal data untouched.  The implications go into the usability features of the devices themselves too.  Think “It’s not business, it’s personal.” for a mobile phone, but “it’s not personal, it’s just business” for the desktop.

– The respondents also see value in social technologies in how they can handle exceptions to processes more effectively than structured forms.  This will shine most in a crisis.  If you are familiar with Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity, you can see how this could fit in.  Imagine a natural disaster hits the headquarters of a company.  While their computer systems will survive if they properly setup a co-located data center, layers of leadership may not be available.  Social technologies are inherently flat organizationally, allowing people at all levels to communicate directly with the people they need to in the most effective manner.

– An interesting point that will play out in the near future is the response to the survey question “I want social tools integrated with my other applications”.  This is exactly what IBM is doing with IBM Connections and the Social Edition of Lotus Notes coming soon.  65% agree.  I expect those that disagreed probably just couldn’t envision such an integrated world.  They probably don’t realize that they already have that in places like facebook (if they use it.)

If you want an idea of where social software is going, this report is a worthwhile read.

140ConfNW Speech Transcript: Using Your Social Media Network to Make You a Genius

On May 19, the 140 Characters Conference was hosted in Vancouver, WA. The focus of this conference was on social media and how it fits into business. The format is unique and in my opinion, brilliant. Rather than having a bunch of breakout sessions and hour-long speeches saturated with hundreds of Powerpoint slides, the audience was kept in one venue and blasted with short 10-minute presentations in rapid-fire succession. Time was managed with great precision. Due to the short time permitted for each speaker, their presentations were distilled down to the essence of just a few points. No fluff, no boredom. Just intense content. If a topic came up that wasn’t interesting to you, that’s OK because you knew it wouldn’t last long. The short presentations also allowed for nearly 70 speakers to have their voice heard in just one day. Coincidentally, this closely followed the format used in Toastmasters. Surprising it took this long to get implemented outside of Toastmasters. I expect we will see a lot more of it in the future. I would like to see a separate track added to Lotusphere that followed this format. It would be a great venue for rising talent with low risk and I think a better format than Speed Geek.

Here is a short video by Jeff Pulver, responsible for 140 Characters Conferences:

There was an additional dimension to this conference: Twitter. This made the conference truly interactive. Some thought it distracted from the presentation, but I think it added to the experience. (In fact, it’s exactly what my speech was about.) The best points of a presentation were often immediately tweeted and retweeted, inherently adding emphasis to the points found most relevant by the audience, much like a tag cloud. It was really cool to go back and see all the quotes from my speech echo around the room and the world via the Internet and gave me excellent, immediate feedback. I can see Twitter becoming a bigger part of live presentations in the future as well. This was done at Lotusphere 2011 with great success.

For the hearing impaired, here is a transcript of my speech.

“How many of you actively participate in social media? How many of you REALLY know what Social Media is? What is media? Media is any form of mass communication. Radio, television, newspapers, books, even the guy standing on a soap box in the middle of town square, shouting out to anyone who will listen.

Today we have a new soap box. It is the Internet. It’s facebook, twitter, youtube, Foursquare, biznik, Linkedin. It’s blogs, wikis, forums, webcasts. It is any digital means that allows your voice to be heard by the masses. But one crucial difference from other media is that social media is interactive, it’s a two-way street. This is also the key to making you a genius.

My Dad was a brilliant man. One day we were having one of those Father-Son talks and he said to me: “David, The secret to being a genius is having the answer before they ask the question. Now you may have learned the answer 5 years ago or just 5 minutes ago. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you have the answer when they need it.” Powerful words for an 8-year-old to hear! But in that wisdom lies the power of social media and your social media network.

I have been in the computer industry for 26 years.
26 years ago… if I couldn’t figure out an answer or get it from someone in the cubicles around me, then I didn’t get the answer.
10 years ago… there was a simple knowledge base website and a discussion forum for the software I used where people could post a question and someone else might post an answer. There were many more questions than answers.
5 years ago… things began to change. there were many more people on the forums and a few people were starting to blog. I started to get answers.
2 years ago… There was a quiet explosion in social media. My social media network began growing exponentially.

Today… My linkedin Network alone has over 100,000 2nd degree connections. A first degree connection are the friends I am connected to. Second degree connections are all of their friends. And those connections can put me in touch with over 5 million more people around the world.
I am in contact with thousands of professionals in my industry via my social media network.
I can rely almost exclusively on tweets and blog aggregators to guide me to news relevant to my work.
My Mom asked me: “David, what’s a blog aggregator?” I explained “it’s a website where I can go to a single source to find out what everyone is talking about. Mom said: “Oh, you mean like Aunt Ruth!”

Thanks to my social media network, it is a very rare event that I encounter a question or problem at work for which I cannot quickly get an answer. We all have this potential. This is really nothing new. You’ve always had a social network. Soap boxes have been around for centuries. It’s just that the Internet makes those connections more visible and more accessible. The amount of information we have access to today is mind-boggling.

Many people view Social Media as a marketing tool, but it’s so much more than that. Your social network can turn you into a genius more brilliant than any individual could ever be on their own. The year 1897 was a pivotal year for mankind. That year Thomas Young died. He happens to be considered the last man to know everything known by humanity at the time. Today it’s hard to imagine knowing everything about one topic, much less everything about everything.

So it really has become all about who you know, not what you know. Your true genius comes not from the knowledge you have, but from the knowledge you have access to. It is the IQ of your social media network.
Much like the scene in ‘The Matrix’ where Neo downloads the knowledge of Kung Fu or Trinity learns how to fly a helicopter. It’s “Just-in-time learning”.

This will become so relevant that one day employers will consider the value of your social network and how adept you are at navigating it in their hiring decisions. In fact, that day is already here. They already look at your facebook page and your Linkedin profile. They read your blog. My blog has helped build my credibility and opened opportunities I would not have had otherwise.

Another big difference between social media and traditional media is that everyone is equal on the internet. I have a friend who was born with a birth defect. It is difficult for him carry on a normal conversation. People avoid him in public. Yet people flock to read his blog.

Among the variety of people in my network are senior executives from companies like IBM. I met one of them at a conference recently and when I introduced myself, he said: “Yes, I know you. I read your blog.” Wow, It really made me think about what I write!
On the Internet, we are all equal.

Earlier I mentioned that Social media is interactive. It’s all about sharing knowledge. Today I contribute answers to those forums. I post comments on others’ blogs and I have a blog of my own. Hopefully I contribute to the genius of others’ social media network. It’s called “Sending the elevator back down.” By all of us contributing to social media, we can make each other a genius.

That’s my soap box. Let’s get social!”

Yellow by Cold Play: a musical interlude for those who bleed yellow

For those who bleed yellow…

Click to play Yellow by ColdPlay

Wonder why we never get Cold Play for the one-song act at Lotusphere OGS…


Look at the stars
Look how they shine for you
And everything you do
Yeah, they were all yellow

I came along
I wrote a song for you
And all the things you do
And it was called “Yellow”

So then I took my turn
Oh what a thing to have done
And it was all “Yellow”

Your skin
Oh yeah, your skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
And you know,
You know I love you so
You know I love you so

I swam across
I jumped across for you
Oh what a thing to do
‘Cause you were all “Yellow”

I drew a line
I drew a line for you
Oh what a thing to do
And it was all “Yellow”

Your skin
Oh yeah your skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
And you know
For you I’d bleed myself dry
For you I’d bleed myself dry

It’s true, look how they shine for you
Look how they shine for you
Look how they shine for
Look how they shine for you
Look how they shine for you
Look how they shine

Look at the stars
Look how they shine for you
And all the things that you do

Shuttle Discovery Launches on Mission STS-133

Space Shuttle with American FlagWe missed the opportunity to watch a live shuttle launch while visiting Florida for Lotusphere 2011. The mission was delayed, but today Discovery launched. If you have never had the thrill of watching it in person, I can tell you it’s an amazing thing. Growing up in Tampa, I had the privilege of watching the launches from my back yard. Yes, from Tampa, 100 miles away! Space ShuttleI can remember watching Columbia, the very first mission, launch in 1981. I can also remember watching Challenger. While I could not be there for the launch in person today, thanks to the Internet and streaming HDTV, I had the best view possible without being there. Check out the ongoing live video stream of the shuttle mission.
You can also get cool images and information at the NASA website.

In honor of the few remaining shuttle missions (the program ends in 2011), I used it as the theme for these images in a project I’m working on.

Space Shuttle

In case you thought the student thing was limited to Lotusphere…

Kudos to GBS’ CEO Joerg Ott for keeping the momentum going on professional development for college students after Lotusphere. The following quote comes from an email sent by the Employer Relations Coordinator at University of South Florida to the student body:

“GBS CEO and Sponsor for College Day at Lotusphere2011 Joerg Ott will be visiting the USF campus and hosting a motivational presentation named “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” For those of you who attended Lotusphere2011 and did not get the opportunity speak to the dynamic and enthusiastic CEO, this is your chance to ask your questions! If you were not able to attend Lotusphere2011, this is the opportunity to meet the head executive who was instrumental in organizing the event.”

In addition to driving the College Day at Lotusphere 2011, Joerg invited 8 students in attendance to his home for an evening to mentor them where they could further develop their entrepreneurial goals. Clearly Joerg is not just doing this as a part of his job. It’s his passion. Joerg sets a great example that we can all learn from. You have your own passion. You have your own sphere of influence. Be sure those within it know your passion and are moved by it.

Public speaking tip for presenters at Lotusphere and elsewhere

Eight months ago I joined Toastmasters.    I will never be able to watch a Lotusphere session (or any other presentation) the same way again.  Did you ever wonder what it’s like to present at Lotusphere?  On the positive side it must be rewarding just to be selected.  You’ve been chosen by IBM as one who stands out among your peers.  On the other hand, giving a presentation is challenging and even more so when presenting somewhere like Lotusphere in front of your peers where you are expected to be the subject matter expert.   More people fear public speaking than anything else, even more than dying.  For most technology experts, their expertise lies in the technology, not in public speaking.  They may give presentations just a few times a year.  Even without the fear of public speaking, it is difficult to be good at it without frequent practice.  Imagine if you only administered your servers or wrote code a few times each year?  Quite a challenge.  So as you watch their presentations, keep that in mind.  It’s not easy.

On the other hand, if you find yourself speaking at Lotusphere or anywhere else for that matter, consider this:  you’re already an expert at your subject matter.  So if you’re trying to improve the quality of your presentation, you’ll probably get the biggest return on investment of your time by honing your communication skills rather than your topic competence.  There are a few speakers out there like Chris Miller and Mat Newman, who have somehow mastered the techniques AND know what they’re talking about.  But for the rest of us, it takes lots of practice and feedback.  And I have stumbled upon what I think is the best venue for this.  It’s Toastmasters.  If a Toastmasters club meets somewhere near you, join it.  Toastmasters is one of the very best paths to develop good communication skills that you will find.  Toastmasters is an international non-profit organization of people who want to improve on their communication and leadership skills.  It’s a fantastic way to minimize your weaknesses in public speaking in a positive, supportive, and fun environment.  You will uncover things like

  • How many times do you say ‘uh’, ‘um’, ‘so’, or ‘you know’ while giving even a short 5 minute presentation?
  • Do you commit “death by Powerpoint” (or Symphony Presentations)?
  • Do you ramble on without pauses for emphasis?
  • Talk monotone without any inflection or energy in your voice?
  • Are your slides packed with text and complex graphics?
  • Do you read your slides to the audience?
  • Do you use gestures and body language and make use of the whole stage or do you lock yourself in behind the security of the podium and stand motionless?
  • Do you read from a script (e.g. Open General Session!) or worse, do you try to memorize your speech?

You get the idea.  Whether you are currently a presenter or aspire to become one, until you have mastered all of the skills (and even the best speakers practice to improve), you should practice and get feedback from people who know the intricacies of public speaking and can help you can improve. (I’m not talking about the feedback forms at the end of the sessions.  They mostly cover content, not delivery, and the observers are not watching with a critical eye for communication skills, they are there to learn the content.)  Toastmasters is a great place to do this is.

I have been in Toastmasters for less than a year and while my peers in the club give me great praise and support, I learn every time I give a presentation or evaluate someone else giving theirs.  If you think you’re good enough already, check out this list of famous people who are in Toastmasters.

The most amazing and relevent presentation ever posted on about effective use of Social Media

I was going to to post a presentation of my own when I happened upon this presentation about storytelling and social media. It was appealing from the very first slide. Having just finished a college level, 5 credit-hour course on digital storytelling, I have a new perspective on this topic.

Storytelling is an important part of getting people to hear your message. Whether you sell Lotus software to the people in the business world, give presentations at Lotusphere, write a blog, or just have a linkedin profile, understanding this topic will have a huge impact on getting the results you seek.

There are actually two things to note about this presentation.
1. The style and structure of the slides. Visually appealing, Very few words, yet it yields a powerful message.
2. The content of the presentation. The message it contains.

As you sit through hours of sessions at Lotusphere and view their presentations, ask yourself how their presentations could be enhanced by incorporating the style of this presentation and the storytelling techniques it describes.

Promoting Lotusphere to college students: Learn about careers in Lotus software for web dev tools, social media and more!

It’s great to see an IBM business partner stepping up and making an effort to promote careers in Lotus software at colleges and inviting students to attend the opening day of Lotusphere 2011 is a fantastic venue for showing IBM’s stuff to the workers of the future. As an online prelude to the free attendance to opening day, they take visitors through a quick history of Lotus software and a lesson on xpages development.

An excerpt from their site tells you the WIIFY:

What’s in it for you?
A rare opportunity to attend a student’s only meeting with key IBM Executives from R&D, Marketing, and Business Development
Meet with IBM Engineers to learn what skills will allow you to quickly start a career working on IBM platforms as well as their insight into the future
Learn what new IBM software will be delivered around social media, collaboration and web development
Network with 200 small, medium and large companies in the IBM Showcase
Network with over 6500 business professionals in attendance
Attend technical and business oriented sessions
Go to the Labs where you can get hands-on experience with the software as well as talk to IBM developers and engineers
Attend a Women in Technology session with Kristen Lauria, VP Marketing IBM and Sandy Carter, VP IBM Software Group (for woman only)

Check it all out here:

Even if you aren’t at a college in Florida, you should check out the info on the history of Lotus software and the latest on their software development platform with XPages:

Students, it’s easy to think Microsoft is the end-all for software. The reality is IBM is the leader in business software. They just don’t make a big deal about it.

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