Make your mind up… (Community platforms)

I appreciate the willingness of so many IBMers to be social and collaborate with those outside the organisation.

I love the way that they will go beyond the call of duty and step in to help with issues or discussions. 

I adore that so many are willing to find information and share it privately or publicly via social tools and IBM cloud platforms.

But…

I just wish that there was one network that all IBMers (or at least all ICS staff) used rather than a combination of:

  • Greenhouse
  • Smart Cloud Engage (formerly LotusLive)
  • developerWorks
  • ibm.com

Connections is an awesome platform when used properly – and that typically means one instance for an entire organisation or community. 

I would love to see IBM pick one platform (my preference would be to use the Connections instance on ibm.com) as the place to collaborate with the ICS community (partners, customers, press, analysts – everyone), make sure it is running the latest, greatest version of Connections, and then stick with it!

Do you agree?  If so, which platform would you pick?  Please leave a comment!

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!
  • David Leedy

    I don’t agree. I think this is one of the major problems with “Social”. You can’t pick a platform and ignore others. If IBM focused on one then they wouldn’t be reaching people who didn’t want to use that platform. And not all platforms have the same feature set. Some people might not like navigating around Connections for instance.
    I do agree that IBM’s stuff does seem all over the board and not easy to find or consume.
    There’s no easy answer – but whenever I see something like you must use “this hashtag”, or “this checkin service”, or “this platform”, then to me it’s already a social fail.
    You can’t lead the people to water, you need to bring the water to where the people already are.

    • Really fair points, David. And I think you’re right re: ‘whenever I see something like you must use “this hashtag”, or “this checkin service”, or “this platform”, then to me it’s already a social fail.’ I would completely agree if I’d said that IBM must choose between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Sametime. The individual should have choice of network…

      However, where we are discussing multiple IBM Connections platforms I do see massive overlap and confusion. We either need a form of federation where we have one profile, one activity stream and one login over all the instances, else we need to reduce them down and make their purpose more clear… All IMHO, of course…

  • I agree on the fact that everyone should be able to choose his preferred platform, But having 3 or 4 different versions of the same platform kills the real power of the platform. Where to look for what? What about search…. IBM should indeed pick 1 Connections deployment and stick with it. Of course they should continue using the other public social media as they are doing now.

  • Paul McO’Smith III

    Hi Stuart, I actually find Connections and all of its various subguises either to be incredibly frustrating or incredibly counterintuitive to use.

    “Files” is my picture child of this. It works like a file bucket. I can add folders but they are in a completely different part of the UI to the core set of files in my bucket. I can pin folders, i can use the twistie, but why can’t this work like a normal file browser with folders in the core view? Because it is hard to use, I typically just plump for the incredibly simple Cattail.

    There’s a lot of good stuff in there apart from that, though I do look at the list of Communities that I’ve been added to and my head spins. I could spend my whole life just trawling those! I know some people that are keen advocates of Connections but they find it extremely difficult to get people to use it. Again the most obvious antipattern that Connections/Files can help with is sending big files in email. People though keep doing it because 1. email is a tool they have open all the time. 2. adding recipients is trivial. 3. it is super fast and 4. you know the intended recipients will actually see the email, if not the actual file.

    Personally I use Connections, Cattail, Sametime, Email, Skype, G+, Twitter and Blogger in no particular order and all for various uses. They all have unique features as well.

    However I question your original assertion about finding a single place to do “social”. Given this conversation is directed at IBMers should this whole conversation not be taking place in Connections/Blogs? 😉

    • Interesting perspective Paul. I’m guessing you’re an IBMer yourself so thanks for commenting!

      I know others may have had similar experience of Files, especially at older versions. I really don’t see it in the way that you do, particularly when dealing with Connections 4.0. Folder and files make sense, and whilst I agree that in the UI, you don’t have the ‘normal file browser’ view, this is very easily achieved using the Windows Explorer or Notes connectors. In addition, whilst folders were added for some customers that particularly asked for them, tagging should probably be used in preference to folders for categorising content anyway, particularly when sharing outside formal teams.

      Regarding ‘Given this conversation is directed at IBMers should this whole conversation not be taking place in Connections/Blogs?’, there’s your problem! Which one of the sites should I use? I don’t have access to w3, and therefore I have to pick one of the Connections sites listed above. None of them of ‘primary’, none of them have the full set of IBMers and key customers/partners, and hence my blog and Twitter are still the easiest way to reach those in the know!

      • Paul McO’Smith III

        Totally agree! The channel I find most useful is Twitter because that is where nearly everyone I care about is present. If I’m using anything else I will typically link to it using a Tweet otherwise you have to accept that you’re only going to reach a small part of your community. But, honestly, there is not a single place where everyone is and so…