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 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 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 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 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 had a macro button for years 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 salespeople that asked for more time because they had more slides.

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 a half of serious discussion. No telling, just sharing of information.

Don't suck. Pay attention to your listeners and attendees. Doing a webinar? Ensure the chat room is open and watched by someone else who can let you know when people are dropping off or 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 Since this was a Windows machine, the ServerKeyFileName field showed d:\lotus\domino\data\

Changing the ID file to 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.