Email is dead, long live eeehh email!

Email is back on the agenda. It is now a big topic as Google, Microsoft and IBM are showing off their new inboxes. It started in January 2014 at IBM Connect where IBM announced IBM Mail Next. A new way of social collaboration from a new collaboration environment. Blending social, mil and main focus on tasks, not the inbox.  At Connect the analysts, like e.g. Gartner were enthusiastic. “I want it now!”

In November IBM revealed IBM Verse (Mail Next) and it is delivered with a browser based an mobile app interface.

In October Google started with Google Inbox, a mobile app to make the inbox more logical and helpful for the enduser. Inbox scans the email and bundles emails together and performs look up for external information that can be helpful to take action on that email  e.g show flight status inside email containing flight number. For the users that use email as todo list, emails can be pinned to the top of the screen as reminders.*wikipedia The app takes good use of the mobile capabilities of swiping to perform actions. That a lot of people perform mail triage, while behind their PC, on their mobile device. 

In November Microsoft started to roll out of Clutter to Office 365 business customers. Clutter is designed to help the user to focus on the most important messages in their inbox. It uses machine learning to de-clutter your inbox by moving lower priority messages out of your way and into a new Clutter folder.

 

So why the sudden intrest in email?

We hear about a life  without email and that the younger generation is no longer using email at all (except for registration purpose to subscribe to social tooling). These models are not (yet) applicable in the enterprise world. And there is no alternative to email. Replacing email with a pure sharing mechanism is not possible. In the end we need a way to communicate in a more optimal way; I could share my colleagues to death (oversharing) , as well as email (cc,bcc) them till they go crazy. Email is a part of corporate culture and communication, but we need to share and communicate on the appropriate platforms available; chat, activity stream, email, etc. We need to Think before we communicate and choose the most efficient and appropriate way. But for some reason some old (email) habits never change! I like to compare to stop emailing with quit smoking: people keep offering your cigarettes (emails) and to light one up is too easy (reply button is so tempting).

What if we brought all the tooling together in one place:Gartner wrote a nice article on the fourth generation of collaboration. You can read it here 

In short: no new tooling (besides co-editing in a document), but focus is on integration of tooling. This means that while in you work within IBM Connections or Sharepoint website you see your chat and your emails on the same page. No more switching between screens and systems. Get rid of the information silos and give the user ease of use they are accustomed to in the public web space. Just like Facebook has their chat and sharebox on one single page. Some of these capability are already available for some time, and yet people keep mailing. Some or most of the collaboration features have been rolled out, but not within all enterprises they have been integrated within a single user interface. This is on one part the lack of integration of technology, “where the user lives”: (email, mobile Office, etc) and on the other hand a lack of user adoption.
In my opinion focussing on adoption and integration, that it is where a good platform can help to ease the pain of a new way of working: it has to be easier than the current way of working. People are reluctant to change, so bring social to them and not force them to “eat” social.

IBM does a great job of delivering social where the user lives: inside IBM Notes, IBM Sametime, 1 mobile app, Microsoft Office, Explorer, etc. Delivering share and sync within those tools, drag and drop of files, add likes and comments: making the new way of working as easy as possible where the user wants it.

But this does not solve the tsunami of emails some users are getting; IBM stepped up the game and announced IBM Verse. It combines IBM research, design, and client and marketplace understanding that answers the question – what if we could reinvent the way that people interact with other people in the enterprise? Using analytics, Verse intelligently surfaces the most relevant information – content related to a meeting just before a meeting, context for an important message, visibility of and to the whole team collaborating on a project.

IBM Verse takes a vastly different approach to enterprise email by integrating the many ways employees connect each day – via email, meetings, calendars, file sharing, instant messaging, social updates, video chats and more – through a single collaboration environment.  It is the first messaging system to feature ‘faceted search,’ which enables users to pinpoint and retrieve specific information they’re seeking across all the various types of content within their email.

IBM Verse uses built-in analytics to provide an ‘at-a-glance’ view that intelligently surfaces an individual’s most critical actions for the day. And again IBM really made a superb mobile app that helps users with intelligent task prioritization and engaging with other people

 

IBM Verse will be available in 2015 on a screen near you.

 

More sources:

Get IBM Verse: http://www.ibm.com/social-business/us/en/newway/index.html

IBM PR http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/45402.wss

Nice graphic from Alan Hamilton

Email is dead, long live eeehh email!

How Social Business is revolutionizing the way we interact at work!

Originally posted on Learning Through Life:

Here’s a summary table I put together to show how we can work more effectively using social tools for common work tasks.

 Thanking Colleagues

Common Approach Results
  • Send thank you e-mail
  • Copy everyone on e-mail
  • Forward to team and manager (lots of e-mails)
  • Eventually e-mail gets lost or deleted
New Social Tool Approach Results
  • Write on colleagues Internal Company Profile Board
  • Micro blog about it
  • Update your Status to thank them
  • Connect with them online using social platforms
  • Their manager and network can see the thank you
  • e-mail not required
  • Highlights expertise of person
  • Builds their reputation online within the company

Creating Presentations

Common Approach Results
  • Create draft presentation and e-mail team, get feedback from team
  • e-mail as attachment
  • Spend lots of time integrating feedback
  • Stuck in mail jail from multiple attachment versions
New Social Tool Approach Results
  • Upload file to Company file sharing system (e.g. IBM Connections)
  • Share…

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How Social Business is revolutionizing the way we interact at work!

Microsoft Sharepoint & Yammer – really the best choice?

Part of my role as social business evangelist I look at tooling that is available in the market and discuss the pros and cons of those solutions versus what IBM has to offer with IBM SmartCloud Connections. In a discussion with a business partner who implements both Office 356 and SmartCloud offering, we exchanged some good arguments. From that discussion I came up with some tough questions your should ask (and answer) yourself before moving on with Microsoft Office 365:

1. Is Microsoft putting its eggs in the Yammer basket? Will Yammer go away?

Facts:

  • No new Yammer function have been implemented since the last 12 months
  • Even Yammer functions have been taken away like Yammer Events.
  • There is no clear roadmap for Yammer functionality, yet there is one for SharePoint

2. Are Office 365 and Yammer one offering?

Facts:

  • Integration after two years is still limited (see my previous blog post)
  • Microsoft Office Delve is there to solve the search issues SharePoint has. Well oops, Office Delve does not search Yammer files. Roadmap states that Lync and Yammer will be added to the search, it does not state Yammer Files.
  • Still two news feeds, multiple mobile apps to follow

3. Do your employees expect a good mobile user interface? 

Facts:

  • To work with Office365/Yammer you need 7 different mobile Apps (meaning 7 times a login action) and a lot of places to store files and uses the mobile OS browser.
  • No integration of collaboration options Yammer and SharePoint, No good search, and a confused user (where to share what/ where to collaborate).
  • Mobile collaboration looks more as an after thought. See this Yammer Mobile video. It is all about conversation, not collaboration. And the mobile app for SharePoint 365 is not delivering a good social mobile interface either, as you can see in the second part of this video.

4. Is Social collaboration only about documents and conversation?

Facts:

  • Search with Office Delve is focussing on documents (SharePoint) and conversations (Yammer). In the demo on the Office Blogs entries in Delve app were Office files and video. No mention about wiki, blog, profiles.
  • No tagging of content/profiles: Tagging is glue to find information. e.g Tagging of profiles allows users to be found based on tagging. Expertise finding is not done by searching by name.

5. Do your users want to receive more email? 

Facts:

  • SharePoint sends emails for everything to notify users.
  • Yammer sends newsletters per network. If a user is member of 20 communities/networks = 20 emails. So it is notifications galore! Just to compare: I am part of more that 120 communities with IBM, I get only 1 newsletter.

 

In conclusion:

SharePoint/Yammer might look like an obvious choice, but it is not the best choice for your company for social (mobile) collaboration.

Looking at the facts it is not the best integrated collaboration platform. So take a moment and look what value IBM SmartCloud Connections can offer on top of your existing collaboration infrastructure. Or even better take a test drive with a free trial account.

If you have any questions regarding IBM SmartCloud Connections just let me know.

Microsoft Sharepoint & Yammer – really the best choice?

Yammer (tries to) brings conversations to your OneDrive and SharePoint Online files

Almost two years ago it was big news that Microsoft bought Yammer for $1.2 billion to get into the social cloud collaboration market. From the first announcement it was unclear for the customers and end users where to do what and how. In the end Microsoft message was: Sharepoint is the application platform and Yammer is the social layer on top of that. In the official blog entry of Jared Spataro (General Manager of Enterprise Social at Microsoft) it is stated: Go Yammer. And he enforces this message with the statement that Microsoft is effectively abandoning SharePoint social, saying the basic social features shipped in SharePoint Server 2013 will see no more major updates. So the future is SharePoint Online + Yammer. But for the end user it is still not one solution, but two solutions that are glued / or being glued together.   The Yammer-SharePoint integration of the two products has started very slow but now we see more initiatives. First step of integration that was announced was the option to integrate / replace the newsfeed of SharePoint with the newsfeed of Yammer. Only in February 2013, the company unveiled simplified login to Yammer from Office 365 and with the release of SharePoint 2013 Service Pack 1 it allows on-premise SharePoint deployments to use an in-the-cloud Yammer network via the navigation bar.   Now Microsoft has announced this week in their Office blog entry that it now brings Yammer conversations to your OneDrive and SharePoint Online files – something what Microsoft is calling inline social experiences.   In theory it looks nice to have comments/ conversation next to your SharePoint file, but it is a big fail….#WHY? – Some info comes from the FAQ at the bottom of the same blog entry with this big announcement.   1. All notifications of what is happening inside SharePoint is send via email: the comments made are not shown. So when receiving a message the end user has to go to SharePoint to see the comments. Check this embedded experience in IBM Notes Mail – Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 12.45.29 PM That is really a big difference. All comments are shown and end users can even write a reply into Connections, not leaving their email client! This is really an integrated end user experience. 2. When a file is renamed the whole Yammer discussion is broken. Nothing new as it is a know issue already know in SharePoint 2010. All links that are shared or used for reference use a file name. Here the official answer Document Conversations uses Yammer’s Open Graph protocol, so when a post is published it also contains a link to the file. This link serves as the glue between the file and its associated conversations. Because the link changes according to the file name, when a file is renamed, the link changes, causing the Yammer conversations to become disassociated from the new file name. If you share a file to another my site you share a copy, with another URL, so comment won’t follow the “copy”. Within IBM Connections a URL to a file or other components of Connections, contain a unique ID – ibm.com/files/app#/file/54f50cdd-9dde-41b7-9962-1717bfcc This allows people to use and share URL’s without the worry of a rename.   3. The conversations are only for internal networks. That is really killing as more and more companies work with external people, communities, companies to collaborate and share files and other information. So not being able to kills the whole concept of social collaboration. Compare that with the IBM Connections on premises and SmartCloud offering where end users cannot only collaborate within, but also around (comments/discussion thread) a document with external users. And as you can see in this screenshot I am logged in as an external user and I can see the comments. Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 1.10.56 PM 4. This point was made by an IBM partner who was trying out the new Yammer conversation panel. In the end they gave up after testing; here is why: When using Yammer to start a discussion around a document the status updates are linked to the document. When using SharePoint and the conversation panel I can add comments to a file and/or I can start a discussion with status updates in the Yammer Conversation Panel. You would expect to have now one discussion, but no. There are now three separate discussions and to make things worse: as SharePoint user you don’t see the thread started by Yammer and vice versa. How bad can it get. Depending on which widget/tool you use, you will see, not see the update. Did anyone test it out?   5. From all remarks that are made the end user cannot see to which version the remark has been made. So if a file is on version 7, some or most of the comments are useless. In that case end users can no longer trust the comments. Look at how well this works in IBM Connections Files: Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 1.37.01 PM   6. Using the mobile apps, plural, how to know where to look for updates. The newsfeed app, showing SharePoint updates, the Yammer app to see the conversations. Getting limited functionality and in some cases being redirected to you browser app and for editing files the end user needs to be in the three different Office apps: so mobile confusion all over. So nothing inline in app here. So my conclusion is that this feature looks cool and nice, but does not deliver real business value due to 6 points mentioned above.

Yammer (tries to) brings conversations to your OneDrive and SharePoint Online files

SharePoint Conference Keynote: Releases and Roadmap – So what is new?

Yesterday the SharePoint Conference Keynote started and via my social media this blog post of CMS Wire was shared with me. While reading the blog some thoughts came up, so let me share this with you:

Here the first quote that caught my attention:

Jared Spataro, general manager of product marketing for Microsoft Office, followed Clinton. He focused on the vision and goals shaping the future of Microsoft.

  1. We believe the future of work is all about working as a Network.
  2. We believe in personal insights that can be heard when you cut through the noise.
  3. We believe in the power of an open development platform and a robust ecosystem.
  4. We believe that the future of work is only possible when people can work anywhere on any device where organizations can still manage them securely.

First impression is that there is nothing new here. Let me go through the list

1. Since the book of McAffee about Enterprise Social Networking the whole concept of social collaboration / social business is involved around the power of networking. Within IBM we are collaborating this way where I work in virtual teams on different projects and communication is done by sharing messages on my board and my network can read this. We even use the networking platform to work with customers and business partners, indeed as a network. And I am pretty sure that IBM is not the only company working this way. So why believe the future of working is working as a network. I know Microsoft was late at the table for social, thus they bought Yammer to catch up. But wake up: the future is now.

2. Putting social analytics in the visions and goals also shows that Sharpoint is lagging in the social enterprise platform. Most ESN vendors have social analytics build in. When looking what we do within IBM (researching social analytics) it is really tangible and not a vision.

3. Microsoft states here that it believes in an open development platform. I would have preferred that they would adhere open standards, like OpenSocial or ActivityStrea.ms. That would really open up the platform and make it really powerful. Just by opening up the API is imho not an open platform. Second the fact that Microsoft told SharePoint customers not to customize SharePoint too much does not help to support the vision of an open platform.

4. Microsoft tells people that they can work with any device anywhere. This is really a vision as there is still no Android Newsfeed app. Which is a very basic app to get the newsfeed information. Second: creating apps for the largest mobile operating systems is good, but they should put the design team to work as the usability is far from good, e.g. multiple apps to work with SharePoint, UI glitches and limited functionality. Looking at the Connections mobile app is is light years ahead in usability and capabilities.

Further in the blog there is a statement on new releases. Here is the quote:

next versions of SharePoint and Exchange will be released in 2015

I remember that Microsoft took over Yammer, as they were the company that could build agile software, with monthly/quarterly updates. So if you are now on SharePoint 2013 you have to wait, as usual, several years before being able to upgrade your on premises servers.

To looking at these points I can only see that what microsoft calls a vision and goals, it is just catching up on social and mobile. Nothing new here, most competitors like IBM, Jive, Sitrion, etc are already delivering this. And then the old school 3 years release cycle?

So why wait,for Microsoft to finally deliver,  if you can get the business value (on top of your current SharePoint environment) right now?

SharePoint Conference Keynote: Releases and Roadmap – So what is new?

[EN] Star Trek Reloaded? Eight of Nine – IBM rules the Social Business Market – New Study from Experton

Originally posted on Digital Naiv:

small_ExpertonSocialBusinessLeader If you are reading a lot of analyst studies, you usually have the choice between ‘best of breed’ and ‘best platform offering’. This time it is different. Experton, the European Analyst firm, did an extensive vendor benchmark on Social Business. They are – at least to my knowledge – the first ones collecting data from Social Business Services up to different software components playing into the Social Business space. Just published early 2014 their study shows 9 different quadrants. And the results remind me of Star Trek Voyager and 7 of 9. Why? IBM is in the leader quadrant in 8 of 9 quadrants. The only quadrant not listing IBM as leader is the one for Social CRM. IBM doesn’t have an offer in this space … This is an outstanding and impressive achievement and shows the companies commitment in the Social Business space.

Experton_Quadrants

When talking about Social Business, people…

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[EN] Star Trek Reloaded? Eight of Nine – IBM rules the Social Business Market – New Study from Experton

Social Software Adoption

After choosing the right enterprise social platform, see my previous post, it is essential to start and enable your people on how to use the tool and get them to understand why they should use it. The old story about the carrot and the stick. Make sure that they feel helped and made their life easier, as people in general, don’t like change. And to succeed in achieving your goals you have set to become a social business, step one is getting the people moving. Research shows that if you don’t do anything only 5% will start and the rest will continue the old way.

For starters you could tell the people theory on how to use it, but wouldn’t it be helpful if we could give them a little push in the right direction to start using their social network tooling. Especially if there is already so much available in the toolbox: a broad platform offers to anyones likings.
Within IBM Connections there is now a great way to give your users a head start with IBM Connections Touchpoint.This asset of IBM Software Services will onboard new users and the end result is a filled out profile, some network connections and some communities in the community list. Just enough to get the system to work for that person, as based on that it will show content on his activity stream and the end user will not stare at a blank screen and emotionally log off.
Touchpoint will start a guided procedure that takes about 5 minutes but is for the end user really worthwhile:
Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.17.50 PM
 The first step is to have the user fill out his/her profile and upload a profile picture.
Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.18.35 PMThe second step is to have the user to tag about how the profile can be found. What is the users core competence, what are is the user about, what is the users intrest. This is an important step as it will make this profile found if someone searches on a keyword and on tags. It will also make the profile show up in tag cloud and linked people when searching for content in Connections.
Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.19.10 PM
The third step is about starting up the network within the organization. The list here shows suggestions and the user search for other colleagues. Just click and the colleagues are added to the network
Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.20.00 PMAnd it also gives suggestions of the bright stars in the company
Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.21.27 PM
The last step is the on boarding of the user in Communities that are interesting
Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.22.28 PM
The end result is a user that is networked within the organization and is ready to participate in communities. The activity feed will now be filled with content from the people of the users network and information from communities. Based on the memberships and on the network, content suggestion is done by social analytics.
Check out this video on youtube to see a real life demo:
So far so good. the first step in using the system is set, but it is a small step, as if there is no follow up on integrating the platform in the end users business process, it will soon be seen as “yet” another information tool. But at least the first impression that lasts for ever hurdle is taken.
Social Software Adoption