Thursday, December 13, 2012

Which Version is GA for Connections 4.0?

This is because I wonder who else has this problem.

Or maybe I just downloaded a bad copy but I have 3 different sized files for the primary IBM Connections 4.0 installer.

The first I know is the beta code.

The 2nd I know is hot off the press so to speak as it was just downloaded last week.

What is this one? Anyone have this size file, windows server version? Was it some beta code? I thought it was the GA code I downloaded the day it came out.

Why should you care? Why do I care?

Because I have now built at least 3 installations that all had various stages of issues, see below, which IBM PMR teams say came from my installing "older code" which indeed when I looked at it with them, the dates are off, these came from this middle one.

Rather than have others suffer from what may have been a rogue download, please someone tell me what this middle code is/was which says it is 4.0.0.

You may have issues like:
Index never completes, just runs and thus no searching
Communities have widget issues
Status updates do not always update
Files upload, then stop at some point and show an error when you try to upload any to a newly created Community.
I changed the IBM Logo to ours yet in never showed up yet same instructions work fine on a "clean" box.
Home/Start page does not show any updates.
You can only click on Communities I am invited to, the other 3 options error out.

So the moral of the story is if you are not seeing what you expect, you may want to verify all your versions of code work properly.

But, what is #3?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Better blog now that I am an IBM ICS Champion

I heard from some friends before I received the official email from Joyce that I am now a 2013 IBM Lotus ICS Champion. I was on a PMR call and missed the Community meeting.

You can see the entire list of the 2013 Champions here.

I have not blogged in over 40 days which means the flood is finished and I can venture out again.
Not muchtweeting either, my Klout score dropped by 5 points and is under 60 now. Ok, that i can ignore, but it shows what happens when you fall off the Earth.

Been working on projects that can't talk about in public, sorry about it, thus my quiet efforts.

Have also been in London and Dublin last 2 weeks for work and family.


Have been working on Connections quite a bit and will post some things I have found out.

Hope to see most of you in Orlando in January.

Sorry to be so simple but still amazed to be listed as a Champion.

Congrats to all the other Champions!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Feeding the Zombies Social Media

Did you know that searching on Google for Social site for zombies has 23 million hits.
Sadly, vampires only have 5.9 million and werewolves 3.1 million.
No point in looking up social sites for Monsters, that's Lady Gaga's domain. 

How the times have changed? Just imagine what Bela, Boris or Lon would think.

When did people start caring more about zombies?

Could it be it happened when people started realizing their world could very well be from The Matrix? Or maybe there is just something extraordinary about zombies?

Zombies are cool then, so what does that mean to social sites?

Let's look at this for a few minutes:

Zombies seem to always head to the um, food. They must all share a primal instinct to follow the  herd, perfect for social sites and the minions that follow them.

Zombies eat out, often, and they let everyone know about it, loudly. They must post to a dozen social sites at least. Have you seen how these, ah people, er things, congregate.

Zombies have no brains, that is why they seek yours and mine. Which works for social sites, they are consumers...not creators. Can't create without any brains now can you?

Zombies never sleep, although they evidently do get weak, just like us when they have not eaten for a while. Perfect for that all consuming, must know everything going on in the world attitude some people perform on social sites.

Zombies don't care about the new Apple device or Android or Google app, they are laser focused on what they want and need. Brains, food, blood, whatever it is, so you technology folks may miss out, but almost everything else has evidently millions of eyeballs sockets to feed advertising.

Zombies are very hard to kill, or so I am told, which means they keep coming back for more, half a torso, no arms, whatever it is, they never give up. Just like marketers.

The moral of the story is don't be a zombie, be creative, be a creator, not a consumer.

Happy Halloween to all you zombie hunters and social enthusiasts.

(sorry for the font color, thought it would be appropriate)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Power of 30: It Takes 30 Days and 30 People

As part of being a Redbooks Thought Leader my first post for the IBM Social Business Insight blog is live today.

These posts which are posted to this site come from many different perspectives, not just mine. Posts are about becoming more social, internally or externally, leveraging the tools you have now or could have (IBM Solutions) but also guides that will hopefully help those in need of some help in just getting their heads around the Social space.

Here is just a snippet, please go read the rest at the IBM site.

Did you ever wonder how many man-hours and people it took for NASA to design the Apollo Lunar Orbit Rendezvous Module?

It took "more than one million man-hours of some 700 outstanding scientists, engineers, and researchers". (link)
In case you were wondering, "four thousand IBM employees, most of them from the company’s Federal Systems Division, built the computers and wrote many of the complex software programs that launched the Apollo missions and guided them safely to Earth." (Read more about IBM and the moon missions).

Why bring this up? Because not only did some of those efforts eventually trickle down to everyday systems, think about how much faster, one would hope, it could be done today. For example, SpaceX took 10 years to get to space properly and now they have the ability to return the US astronauts to space and the International Space Station.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Email is not the Pony Express and Ignorance Never Goes Away

An article which was really a marketing lecture from the CEO of Hootsuite struck numerous chords across the web. Some argued he was right, many said he was just being arrogant, others felt he was purely pushing his own agenda/solution. And yes, I recognize the fact this only provides more awareness to him.

In the comments to the post another HootSuite employee tried to explain it from the end user perspective. Not sure he did any better at an explanation than his boss.

Normally I would just leave a comment, as I did, about the virtues of Lotus Notes and how his issues have been previously thought of and dealt with over the last 10+ years in one way or another.

But this provided insights which should be taught in school.

It's not his fault, funny how the evasion of accountability over the last few years has grown exponentially. Ryan points out they grew from 20 people to over 200 in a short amount of time. Having watched similar things happen to businesses across the IT spectrum this is not a rare occurrence.

However, as with many businesses, how you grow your business and how you grow your internal processes do not always correspond. "Everyone knows how to use email" is incorrect. Everyone knows how to send and receive email, beyond that the percentage of knowledge workers have about managing their time and inbox dwindles fast.

Maybe they do not have a CIO/CTO or VP of IT but surely someone "owns" their infrastructure and should have provided a path of tools and solutions to meet the growth and expected functionality. Perhaps they didn't have the time from the explosive growth.

Time spent on webmail is a vague term, is that browser mail or mobile phone mail? Why use email when you can send 50 status updates or tweets? Persistent chat rooms do help in this case, has he tried IBM Sametime? Maybe their Conversations app will help as well, but it is not unique nor an advancement.

Stop emailing attachments. Yes this was a Holy Grail which, again, Lotus Notes has had the ability to send a document link for a file which is in a database, or just on a file server almost from day one...over 20 years ago. IBM Quickr first started with offloading your attachments to a set web accessible site and integrated it into the R8 Lotus Notes code stream in 2007. With IBM Connections you can leave your files in there and just share the links to others inside outside your firewall.

Version controls have existed in various degrees for years within Domino databases and you could even go to openntf.org which hosts free and open licensed templates which usually solve most people's needs and no heavy coding.

Make it sound like Twitter, oh, we needed something to just do X and we built it, you will all love it. No. That is not how life works. First you let others use it and then afterwards you can say whatever floats your boat.

In the meanwhile I am a happy Lotus Notes user of nearly 20 years, even though I have worked on numerous email systems and variations through the years, because it lets me get my work done in ways nothing else has even come close to offerring.

If you do not believe it, ask me for a demo. Everything Ryan discussed he could not do, I and millions of others do every day.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lotus Notes Traveler Unable to Update on my Android

Saw this message on my server console when my phone called homne ot get the update, which is was prompted to do by the device.

HTTP JVM: Invalid redirectURL parameter from client user - ignoring since this could be an XSS attack.
 
So aside from the obvious, that I am not a hacker, could my phone be hacked? Don't think so, but it could be a browser issue on Android perhaps?

Anyone have some input, let me know. In the meanwhile copied the file to a download site and installed it so phone is up to date, but wonder why only Android has this not the iPhone users.



Thursday, September 27, 2012

IBM Connections 4.0 Installation Details in a Spreadsheet Form

Last Edited Nov 7, 2012 now includes some more TDI ports which i left off and also fixed a typo in DB2 port number which should be 50000 among other items.

Since working on IBM Connections 4.0 installations I found the provided document lacking in a specific area...Cognos.

This can be very important for everyone doing these installs the first time. You need to track a lot of information and it also helps provide documentation for the next team.

So if you want my spreadsheet, it is here which links to my Download Page from the menu on top.

The IBM documentation comes as a wiki page you can see here.

I have added some fields or entries as I found them missing or of help during my travels.

Let me know if you need it an another format or if you add anything I should include please let me know.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Cognos Integration for IBM Connections hints #2

IMPORTANT: your cognos directory where you have the cognos transformer and BI files as well as your connections install files with the cognos parts should be in a directory with NO spaces in the name. just another hint.

Another one of the problems I faced when building it was the cognos-setup.bat would run properly, but then the cognos-configure.bat would error out.

EVERYTHING you do for the Cognos installation is built around the cognos-setup.properties file. Which if you saw my previous post, you will already gather some understanding.

The docs outline how you need to set up a new instance under Websphere. But again, not being a Cognos person initially, some defaults or expectations were unknown.

Luckily I reread the docs and also found this page from the infocenter to IBM Connections 2.5, emphasis is mine.

If you are installing IBM Cognos BI and IBM Lotus Connections to the same IBM WebSphere Application Server, you must create an additional profile for one of the applications. Do not use the same profile for both applications.

Since I was building everything on one box, I needed to make sure my cognos-setup.properties file was properly setup.

First, as the documentation shows, you do this:
IBM AIX, Linux:
manageprofiles.sh -create -templatepath WAS_install_root/profileTemplates/default -adminUserName
         Microsoft Windows:
         manageprofiles.bat -create -templatepath WAS_install_root\profileTemplates\default -         adminUserName
 This will create a new application profile, lets say Appsrv02.

You need to know more details so go look here(this is my machine, but you should be able to follow the syntax):
D:\IBM\WebSphere\AppServer\profiles\AppSrv02\logs\AboutthisProfile.txt

You will see details that look like this:
Application server environment to create: Application server
Location: D:\IBM\WebSphere\AppServer\profiles\AppSrv02
Disk space required: 200 MB
Profile name: AppSrv02
Make this profile the default: False
Node name: conexNode02
Host name: conex
Enable administrative security (recommended): False
Administrative console port: 9062
Administrative console secure port: 9045
HTTP transport port: 9081
HTTPS transport port: 9444
Bootstrap port: 2811
SOAP connector port: 8881
Run application server as a service: False
Create a Web server definition: False
Performance tuning setting: Standard
Now that we have these details, you can then insert them into the cognos-setup.properties file here:
# Default profile is located here: /profiles/
# Example: /opt/IBM/WebSphere/AppServer/profiles/AppSrv01 uses the profile name AppSrv01
was.profile.name=AppSrv02
And also here:
# The WebSphere Application Server node where the Cognos BI server instance will be created (this must be an existing node)
# The node name can be found in /profiles//logs/AboutThisProfile.txt
cognos.was.node.name=conexNode02
 Once you do this, you should be on your way.



IBM Cognos and IBM Connections 4 Install hint #1

After my new found love in IBM Cognos, I decided to take a stab at getting it configured.

Not such a difficult task, yet, one or two things really killed me, so if you get these, here is some help.

Read the documentation, honestly, it helps.

BUT even documentation can not help you when your brain is too tired to pay attention.

Once you get to the step about running the cognos-setup.bat file and editing the cognos-setup-properties file, you may experience this error when you review your cognos-setup.log file:

Using Cognos setup properties file: C:\Installs\conex4\IBM_Connections_Install\Cognos\CognosConfig\cognos-setup.properties
Performing validation check ...
JAR file(s) found in JDBC driver directory:
C:\Installs\conex4\IBM_Connections_Install\Cognos\CognosConfig\BI-Customization\JDBC
was.install.path: WebSphere Application Server exists
Checking existence of profile: AppSrv01
[AppSrv01]
Using profile: AppSrv01
cognos.was.node.name: Found node [betaboxNode01]
cognos.biserver.issetup: Will use issetup.exe to install Cognos BI Server
C:\Installs\conex4\Cognos 10.1.1\BI\winx64h\issetup.exe
cognos.transformer.issetup: Will use issetup.exe to install Cognos Transformer
C:\Installs\conex4\Cognos 10.1.1\bimodel_win32_10.1.1_ml\win32\issetup.exe
Using cognos.locale: EN
All properties provided for Cognos database
All properties provided for Metrics database
Failed to connect to Cognos content store DB. Error: [jcc][t4][2043][11550][3.63.75] Exception java.net.ConnectException: Error opening socket to server betabox.us.voicerite.com/192.168.x.x on port 446 with message: Connection refused: connect. ERRORCODE=-4499, SQLSTATE=08001
Failed to verify the JDBC connection to Cognos Content Store database. Please check the error message.

My good friend, Wannes Rams, a fellow Redbook Thought Leader, pointed out to me that port 446 is not what it should say, but 50000. Indeed, he was correct as most people know.

You need to make the .db.host lines in these 2 sections of the cognos-setup-properties file look like this with the :50000 at the end:
# Information for the Cognos Content Store database
# Supported database types:
#    DB Type    : Value
# ===========================
#    DB2        : db2
#    Oracle     : oracle
#    SQL Server : sqlserver
cognos.db.type=db2
# Format the cognos.db.host property as: host_name:port
cognos.db.host=servername.org.com:50000
cognos.db.name=COGNOS
cognos.db.user=lcuser
# Note: Password is stored in clear text; leave blank to supply at run time
cognos.db.password=yourpassword

# Information for the Metrics database
# Supported database types:
#    DB Type    : Value
# ===========================
#    DB2        : db2
#    Oracle     : oracle
#    SQL Server : sqlserver
metrics.db.type=db2
# Format the metrics.db.host property as: host_name:port
metrics.db.host=servername.org.com:50000
metrics.db.name=METRICS
# The local database name is used by the database client on the Transformer server to reference the Metrics database.
# For DB2, this is the Metrics database local catalog alias name.
# For Oracle, this is the Metrics database local TNS name.
# For SQL Server, this is the Metrics database instance name.
metrics.db.local.name=METRICS
metrics.db.user=lcuser
# Note: Password is stored in clear text; leave blank to supply at run time
metrics.db.password=yourpassword

A small but potentially time wasting thing that I hope has saved someone. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lotus Notes Traveler and Case Sensitivity Lookup Issue

Wondering if I missed a notes.ini setting.

Lotus Notes Traveler appears to only search in a case sensitive way when performing corporate lookups against a DA (names.nsf and otherlist.nsf).

I have set the duplicate lookups against email address and last name in the ntsconfig.xml.

However, when searching for someone where one of the 2 directories shows a discrepency between the cases, both references show up.

So a keith@company.com and a Keith@company.com would both show up instead of being seen as a duplicate.

I checked both indices and they are not set to index case sensitivity so I am wondering why the Android phones are not picking up the duplicate.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Connections 4.0 is Announced and Sharepoint is ...

Still not put together?

I don't usually link to articles, but in this case, I am making an exception.

If Sharepoint is on your radar, you may find this interesting reading. If you already have Sharepoint, you may want to give some feedback on the issues the author, Tony Byrne, has with Sharepoint.

http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/News/News-Analysis/SharePoint-2013-Is-it-a-product-or-a-platform-84513.aspx

Some highlights (my bold):

Use SharePoint as an out-of-box application whenever possible. We designed the new SharePoint UI to be clean, simple and fast and work great out-of-box. We encourage you not to modify it, which could add complexity, performance and upgradeability and to focus your energy on working with users and groups to understand how to use SharePoint to improve productivity and collaboration, and identifying and promoting best practices in your organization.


I believe that if you look more deeply past the UI, you'll discover that your colleagues really want polished applications that solve specific problems. The dearth of specific, elaborated applications in SharePoint has been its biggest Achilles heel (realstorygroup.com/Blog/2263-Three-options-for-social-enabling-SharePoint).Sure, SharePoint offers blogs, wikis, forums and status messages. But those are just services that need to be integrated and extended within some context to add real value.
I haven't (yet) seen that approach change in SharePoint 2013. The new version features a lot of snazzy new services, but you'll need someone else to turn them into applications.

Could it be that Redmond is not in agreement on what their product does? They are not alone in this regard, but given how so many claim Sharepoint can do so much, the reality may not be as everyone believes.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

When did you first "get" Social Business?

20 years ago when I first saw Lotus Notes.


How our business benefits:
How Social Business helps in my day:
The Commercial we did for Redbooks:


Bloopers Reel:


Thanks for watching and keep reading Redbooks!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Social Residency a Review

   

Redbooks ROCK!
graphic originally from Femke's blog

I am now an IBM Redbooks Thought Leader along with five other friends and the original six which were the startup guinea pigs of the IBM Social Residency. Now we are The Social Dozen. We also use the hashtag #ibmsocialbiz and you should follow it if Social Business, Connections or anything else is of interest.


A week in Raleigh is what it takes to enter this special group. Okay, that and an application which gets reviewed and it helps to already be blogging, social, into IBM Connections and other ICS solutions and have something unique to say at times. I was the only American in the group or if I use my irish citizenship...we were all foreigners. Something which we discussed as well along the way.

Not for the faint of heart, there are manufacturing ghosts from decades past, a surplus depot which is to die for if you are a true tech geek (oh the things one can find), lunch and coffee was a mile hike inside the building(I love old IBM buildings for their architecture, design and signage that provides us glimpses into what it was like in prior times) and many other unique items along the way of your travels, like pirates and skeletons, The Whole Internet and which beer indicates your social aptitude (pics from class of this here and here) among other interesting discussions. But enough sightseeing, what did we do and what does it all mean?

The idea was to bring in people from different parts of life such as technical, sales, blogger, wiki writer, IBMer and Business Partner. we had a great group and our evening activities only spurred us on to greater topics the next day. Indeed we felt it was like Lotusphere in some ways because it was very social and no one was left out of any outings. I guess you can't take the Lotus out of us.


The sessions we experienced spanned the ICS offerings in addition to hitting on IBM Watson, IBM Content Manager, IBM SmartCloud, IBM Cognos (which I already blogged about) and some more formal IBM guideline sessions for our blogging.

We will eventually become part of the blog posting members of this site:
screenshot from the original IBM site


But what will we discuss? This was the question which ran throughout the week in our sessions with numerous IBMers and our own brainstorming sessions.

For me the brainstorming sessions were very useful because when I blog, and presumably for most people it is the same, I rarely have a queue of topics/ideas. I have some posts on save/hold but rarely do I have a title and then go write. This forced each of us to produce 3-5 topics and titles which we then hashed out some details.

Along the way during the week we tested some ideas around Gamification, Klout(it worked), Google Plus +1, social media, Facebook Likes, customer engagements and work around when faced with challenging situations.

What does all of it mean? It means we were free flowing ideas, looking at angles to discuss and blog about and work to a greater good. It is not all altruistic, it is in essence a way to get ourselves and our companies and blogs to a new group of people who trust Redbooks and we hope in turn trust us to work with us in the future.

We shot a few short videos which highlight our usage of social tools and just before leaving we did an impromptu commercial for Redbooks. After 20 years of reading and using them, I thought we should give something back for the IBM team to show their management what we all think of Redbook's and luckily so did everyone else.


We have a weekly conference call to maintain updates on blog posts and other ideas and/or IBM info so we will maintain our efforts and not forget what it was all about. A very critical point, just because the heavy work is done, does not mean you should forget about the customer. I look forward to those calls.

It is expected we will produce 1 post a month on average with the first one due about 2 weeks within completion of the residency. The posts are reviewed for IBM guidelines among other items and then set to publish which is when I can start encouraging others to read it and mention it on my social networks. You have been warned...social media efforts will be published.

If you ever get a chance to be a part of the Redbooks you should because IBM Redbooks ROCK!

Want to do a residency? Go here to see what is available.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Still think Twitter is wasting your employees time?

Yesterday I hit 20,000 tweets sent. Not a record by far, but an impressive number which may imply to certain individuals that one wastes their time with this social media stuff. I can see the execs lining up already to point out what a waste of time.
 
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we can now roughly estimate the time I spent tweeting.
To be fair any 3rd grader could as well. I will stop while some of you go ask a 3rd grader. 

What made this really nice was the timetweeting.com website which provides a rather humorous view of what you could have been doing instead of your tweeting.

And if you know how long you have been on Twitter do the math and see how many tweets you send a day. Forgot when you joined twitter? Go over to howlongontwitter.com and they will help you.

Putting it all together I sent an average of 12 tweets a day since joining Twitter back in 2008.
 
Here was what timetweeting.com had to say about my time tweeting:
Working to an average of 15 seconds a tweet (which is probably a bit longer than
those quick @ replies and a bit shorter than something you'd think about)...
You've spent about 3 days, 11 hours and 24 minutes of your life sending tweets.
Yep, your 20016 tweets mean you've tweeted 159% more than the average person who's visited this site.
In fact, had you not been wasting your time tweeting, you could have
flown between London and New York 10 times, then boiled a perfect egg (runny in the middle) 134 times and STILL have 2 minutes left over!
Also, had you earned as much money as Tiger Woods did last year,
in the time you spent sending tweets you would have banked about $1,000,800.
Pretty good work, if you can get it.
Factor in that for my roughly 11 work days in 4+ years spent "wasting my time" I added quite a few projects, was interviewed for numerous websites, podcasts, books and articles, connected with people to present at various conferences and asked to co-author a book and so much more. Not bad.

So the answer to all that goofing off is, what goofing off, I'm making money for the company.

Not Excited About IBM Cognos?..You Should Be

As part of the IBM Social Business Social Residency this week, run by the IBM Redbooks, we had the luxury of having a great conversation with Mark Heid from IBM. (I hope to publish more on this for the IBM Social Business Insight Blog in the near future.)

Mark is the Program Director of Social Analytics at IBM and luckily, he is based in Raleigh. His session was the highlight of my week by far! As I tweeted earlier today, I am such a geek and have fallen in love again with a technology.

No slides, no marketing pitch, just here is what we do and what YOU can do with a product like IBM Cognos Consumer Insight. Man have I been an idiot to ignore this for so long. but let me backtrack a bit.

Most likely I can not do the product justice, but here is what we gleaned from today and see if you agree with me. I suspect most of my technical friends will agree, for the rest of you I am going to try to shape the description in a way to help you see why this is just so cool.

For those that do not know what analytics are, analytics is the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. It is the idea that one can measure or chart details culled from disparate sources of data into an algorithm which could lead you to a conclusion about, well, anything.

Big Data is a term for all the mounds of data streams that companies, even you at home, amass but are unable to sort properly or see the string which holds it all together.

When you combine analytics with your Big Data you start to find patterns that emerge that can be very meaningful to your business or life.

As an example, if a store or restaurant has a loyalty or rewards card, as many do, your purchases are recorded and in most cases scoured for tangible information to assist the business in providing you even better service next time or perhaps coupons to match your lifestyle.

Before you cry foul over privacy, IBM does not perform any analysis unless you have opted in. Businesses let you know when you get their cards that the data will be used potentially and you have the right to opt out of this analysis. I doubt many of you have opted out or even thought about it. But that is another blog post for a later time.

While I am in Raleigh my credit card companies are probably trying to gauge if I will be returning again soon or was this a one off event, like a vacation. If the same credit card companies followed my social media stream they would of course realize this is a class which we have come to Raleigh and not likely to return in the near future.

In contrast, I am quite sure most of our credit card companies recognize that we all "vacation" in Orlando every January around the 3 rd week of the month. I know Disney looks forward to us coming at least.

Think about the upcoming US Presidential election and how much sentiment is being expressed online over it. Poring over the data and analysis could provide a much better indication of who might win over any data those annoying robocalls or political pollsters can provide. Anything which gets rid of political robocalls and pollsters calling me I am VERY in favor of helping.

Real time analysis of what is happening in your IBM Connections world could be greatly beneficial to your HR staff as far as understanding employee sentiments, to Finance around perhaps costs which are not always so clear for some projects and from a Sales angle you could glean which of your sales people is up or down at any given time. No more guessing.

The cost for the full product is not cheap, it is a 6 figure deal and then some. But there are numerous uses for this even without looking at a retail angle. As a Business Partner I see numerous ways to work with the product and I would imagine so would you. Think of government entities which need to analyze their usage of consumables, small businesses which want to find what holds their client base to them or a financial institution looking to plan for offerings not seen before but gleaned from the data.

What is the downside, aside from the cost, you ask? It sounds too good to be true. The part for IBM Connections is real time for the last 2 years but if you wanted to devour lots of data and social media, the process will take a little longer. The reason is because syntax and tweaking of the searches, data review and such is time consuming and we don't all have IBM Watson in our offices. The programming language which would require one to invest quite a bit of time as well to be able to make the data turn into gold.

Why write this 2 years or so after Connections was an entitlement to Cognos 10? Because like you I watched or listened to various presentations, read posts but it never spoke to me like Mark did today and that is what made all the difference. As a long time Lotus person my focus was elsewhere, and for good reason, but as we evolve as partners and the technology evolves in looking for that next ledge to jump off, this is a good one.

I hope Mark will continue his relationship with all of us and thus future blog posts can delve into this deeper, but for now I feel like a new window has opened and I "get" it and I hope you can appreciate why as well.

Lastly, if you want to see it in action you can go to this IBM page and test it out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Webinars that Work Better

While watching the movie The Wall from Pink Floyd last night, there is a great effort to dig out of your depth of whatever your issues are, and emerge out of it whole and hopefully with a better outlook.

Change scares people. Normally.

No matter if it is at work, at home or in school.

How do you have this discussion around change? How do you break it to someone, or something like an entire organization, that you are moving in another direction?

While yesterday's post brought many comments to me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ what stood out is so many people who want a better experience. The stories I heard make you wonder what the vendor on the other end of the webinar was thinking.

It's not their fault, they need some help, but probably no one told them.

Luis Suarez of IBM has an excellent post on this subject from his countless presentations here and some great examples here.

Change does not happen over night. We know it takes 30 days, or 30 attempts, to change one's natural tendencies. It can be done, just ask anyone who has given up alcohol or smoking or goes on a diet or exercises. It can be done.

Now how do you explain to someone they need to be more focused in their presentations? Listen to your audience is not always easy when you are the speaker. This is why there are comment cards or surveys after webinars and presentations to encourage feedback. The problem is in these modern times the feedback rarely waits for the survey or even after the presentation.

How can a speaker, on a webinar, change the pattern?

When you are presenting a webinar, try to have an open chat window where people can post their questions, discussions and comments. This will give you some idea of your audience interest and if you have others from your company monitoring the chat they should alert you to changes you may need to make or topics you should cover you may not have thought about when planning the session.

It is through the interaction with the secondary person that change can occur. If this does not happen, then what was the point of your webinar? Just to hear yourself? Not very interesting, or sharing, of you.

What to do? Take the time to stop and ask questions, encourage people to provide some feedback at different points of your session. You may find they wanted to hear about some aspect of your solution, but because you have stopped listening, you are presuming you know what the listeners want to hear.

When you are speaking in person you can see and sense the feeling of the room, but online everything is neutral.

Instead of doing an hour webinar, try doing a 15-30 minute session. Shorter sessions keep people interested better and they can devote the proper time to you. This does not let you off the hook, you still need to deliver great information. With the extra time you can then engage anyone that wants a different example or demo, various questions from the crowd or even raise other key issues to entice continued listening at that time or at a later time. Now you have shown you are not wasting their time, but you respect their time. If they are interested to follow up with you, now you are in a better place to start.

When you are writing an article, blog, novel or screen play, you need to be able to edit your work and edit it again. Edit until you get to the point you want, and not go beyond. So it should be in your presentations.

And if you really don't need slides....don't use any.

Sales Presentations That Suck

Did you ever have to sit through a presentation, by default the definition probably means 45-90 minutes and just feel bad for the speaker?

Ever leave early? Probably not if you were in an office setting. But IT people have for years had a macro button to cause their pager, phone or whatever to go off so they have an excuse to leave.

Not so easy to do in a sales presentation.

In the past I rarely used slides for presentations, unless asked/forced to do so. Why? Because on any given day I may be off or the executive in front of me may be rushed for time and I never wanted to be one of those sales people that asked for more time because they had more slides.

One time when I was presenting to some military brass on a road map that our sales team asked me to handle, after 1 slide, ONE SLIDE, it was clear the leader was not going to go for it.

So I stopped. In mid sentence to turn around and ask, what is important to you? He told me and we had an hour and half of serious discussion. No telling, just sharing of information.

Don't suck. Pay attention to your listeners and attendees. Doing a webinar? Make sure the chat room is open and watched by someone else who can let you know when people are dropping off or when they are showing their boredom. You know it when you see it if the conversation has little to do with your product or solution.

We all go to conferences and some have better speakers than others. But if you pay for an event, you deserve to voice your opinion. What about when you are not really paying for the conference? Does your free pass get you to be bribed to talk nicely? Do you drop out of the conference because it turns you off?

Large conferences still have many other sessions and no doubt you can find the better sessions.

The meeting in your office, much harder. Do you throw out the sales rep? What if it is your own employee? Hopefully you will be helping them to understand a better way.

Reverting to your social media "out" is the easy way out.

Stand up and make your case because you will help others get better because otherwise you are just as responsible for the failure by NOT saying anything.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Got a Server ID File starting with a U?

I admit this one was unknown to me. But you learn something new every day.

Evidently Sametime Servers, since version 3.1, can be affected by this XML lookup issue involving, in this case, a server ID file name, brought to my attention by someone doing testing of Sametime.

Per the Technote #1141238:
In this case, there was a path in the notes.ini file that contained the Escape character sequence for a unicode character in XML. The escape sequence is \u and is used to denote an escaped unicode character. Any path in the notes.ini with a "\u" can cause this failure.
The Sametime server fails to initialize the Sametime Configuration Servlet (SCS) and reports the following error on the server console:
    "Unable to get configuration object: Malformed \uxxxx encoding."
10:31:51 AM HTTP JVM: Error occurred while loading Servlet (scs)
10:31:52 AM HTTP JVM:
-----Servlet Information-----
Servlet name: scs
Servlet class: com.lotus.sametime.configuration.DominoConfigurationServlet
Servlet state:
Configuration parameters: ServletURL=scs 
 What we found was the Domino server name was USsteel (Edited: This is not from US Steel I am only using the name as an example). So naturally the ID file was called ussteel.id. Since this was a Windows machine, the ServerKeyFileName field showed d:\lotus\domino\data\ussteel.id.

Changing the ID file to steel.id and editing the appropriate references in the server notes.ini resolved it and all was good again.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fud Buster Posts Listed

Had a chance to sit down and clean up some of the blog site, more to come, but wanted to let you know that there is now a tab for all 70 of the Fud Buster Friday posts. You can click on it fro the top menu of the blog.

They are listed in order in 2 sections, the original year of posts and the follow up batch in section 2.

Some of these still get viewed daily and hope it helps everyone.

While quite a few dealt with the Microsoft way of life, and many of those still apply for some people, there were many that discussed many sacred cows of management.

Got suggestions? I blog on demand :-)

IBM Social Business Social Residency

I am honored to be a part of this, the second Social Residency run by the IBM Redbook team, that starts next week.


It takes place in Raleigh, NC next week with 6 of us, 4 Business Partners and 2 IBMers, working through sessions related to IBM solutions in this space.

We are expected to produce some blog posts and probably a bunch of other efforts in our week filled with meetings on site and remote with various IBM executives and Product Management.

Looking forward to meeting everyone in person since a few I know online only.

Thanks to Femke who previously was at the first one and blogged about the second one and encouraged me to apply.




Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pricing is not Social

It seems of late that a number of companies are very public, very social, very internet and web, yet very private about pricing.

What is it about price that makes companies hide behind their BS captcha's that are the "send us your information and we will get back to you with a quote" type?

On one hand, marketing says we need leads, services says each customer is different we can't possibly price it properly. On the other hand, we as a company want to be open, honest and above board with our customers.

Which are you? Which is it? Naturally there is a difference between a license MSRP and a services need but one might think these companies are safe guarding gold the way they act about their price.

If you worry about price, then you have no concept of the sales process. If you do your job correctly, then price, unless you are WAY OUT THERE, is rarely an issue.

Are you afraid your competition will find out? Hello 1950, what is this the Cold War? Your competition knows what you charge or how you bill, maybe not exactly but roughly.

Numerous examples exist, pick almost any company offering products online, not retail, but even there you get that "price available when in your cart" BS. I know, there are legal reasons to do that but still, that is just lame.

In my view this comes down to a silo mentality versus an open collaborative mentality. The open collaborative side does not worry about letting you know the price because their honesty is their integrity. If price really matters to you above all else, then they probably do not want you as a customer anyway.

The silo company has too many levels of "insert some euphemism" to be open and honest with anyone because in their world of CYA it is all about being safe, sound and hold back something from the customer. Old time sales tactic, make them ask me how much feels so great to me to be in control. Ugh. The reality is the power is not yours, by withholding the price, it is mine by ignoring you entirely.


Could social be leveraged to provide a more fluid pricing, similar to how much a Coke would cost in the winter versus the summer? Yes of course. While that may not be fair in theory, it is happening already, mostly because of analytics and testing of theories based on the raw data you and I provide in credit card receipts and online surfing as well as rewards cards.

Do we notice or care? Perhaps. But if we never knew the price of anything at a store would we still frequent it? Probably not, and your company website is really not any different.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Traveler error about incorrect server version

As a follow up to my post about the traveler fix we received.

Do not fat finger your typing, as I did.

I included an extra = sign in the xml file and that presented the following challenges:

1) new installations would fail with an error that says:
"The Server you have contacted must be upgraded to support this version of Lotus notes Traveler"
2) Devices would repeatedly get asked to download the updated or newer client

While these were my instructions:
\traveler\cfg\client\VersionInfo.txt

#Lotus Notes Traveler - Android
Lotus\ Traveler.Android.version=8.5.3.2 201207031233

If Linux OS - be sure the file pemissions/ownership is not changed.

I somehow added an extra = sign before the version number.

The IBM team sent me this URL to test the server which I provide in case anyone else sees these errors.

http://www.yourdomain.com/servlet/traveler?action=checkForUpdate&deviceType=Android&Version=0

You should get in return a message that looks like this(your verssion number may be different):

AppName=Lotus Traveler
DownloadLink=http://www.yourdomain.com/traveler/LotusTraveler/android/LotusTraveler.apk
Version=8.5.3.2 201207031233
LMIAppConfigFile=traveler.properties

In the incorrect xml file, the version line showed version== and thus the two sides could not communicate properly.

Live and learn.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Traveler Interim Fix Details

Most likely you will only get this if you need it or as part of the next Traveler update.

The fix is in and it works but it also included these extra bits, note it is specific to the level of the installed product at the time:


PREREQUISITES     Lotus Notes Traveler server version 8.5.3.2 Interim Fix 1 already installed.

FIX LIST:

        LO69673 - ATTACHMENTS WITH SPACES CAN CAUSE SOME APPLICATIONS TO BE UNABLE TO VIEW THEM.
        LO69736 - ANDROID WIDGET NOT AUTO UPDATED AFTER SYNC INTERVAL TRANSITION
        LO70314 - LOOKUP APP DOES NOT HANDLE DIALING PHONE NUMBERS WITH PAUSE OR EXTENSION
        LO70315 - IMPLICIT USES_FEATURE STATEMENTS CAUSE TRAVELER TO REQUIRE FEATURES
        LO70330 - MAILTO: STATEMENT IN PLAIN TEXT EMAILS ARE NOT CORRECTLY HYPERLINKED

And so my thanks to level 3 support and Jerry D. at IBM Support for getting this done before July 4th because I know someone probably said you can't go home until it's done.

Off to my next adventures.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Traveler Dialing Error Confirmed

As a follow up from my post yesterday, there is a problem with Traveler on Andorid dialing when a field contains characters with the phone number and commas.
The problem has been tested and comes from Domino or so it appears.
When a fix or update is confirmed I will update further.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Traveler on Android Dialing Issue with Pauses

I have been playing with a Traveler issue that seems to only affect Android devices. iPhones seem to work fine. I want to know if this is a problem for a PMR(think so) or an internal issue, let me explain.

Client is on Domino 853fp1 traveler 8.5.3.2 and they use a DA with client details. Inside the DA are 2 fields, phone and extension. It has been coded to provide a dial reference into contacts that says:

305-555-1234,,325

Which in turn shows up on traveler very nicely and then I go to dial and get:
Error Invalid Phone Number.

So before we bother IBM PMR with this, can someone please test this with their DA?

Again iPhones pick it up and dial perfectly fine.

I have tried various formats and it is the extension that fails. It used to work on the Blackberries and we are trying to figure out if it is a code issue in the NAB they are using for the DA which is not a standard template.

We tested adding the same number, 305-555-1234,,325 into our NAB and tried to dial the office number, using corporate lookup directory, and it will not dial.

We have tried the options found on this wiki page already regarding using a p, and a comma.

Anone seen this or have a work around?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Meme That Got Studied

3,085 tweets, 725 participants, 29% was commentary about work related procedures, 17% were jokes and banter about IBM, 12% called out internal technology failures, 11% made observations about conference calls behaviors and norms, 4% characterized details about non-standard offices and global location of teams
Graphic from IBM Research
About 6 months ago or so, some IBMers started what turned out to be a storm of tweets with the hash tag #stuffibmerssay. I as well as over 700 others tweeted our own ideas to this.

A few non-IBMers were interviewed in addition to the IBMers to gain some insight for the researchers about how Business Partners and customers see and hear IBM, Twitter and the meme.

Undoubtedly inside IBM it was viewed from 2 different sides as fun and collaborative for the vast remote users but also dark and not politcially correct by those less in touch with the realities of the world around them. It is not your old IBM, it is very much a new IBM.

Happy to see the Research Scientists were allowed to not only follow up on this but presented the findings in a report and presentation recently. The link to the IBM research page is here and Dr. Jennifer Thom's interview at SXSW about it, Data as Narrative, here.

Jennifer was helpful in letting us know when this would be live so we could blog about it. I was one of those interviewed and the questions were around the basics of why would we do this, what did we think would or would not happen from it, what we thought IBM saw it as (PR, Marketing, HR benefits, financially, competitive), why it went viral, also asked about the good and bad tweets and our thoughts. As a Business Partner, and prior IBMer, I pointed out that many were a cliche but when you think that a company of 300,000+ people with most working remotely or on the go and you will get the usual conference call references, corporate speak and such.

My interest was in the fact that it shows a number of IBMers are being social and using in this case Twitter although no doubt Facebook and Linkedin posts also were out there. What if this ran inside IBM, maybe it did who knows, and how many would do it inside? Would or did the majority of the company post an update or message with their own input? THAT would be really impressive to read about the report. And this happens every day for companies who have already instituted IBM Connections or similar products. This is power. More importantly it is what gels together your company as a family rather than as an Enterprise with no heart or soul for employees to believe.

This brings up the culture vs. management discussion around social business products and why people do or do not post to them. True the outside people follow IBM guidelines not to disclose secrets and such but are free to post their alternative and sometimes negative views of the decisions the company makes. Business Partners also do this and the repercusions to those on the inside and those on the outside continues still in various degrees. In order to fully be an open and social enterprise one must be willing to embrace all sides of a discussion. The human race is still far from being purely accepting but if your culture is still a silo, you will not likely be able to have as much fun as we did with #stuffibmerssay.

But you know you want to do it, right? So go ahead, your boss is probably not on Twitter anyway, who knows maybe you too will get an IBM Researcher knocking on your door.









Thursday, June 7, 2012

SnTT - Traveler Lookups, DA and Multiple Servers

Since this came up today figured it might help others troubleshoot their Lotus Notes Traveler lookups.

In the client case, Traveler sits on the home mail server, they also have some secondary servers where mail sits as well.
Clients of the home mail server can lookup employees and through using the DA (Directory Assistance), they can look up clients contact details as well. A nice solution that beats their old Blackberry way of copying around files and then local synching but that is history.

As we updated some of the secondary mail servers and users to Traveler, we found they were not able to lookup the clients.

For those that did not know it, Traveler can look at your home mail server or at a specific server for information (See this wiki page). Since the client wants full emergency options, they have traveler setup, but turned off for all but the main server. So that means we need to set each server as though it ran Traveler. Else we would use the notes.ini file setting NTS_TRAVELER_AS_LOOKUP_SERVER=Trueas described int he wiki.

So the steps are of course, create the da.nsf file add your server information and file to be used and set it to enabled.
Make sure you replicate the da.nsf to all servers involved and check the ACL of course to include the servers.you will need
Enter the da.nsf into the server document file on the 1st tab of the server document where it asks about Directory Assistance and all the other servers as well.
Restart the Domino server.

You can check if it is set properly by typing show xdir at a server console. If you see only one entry for the names.nsf you missed something.

You can also run show xdir reload when making adjustments to the DA settings.

Simple enough but if you never knew Traveler looked to the local server you would be left scratching yoru head like my client who was not as versed in Traveler.

Traveler really is that simple and great and there is no excuse for not using it no matter the size of your environment. Oh and Traveler is Free.

Friday, May 25, 2012

4Square, 52 Weeks, An Asifa and Social Business

Most of you will go, what is an Asifa, more on this later.

A little over a year ago I started checking in to Shabbat on 4Square. An unusual thing to do, after all it is not a place, a company or anything tangible, it is however something which is important, to me, and something which others should know about me.

I bring this up today because although I tried to check in every week, some weeks I could not due to holidays and others I ran out of time. Huh? How do you run out of time you may ask? I point you to this post I did a while back. Still, to do something that is not work or family repeatedly is no easy task. Are there times when I wish it wasn't a holiday or Shabbat? Sure, especially when certain sports teams are playing.

But I want to focus on Social Business and what this means from a community perspective.

Last week a sect of religious people gathered, Asifa means gathering, in New York at the Mets stadium to listen to some Rabbis discuss what was to be about the downside of using the internet and social media. The descriptions going in were not against the use per se, but the way the devices and programs keep one's mind away from what is important. Namely God especially when praying and your family. He isn't wrong. Most people have a need to be wanted and desired and Social Media does this for them, in spades.

Now contrast what the Rabbis tried to express with what we try to explain to customers about "getting social". Management thinks you will just be goofing off all day, and they are partially right for early stage efforts. Maturity of the systems shows that levels out and people get their work done. Other management views are it brings more 24x7 employees, also not a great thing and a bad expectation, yet many do reply to emails or other "messages" during off hours.

What the Rabbis failed to discuss, in contrast to the better sales people I know, is the benefits that can be found from using the Internet. There are numerous websites devoted to learning, praying, education, family life and many other topics that can help everyone in Hebrew, English, Yiddish, Russian and more. This Renaissance2, so many people can learn and be part of something so much greater than before has rarely been accomplished in such a way that it is a shame to see the opportunity wasted.

Yes for every proper online webinar/class there is a Fantasy Football pool, some latest video, NSW(Not Safe for Work) sites and more. People will always push the boundaries, if not, no one could get in airplane or we would not have electricity and those were as heretical as Columbus believing the Earth was not flat.

So in my little way, by checking in on 4Squareat Shabbat or some other Holidays I try to bring that little bit more into every thing we do. It would be great to see #Shabbat trend on 4Square or Twitter but just not likely to happen. Someone suggested it could be used to encourage kids to re-engage with their religion, by mixing the gamification and religion. Very hard, given you can not use the electronics on Shabbat but just as refrigerators are now an accepted appliance used on Shabbat (it was banned) someday maybe we will have devices that allow for it.

An intriguing idea.

Here's to another year of checking in, Mayorship is nothing if no one else joins in, so if you are religious or not, think about it, you could be helping someone else in search of what it is they seek. For after all isn't Twitter and the Internet there for us to learn from and find that which we feel is unknown or hidden from us? Others may need that little push, no matter if you go to Church, Mosque or Synagogue or every SocMed conference on Earth letting people know there are other options out there is never a bad thing.

Social Business can work for everyone but you need that deeper perspective to get the most out of it for your clients and yourself.

WMI, SQL Express, Backup Exec and Zero

This post is not a technical resolution post, more a can you help with this issue post.

Have a box that was working, then some MS updates broke something on the box. Tried to reinstall Backupexec and failed on SQL Express.

Uninstalled all of it, cleaned out registry and some other bits, files, etc.. and still will nto go.
Downloaded a new SQL express and that installed okay, as did the updates.

Backupexec still will not work, tried Darren's advice about VSS the other day, still nothing.

Symantec has been working on a different problem and this was a secondary box which was to do full backups of laptop users but now is needed to work properly.

When running the WMI diags it shows issues, followed the steps to rebuild and clean but still no luck. WMI is reported as a pre-install error by Backupexec.

Any input welcome as I try other ways to get this done?




Monday, May 14, 2012

Apathy or Retribution - Silo's Part 3

Continuing on with previous posts about Silos and being an ACE or an AS we now stop to think about some reasons for the middle ground people.

The two extremes, one side uses everything and shares like beer on tap overflowing a glass and the other shares nothing and could care less. They both work in their own way and should be respected for they have made a decision.
Most of the world however, or 95% of it, if I can warp an old statistics class idea, is in the middle. Not committing to do or not to do or even try. Yoda would not be pleased. Mostly they are paralyzed by the fear of retribution should they go up against something or someone they do not believe in or trust. they may also be stuck in the land of apathy, uncaring too much of the information because it does not touch their little world (mini fiefdoms).

So now that you got here, how do you get these people to go to the other side without paying the ferryman?

 In a post from October, I wrote this:

Stop Using the F, S and C words to Explain Connections

What I did not touch on was the need for people to belong and feel connected to others emotionally which is why they may use Facebook or Linkedin. That emotional need does not exist in business for most people. It's their job and unless they are 100% into their job and company the same need isn't there, thus the apathy. And also they rightly presume this may be used against them, thus the retribution.

Now compare this to a person who blogs about the issues within an educational organization who is trying to reach out to people who are affected by the decisions and yet the same people do not want to speak out or comment for fear of retribution by the community at large.

Now how do you as a sales person help your vendor sell their social business solution into a company? We have seen installations get tossed aside because of lack of usage. We have read about solutions that served them well for years to be tossed for something new. We have even seen some people choose to turn off some options because they want to force employees to think differently, the cold turkey method.

Buy-in from employees comes when they see their leadership making the effort and leading the way and showing the benefits to the company which in turn benefits the employees, or it should. Only in this way can you stave off the apathetic and assuage the fear of retribution.
It is not an easy process to accomplish and  it takes time to spread this across, especially if your company has been full of Silos and fiefdoms for some time.

A Manager’s Guide to Resolving Conflicts in Collaborative Networks

Found this while searching on some other topics. It is an excellent paper, from 2007 which describes some of the obstacles we will face as we strive to a collaborative social business. The document is from the IBM Center for The Business of Government.

Indeed the authors: Rosemary O’Leary, Distinguished Professor of Public Administration
Maxwell Advisory Board Endowed Chair, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
and
Lisa Blomgren Bingham, Keller-Runden Professor of Public Service, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University-Bloomington

do an excellent job of the pros and cons to this topic.

Here is just one nugget from the paper:

Interesting reading, some basic sales 101 but the outlines of steps to follow for different sections could be a course in its own for those who just can not get their head around everything still.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Accidental Silo Structure

http://www.mabeats.com/

In the Silo's Happen  previous post I started to discuss the Accidental Silo Structure. I can't use the acronym since it will get blocked by some systems, so I will use the term AS.

If you have an AS, what do you do? Do you realize that you look like an AS? Do you think that you look like an Accessible Collaborative Enterprise (ACE)?

How do you know? What can you do to test for which side you are on?

Keeping in mind that some companies are ACE on the inside but AS on the outside and vice versa we need a litmus test for the sales teams to better understand where the customer sits on this spectrum.

As a Sales person, have you looked for these from the outside:

1) Listened to or watched a webinar or conference call between the client and their constituents, be they business patrners, vendors, customers? Have you noticed if they have an open meeting? Do they let you see everyone on the call? Can you chat with anyone or only the presenter?

2) If you read their blogs on their company website, are they up to date, even within 30 days?

3) Do they run a twitter feed that searches on the company name? Do they show they even are active on twitter at all?

4) Can you comment on their blogs without a "waitingfor approval to post your comments" line?

5) Have you noticed if there is anything other than a phone number or email address for connecting with the organization?

None of these individually rule them out, especially #5 which I use as a simple test. Similarly to the Van Halen brown M&M's contract rider, somethings go a long way to tell you about the organization.

Now what about the inside? Not so hard as you might think:

1) What does the company use to disseminate information? Is email still #1?

2) Does the company use a standard Instant Messenger solution? I don't care which one but a company wide solution?

3) If the company runs Jive, Lotus Notes Applications, IBM Quickr places, IBM Connections, Sharepoint or whatever are they actively using it and managing it? Or are there a million silo places inside each that make it seem like a needle in a haystack to find what you want?

4) When you take a meeting with the executive...is it only them in the room with you?

5) If you know the backgroound of management, do they come from organizations that are open and sharing and social or cold, dark and closed?

#5 is not meant as a failure. However, it implies that the people, who may in their own way be open and caring, ACEs actually, have a background from a place that acts like an AS. In other words, they may know better, but their mind says "this is how we did it before".

We need to stop the historical thinking!

You must bring the problems to the executives at their level. Sometimes outsiders provide greater and deeper insight to a company than their own teams. Great leaders want this information and want to see changes made because they may be tired of their "yes" people.

Don't assume anything about your potential clients, but look for the signs, they are staring you in the face. Deal with these before you try to sell your solution and you will look like an ACE too instead of an AS.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Silos Happen? Part 1


http://behindbricks.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/a-new-silo-a-new-obstacle/



Been a while since I posted about the competition. One reason is the competition has changed. It is no longer about this vendor versus that vendor but more insidious. It is now about Silos vs Openness.

In the past I may have painted a picture of a Silo company to look like many things but usually referred to them as Microsoft companies. Usually because Microsoft promoted the individual over the network and as an after thought provided a way to share the data. In contrast to Lotus which from the ground up was about sharing data and has been for over 20 years.

While I may have vented against the Silo companies and the people that thrive on that culture, think an evil pointy haired boss instead of just incompetent, there may be companies that have become Silo organizations purely by accident and have no idea they did it.

I was on a conference call today that sparked a number of questions and one which I am pondering in this post....can you become a Silo organization by accident?

The simple answer is of course, no. Someone or something puts other wheels in motion and before long the car is roaring down the highway with the dog's tongue hanging out the window.

As David Byrne once said, "Well, how did I get here?" This is the question. For if we can figure out this question properly, we can unravel possibly years of bad corporate culture and set you on a course of social enlightenment, beauty and enjoyment.

Most of the Social Media experts of course point out the benefits of a social enterprise. That is easy. They will tell you write a blog, post here, do this do that, but none of this will change a culture, let alone an executives mind set. Examples abound, best practices are in White Papers, but yet it does not hit home because in some cases it happened by accident over time.

To borrow a common idea, if you spent 10,000 hours being a Silo, how many hours will it take to reverse course? And if it was all by accident, now what?

Sales people will spend hours in meetings trying to gauge why an organization needs their product or will try to transform the enterprise but what if they get it wrong or are missing one key point.

Purpose.

No one wants to hear they are wrong or doing something seemingly proper only to find out they have been promoting a closed culture. Look around you at the businesses you frequent, the non-profits you assist, the schools your children attend. You can see the dichotomy and yet if you try to raise this awareness you may be pushed out or ignored. The reason is because management does not like to admit when they made a mistake and worse, if they are not sure how to get out of it, hate the messenger. This isn't about making the executive look bad, although usually their ego's are what makes them feel this way, when in fact they could be appreciative that someone has raised a potential problem of monumental meaning. It is about providing reasonable doubt that the companies efforts may be what is blocking their ability to embrace the cultural shift to openness.

In order to find that purpose again and revisit it, you need to ask some important questions. I suggest starting at the outer, peripheral items and work your way backwards. It is not a top down approach, but putting the executive in their own seat of a situation and having them see and feel the experience in a whole new way while trying to understand what the real purpose is behind the effort.

Walking in someone else's shoes is just the tip of the iceberg.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Firewalls Suck Time

Some days you just can't argue with simplicity. Duplicity is another story.

Junior admins remember, all is not as it appears.

While knocking off a number of issues at a client site upgrade it was reported a server was not accessible from the Domino Administration client. Funny thing is, the servers were replicating with it, no problem at all. But no clients could connect to it.

I asked the usual questions, have you verified DNS names, server document references, TCPIP references, etc.

All looked good they say. At a certain point it impedes my efforts so off I go to troubleshoot this one. Here is what I find:

1)  Server document security page has no one allowed to access the server. Similarly the admin group and server group were not listed. Security settings were all default too. I know we set them, some box has an old copy that replicated, fine, changed, still nothing.

2) Can access the server via RDP and map a drive to it, which led me to  #3

3) Windows 2008 Firewall. Damn, that was it. Although we set all the new servers to the exact same settings, this box did not have the clients cleared to be able to access the server.

REALLY!  Having been on site at some government facilities that lock down every port, protocol and driver I should have checked it first, but you know you start with the larger focus and spiral down to smaller and smaller till you nail it.

Nailed it, now on to other things.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sugarcon 2012 in Review



This was my first Sugarcon as a SugarCRM Business Partner and user. As we saw on BP day, about 2/3 or 200 people in the room were also at their first Sugarcon, many of whom became partners this year, some as recently as the Friday before it started.

Impressive for any vendor to have that type of growth.

We also found out in turn that SugarCRM nearly doubled in size their employees to about 350 total including contractors/consultants. Many of the employees were here and it was great to meet so many people. Oddly enough for me, I met few developers, but then I have few issues with SugarCRM that require me meeting the developers. On the other hand, the executive teams and regional sales execs were openly available and mixed with everyone and most importantly answered questions uniformly without the  usual "go ask him" or "let me get back to you" or any spin. Very refreshing. Plus they want input and encourage it from different angles as they are poised to grow into more enterprises.

More numbers for you to think about:
11 Million downloads of the Free Community Edition 
1 Million active users of SugarCRM

380 Business Partners
40 New Business Partners in Q1 2012 alone
30,000+ developers
1,000 projects
400 VARs

I met many partners and we had discussions around go to market ideas, competitive discussions and where people have come from and where they want to go with SugarCRM. Some look forward to the IBM efforts but are wary as a Business partner what this means to them. Size matters, so does certifications and smaller partners will face similar issues to what the IBM smaller business partners have faced the last 2 years. If you are on the path towards growing your business and reaching higher levels of customer numbers life will be good for you.

The event itself was run like a large user group meeting which extended the more family and friendly like atmosphere, not bad for about 1,000 people. I compare it to other IBM events which is probably unfair given their size and stature, but in my world few events are this size, they are either smaller or larger. Not very formal about anything, they had a nice app for iPhones (My Android device had issues), good breaks and healthy snacks (It was in San Francisco) split into technical tracks and sales/sponsor tracks as well as more private business partner training sessions.

Guy Kawasaki was a great presenter, he had also spoken at Lotusphere this year I wonder when I will hear him next this year.

The analysts and pundits that provided their insights were for the most part on the money but also not tight or heavy handed. Basically everything was light and informal and I credit the SugarCRM motto of "User First" with being so open as well as being an open sourced company.

The Exploratorium is a great place to go and everyone should go when in San Francisco.

Partner training was an added bonus and I spent my time not on the tech side, I am not a developer, but on the sales and business sessions looking at the SugarCRM methodology to encourage sales with a process that works. Bruce, Olivier and Erin did some great enablement sessions and roll plays.

On a personal level kudos to the Kosher caterer in Oakland, that steak was huge and a big surprise. I also had a "baseball card" signed by Clint Oram, the SugarCRM CTO. Key speakers had these cards made up by SugarCRM which were handed out. The uncut sheet is probably very valuable.

My only complaint, aside from my android issues, is that the sessions were not recorded. When you have 6-8 parallel sessions running much is missed and slides don't cut it. A number of customers expressed this as well something to think about for next year. My session on the "Boss is Anti-Social" will be set up as a webinar or podcast at some point soon.

Congratulations to Chris Bucholtz and everyone involved in making the event so successful.

See you next year in New York, Waldorf Astoria, April 7-11, 2013. If you want more details they have the website up already over here.
http://sugarcrm-online.s3.amazonaws.com/SugarCon2013/signuppage/background.jpg

Thursday, April 26, 2012

SugarCRM Integration with IBM Connections

Over the course of the last few days here in San Francisco at Sugarcon 2012 I have had some interesting discussions around IBM, integration points, IBM SmartCloud and of course Lotus Notes and Domino.

What you probably know is there has been a few integration points for SugarCRM that have included a Lotus Notes plugin for the Notes client from the iEnterprise acquisition and the LotusLive plugin to SugarCRM itself to share meetings and files.

SugarCRM and IBM have shown the integration of IBM Connections into SugarCRM. and it's pretty sweet too, even if it isn't quite ready for GA(ETA Q3). The basic principle of the integration was put together over a few weeks and was aimed at procviding a bridge between SugarCRM and the IBM Connections environment. Built-in to the SugarCRM side is a connector where you set up your logins and locations and then you have the communities and members to be listed inside SugarCRM.

A great job was done to get the business card settings to work so you can click straight over to the Connections sections like wikis, blogs, profiles, communities and activities, etc.

This may be a huge boost for SugarCRM as they strive to reach more Enterprises. Given the size of most IBM Connections installations, this may be an opportunity for Business Partners to make a huge play with their customers.

The flip side is not so great. IBM Connections is overkill to SugarCRM's bread and butter customers of the under 25 user organizations. IBM SmartCloud Engage, a slightly reduced version of IBM Connections, but one wholly based in The Cloud should be a good play if it gets packaged or bundled together at some point in the future. This is my guess at what we may see down the road. I missed the IBM session that outlined some more details.

IBM Sametime looks to be the next product to find it's way. Most likely due to Yammer being built-in to Salesforce.com. Naturally an organization can also use an online version or on premise version of Sametime but today there is no integration inside SugarCRM.

IBM Business Partners, you may want to start brushing up on SugarCRM. We have been a SugarCRM Silver Business Partner for the last year and a half and happy to discuss it with any of you.


My Session on IBM SmartCloud and SugarCRM

My slides on IBM SmartCloud and SugarCRM can be found here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

IBM is using SugarCRM Internally

One of the things heard this morning at SugarCon was that IBM is working on rolling out SugarCRM to the company.

This is a huge boost of course for SugarCRM and for IBM and it's sales teams and Business Partners. In doing so, IBM will be putting aside Siebel.

SugarCRM which is looking to grow their Enterprise business, needs this boost. In many ways it brings validity to what many of us have known for years. Mainly that older solutions are cumbersome, expensive and they preclude others from excelling at their jobs.

With this roll out there are integration points in place today for IBM SmartCloud Engage (previously LotusLive Engage) and now there will be IBM Connections integration. More on this topic coming in a different blog post.

If you had been at the Partner day or the Keynote this morning, you may have felt, as I did, that substituting Lotusphere/IBM for Sugarcon/SugarCRM you may think you were in Orlando. Even the music/videos out front had a similar sound/feel. so naturally I feel at home. Just missing my yellowverse friends.

But as I meet new friends, customers and partners, I am struck by the feeling of deja vu. I have seen this similar growth and plans way back in R4 of Lotus Notes. yes prior to IBM buying Lotus, the company was also trying to break into the Enterprise levels. And IBM helped them get there in many ways.

Now SugarCRM is leaning on IBM to help guide the future, make inroads into bigger clients and integrate with their existing systems and extend out to newer ones. It is a good working relationship that can only help SugarCRM. But I wonder what IBM will get from this.

Back in R4 time, email was just coming out and it was the right time, right product. Now, CRM is not new nor is SugarCRM by far the only player out there, though they are the 3rd largest CRM vendor out there with over 1 million active users, 80,000+ organizations use it and 30,000 registered developers.

Their view, reiterated by Larry Augustin, CEO and Clint Oram, CTO of SugarCRM, is the USER is what is most important. Again, just like Lotus Notes wanted to help the user do more, share more and grow more. It's a great parallel.

Sugarcon grows each year and next year will be in New York at the Waldorf Astoria, April 7-11, 2013. If you want to be part of this great run, join now, try it out. You can download the mostly full installation, called Community Edition, and try it on your own.LAMP or Windows your choice. Go get it from www.sugarcrm.com

If we, as partners, can leverage SugarCRM to augment our IBM solutions it may help IBM Connections grow similarly to how Lotus Notes grew years ago.

My session tomorrow discusses this and more from a practical angle, not a sales/marketing pitch. looking forward to this future and greater information to be coming from this relationship.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Business Anti-Social: Why the Boss Doesn't Get It

This is my slidedeck from the Sugarcon 2012 session I just finished about ways to help executives be more social. It also covers some ideas around out thinking your competition and how to get stuff done without approval.

The link to my slides page is here. Slideshare link as well.