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The ‘first-hour rule’

With the First-Hour Rule, you commit to working on that tough project for the first hour of each day. When that hour is up, you stop if you want to. If you really want to keep going, you do.

Slack banner

Calls come to Slack

Typing is great. We love typing. And while there are many fine ways to communicate via typing — messaging in channels, direct messages, and group DMs — today we’re officially adding calls to the mix for everyone.
Slack call feature
After months of beta testing, all Slack users everywhere can now use our calls feature. Huzzah!

Little explanation required. 1:1 calls now included at no cost for all Slack users, with group calls included in paid plans. Just like that, Slack reduces the need for both Skype and phone conference services for many teams.

(On a personal note – if Slack would just properly enable local recording of calls within the app then this would be a great solution for podcasters too)

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Conference Speaking

Ummo: your personal speech coach

Planning a conference session or work presentation anytime soon? This app might come in handy…

Ummo logoUmmo is your personal speech coach. Whether you are practicing for a presentation or looking to improve your day-to-day communication, use Ummo to track your filler words (“Umms” and “Uhhs”, “like”, “you know”), pace, word power, clarity, and more.

This iPhone app is definitely a version 1.x, and has its flaws, but looks extremely promising in terms of providing machine analysis of presentation and speaking styles.

Install the app, allow access to the microphone, click the mic button, wait for the countdown to complete and then start talking.  The app will capture each work as it is said, looking for pre-defined filler words, any lack of clarity of tone, and any overly-long pauses. Once the recording is complete, it provides quite detailed reports and analysis of the effectiveness of the recorded session:

ummo1 ummo2 ummo3 ummo4

As I mentioned, there are some (um, err) issues – this needs a fast iPhone (it works considerably better on my iPhone 6s+ than it did on the iPhone 5 I tested, and even then, it does sometimes mis-capture the words. However, speech is by its nature imperfect, and I can forgive the app some teething pains.

For my use at least, it gave some good data, and helped me to spot some weaknesses in my speaking style that I hadn’t isolated previously.  The reviews on the UK store are not great at present (1.5 stars! They are much better on the US store…), but this review from MacStories is, I believe, fairer to the developer.  Anyway, it costs just $1.99 (£1.49), so it could be worth your time and hard-earned cash to give it a punt!

Grab Ummo from the App Store.

Beyond Xpages

Beyond Domino development?

Peter Presnell of Red Pill on the future of Domino development ‘Beyond XPages‘:

That made me wonder…. why would IBM suddenly only provide a commitment to fix-packs instead of taking the opportunity to remain committed to a new release, something customers and the community continue to push for? I may be wrong, but I suspect that having already gone three years without a release, should IBM decide to have a 9.0.2 release of Notes/Domino, this could potentially reset the clock for how long IBM would be obligated to support Notes/Domino moving forward. I am sure they will ultimately determine an appropriate length of support once it is clear to customers there are no new releases coming, but they probably want to leave as much wiggle room (legally) as they can. After all, they do employ one or two lawyers!

Back in March I suggested that new ICS GM Inhi Cho Suo was likely to make significant changes to the direction of ICS. The Road Map presented at Engage also was missing any reference to Notes/Domino Next. Perhaps a faster end for Notes, Domino, and XPages is part of that change.

Really insightful thoughts on where XPages and Domino stand as technologies, how far they’ve dropped beyond the latest releases of their supported frameworks, and where enterprise customers should invest their development budget for the future.  No guarantees that Peter’s assumptions are 100% correct, but I do think he’s barking up the right tree…

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Two very interesting new partnerships in the IBM Connections space

Firstly, two extremely well-respected IBM ISVs are forming a strategic alliance:

Infoware-logo-plain-trans-BlackSpecialists from all over the world are preparing themselves for Social Connections 10 – the core event for the IBM Connections community. So did Infoware and panagenda, both sponsors at the event, and formed a strategic alliance to jointly market both parties solutions.

panagenda-Logo_2000x676The solutions Infoware DomainPatrol Social for content and user management and panagenda ConnectionsExpert for monitoring, adoption and analytics complement each other perfectly.

I’ve been a strong advocate for Infoware‘s Domain Patrol Social product for a number of years,infoware1feeling that it fills a much-needed hole in a Connections community manager’s toolkit – managing communities, profiles and files in a way that the product itself does not allow.

ConnectionsExpert-LogoI have also heard great things about panagenda‘s upcoming ConnectionsExpert product, which is about to be launched at Social Connections 10. This will offer metrics, analytics, realtime monitoring and adoption measurement all in one package. Given Panagenda’s network of partners and their own strong consultancy team (including Femke and Christoph), this is sure to do well.

As the press releases state, these products should prove to be highly complementary, and knowing the two organisations as I do, I think they’ll work tremendously well together.

Secondly, a social collaboration company that I’ve followed for a very long time, nooQ, is now partnering with IBM on adding visualisation features to IBM solutions, including IBM Connections:

nooqlogoWe are excited to announce we have entered into a partnership with IBM.

Since we won product awards at Socialnow we have been speaking to IBM on working together. The next logical step for that was to apply for IBM partnership status, which has been approved.

nooQ will work with IBM their customers using IBM Connections to apply our intelligent, machine learning algorithms and visualisation to sit on top of existing IBM Connections data.

There are a lot of features in the IBM product that are not in nooQ such as blogs and wiki’s but now IBM customers will have the added benefit of an alternative interface to surface personalised content. They will be able to use our volume controls to filter and display visually what is important to them.

We will be focussing on IBM’s next generation Social Business products such as IBM Connections and also excited to see what powerful combinations we can complement and improve including their other next generation social business products with machine learning such as IBM Verse, IBM Watson, and Toscana.

I watched nooQ’s presentation at Social Now and it was fascinating to see the response from the audience in terms of being wowed by the potential of their solution, and could almost hear the cogs whirring in terms of the potential for the visualisation techniques and insight to be layered on top of other collaboration platforms – including Connections and Jive.  It’s impressive to see that IBM and nooQ have moved so quickly, and I look forward to hearing more about the partnership and roadmap.

soccnx_logo_900x250Both alliances will be in action next week at Social Connections 10 in Toronto, so if you have the opportunity to attend, you really should! There are still tickets available so register ASAP!

CGate screenshot

CGATE – an easy-to-use front end for IBM Connections

Interesting release from Swedish ISV, EGBS:

CGATE is a delightful and easy to use front end for IBM Connections. It will be customized to your organization and your employees – no need to adapt your processes to the tool, or for your employees to learn a new vocabulary. The users will get started in no time, leveraging the power of collaboration without the need for extensive training or user adoption programs. All content is stored in IBM Connections, so there is no need for an additional system to manage content. You will discover how CGATE will make collaboration a natural part of the work day – powering your intelligent organization.

Look out for more details next week when I get to experience and review the CGate solution in more detail.

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SOCM2016_featured

SOCM 2016: Quantifying the Value of Community

State of Community Management 2016 coverThe State of Community Management 2016 provides a snapshot of the progress and changes in community management, based on research of more than 300 communities from organizations large and small, which span a range of use cases, sectors and industries.

Every year we continue to build upon the past research and explore more deeply topics that TheCR Network members highlight as crucial to building a better understanding of the power and impact of community approaches.

Our three key findings, driven by your answers, were:

  • Strategy: defining shared value drives success.
  • Operations: empowering members accelerates engagement.
  • Tactics: measure what you want to see, not what you have.

The full report also dives into the need to measure ROI, offering insights and a formula for communities to capture their ROI based on a simple metric – the answered question.

The State of Community Management report is one of the most important online community research projects that takes place on an annual basis. Lead by Rachel Happe, Jim Storer and their Community Roundtable team, this report summarises responses from managers of 339 different communities worldwide, to provide data that provides an exception set of benchmarks against which your own community can be measures. In addition, clear trends are extracted in terms of the directions that internal and external communities will take in 2016 and beyond, and strategies outline that should be employed to maximise growth and value.

If you only read and digest one piece of industry research this year, it should be SOCM 2016.

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Asus Zenbook 3 Announcement

No Steve Jobs…

Or even Tim Cook…

Sometimes it takes a really poor performance and presentation style (from ASUS CEO Jerry Shen in this case) to see the excellence elsewhere:

However, even looking past the presentation itself, I find the Zenbook 3 announcement to be fascinating.

You can’t deny it’s a good looking machine, nor that shoehorning an i7 into a <12mm thick notebook is impressive, but if announcing your new flagship model as simply a thinner Macbook clone with a faster CPU, then what does that say about the innovation and vision of ASUS itself?

Meet Obie

No Slackin’ when it comes to integration

One of the most notable aspects of the rise of Slack as a the business communications tool of the moment has been the success they’ve had encouraging third parties of all sizes to develop innovative apps and custom integrations for the platform.

Just as an example, this is a new one that came to my attention today, combining machine learning with social communications, Obie:

Obie Flows

INTRODUCING “FLOWS”

Spoonfeed, don’t firehose. Deliver knowledge and information when your team needs it — not all at once.

Obie delivers content to the platforms you spend your day on. Information conveyed in an existing workspace is relatable, engaging and more effective.

Obie offers a familiar, conversational user-experience you’ll actually enjoy. He can answer questions and send bite-sized knowledge to the team.

Obie is a quick-study — the more you use him, the more he delivers relevant and accurate content.

Certainly looks interesting, doesn’t it. Innovative too. There are new apps live Obie being released daily, and they’re very easy for even non-technical users to deploy and activate.

Slack App DirectoryWhatever one feels about Slack’s features/UX and the impact it has on personal productivity (and there’s certainly a hefty degree of Slacklash being felt right now across both traditional and social media) it is clear that Slack has powered past more established brands and products in terms of developer adoption.

I would love to see the more established vendors in the space take a similarly open approach – start with the APIs and build the product, rather than considering the APIs as an afterthought.  Also, treating developers as an open, welcoming and transparent community, versus requiring registration, paid licenses/subscriptions and the like.

Social Connections 10

Just 11 days to go! Social Connections 10 lands in Toronto

Back in January I stepped away from the Social Connections team due to my commitments with Jive, after 9 events and 4.5 years of helping to grow what is an incredible IBM Social Business user group community.

Social Connections 10Whilst I’ve been away, Wannes and the team have organised a fantastic 10th event, which takes place in just 11 days time.

Once again, Social Connections has headed back across the Atlantic to North America, and this time the event takes place in yet another new country (10 in 10 so far!), Canada!

Toronto is the carefully selected destination, with an exciting high-rise venue overlooking the city.

As usual, this independent community event mixes four key themes:

  • The latest on the IBM Social Business portfolio, delivered by IBM’s product management team
  • The business impact of launching and managing IBM solutions (particularly IBM Connections, Connections Cloud and Verse) – including program strategy, adoption, tactical approaches, community management, rewards and recognition, measurement and so on
  • Technical considerations for successful deployment – including sessions on installation, upgrades, integration, customisation and more
  • The Future of Work – insights from analysts and thought leaders on the direction that our organisation structures, team productivity and individual workstyles will take over the next decade.

The very full two-day agenda for this event is looking to be probably the best the team has ever put together, with the keynotes looking particularly exciting:

twitter11 twitter6 twitter1 twitter5 twitter4 twitter3 twitter2

As usual, there is a strong thread of social events running through the agenda, culminating in the gala reception to be held at  the Hockey Hall of Fame.  There are also plenty of returning favourites, such as Speedsponsoring, Pardon The Interruption, Ask IBM and the Design track.  There’s even an optional Masterclass with Luis Suarez.

Social Connections 10 costs just CA$349 to attend, and there are a few spaces left if you’d like to join the party.

There really is no better way to get up to speed with IBM Social Business solutions, understand the product roadmaps, get the lowdown on deployment and strategy, or to build valuable relationships with the community. Don’t miss it!

More info and registration >

Office 365 front cover

A new book from Michael Sampson: Re-Imagining Productive Work with Office 365

Michael SampsonI’m a great fan of Michael Sampson‘s work:

So when Michael mentioned that he had a new book about to be published, I knew that it was worth my attention – particularly as it covered a platform that has regularly caused myself and my clients both confusion and some consternation – Microsoft Office 365.

There is no doubting the practical utility that the Office 365 solution provides, nor the comprehensive nature of the platform and the opportunity that it provides to Microsoft’s customers, and yet in so many cases I hear that somehow Office 365 as a collaboration solution offers less than the sum of its parts.  As always, the immediate question that comes to mind is whether this is a factor of the technological solution itself or the strategic approach to implementation and adoption that has been used. Is it that Office is a square peg in a round hole (using a productivity tool to aid collaboration?), or that with the correct analysis, approach and planning, it can offer real value in aiding digital transformation?

Fortunately, Michael is stepping in to deal with exactly that issue.

Office 365 front cover

The book’s weighty title gives you a good feel for what is coming: Re-Imagining Productive Work with Microsoft Office 365 – Core Opportunities for Improving Performance, Enhancing Collaboration, and Creating Space for Innovation. This isn’t a technical book, nor simply a description of the possible tactical benefits that the platform can offer. Instead it gets right to the nub of the question – how can your organisation truly grasp the opportunity that Office 365 can delivered to help you and your organisation improve performance?  Michael frames the scope of the book as follows:


I have written this book to perform a particular task, and it fits within the first of a four stage framework for the effective use of Office 365:

  • Understand the Business Opportunity. Explore the capabilities in Office 365 and what those capabilities could mean for organisations looking to embrace the philosophy and tools on offer. This book looks at eight of these opportunities.
  • Make the Right Decision for Your Business on Office 365. Examine the pros and cons of moving to Office 365 in general, and look specifically at the decision context for your organisation. In light of where your organisation is heading, does a shift to Office 365 make business sense?
  • Create the Context for Achieving Value with Office 365. Achieving value with Office 365 requires clear thinking on how to create the best organisational context for its introduction and effective use. Get clear on the purpose of embracing Office 365, and develop competence in building the supporting organisational constructs to drive success.
  • Drive Effective Use to Reap the Benefits of Office 365. Decide how to introduce Office 365 to your people, and how to lead them to competence in the use of the tools aligned with productive behaviours.

ms_strategy_aproach

This book fits in the first box, and is thus a pre-decision or pre-acquisition resource to help with clarifying what’s actually possible.

In that aim, Michael (as usual) truly delivers against the requirement described.  Here’s the table of contents:

Chapter 1. Introducing Microsoft Office 365
Chapter 2. The Opportunities Approach
Chapter 3. Embracing Hands-Off IT
Chapter 4. Storing and Sharing Files
Chapter 5. Profiling Employee Expertise
Chapter 6. Co-Authoring Documents
Chapter 7. Managing Meetings
Chapter 8. Holding Discussions
Chapter 9. Running Team Projects
Chapter 10. Thinking Productively
Chapter 11. Final Comments and Next Steps

I got a lot of value from the book, particularly in terms of understanding how the newer aspects of the Office solution, Delve and Graph, fit in to the picture.  As ever, Michael is fiercely independent in his approach, and is willing to discuss the issues and hurdles, as well as the benefits of the Office 365 solution, plus a number of “wouldn’t it be cool if” suggestions for future development.  I also really appreciated the focus on the behavioural aspects of each use case, as well as the performance improvements that might result from correct deployment and adoption.

Summing up, I believe that this is a guide that is much needed for those considering deploying Office 365 across their organisation.  As Michael himself states, Re-Imagining Productive Work with Office 365 only deals with the first stage in terms of planning for adoption of Office 365, but for this specific scope, it is is a truly excellent resource. Recommended.

Purchase or license the eBook >

WOL Courses

A new 6-week course to help you Work Out Loud – June/July 2016

I am a great fan of Working Out Loud – John Stepper’s published approach to working in the open, transparently and with authenticity.  As he describes it:

Instead of networking to get something, you lead with generosity, investing in relationships that give you access to other people, knowledge, and possibilities. Part of the process is learning ways to make your work visible and frame it as a contribution.

The core community framework that sustains Working Out Loud is the Circle:

Circles help you develop a mindset and habit you can apply to any goal. These small peer support groups are now in 16 countries and in organizations ranging from multi-national firms to universities to humanitarian groups. The thing they all have in common is wanting their people to feel intrinsically motivated to be more collaborative and effective.

John’s book covers this well, but really there is nothing better than experiencing the power of WOL Circles in person.  Obviously you could just go ahead and set up a circle in your workplace (I’d love to assist you if so), but a better plan is to be part of a training circle in order to understand the potential, and the pitfalls, of Working Out Loud.  The good news is that there is such an opportunity coming up in just a few weeks:

WOL WebinarWHAT YOU’LL LEARN

You will both experience a Working Out Loud Circle, where you will decide on a goal to work on over the 6 weeks, and will be supported to use a step-by-step process to move towards this through expanding your networks, deepening your relationships and increasing your influence.

As well as being part of a Working Out Loud Circle, this course will give you the tips and tools you need to be a WOL Circle facilitator in your workplace or community.

HOW THE COURSE WORKS

The course runs over 6 weeks, each Thursday from 4 – 5.30pm. We’ll stay in touch throughout using Slack, a free App that you can use on your smart phone or computer. The Slack group will be open for 8 weeks – a week before the course to meet people, and for a week after the course ends.

All you need is a computer with internet and video connection, and a headset/headphones to take part. You need to participate in all 6 sessions.

BOOK YOUR PLACE

7 WAYS THIS COURSE WILL HELP YOU LEARN ABOUT WOL CIRCLES

  1. By experiencing a WOL Circle for yourself – with 4 or 5 other people (as part of the 90 minute sessions)
  2. By practicing facilitating a WOL Circle meeting
  3. By hearing directly from John – his top tips and insights on how to lead WOL Circles
  4. Through the weekly question and answer sessions, both online and through Slack
  5. Through reading and using the new updated WOL Circle guides
  6. Through reading Working Out Loud by John Stepper. This will be sent to you as soon as you sign up and pay.
  7. And by joining a growing international WOL community who are sharing their experiences and learning as they go

The course is being run by John Stepper and Helen Sanderson Associates, and the dates for the sessions are as follows:

Thursday 9 June – 4pm-5.30pm (BST)
Thursday 16 June – 4pm-5.30pm (BST)
Thursday 23 June – 4pm-5.30pm (BST)
Thursday 30 June – 4pm-5.30pm (BST)
Thursday 7 July – 4pm-5.30pm (BST)
Thursday 14 July – 4pm-5.30pm (BST)

The course cost is £350 including VAT, and you can register via EventBrite.

I will be attending myself, and would love to work with you in the WOL Circle that will result! See you there?

New Start

Fostering Community

Those that know me well will recognise that I have three true passions and priorities in my life:-

  1. My family – my wife and four beautiful children
  2. My work – helping individuals, teams and organisations become more productive through the use of online communities
  3. Providing a home to foster children – for the past three years we’ve provided short-term placements to individual children and sibling groups

So when it came time to revisit number 2 on that list, it made sense to bring in a little of 1 and 3…

Leaving Jive

After a whirlwind and very enjoyable 15 months working for Jive Software, my full-time employment concludes in the next couple of weeks.

I have loved working with so many fantastic colleagues in Jive EMEA and further afield, and never before have I had the opportunity to consult for so many fantastic customers in such a short period of time.  With over 25 major projects in just over a year, it has been a phenomenal opportunity to influence the program strategy at well-known organisations that rely on their internal and external communities to support and transform their businesses.

It is my hope and expectation that I will continue to work with Jive going forward – directly, via partners or with customers. Despite the change in circumstances, I will be delighted to keep a positive working relationship with such a great team, plus my admiration for the products has only grown in the time that I’ve had more time to focus on the features they offer.

However, I never envisaged working as an FTE for too long – I’ve been in the independent consulting game for too long and enjoyed it too much to leave it behind long-term. So whilst I’m sad to leave Jive’s employment, I am thrilled to start the next chapter…

So what next?

So, it’s time to start a new consulting business. I’ve been here before with Collaboration Matters (2008) and Social 365 (2011), so what has changed since then?

Internal Communities

I still see massive opportunity for revolutionising work within organisations through the use of interactive intranets and enterprise social networks, plus the application of wider changes currently being considered under the banner of ‘the future of work’.

My involvement with colleagues in the incredible Change Agents Worldwide network only re-emphasise that whilst we’ve come a long way in terms of reinventing and transforming organisations towards openness and transparency (becoming ‘teal’ organisations if you like…), there is still a way to go in so many of the businesses that I interact with.

Many organisations still do not have access to platforms that properly support connecting, communicating and collaborating amongst individuals, teams and communities, and too many of those that do are still only partially-committed to shifting away from traditional M&E (meetings&email) practices towards fully open workstyles.

Given the current marketplace, I anticipate continuing to spend the majority of my time focused on enabling and facilitating corporate clients to accelerate their transformation in this area.

However, over the past few years there are a couple of areas where I’ve felt a deeper and more powerful surge of change occurring, and therefore see a greater opportunity for my input…

External Communities

Whether for customer support, peer-to-peer assistance, product marketing or partner management (or typically some combination of all of these use cases and more), it feels as though an increasing volume of organisations are seeing the need for building vibrant, passionate, collaborative communities outside of their own structures and corporate boundaries.

These types of communities are not new of course, we’ve been discussing ‘extranets’ and the like for at least a decade or more. And yet, the technology available is less mature than on the inside (though products like Jive-x, Lithium’s online community platform and IBM’s Connections Cloud and Digital Experience are improving fast) [note]I plan to work with Jive and IBM technologies going forward, plus potentially others in the future.[/note], but more significantly, the best practices and strategic approach are some way behind. Complexities such as multi-lingual landing pages, content segregation/curation where supply or specifications are controlled by region, efficient SEO, and spam-eradication are challenges that are rarely an issue on internal platforms, yet can make or break an external community.

My analysis is that fewer than 1% of organisations have effective external communities today, and thus the opportunities for both new launches and improvement of existing communities are significant.

Social Communities (outside of traditional corporate structures)

I mentioned both family and fostering at the top of this post, and here’s the reason…

Foster Carers

Whilst I have utmost respect for local government institutions and fostering/adoption agencies – they do incredible work under tough conditions and tight financial restrictions – they are hardly paragons of technological excellence!

What we’ve seen through a number of years of working with both official agencies and those that work or volunteer on their behalf is that there is a massive and unanswered need for secure yet accessible online communities. Security and privacy are incredibly important – these are very confidential matters that are being discussed – and yet the needs for connection, communication and collaboration are probably more important than in any other form of organisation.  After all, these are folks that are effectively working 24/7 in stressful and emotionally-demanding roles dealing with crises on a daily basis in many cases. Whilst much of the discussion amongst these groups takes place on Facebook and Twitter today, the communication resides on ‘secure’ email, and the collaboration typically takes place face-to-face, if at all. Given the confidentiality concerns, there is no way this can all be moved to a public social platform.

For these reasons, I see huge need for revolution in terms of how these kinds of public service communities operate, and yet neither enterprise vendors nor public networks are really providing an adequate solution today.  I plan to take this on as a significant goal for the new business.[note]I’d include user groups and other independent bodies in this category too – there are few platforms that really suit this requirement today.[/note]

Launching the new company

Fostering Community screenshotHence the name we’ve chosen… Fostering Community.

Whether internal, external or public service, I want to see communities launched, develop, mature and deliver value to their members, and I’m throwing all my efforts into making that happen for my clients and my peers.

If you’d like my assistance with a project you have planned, or just a spark of an idea for a community that you’d like to bring into reality, please do get in touch.

TED

Doing a TED Talk: The Full Story

Imagine being asked to speak at TED. Not the independent TEDx conferences, but as Tim Urban explains

The thing I was asked to speak at was the big Vancouver one. I say this not only to brag, but also to explain why this whole thing had me freaking out so much. The same thing that made it extra extra scary also made it extra extra not turn-downable.

So I accepted.

What follows is the very scary yet utterly compelling story of how Tim prepared and delivered his session.  Really great reading, and some super advice on what you should do, and probably will fail to do, next time you present at an event…

More >

Jive Software logo

Recruiting for a new Jive consultant – interested?

Jive Software is seeking a Business Consultant to join the Professional Services team for the EMEA Region, based in Paris, France. This role will work with Jive’s largest and most complex clients in formulating and implementing their strategy around usage of the Jive solutions.The Business Consultant works directly with our customers to help them get their Jive community set up and ready for launch.

This position requires strong customer interaction skills and a demonstrated background working with business teams to deliver complex, web-based projects. The successful candidate will be a natural and proactive leader, while maintaining the highest quality of delivery and attention to detail. This position represents an exciting opportunity to work with a wide array of the latest web technologies, while helping some of the best known global companies realize measurable business value with the Jive platform.

The aim is for the Business Consultant to be viewed as a trusted advisor to Jive customers and work in a way that maximizes opportunities for both parties. Performance will be measured against targets for client satisfaction, utilization of software purchased and expansion of software footprint.

The Business Consultant (BC) takes on the technical elements of the strategy role here at Jive, helping our customers configure their platform and places to support their specified use cases.  It’s a mix of onsite and remote work, and the successful candidate would be working with customers across EMEA, though with a particular focus on the French market.

Jive’s office in Paris is located on the Champs Elysees.  Ideally the candidate would be able to spend time there, although as always we tend to be flexible as far as location goes.  You would need to be a fluent French speaker, capable of hosting workshops in that language.

If you’re interested please get in touch directly, or else visit this page for more details.

 

#WomenNotObjects

Women Not Objects

As the married father of two daughters, this issue is being brought home to me right now… The rise of YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat as advertising media has not helped in any way – the problem just seems to get worse year-on-year.

It has to stop. #WomenNotObjects

soccnx_logo_900x250

Time to let go…

The Lotus IBM Collaboration Solutions space is an incredible demonstration of what online communities can become through the truly altruistic efforts of its members.  I’ve always known that, but stepping away somewhat over the past year has allowed me to observe the relationships, events and online activities through a new and less obscured lens.  A little distance and independence has done nothing but confirm the wonderfully inclusive family-like nature of this community.

A little background

lotus softwareLooking all the way back to the nascent days of groupware created by the Lotus company itself, through the glory years of Notes and Domino, and onto the current focus around Connections, so many of the technologists that took to these products were also the ones that truly understood the nature of online community.  Perhaps that should not have been a surprise to anyone (as the products were nothing without connected and committed individuals to utilise them) but it has always been remarkable that the ever-changing and dynamic group of individuals that met at Lotusphere each January,  then stayed in touch via personal websites/blogs, forums and IM chats, bonded in a way that never seemed to happen with the same compelling force around other products.

As I’ve taken my own steps into the wider digital transformation space over the past 8 years or so, and thus connected with hundreds of thought leaders and change agents around the world, it has become evident to me that a significant majority of movers and shakers in this industry have Lotus products in their backgrounds. Given how widely Notes and Domino were used in large enterprises back in the late 90s and early 2000s, perhaps this is inevitable, but I personally believe that there is a deeper and more powerful reason – that the potential of collaboration unleashed by these products lit the spark within so many of us.

What makes this even more remarkable is that the support for the community from the vendor whose products we advocate has been somewhat inconsistent over the years.  This isn’t meant to be a dig at IBM, it is a commercial organisation for whom quarterly sales results and ‘shareholder value’ are at the core of all that it does.  For some, the effort of sustaining the community-facing support has been too much, whereas for others, the occasional raging fire that needed to be extinguished was simply too controversial and difficult to defend.  That said, many of those IBMers that have been at the coalface over the years have absolutely understood the nature of the community, and the value it offers to IBM itself, to partners and most of all, to customers – amongst many others, I’m looking at Mary-Beth, Alan, Ed, Louis, Niklas, Suzie, Luis, Debora, Joyce, Colleen, Susan, Wes, Oli, Amanda and Mat.

What those remarkable individuals have understood is that the community has a tone, culture and internal organisation all of its own.

Whilst ’the Yellowverse’ has been (mostly) loyal to IBM and its technology over all these years, it is fiercely independent, cares deeply about its members and wants to do its absolute best for the wider community of customer organisations and those that build and use the products. That passion and commitment has most vividly shone through the independent user groups that have sprung up over the past decade or more. A few years ago, these were typically named using a acronym that included ‘LUG’ (Lotus User Group), and now tend toward verbs such as Inform and Engage!  However, whatever the name, the user groups were typically inspired by one or more deeply committed individuals, most commonly self-employed or working for independent business partners.  From small monthly afternoon gatherings in a defined geography, through to vast multi-national multi-day events that boast internationally renown speakers, these user groups have in my opinion been the engine that has enabled the IBM collaboration community to remain a force over so many years, even as the success of the products has ebbed and flowed.

Why this post?

soccnx_logo_900x250I have been honoured to be one of those that felt called to start a user group.

Back in 2011, it was clear that social software (and specifically Connections) was one of the significant bright spots in the Lotus product set, and yet the majority of the user groups were still very Notes/Domino-focused.  Two good friends (Sharon and Simon) and I chatted about this and how the lack of regular in-person Connections-focused events was hindering the growth of the community, and thus how prospective customers might be scared by the lack of case studies from customers that had delivered successful projects and initiates on the platform.  From this spark, we founded Social Connections, and to cut a very long story just a little shorter, we’ve just hosted our 9th major international event, each held in a different nation and on both sides of the Atlantic. Well over 1000 individuals have attended (many have been at multiple events), and our awesome speakers have delivered more than 300 sessions. Amazing stats!

As with most of the other user groups, the growth of Social Connections was built on my own initial investment in the idea, and then bankrolled through a combination of support from IBM, amazing ISV and business partner sponsors, and then more lately, via tickets sold to attendees.  There have been times when we’ve turned a small profit, and others when we’ve made a big loss. I now know far far more than I ever wanted to learn about international tax, insurance and data protection laws!  All of this was managed through my own small company, and we’ve been blessed to have made it so far.

One of the most significant reasons why Social Connections has been a success has been the incredible willingness of community members to step up and to join the volunteer organisation team.  Members have come and gone as their own circumstances have changed, but we’ve never wanted for individuals that have been willing to give their time and resources to plan and deliver the events.  This shouldn’t be taken lightly, as I’d estimate that each team member gives up at least 100 hours free-of-charge to make an event happen.  That’s a massive commitment alongside their own careers and family lives.  I owe a great debt to Simon, Sharon, Lisa, Femke, Janneke, Brian, Sandra, Luis, Martin, Jan, Wannes, Maria, Lars, Doug and Christoph (and of course to their companies and their families).

As members of the team have given up their own time and resources, so the event has also taken a toll on my own situation.  Finances, risk, admin and accounting, the events themselves.  All of this has eaten into my own time, or more accurately my time with my beautiful family.  In effect, I’ve used my own holiday allocation every year plus many evenings and weekends to run these events.  At the same time, what little direct benefit to my own career as been reduced as I’ve moved away from direct involvement with IBM Connections.

Running Social Connections has been tremendously rewarding from a personal perspective – hosting and speaking at the events, plus the social side has been hugely enjoyable. That said, it has slowly dawned on me that this does not justify the cost involved.

Something had to give, and I’m determined that it shouldn’t be my family.

What now?

Following many discussions amongst the team during 2015, we’ve taken a series of steps to ensure the future of Social Connections without my direct involvement.  The details have been shared over on the Social Connections site, but be reassured that the organisation is now in a stronger position than ever to deliver bigger and better events in 2016 and beyond.

With this in mind, as of 31st December 2015, I have resigned from the Social Connections team, and handed over my responsibilities to Wannes, Simon and the rest of the team.  There are a few loose ends to tie up, but I am delighted that planning for the next event is already well underway, and that the team are doing this independently of my own input.

Social Connections VI in Prague
Social Connections VI in Prague

I will of course stay in touch, and will always be proud of what we achieved, but at the same time I am so sure that the time is right to hand over the reins.

Thank you to everyone that has helped with Social Connections over the past 5 years – whether you have organised, spoken, sponsored, attended or supported the event in any way.  It has truly been a ball, some of the absolute highlights of my professional life, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way…

I know that Social Connections will continue to thrive, and in fact, will likely be larger and more successful without my own time constraints.

Go well, team!

River flowing

That river’s flowing…

No matter what we do, or how focused or mindful we are, the time just keeps passing doesn’t it?

peter-gabrielAs the great Peter Gabriel once sung:

Whatever may come
and whatever may go
that river’s flowing
that river’s flowing

(Linking to the ’94 version with Paula Cole – my personal favourite version of an amazing song…)

Somehow, over 7 months have passed since I joined the team at Jive Software.  

It seems both like my switch happened yesterday, and yet also that I’ve been here forever.

Thos months have been a hugely enjoyable yet immensely challenging period of my life.  New colleagues, new customers, new culture, new technology – it has been a time of intense adjustment.  If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know I’ve been in the collaboration space for the best part of two decades, and have inhabited the world of social since the mid-2000s, yet shifting into the Jive organisation and its community has been massive in terms of change for me personally.  Sure, there’s some similarities with what has gone before and yet in some ways it feels like ‘chalk and cheese’ too.

But ‘it’s just a different technology?’ I hear you ask… However, that’s really just a small part of the picture.

I’ve worked with IBM, Microsoft, Atlassian and many other vendors’ products through my career, and all have their merits and their challenges, their unique features and their omissions.  Jive’s products are no different in that regard – there are always some features that are due ‘in the next version’ or perhaps could be enhanced. Our customers have their lists of suggestions for where we can improve – that’s just natural.

Jive Software logoSo what’s fundamentally different about the Jive product, the company and the community?

There’s a list of elements that I want to explore over my next few posts because i think it’s important to get to the essence of what I believe makes Jive unique.

These posts aren’t intended to sway you in some commercial way – any decision such as investing in a social or collaborative platform has to be based on facts, perceived and proven value, use cases and the like, rather than solely on any emotional or relationship pull, or indeed on purely technical grounds.  And that is part of the point, really. Being at Jive has helped to open my eyes to some differences in the way that vendors in this space approach customer requirements and challenges.

So look out for a series of posts on ‘Why Jive?‘ over the coming weeks.  As I say, I’m not intending to try to market our solutions or even the company as a whole – we have immensely talented folks that can do that just fine. I’ve just lived this shift for real for the past months and I think it’s an interesting one to explore.  As a company and a community, we believe in ‘working out loud’ so I see no better way to do that than on this blog through my own personal lens and perspective.

Anker range

Stuff that works – Anker USB chargers

Anker logoFriends and colleagues that have travelled with me in recent times will undoubtedly have noticed that I’m a great fan of Anker electronics components.

Anker is a relatively new brand, at least on these shores, having appeared in the UK about 3-4 years ago. Through a combination of good clean design, comprehensive well thought-out feature sets, high-quality build and competitive prices. I first bought a multi-port USB charger from Anker perhaps 2.5 years ago, and it is still in daily use now, having taken a battering from the teenagers in the meantime!

Since then, I’ve gone on to acquire a really good dual-port 2A charger for the car, an excellent 15000mAh battery pack (now replaced by this 16000mAh version), a 9-port USB3.0 hub and several other USB chargers.  Being a family of seven currently with at least a dozen mobile devices, we need the power!

So why the post? I just spotted this deal advertised on Amazon and thought it worth mentioning.  The latest 6-port 60W USB charger is now available for just £25.99 from Amazon UK, a discount from the RRP of £59.99 – in the US it’s available at an even better $35.99.  Both the black and white variants are available at that price.

Anker 60W 6-port USB Charger (Black)Anker 60W 6-port USB Charger (White)
Whilst I don’t have the 6-port version, we have three of the older 5-port models and really rate them highly.  One of the nice features is that they run off a standard AC power lead, so it’s really easy to grab an cheap alternative lead for international trips, rather than having to carry a converter.

So… Highly recommended, great quality and at a super price right now.

[The small fee earning links above will lead to your local Amazon store…]

ResponsiveDesignMode_2x

Safari 9 Responsive Design Mode

Do you host a site or platform that you need to make available to a wide range of desktop and mobile devices, including those Apple iThings running iOS9?

Then you need to check out Safari’s Responsive Design Mode (found in the Develop menu in Safari 9 for the Mac).  Take a look at this (video courtesy of Casey Liss):

Yes, you can test your site in all the new split-screen modes available in iOS9.  This feature is already proving to be useful for testing a number of my own sites, including this one:

Testing this site

I have a feeling it will come in handy for checking customer projects too, not least custom themes and layouts. This session video from WWDC 2015 covers the feature in great detail (and much more besides…)

Unfollowed?

Twitter timeline zero

Over the years, my Twitter followed list had become somewhat cluttered… Just over 4,000 accounts – the usual mixture of friends, family, colleagues, partners, thought leaders, brands and celebrities.  I’d had a few occasional cleanups, but put it this way, it was becoming difficult to see the wood for the trees.  The signal to noise ratio had become pretty awful, and most of the value I was seeing from Twitter came through the search terms I used in Tweetdeck columns, rather than from my timeline.  Thankfully, I’d never been a Twitter completionist, as quite frankly there was no way I had a hope of coming close in the past couple of years!

So what to do?

Reboot.

Put quite simply, it was time to start again.

So as of this morning, I’ve unfollowed every single account that I was was following:

followed

How did I do that?  Well here’s the trick.  Open up your following list in Google Chrome, and scroll all the way to the bottom.  It currently loads 12 accounts at a time, so in my case I had to keep scrolling for a long time.  Then open the Chrome Javascript Console, and enter the following jQuery command:

$('.user-actions-follow-button').click()

Leave it to run for a few seconds, and you’ll see that every single ‘following’ button gets toggled back to ‘follow’.  Of course, if you wanted to just unfollow a sub-section of accounts, you could search for them and then run the command.

So what now?

My plan is to follow Luis Suarez’s example, and to start using lists in a big way to manage my Twitter use, and to allocate each to a column in my Tweetdeck dashboard.  I know this isn’t exactly revolutionary, but do think it will force me to be more selective over whom I let enhance/pollute my timeline, and thus my attention.  At the same time, I’ve opened up my DM preferences to allow anyone to direct message me even though I’m not following them…

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Glassdoor

Jive Software named as #2 best company to work for in the UK

There were few companies in the world that could have tempted me back into permanent employment, and I was really happy to join Jive Software almost 6 months ago. I’ve loved my experience of the organisation so far – the culture and workstyle mixes damn hard work with fun, humour, camaraderie and great support from the leadership.

Therefore it’s satisfying to see that others feel the same way. Glassdoor have just published their 2015 list of the best organisations in the UK to work for:

The Glassdoor Q2 2015 UK Employment Confidence Survey revealed that two thirds of employees (66%) don’t believe or don’t know if they will receive a pay rise in the next year. But with pay and benefits a big piece of the equation for any job seeker when deciding where to work, where are UK employees most satisfied with their pay and benefits packages? To help, Glassdoor put together its annual report identifying the Top 25 UK Companies for Compensation & Benefits in 2015.

The top 10 is dominated by tech, business consulting and IT firms, with the highest rated based in London – Facebook (#1, 4.7 rating), Jive Software in Reading (#2, 4.7) and MediaMath (#3, 4.6), also London.

Whilst Facebook being number 1 has dominated the media coverage of the Glassdoor report, actually Jive Software was incredibly close to being top in the stats. For sure, we’re hugely proud to be ahead of so many awesome and well-regarded organisations!

Here’s the full list:

Glassdoor Top 25 UK 2015

To give you a clue as to why Jive’s staff rate it so highly, this video gives you a feel for the company’s appreciation of our very different workstyles:

I certainly feel at home here. The company’s focus on kick-ass products and service, with a strongly-held belief in recruiting A-grade staff, allowing them to work flexibly and dynamically, all the while ‘working out loud’ through what is possibly the most vibrant and engaged ESN platform in the world suits me down to the ground.

Jive has a good number of positions open right now, so if you’d like to come to work at a company that truly believes in employee satisfaction, feel free to get in touch for more details and to hear it from someone with first hand experience!