E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Validating Social Computing by Living an Historic Moment at IBM

Gran Canaria - Roque NubloIf yesterday’s blog post was probably one of *the* most important articles I have written in my 12th year old Internet life anywhere (Although the initial outcome doesn’t seem to be that positive, at least, initially), here I am today again putting together another entry where I will share another piece of news about one other historical moment in my work career that I witnessed earlier on this morning . One that I have been drooling all over about during the entire course of the day and for a few more days to come, of course!

As most of you know, I have been working for IBM during those 12 years (And still going strong!); most of the time around the area of Knowledge Management, collaboration, communities and social computing. My initial first contact with social software dates back to 2000 and 2001, when I was a member of one of the most active IBM communities (And still going strong!) that used, rather heavily, a wiki as its main collaboration and knowledge sharing tool amongst community members.

From there onwards, and, over the course of the years, I have been working in multiple various different projects where collaboration, knowledge sharing and communities have always played a key role (Even today!), having gotten plenty of exposure to some of the most amazing innovations that fellow IBM colleagues have been putting together throughout all of that time for the rest of us to enjoy. Most of those innovations have been around the area of social software and the main culprit of the availability of such tools has been an IBM initiative that’s been there for a few years now, and which I have talked about a few times over here: IBM’s Technology Adoption Program, a.k.a TAP.

Well, TAP has been hosting hundreds of those innovations in the last few years, but one of them has probably been, all along, the star of the show. Yes, of course, I am referring to Lotus Connections. It’ll started back at the end of 2003 when the Connections Blogs component was first made available. A couple of years later came Dogear (Now Bookmarks). Shortly afterwards, started to come on board Activities, Profiles and Communities. And last year the final two components: Files and Wikis.

In the beginning, there were all separate, they didn’t talk to one another very much, but pretty soon that changed; with the release of Connections v2.5 all services became integrated with one another and IBM’s Lotus Connections became a Product. Yes, I realise that Connections as a product has been there for a while, but for those who know (And have played with) v2.5 you would understand some of the initial limitations that were there before. Version 2.5 was just that quantum leap we were all waiting for all along…

So for the last few months we have been using that version in TAP, which is, as you may have imagined, a pilot environment that serves more the purpose of a playground area to explore the potential of what the tool can do to help improve the way we collaborate and share knowledge with our peers. But always with a purpose. The purpose that one day it would leave TAP, continue to grow further and reach that full production environment that serves as perhaps *the* most prevalent validation point that social software for the enterprise is here to stay.

Well, today is that historical moment. I am very pleased (And incredibly excited!) to share with you folks out there that overnight Lotus Connections on TAP was successfully migrated into IBM’s full production environment within the IBM Intranet. And everything has gone very smooth. The performance has been amazing all along and, like I said, this is just a new beginning for all of us IBMers.

This move into that full production environment means that from here onwards IBM’s 500k employee population will be using Lotus Connections as their strategic knowledge sharing and collaboration tool. As far as I know, that is the largest deployment of enterprise social software behind a corporate firewall. And along with the recent announcement that the instance of Lotus Connections on http://ibm.com/communities has moved to version 2.5 in a production environment as well we are witnessing very exciting times on what’s still to come, indeed!

So next time someone asks me how real social computing within the enterprise is, I guess I won’t have to walk very far. In my own house, after a couple of years of testing the ground, playing extensively with the various options, exploring a new world of opportunities in knowledge sharing and collaboration, there is now this social software tool called Lotus Connections that is being used by 500,000 people (Potentially), helping them take their day to day productivity into new heights.

There is very little else that I would need to add, other than plenty of excitement and drooling about something that I have been waiting for a while. My good friend James Governor tweeted to me the following a few days back:

”. @elsua you must be excited by the Lotus Connections momentum. chance to get some customers out of inbox stockholm syndrome”

You bet! I just can’t wait to continue telling customers how to live in “A World Without Email”, but first I will keep doing that very same thing at the same time with my own colleagues, since things have gotten a lot easier after today’s historical moment. Don’t you think?

(From here I just want to give a big, and a special, thanks!, to all of the folks who have made the migration total success, starting with the people behind TAP (For providing us with that perfect pilot environment where we continue to experiment with some of the coolest technologies out there) and finishing up with the superb joint work of the Lotus Connections team(s) as well as the CIO office. Without their perseverance and true hard work it would not have been possible. Thanks ever so much, guys! You rock!)

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  1. Thank you for sharing, well done on the Lotus Connections deployment within IBM showing the scalability and hughe potential of the platform and showing it’s ready for enterprise.

  2. Luis,

    First of all I agree that Lotus Connections 2.5 has great functionality. And I think IBM has made 500 K internal users very happy by delivering this functionality to them.


    I think that it is the last time you should be proud that new functionality is delivered to 500K users only 3 months after the on-premise software became General Available.

    In the ideal world these functionality should have become available on day one of GA to 500 K IBM employees. And in my opinion IBM has the offering to make this happen with LotusLive (Engage/Connections).

    LotusLive should have all the features that are available within LC 2.5
    And to go even one step further, LC3.0 functionality should be delivered to LotusLive first. And the next step should be a LC3.0 on-premise beta program, ect..
    Change the TAP environment to LotusLive Sandbox environment.

    Cloud based solutions should have higher priority than On-Premise solutions !

    From a quatre/year revenue point of view I can image that IBM and IBM “traditional” business partner would see lot of problems with this change. But from a customer point of view, giving their end user new functionality much sooner would really have great benefit.

    And when for example IBM’s intranet would “only” be a community wihtin LotusLive, IBM will no longer need a Lotus Connections and Lotus Sametime on-premise system.
    And end user within IBM no longer need to logon to 2 different systems (w3 and lotuslive)

    Other “traditional” On-Premise software companies like Microsoft face the same issue, what is first SPS2010 or BPOS2010, and what delivers more functionality SPS2010-on-premise or BPOS2010-cloud offering.

    But at the end of the day it is only changing you mind that Cloud is more important than On-Premise.

    To conclude I still agree that the functionality of Lotus Connections is best out there, but we want it different and faster to market. And the only way to do this is, to give IBM Cloud computing higher priority!

  3. Minor correction – “historial” = “historical” / “historic” (the latter is better, but it should be “an historic”).

    It was great to have this rolled into a production deployment. It’s transforming the way I work.

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