I am sure you would agree with me that Social Computing, and, in particular, social software tools, still have got plenty of different challenges within the enterprise in order to provoke that massive cultural shift most of us have been looking forward to for a long while. One of those challenges has always been trying to accommodate the mobile workforce and provide something so relatively simple as offline capabilities from most of those social tools.
Yet, it is not happening as much as one would have hoped for, don’t you think? I mean, there are some Enterprise 2.0 Social Software applications out there that are starting to tap into the offline world. Alas, not as pervasively as what you would have hoped for. And that’s one of the main issues that most mobile knowledge workers have got right now as we speak with regards to their own adoption of social software in a corporate environment.
At IBM, where 50% of the workforce is mobile already, we are seeing this very same issue as well and the interesting thing is that more and more we are seeing how some of our various social software tools we are exposed to on a daily basis are making serious attempts to accommodate offline interactions. And the latest example is coming from one of my favourite social software tools: IBM’s Lotus Connections.
Actually, from one of the components I have started to rely very heavily on over the last couple of years: Dogear (Now graciously renamed Bookmarks after Lotus Connections v2.5 went GA). Check out "Bookmark Viewer for IBM Lotus Connections Dogear" by Hanspeter Jochmann, where you will be able to see how all of the bookmarks folks may have been storing in Dogear / Bookmarks can now be taken off into a Lotus Notes database that allows you to have a rich set of interactions, while working offline, and then synchronise them back to the server once you are connected again. Amazingly powerful! And something I was really looking forward to after having gone through some very bad experiences myself.
Remember Ma.gnolia? I was a big fan of it; I had several thousand bookmarks stored in it and was a rather heavy user all along… Till one day, I came to work, was on my way to bookmark a few sites and found out Ma.gnolia went through a server crash and LOST all of my bookmarks! Without a chance to provide a backup or anything. Just GONE! All of them! Ouch!! I thought I would have to re-create most of the work I put together in it, but lucky enough Dogear came to my rescue and allowed me to recover most of it.
Ever since that painful experience happened, I haven’t gotten outside and use any other social bookmarking site available out there. Not only because I haven’t been convinced that any of them would do what I would want them to do (Specially with the protection and backup of my own bookmarks!), but also because I don’t think I would feel comfortable going through that very same experience of losing my bookmarks once more, should they suffer from an irrecoverable server crash.
So I have decided to go internal and rely, almost exclusively, on Lotus Connections Bookmarks inside the firewall. And every now and then I synchronise them with my Dogear / Bookmarks over at ibm.com so that folks out there would have an opportunity to check the kinds of links that are of interest to me and that can be shared externally. For the internal ones, you know where they would go… hehe
Thus when Hanspeter shared this brilliant offline Bookmark Viewer for Dogear I just couldn’t help but giving it a try and all along to state I have been rather happy is probably an understament. It just works! My fellow colleague, and good friend, Luis Benitez, blogged about it and pointed out to a YouTube video that explains how that Notes database works:
And if you notice, it pretty much puts together that key concept of replication and "working offline" from traditional groupware tools into the space of social software, which, I am not sure what you would think, but I think it’s just pretty awesome! Best of both worlds in just a single application coming together nicely and allowing me to always be control of how I use it, whether I am connected or not. Just brilliant!
I just hope that plenty of other social software tools follow this very same trend, because otherwise we are going to continue missing out on a large chunk of the corporate workforce who are constantly on the road, disconnected, while at customers, and the last thing they would want to worry is try to figure out whether they can get connected to just bookmark a site. This Bookmark Viewer clearly shows the way it’s possible to accommodate those needs, because, after all, we all know what’s like being on the road without a live Internet connection, don’t you think? 😀
(Oh, before I forget another special thanks to Hanspeter for helping make our lives much much easier with our own adoption of social software tools in combination with those other tools we have been using for a long while now! Talking about a nice, tight and smooth integration of the 1.0 and 2.0 worlds! Well done, Hanspeter! Thanks ever so much!)
Tags: IBM Lotus Connections, Lotus Connections, Connections, Bookmarks, Dogear, Social Bookmarking, Social Bookmarks, OpenNTF, Bookmark Viewer, Lotus Notes, Notes, Databases, Offline, Mobile Workforce, Workforce, Knowledge Workers, Mobility, IBM, Hanspeter Jochmann, Replication, Synchronisation, Ma.gnolia, Crashes, Data Protection, Data Ownership, Data Backup, ibm.com, Luis Benitez, YouTube, Videos, Screencasts, Groupware, Enterprise 2.0, Social Software, Social Networking, Social Computing, Social Media, Collaboration, Communities, Learning, Knowledge Sharing, KM, Knowledge Management, Remote Collaboration, Innovation, Productivity, Productivity Tips, Tips, Hints, Tricks, Hacks, Hacking