Friday, September 30, 2011

FUD Buster Friday #70: Time To Go

Have decided after last week's event that I want to suspend these again. This is the problem with inspiration, it comes and goes. When I renewed writing these posts, I had a bunch of ideas to get out and I did. But when I reach a point that my mind is short on ideas I don't want to force a post.

There may be more down the road and maybe not just on Friday as posts and articles come up at different times. My passion still is competitive situations and helping promote better awareness from within but there are other topics and areas I want to spend time on and not necessarily at this blog although other blogs are involved and will get referenced at some point.

You can always find me to get help or ask for advice and these posts are always out there.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy New Year

The Jewish calendar says it's that time again. The start of another year, the 5772nd year starts tonight at sundown and runs till Friday night which would end at that point but because Friday night starts Shabbat, we get 3 days of holiday time. No e-readers or internet, just paper and print.

We then get 2 more 3 day holidays this year in 2 weeks when the holiday of Sukkot starts and ends 8 days later.

Those of our clients who have problems during this time know I am unavailable but our helpful staff will be on call for you.

There are 4 New Years in Judaism, from the 1st Mishna of the Tractate of Rosh Hashana, . They do not all start on the 1st of the month. You can read more about all of this at the linked location.

The trees have their own New year and it starts on the 15th of Shevat.

Why mention this? Because although one would presume they would all be the1st, they are not. A perspective here is trees predate man, per Genesis, and therefore have a different time frame they march along.

And so it is with everyone on Earth. We all march to our own drumbeats but these points in the calendar have everyone stop and together as one pray, not just for themselves, but the world as a whole, for a good and prosperous year.

Crowdsourcing at it's best.

שנה טובה  Happy New Year

Friday, September 23, 2011

Email is Ubiquitous thus IBM Connections exists

Liked Phil's post and you should read it if you haven't yet. I'll wait.

I don't like to say email is a commodity because then I become a stereotyped used car salesman.

Lotus Notes and Domino really are the best solution that takes the email is a XXX premise and makes it your:
  1. CRM
  2. Workflow
  3. Inventory/Orders Manger
  4. Shipping/Tracking
  5. HR
  6. Sales Tools
  7. Dashboards

It does all of this by itself....Standing alone, just one box and a client to code it and anything else to make use of the apps you build..

Nothing extra required except a developer who knows what they are doing.

Now the problem becomes how do you do this for IBM Sametime?
How do you make that same ecosystem that swirls around your email, swirl around your IM? Well you can and you can't is the short of it.You can extend email to UC and IM and VOIP but getting your applications into it and mixed with it as listed above well that's another story which really doesn't work as well. You can not make a program that is not meant to be, for example, a database, and use it as one. It has DB2 in the background but I am quite sure at this point that IBM does not see Sametime as the next Domino.

What about IBM Connections? Can it do this?
A better question. One which I believe coming up at Lotusphere 2012 (link still shows LS11) we will see some great steps in making Connections handle more of what Domino does today. This is not perfect or 100% what I or you envision, but if IM, or as some might say notifications, are the "new" email then a new way to work with it is required.

If you have seen the various IBM people doing their demonstrations you will see they are leveraging Connections as some, if not all, of the items I listed above that you may think are database and email related. They are, no question. But underneath the hood of Connections is DB2, a relational database that scales on a different plane than Domino. Not better, just different. My DB2 friends will argue but for my purpose it is equal. The integration, via plugins/widgets, just like in the Notes client, enhance that user experience the same way from within one interface. For those that don't know, that interface is a browser or a dedicated app for device users that want a more native approach, no Windows client required.

The SMTP side doesn't care what the transport is on the back end. Naturally I'd prefer to always be Domino. I respect the Linux community who has their choices, many want to use Sendmail, some other less technical people choose to rely on Exchange, while the budget focused companies go with Google. Nothing wrong with those choices, after all email is a commodity right?

Email is going away, no question, it will join the Telegraph at some point but the companies that look to the future, like IBM, and plan to be there for their customers are working with today's pieces of technology but looking towards tomorrows usage.

So email is ubiquitous, it will linger on for years to come, but more and more people rely on streams of information from twitter, FB, G+, Yammer and a million other apps. Your email system does not want to handle all of that, although it could, but it would mean an average of dozens of new messages per second per person and a more scalable solution is required.

Thus the direction IBM Connections I believe is heading and why as an IBM Business Partner you need to be a part of this now because just like Lotus Notes 3.x which truly was the version to start the growth patterns prior to the R4 and 4.5 when Domino appeared, Connections 3.x is shaping up similarly. I believe the IBM Connections 4.0 to be the one that turns the tide and pushes more customers to get on the bandwagon.

FUD Buster Friday #69: Is Confusion, Anxiety and Denial (CAD) the same as FUD

At the Entrepreneur Magazine conference titled Winning Strategies this week in Miami Beach, no one wanted to use the term FUD. It must be because tech people use it way too often, I guess.

But maybe it's because FUD is an acronym, and although it's hard to live in IT without acronyms, similar to the medical field, the average marketer and entrepreneur just don't speak that way.

They have their own TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms), but really they don't deal with IT at all. They outsource it, Cloud it, Free source it, or whatever they can, so the ideas and the offerings are the focused points, not the technology they use. I imagine if we were in Palo Alto or some similar place, this would not be the case as technology leads those discussions more often.

So do they have FUD? Not exactly. Sure they have competition, we all do, but the competition usually cares about themselves more and can not waste their time focused on the other people or solutions. Staying focused is essential. In fact, it is probably the best thing one can do for themselves, their businesses, and their lives.

So in this Social Business Media Web 2.0 world, the BS does get found faster and easier than it did a few years ago. It doesn't always go away, but at least more people raise their voices
to be heard. We saw this as a potential 20 years ago when we saw Lotus Notes. Anyone can leverage information and share it accordingly without fear of repercussion.

Entrepreneurs have no fear. Else they would be working for someone else. They do have anxiety about everything in their company. It's their name, their product, their goodwill.

Entrepreneurs have no uncertainty in their lives. They KNOW what they want to do or be doing. They do have confusion. Sometimes wrong, but often for good. Confusion makes one step back and refocus or sharpen what is vague or not good enough.

Entrepreneurs who believe in themselves and their business have no doubts. They may live in denial about how they made it or grew their business or how much better they are because they turned down buyout offers.

In the end, FUD that you create on your own against yourself or is thrown at you by others is really not crucial to your mission and goals. Of course, if your mission is to make the competition look bad, at least honest, then go do what must be done but do it honestly and openly on your end.

CAD is another level, and when you are the size of HP, IBM, Dell, Microsoft, or Google, it's the professional league, not college. CAD may be a better way. To some, it is semantics, but to others, it is a way of life.

Thank you to the 300 or so people that attended the event the other day for reminding me that the IT bubble really is not all there is to think about in life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Should you be Gaming your Learning?

I am at Entrepreneur magazine's Winning Strategies conference on Miami Beach today. The morning keynote was Gabe Zichermann and he discussed Gamification for those that have not heard of him.

While I personally do not "get" Farmville or the Angry Birds desires, I do like better business ideas and theories.

Taking Gabe's session to real life, how can you gamify the training systems your company uses today?

Usually companies ask employees to watch a video, use online courses, use e-learning or whatever you want to call it. But how many of those employees are really engaged by any of it? It's rarely exciting or interesting and generally a tick box on a chart that you did what you were told. Vendors make us get certification, not so we know what we are doing, but to be able to sell their products. Ideally we should know what we are doing but the testing rarely is about practical reality usage.

Instead of making everyone tick the box, why not encourage them to reach a level of status, within the education. One could just click, click, click, and be done or one could interactively be part of that learning process. Provide more feedback, ask better questions or any, recommend it to others. In return, as one example, the company could offer you a status of Student, Intern, Teacher, Professor. They could offer monetary gains too but in the long run that may not be so practical. With each level attained, either through quantity or depth of topic, one progresses up the chart.

Some companies do this in various ways, for external people, say if you post blog posts on their website or answer questions in forums. They do this to encourage the outside world to engage with them and expand their influence. But do they do this for internal people?

The simple effort to change the drudgery of learning to at least some modest base of interest has far reaching benefits to you, employees and your company. With less and less in person training and more online/webinar training, the lack of interaction creates a login but not listen attitude.

Change your thinking, change your business.

Need help doing this? Just ask.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fud Buster Friday #68: That "Product" is Dead

Stick any name you want, any product, any solution, to that title above, it makes no difference to me and should not to you either if you are in sales of any sort or responsible for a product of any sort.

Why doesn't it matter? Because how you reply to this question is the key.

Many answers exist on how to counter this, but here are some basics to remember.

1) Discuss with the naysayer the future road map or plans/designs or just about anything available. It is hard to continue to claim this after seeing or hearing about the plans. Yet some persist.

2) Find the internal people responsible for the product and have them call the client or someone of similar knowledge and ability.

3) If possible, do a hands on test or demo because seeing is believing, but having them do it for themselves is worth 1,000 times more. Just be there in case they need help with anything.

4) Other customer examples are helpful, especially if you know the customers or can arrange communications between the two parties.

5) Have them attend an event or conference and introduce them to key people. Everyone wants to feel special and it will usually rub off on their perspectives.

6) Try to keep emotion out of it, hard as it may be, but stick to the facts and pursue an unbiased discussion. Discussing alternative products or solutions is not a bad thing. However, know what you are talking about.

7) Don't lie. I repeat never lie about anything if you are trying to persuade someone to change their point of view.

8) Use The Force. Choose your words carefully and use inflections or speaking tactics to draw attention and get them interested. Don't just ramble on reciting information like you are reading the phone book.

9) The Godfather Deal. Make them an offer they can't refuse. Just kidding.

10) Talk about how the product can help them or their customers, use their own examples or businesses, customize the discussion to them. Again, making them feel special goes a long way to getting your point heard.

Don't forget to ask why they say this.  Push for reasons. Did someone tell them this? Did they read it someplace? Hear it on a podcast? Saw a Tweet? Discussion on G+?

The answer to this question also might give you a lead where to look for more information or push your PR.

Remember the person's last reason is the most important one to them.

The others are just smoke and mirrors although also sometimes valid. 

If they still will not change their mind, you have at least tried to do more than the usual steps but can feel you tried.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hilton and Hampton Inn Get Social

While I have been on site at a client the last few weeks, I previously wrote about the comparison of the 2 hotels I have stayed at. This week, I am finishing at the client and had a Social Business interaction.

While watching the Dolphins watch the Brady show, I tweeted that the Air Conditioner is so loud I can't hear the TV, even at full sound. A slight exaggeration, but I seriously have to crank the volume WAY up when the A?C kicked in.

Within a few minutes HamtopFYI had responded, asked me to follow them and direct message the details. I did.
About 10 minutes later the front desk was calling me to let me know they were sorry about the A/C and would have maintenance have a look. Also the hotel being full they could not swap my room.

Didn't bother to let her know that last week the same problem existed in another room and the likelihood of being able to fix it is low. Having spent some years traveling for work and pleasure, this is the downside of this level hotel. It happens.

I applaud Hilton/Hampton for getting proactive and looking to increase their customer awareness and the secondary feedback routes. It is not easy, the hospitality industry is almost as cut throat as the IT industry, and every little bit helps.

You could say the Hospitality industry understands customer service and social media fits them well. The truth is customer service is very hard to get right, Hilton has always tried to get it right and that is the key to social media adoption. Understand why you use it and for what benefits and make it work for you.

Keep up the good work Hilton, for the rest of the businesses out there still trying to get their head around it, ask, we and others are here to help you.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fud Buster Friday #67: Social Media Should be Outsourced

In conversation with friends last night we discussed the idea that using or creating something within the social media era is not for everyone.

Many companies hire out their social media efforts...why?

Is it really so difficult to type 140 characters? Sculpt a blog post? Send a missive to Facebook? No, of course not. But, what if your employees are not good at it? What if they don't use these things? Or what if they say the wrong thing the wrong way?

In steps the Social Media guru people or company. Sadly they exist because others think it is like advertising or marketing and since they have other people do that, they should have this outsourced as well.

You can spend a lot of money that way, monthly, and not get anywhere. Or maybe you hired the right people and it works for you. Roll the dice.

Having the tools in house as part of your core IT helps as people get used to using them. You also have the benefit of passion and clarity of vision for your company or product.

It makes no difference if you use IBM Connections, IBM Quickr or Wordpress for blogging but just do it.

Simple steps at first. Don't expect anything.
Plan for once a week to post anything anywhere.
Expand into audio or video once in a while, with different people in the office, not every one wants to be heard or seen or write.

Don't get me wrong, you should have a plan in place for a consistent message for your product or company, but extending the brand through employees is key to extending your reach to others outside of your offices.

Embrace the interaction, your fans are out there, they love you, do you really want them talking to people that don't care about your business?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What would make installing WAS, DB2 and X product easier

Does not matter if it is Sametime, Connections or Quickr you may face the following challenges.

These are out of the ordinary for most companies but certain locked down, highly secured environments should keep the following in mind.

There are excellent step by step directions for the products, Sametime, but this is about before you start them.

Imagine you have a set of servers to work with, now imagine those servers have every single port aside from the absolute minimum locked down.

The documentation warns you to disable any firewalls on your server. You can follow that, but what if you are not allowed to enable any ports? Am I serious? Yes. So what you need to do is either enable ALL ports on the server for the short term of installation or if security requires it, work from the existing knwon ports that are in use by EVERYTHING.

Remember this from various IBM docs:
Note: No validation is done to see if the ports are in use or if the ports file is valid.


So for those in a locked down environment, here are links to the known ports you may need or how to find them:
Sametime - and this one which is more detailed:

Quickr J2EE -

DB2,Websphere Deployment Manager -
for As/400

Lotus Notes Traveler -

And please disable your anti-virus solution as well.

Lastly, remember to use an 8 character administration name (DB2 limitation) and keep directories and naming as short as possible as well.

Domino Admin Role in St. Peters, Mo, 6 months+

Do not email or ask me about it, the agent is listed at the end of the post, let him know I posted it - KB
Please send resume in Word format if you are interested in this 6 month plus contract to hire opportunity in St. Peters, MO (Northwest of St. Louis). Rate for this position will be around $50-$55/hr and this position will convert to fulltime in 6-9 months plus. They will be migrating to Exchange in time and are looking to train the person on Exchange.

If you are not interested please pass this along to colleagues/associates for review.

Thank you and have an excellent day

Primary Responsibilities:
• Work in a team environment and will be responsible for day to day support of Lotus Notes system
• Provide proactive monitoring of Lotus Notes and BlackBerry systems
• Provide escalation support to other system administrators
• Monitor and troubleshoot message routing and directory replication
• Respond to user support calls for Lotus Notes, Blackberry and iPhones
• Assist in an enterprise wide Lotus Notes to Exchange migration (3,700 users) which may require some domestic and international travel
• Carry a company issued Blackberry and respond to after hours “on call” support issues

• Lotus Notes 8.5
• Citrix Server (preferred)
• Microsoft Exchange 2007 and 2003 (preferred)
• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and 2008
• Active Directory, TCP/IP, DNS
• Microsoft Windows XP
• MS Office 2007 Professional
• MS Outlook 2007 (preferred)
• Blackberry Enterprise Server
• Blackberry Desktop Manager
• Blackberry upgrades
• Lotus Notes to MS Outlook 2007 conversion (preferred)
• Symantec End point Protection 11.0.4
• Symantec Enterprise Vault or similar email archiving solutions
• Symantec Ghost
• Trend Micro Antivirus
• Clearswift MIMEsweeper or similar SPAM solutions
• VM Ware
• Microsoft Clustering
• Dell Servers
• SAN Storage Solutions

Install, Troubleshoot, & Replace the following hardware:
• Servers
• Hard drives
• Memory

Andrew Sigesmund
847.475.9100 (P)
847.475.9200 (F)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Choices Made

While spending my 2nd week on site at a client interesting parallels have emerged between my last two hotels and how IT works.

Let me explain.

I have to abide by certain guidelines of the clients to book my travel. Not a problem, they don't want one to be in a dump but they do want their value. In both cases the hotels offer a free continental breakfast. Mostly equal which is fine. One thing which is interesting is the juice and coffee available. In both cases, coffee is available 24x7. However, juice is not.

As a person who does not drink coffee, this is odd to me. Yes, there is probably more expense in providing juice 24x7 but if it is already free, in place and not moving, why limit it? One can take apples, bananas or oranges, while they last, at any time of the day or night. But juice? No.

Parallel this to IT. They provide access to all kinds of products and services, but if you need a keyboard, monitor, some cable or a mouse, you have to sometimes go through a lot to get one. Why? shouldn't there be a stack on hand? A dozen or so just to make life easier on everyone? Our clients like that we have these available for them. It's a small price to pay but rewards IT with a better feeling from the employees and makes life easier.

Then there are the IT shops that lock everything down so much that the users can't even change their passwords by themselves. How does this help anyone? Make life easier not harder.

The hotels do not have a restaurant, they are suites, but one has a pantry with some items to purchase, the other does not. So what is one to do? Go out and fend for themselves? One would imagine the incremental money made with having some pantry on site makes some ROI, but also is one more thing to like about the hotel chain. The lack of one, is one more thing not to like about the other.

One chain upgraded their cable and TV and now you can only see a handful of channels of HD, everything else it is snowing on TV. When I asked if someone could fix it while i was at work, I was informed this is how it is since they upgraded the wiring. I kid you not. The other has a full selection of channels and perfect pictures on their TV. Which one got it right? The reverse of the previous paragraph! That's right, the one that has no pantry has better TV. If I cared to watch TV that much it might make a difference to me. But again this is an item that may sway someone to stay again at your chain.

Now look at IT. Did they get some project done properly and yet other issues plague you perpetually? Great they let you use your iPad now, but when will they resolve the printer that keeps going offline regularly for no reason and causes you to go down the other end of the floor to get a print out only to find there was no paper or ink and have to go back and forth to resend it?

The choices we make as owners, managers or leaders influence how everything else in our company walks or runs and in the long run whether or not the business or your job survives.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fud Buster Friday #66: Telemarketing works?

I should save this for Friday but too annoyed to let it sit.

If you do webinars, write white papers, provide some type of positioning document or think you have something important that I must read/watch/listen, think again.

If your emailing about it, fine, it either gets blocked by spam filters (I hope), auto tagged using a mail rule for the word webinar to Trash(not a good idea but I know some people that do this), or maybe gets to my inbox. Here's a hint, if I see the word webinar in the Subject field, it is deleted without opening from my phone or client. We work with only a handful of Vendors and Partners who I will possibly look at the email, or from one of my friends companies.

Now that is the unobtrusive way to get my attention.

Having a telemarketer or outbound call center ring me up and ask if I am interested in any of this is a serious waste of your money and efforts and immensely  intrusive way to get my attention and possibly sour me on your company. I am not one of those people that thinks you have money to do outbound calling so you must be big, good or whatever.

Don't you think that in this age of information at the speed of sound I could find whatever you offer if and when I need it? Does your marketing team know this is going on? Or do they follow the "we try everything since everyone works differently" theory? Here's a hint, if you don't post it in enough places, say Linkedin, Facebook Events, Twitter announcements, G+, your blogs, your website and more then how would someone find out about it? Ah, but you say, that's why we are calling, so you know about it.

Look, I don't know how you work, but I work on an as need basis. JIT, just in time, it's not just for inventory you know. Sure I have interests too, but when I have the time, I will listen/watch/read. WHEN I HAVE THE TIME! So post your webinars or documents, I don't mind registering to get to them when I need them.

While we are at it, you called me, you gave me a name and maybe a company name. Now as it happens, as an example, I know who IBM is, but I do not know all of the existing Business Partners. If you say you are from company X, so what. What do you do? Are you a Business Partner? A financial adviser firm? HR legal practice? Your webinar titles mean nothing to me, they are sales, product or industry specific but that doesn't tell me if you are new or old, big or small, US only or International. I am not always so hard on telemarketers, they have a job to do and I will at least listen to them if I am in the mood, but somethings, as I will close with, will get you hung up on in a second.

This is the bet. They catch people when they are in the mood. My kids ask for cookies all the time, they figure at some point I will say yes and maybe I will. A numbers game that really sucks if you ask me from a pay off perspective. How many calls do you need to make to get someone to talk to you and maybe, just maybe, register or agree to whatever your pitch is? Would that money and effort be better spent in some other way?

Google does some nice work on their mailings. Mail is not always better than spam, but if mail is unique enough, something you can't be in a subject of an email, then it will get opened. Including something for free like a sticker or notepad or pen is not going to get you business. No buy in or not enough to get me persuaded. Engage me, don't pitch me. Suggest you read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini.

Lastly, do a search before you call and ask to speak to the owner. I don't care what company you are calling, the owner's name is out there if you try a little bit of searching. Here's a hint, Florida has a corporation lookup database that tells you the owners and details. Then again so do 1,000's of other sites. Try Linkedin at a minimum. This asking to speak with the owner line will get you hung up on immediately. This is a sign that all your efforts will fail. Next time make sure you are on the call rotation list and interact with the call center. Eye opening is a mild way to describe how you will feel.

PS - As a contrarian, I could be way off on all of this so I apologize to my friends in telemarketing, advertising and marketing. But seriously, get people to stop asking for the owner!