1. How will IBM Verse make people more productive?
2. Can we help make people more productive with Verse?
For all I can see, both of these questions are still unclear, but Nathan's just posted some great thoughts about them.
This marketing video from March shows a portion of IBM's vision for Verse:
Keep in mind that this is a marketing video, so the real Verse may or may not perform as shown.
So far, it appears to be a web-based front end to IBM Connections, Domino-based mail, and other IBM collaboration tools. It is unclear, at present, how many of these tools will be required to experience the features shown in the video.
It looks like Verse is big on sharing and collaboration, but less so on personal productivity -- that is, actually getting work done. My research and work with thousands of people has shown me that, no matter the collaboration, knowledge work is inherently personal.
In this area, Verse has less to offer.
Verse does add a form of the "Waiting For" from David Allen's Getting Things Done, which is a positive step. I'm looking forward to seeing their next video and, of course, to seeing the real product in action when it ships.
P.S. Here are Hogne Pettersen's thoughts on Verse as "promiseware" competing with Microsoft.
My first paid consulting job convinced me that technology would solve all our problems. Over 30 years ago, I was writing flight-planning programs with a 1-kilobyte* programmable calculator, and it was incredible: calculations that took hours by hand were done in a few minutes.
What I didn't see then was the whole picture. Technology is (and always has been) only part of the equation. My client and I had to put our knowledge together: his knowledge of the math needed for flight-planning, and my knowledge of how to write that into a program.
What I've discovered is that machines can never do our thinking for us – even though advertisers have been claiming they can for decades. Exhibit A:
"Its vacuum tubes will make up your mind for you far faster than your gray matter can." Somehow I'm reminded of modern ads claiming that technology can decide what's important to you.
What I found out
During my graduate research on how people work. I saw that even people with the best technology could work very ineffectively. At the same time, some people could use outdated equipment – even as simple as pen and paper – and create great value for their organization. Obviously, technology alone didn't make people better workers.
It became clear that technology is useless if people don't know how to work with it – and more importantly, use it to work together.
Based on my experience and research, I came up with this equation as a model for the effectiveness of individuals and teams:
Value (V) = Knowledge (K) x Methodology (M) x Technology (T)
Technology is literally only part of the equation. There are two other factors:
- Methodology: the habits, rules, and practices that people follow to get work done. In other words, how people work.
- Knowledge: what you know, who you know, and what they know
Let me go back to the flight-planning example:
- K = my client's knowledge of the mathematics needed for flight-planning
- M = my process for translating that math into programs
- T = the 1-kilobyte programmable calculator
Without all three, our operation wouldn't have worked and I would've been out of a job.
A kindred spirit
I was delighted to come across a very insightful article that Mark Mortensen of INSEAD recently wrote for the Harvard Business Review: "Technology Alone Won't Solve Our Collaboration Problems." He emphasizes "a simple truth: it’s not what technology you’ve got, but how you use it" and includes three specific examples of how to work more effectively with today's technology.
I'm glad to find someone who recognizes "it’s less important which technology you choose and more important that you align it with how people do work." Mortensen acknowledges the importance of method and knowledge as well as technology. See here for his article.
Three factors to success
The interaction of knowledge, methodology, and technology is critical to any organization's success and the value of any individual's work. This is what I've brought to my consulting clients over my decades in the field, and I've clearly seen the results: it works.
To share your thoughts on this topic, connect with me on social media (below). When you're ready discuss how I can help you and your organization manage the balance of KMT, click "Contact" in the upper-right. I'd love to chat!
*For the younger crowd: 1 kilobyte is about 1/16,000,000 of the memory of a standard iPhone 6.
"Buy a Brain" image by DigiBarn [CC BY-NC 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/)]. Changes made: image rotated clockwise 1 degree; article text cropped out; additional border coloring added. Scanned by DigiBarn from Popular Science, May 1949. Link to original image: http://www.digibarn.com/collections/mags/popsci-may-1949/brain1.jpg
If my students were only posting cat videos, I wouldn't have a problem with this, but most of the posts were meant to start discussion or get feedback. For these kinds of posts, "like" doesn't mean anything.
Before Facebook and Twitter, if you wanted to engage with somebody's post, the only way (on nearly all platforms) was to make a comment. Writing and posting a comment takes at least a little thought and effort.
I'm not saying that "liking" is bad and everyone should stop it. What I am saying is this: think about what your "like" means.
Here's an example of a post where "liking" would be completely appropriate:
In this case, "like" simply means "yes."
On the other hand, think about what "like" means for a post like this:
In this case, "like" doesn't mean much of anything, except maybe "I approve of this idea, but don't want to contribute anything to it."
After that talk with my students, I noticed that they commented more and "liked" less.
I've been working with electronic messaging (email, etc.) in one form or another for over 30 years. Back in 1992, I (successfully) sold a server-software product that promised to help people deal with the "flood" of 40 emails a day! Much of my executive coaching business has revolved around helping professionals manage their email (many receive up to 400 a day).
I've had a front-row seat to the rise of email along the whole way. For many people, it's grown into a monstrous beast. A couple years ago, McKinsey & Company found that workers spend up to 28% of their day writing and reading emails. Inboxes fill up over lunch breaks. We're all guilty of being to quick to send to others whose email is just as out-of-control as ours.
I think that's at least half of the issue: who's creating the problem. I also think we can definitely find ways to address this together.
Continue Reading "Email is not the problem. Lack of agreement on how to use it is." »
This article points out a very important truth that seems to be slowly gaining recognition in the business world: resting is an important part of producing.
HBR uses the topic of late-night emails to dive into the issue of how we work when our work is always accessible. I remember professionals of my father's generation grumbling that work could reach them at home by phone -- and the issue has grown exponentially since then.
The real problem is not the means of communication, but how a lack of agreement on how to use them and when. As Maura Thomas insightfully points out in this article, after-hours emails (not to mention texts, calls, faxes, Facebook messages, etc.) can easily create a culture where everyone feels they're expected to be connected at all times.
More often than not, this is driven by leaders who feel that they have to do more to keep the company moving forward -- but by doing so in a way that involves their subordinates, they tend to create pressure to keep up.
Here's a key quote on this mentality:
The (often unconscious) belief that more work equals more success is difficult to overcome, but the truth is that this is neither beneficial nor sustainable.
The bottom line is that being "always on" never leaves you time "off," and that hurts everybody.
Click here for the article from HBR.
"Up All Night" by MisterGuy11 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via DeviantArt.
To that end, IBM is rebranding their collaboration social tools under the IBM Connections brand:
IBM Notes (The product formerly known as Lotus Notes) is now IBM Connections Mail
IBM Sametime is now IBM Connections Chat and Meetings.
So, we have IBM Connections Mail and the IBM Domino Application Platform.
[Update] A colleague informed me that there are two other name changes:
Lotus Notes Apps will be known as IBM Connections Domino apps, and
SmartCloud for Social Business will become IBM Connection in the Cloud
[Note: this is not the first time that IBM has changed product names. In fact, Sametime was changed to Lotus Messaging and then changed back.]
I have a 20+ year history with the Notes name so I will miss the name but not what it can do for me, I'm all for the branding consolidation if it leads to better unity and vision across the IBM portfolio.
There was no mention of the Notes client or the Domino server other than a brief mention that IBM will be hosting Domino Apps in the cloud.
Microsoft is sure to pronounce what they have been trying to get their customers to believe for years, that Notes is dead. Notes is most certainly not dead, but it is evolving and I will be watching to see what roadmap IBM presents for the future.
Meanwhile, IBM showed off a new vision for the mail client - their Mail Next vision. While new and shiny, it looks like it will be quite distracting to actually use when you just want to get work done. There no way to actually use this product (if it is yet a product) and it will likely be some time before we can try it first hand so time will tell on that front.
Speaking of new and shiny, it's going to take some work to sift through the marketing speak and shiny screen objects to find which new features flaunted at Connect 2014 will actually lead to a boost in worker productivity and which are, well, simply shiny...
[Update #2: Apparently, Jeff Schick said that there will be continuous support and ongoing development for the Rich Client formerly known as IBM Notes]
Over at the Inside.eProductivity blog, Ryan Heathers writes about
3 Things I've Learned about being Productive while Telecommuting.
Here's an excerpt:
Telecommuter. Remote Worker. Digital Nomad. Road Warrior. These are but a few of the names used to describe people who don't regularly see their co-workers face to face. I'm one of them. Perhaps you are, too.
The names can imply different things. A road warrior is someone who takes frequent business trips while a remote worker is (usually) someone who works from home. Measuring how many people telecommute is difficult.
Regardless, telecommuting comes with it's own set of opportunities and challenges. Let me share some things I've learned.
3 Things I've Learned -
- Find the Right Noise vs. Isolation Balance
- Communicate Frequently with the Office
- Know When to Quit
It's not about $ as both services are very competitively priced -- it's about stability and features and I really don't have much time or justification to investigate either. No point venturing into this area when what we have works so well for us and there's no visible ROI to switching. So, I continue to sit back, waiting for someone to blog about hosting a large meeting on LotusLive to convince me to switch.
Today, IBM just added another reason to consider. They just announced an app for the iPhone that will allow mobile users to participate in a LotusLive meeting. I'm not an iPhone user yet so that's not terribly exciting to me yet but something Darren mentioned does have my interest - apparently IBM has a mobile app for the BlackBerry in the works, too. As a BB user, that would be cool. A tipping point? Probably not. But value add? Yes.
I've never attended a webinar on a mobile device so I can't speak to how effective this is or isn't, but it has potential as a mobile productivity solution. I don't know how many meetings I would attend this way, but It would be great to manage my meetings and view details from anywhere.
You can learn more about the IBM app for LotusLive and iPhone here.
I have a topic that I want to put out to the Notes community to discuss. I could simply blog about it and ask people to comment. The challenge is I end up with a long list of comments without threads. I could direct people to a forum where discussions would be threaded but at the end I would have to summarize all of the conversations into one document - too much work.
The Web 2.0 thing to do would be to post the document to the web and invite people to modify the document itself. I thought a Wiki might work well for this purpose and so I headed over to the OpenNTF site to download the new xPages Wiki, managed by Steve Castledine and Niklas Heidloff .
In less than 5 minutes I had downloaded the Wiki, read through the quick start guide and set up my first xPages Wiki.
The steps I used were:
- Download template to my Notes DATA Directory
- Sign template with an ID authorized to run agents on the Domino server
- Create a new Wiki.nsf file on the Domino Server and grant ACL rights
- Access the new Wiki from the web and start posting
That's it. Less than 5 minutes. Wow!
Some things I like about the new xPages Wiki so far:
- Easy to set up
- I can access content from a web browser or from my Notes client
Some questions/concerns I have:
- Word wrapping appears to change places from time to time. Some times a line will wrap in the middle; other times near the end.
- A few times, I created pages that when I clicked on the link I ended up at a Notes 4 era list page. Clicking through worked. (Possible configuration issue, or a bug?)
- I do a lot of off-line work. I wonder what will happen if I edit pages and replicate back to the Domino server when others have made changes. I may want to limit myself to off-line reading and reference.
Things I'd like to see:
- E-Mail notification of updates with a Notes doclink (in addition to RSS)
- Ability to customize the site design
All in all, for a 20-minute investment, including a test Wiki page and this blog post, I'm impressed!
If you want to check it out, here's a link to the new Wiki I set up for readers of this blog: http://www.NotesOnProductivity.com/Wiki
eProductivity is a featured app in the catalog, and I was really pleased to see eProductivity up on the big screen during a session called, "BDD101: Lotus Messaging and Collaborating drives Better Business Outcomes", presented by Kevin Cavanaugh and Mike Masterson.
Here are some pictures I took from the session (click for larger view):
Be sure to visit the catalog at http://catalog.lotus.com.
Here is a screenshot of the eProductivity catalog page (click to go to the page):
Hat tip to Mike and his team for doing a great job with the catalog.
In this clip from my interview with David, he relates his background as a long-time Notes user and advocate. He finds combining the power of Lotus Notes and eProductivity to be a natural fit and he's very pleased with the results.
I have a few more clips that I hope to post soon.
I had the opportunity to spend time with David Allen this weekend to talk about Getting Things Done, Lotus Notes, Cloud Computing, and extreme productivity. David allowed me to interview him on some questions and record it so I could share it with you.
Here's the first video. I'll try to post a few new clips each day.
For several years, I've encouraged Michael to write a book on Lotus Notes for collaboration. I even contacted IBM press to see what's involved - a lot. Michael shared that in the absence of significant market awareness of Lotus Notes he did not think a book around Notes made as much business sense as a book around SharePoint. (Michael's been a long time Lotus Notes user and advocate; we continue to use Notes to collaborate.) For the past few years, Michael has been focused on the use of SharePoint for collaboration. Michael's just published his second book on collaboration; this one's called "SharePoint Roadmap for Collaboration." I had an opportunity to be a part of the review process and I think the book is excellent. If the examples were changed, it could easily be called "Lotus Notes Roadmap for Collaboration." What's important are the principles, which are true regardless of platform.
I've asked Michael to write a guest post for the Notes on Productivity blog, because having gone through the copy of his second book, the themes are just as relevant for Notes people as for SharePoint people. I highly recommend that you buy a copy of Michael's second book, both to learn about SharePoint and to read about the principles of effective collaboration that Michael addresses.
Continue Reading "If We Dropped Notes and Went for SharePoint, Would That Fix Everything?" »
I recently received this email from the computer department informing me that the college is moving all Alumni to Outlook Live and they are offering students an impressive array of features. Take a look at this email sent to all students & alumni:
Dear Alumni,Impressive - notice the large 10GB mailbox, multiple POP/SPOP, and Active-Sync support, too. Students will LOVE that.
Computer Services has begun upgrading TMC's six year old student email system to a new email service hosted by Microsoft called Outlook Live. Testing of the new system is under way and the migration of students and alumni to Outlook Live is anticipated during Spring of 2010.
Here are some of the features provided by Outlook Live:
- 10GB mailbox size (50x more space than the current 200MB limitation)
- 20MB attachment size (up from the current 10MB limitation)
- Access email via Outlook Web Access, Outlook 2007, Entourage 2008 (older versions of Exchange and Entourage are not supported)
- Active-Sync support for Windows smartphones and iPhones
- Pull email from existing Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and other supported email services directly into your Outlook Live account via POP or SPOP
- Enhanced anti-malware and anti-virus protection
- 25GB of secure online file storage through Windows Live Sky Drive
Now, consider the expectations that young people entering the workforce will have for the tools that they will use at work.
Do you know any employers that allow 10GB Mail, access from a variety of mail clients, including mobile devices, and integration with external mail providers?
Continue Reading "Microsoft raises the bar on student expectations for email" »
As I read about various cloud-computing initiatives shutting down (and probably for good reason) I can't help be wonder about the people that faithfully parked their information in the cloud, for free or fee, so that it would be available anywhere and at any time. This year, we've seen several businesses shut down, providing little notice for users to backup their information. And, when they do, it's often in a format that cannot be easily migrated elsewhere.
Others learned about the perils of DRM protected music when you vendor decides to shut down its licensing server. (This subject has been covered widely so I won't go into detail.) I'm sorry, telling a user that they can protect their investment be burning every song they have purchased to CD and then ripping them into another music app is unacceptable. They should honor the service or unlock the purchase. But I digress.
Back to the cloud. Oh yes, the sky is falling. I don't know about you but, unless I have real-time replicas of everything, I am already very cautious when it comes to storing my data where I cannot see or control it. I have almost 20 years of data in Lotus Notes. I can access my oldest information as easily as I can access the newest. I do have hosted Domino servers but the data I store there is simply a replica. If the provider goes belly up, I still have full control over all of my data locally.
I have less of a concern about the social networking sites where the value of much of the information diminishes over time. So, if I lost Twitter, I would not grieve as something else would emerge to take its place. If I lost LinkedIn, I would hurt a little more, but since my public profile is mostly static I can make a copy from time to time. On the other hand, my life working data - my email, my applications, etc., that's another story.
Are you confident that your cloud-computing vendor will be around next year? What about your data? How does this affect your decision to move your data into the cloud?
I have already recommended to a few clients that we include Lotus Foundations in consideration for their 2009 plans. I'd like to say more about foundations, but without hand-on experience, I have little to tell just yet. Meanwhile, I have found the following resources and blog entries helpful:
IBM Foundations Press Release
Bilal Jaffery's Foundations blog
If you are running foundations, I'd like to hear of your experience.
Update: Gregg Eldred just posted this summary of a Foundations article in The Register.
In early February, my colleague and industry analyst, Michael Sampson, sent me copies of his two most recent independent research papers that evaluate SharePoint 2007 as a team collaboration tool.
Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Analysis
SharePoint fails the 7 Pillars Framework: Marketplace Opportunities for ISVs; Next actions for Microsoft
I've known Michael Sampson for the past 11 years, as a professional (we met as speakers at an Electronic Messaging Association EMA Conference). In that time, we have become good friends and, even though we differ in our choice of computing platforms, I still have great respect for his work as an independent researcher and analyst. Michael funds his own research and enjoys the freedom to publish his observations and recommendations without having to water them down due to vendor pressure. I think he's a balanced researcher and an excellent communicator.
In 2005 -- before Microsoft began promoting SharePoint as the ultimate collaboration tool -- Michael developed and published his 7 Pillars framework as a way to evaluate and filter the claims of collaboration vendors against the capabilities of their products. His framework proposes and defines 7 pillars of collaboration:
- Pillar 1 - Shared Access to Team Data
- Pillar 2 - Location Independence
- Pillar 3 - Real-time Joint Viewing
- Pillar 4 - Team-Aware Calendaring
- Pillar 5 - Social Engagement
- Pillar 6 - Team Task Management
- Pillar 7 - Collaboration Auto-Discovery
I've had the opportunity to not only read Michael's 7-Pillars paper but to sit in on his 7-Pillars for IT Professionals workshop. Both are excellent. (You may download the 7 Pillars paper for free, here.)
How does SharePoint measure up as a 7-Pillars team collaboration tool?
Continue Reading "Is SharePoint an effective tool for team collaboration?" »
Michael and I are using a Lotus Notes document library that we have customized to allow us to track all of the session planning and content for the 36 sessions for the eProductivity conference. We've added some very basic workflow functionality. This allows us to flag any document as being in one of eight states:
This allows us to work together on content, synchronously and asynchronously - even though we are on opposite sides of the Pacific!
As we work on content I update a field in the document to change the document state to any of the above. In the background, as I work, these changes are replicated from my Windows laptop or Tablet PC in California to my primary server in Arizona and from there to Michael's Tablet PC or Mac, in New Zealand. It does not matter who's on-line, when, or what platform we choose to use. (Michael and I have a few quiet preferences about PC or Mac) After replication, each of us will see the documents that require our attention, edit and comment and flag them for review and the cycle continues back across the Pacific.
Think of it as digital volleyball.
Thanks to Lotus Notes replication, we are able to simultaneously manage hundreds of documents in various stages of completion.
Add to this, our use of MindManager and other productivity tools and we've got a neat system for information sharing and collaboration across the miles.
For me, a powerful aspect of this approach is not only the ability to compress work into a small amount of time, but the ability to break our focus down to very next actions. Between my family, graduate studies, client work, eProductivity Beta, and preparation for this conference, about the best I can do is keep my head down and focus on the simple next actions, the things I can do in one setting.
I'm grateful to have Michael's expertise as the eProductivity conference organizer. I can't imagine doing this without his help and without a cool set of tools to make distributed work easy.
Lunch is over. Time to get back to work.
In his paper, Michael returns to "first principles," as he discusses the types of software-facilitated interactions the information professional deals with on a day-to-day basis. I think Michael does a great job of identifying the key requirements for functional collaboration while proposing how things, in his view, "should" work.
Michael's paper examines the strengths and weaknesses of:
I've known Michael for many years and he does amazing work. We first collaborated together in 1997 on a presentation for the Electronic Messaging Association, (EMA), on the topic of "Smart Messaging." At that time, Michael was a strategist for Telecom, New Zealand, and I was CTO of Peloria Technology Corp. I moderated a presentation with Michael and another colleague, Eva Wylie, of Unisys Corporation. Together, the three of us spoke about the present and future needs of collaboration in the area of multimedia messaging. It's been fun these past years to see some of our predictions come to pass.
There is obviously still a long way to go, and Michael seeks to address these issues.
A neat thing to know about Michael, is that he writes these reports and his daily Shared Spaces blog as a way of staying sharp in his field. No doubt, he generates new business from some companies, who read his work and choose to engage him for strategic consulting, but the driver, as he once explained to me, is the public accountability that his blog and these reports create for him. Michael's already published that he will post part II of his paper in September, so he's already got a stake in the ground. (You will want to add it to your "Waiting For List"). I'm sure he won't disappoint us.
Nice work, Michael!
I've got a busy week ahead; I'll probably have more to say about Michael's report soon. For now, I encourage you to download it and have a look.