Excellent Enterprise 2.0 Presentation

Posted by Brett Young | Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | | 0 comments »

This is the Enterprise 2.0 presentation that I wanted to create, but now I don't have to. It was created by Oscar Berg and Henrik Gustafsson at The Content Economy for a seminar they have been doing. It is an excellent overview of what Enterprise 2.0 is, why it is important, and how it is changing the way we work. Great job guys!

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What's New with IBM Lotus Notes 8.5?

Posted by Brett Young | Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

There's no shortage of Lotus Notes haters out there. If you believe what people are saying on Twitter, you'd think Notes was akin to an annoying rash that just won't go away. However, its also clear that most of these people are still using an older version of Notes and Domino. IT shops are just now starting to upgrade to the latest 8.5 release.

I have to admit that I'm a fan of Lotus Notes. I have been one for a decade. It has not been the best email platform. However, it is so much more than email. Its one of the best rapid application development platforms ever conceived. Its replication, security, and integrated address book where ahead of their time. The applications may not have been pretty to look at or even the easiest to use. However, for better and for worse, it let the business power create a quick application that would solve a business problem in a matter of days, without the involvement of IT.

With release 8, Notes and Domino received an extreme makeover. This time around IBM put real focus on usability and end-user functionality, an area that Microsoft traditionally excels. The resulting Notes 8 client is built on the Eclipse framework. Its well-appointed interface not surprisingly looks a lot like the Microsoft Outlook client. Indeed, many of the new usability features that Notes users have been asking for have been found in Outlook for years.

The purpose of this post is to list and describe my favorite Notes 8.5 enhancements. Actually, these are enhancements since Notes 6.5. I'll not attempt to identify which interim release between 6.5 and 8.5 included the new functionality. Just know that it was not in 6.5 and it is in 8.5. I've been using the Notes 8.x client since it was released nearly two years ago.

Please note that my list only contains major enhancements that end-users should notice. It is not meant to catalog every minute change. You can go to IBM for that. Here they are in no particular order:
  • News Reader - A news reader is available in the new Notes right side-bar. It supports any RSS or ATOM internal or external feed, providing it does not require authentication.

  • Integrated instant messaging "buddy list" - The instant messaging "buddy list" is now integrated into the Notes interface, instead of floating over it and getting in the way. The "buddy list" is part of the new right side-bar feature in Notes.

  • Instant messaging history - You can now enable a feature that will save your instant messaging conversation to your email file. You can access prior instant messaging conversations in the Chat History folder.

  • Day-at-a-glance - Now, no matter where you are in Notes email, you can see a day-at-a-glance in your right side-bar. For example, from your inbox you can see what meetings and appointments are scheduled for the day. This also makes it easy to look up a specific date without closing your current email message. You can even update your calendar entries from the day-at-a-glance view.

  • Improved search interface - Search has an enhanced look in the toolbar, as well as a new Web-style user interface. I now run off a local, full-text indexed replica. The search feature is accurate and fast!

  • Message recall - If you've ever sent an email, only to wish you hadn't, then message recall is for you. It lets you retrieve a message even though you sent it, and even if it was already opened by the recipient. The feature generates a report that will tell you whether it was successful and whether any of the recipients had already opened the message.

  • Conversation view - It can be a challenge to keep track of a complex email message thread. Now, from the inbox folder or all documents view you can see every message that is part of a conversation, all grouped together. It automatically replaces the subject line with the first line of the body making it easier to find the message you are looking for.

  • Improved address type-ahead - The Notes client now keeps track of the people with whom you interact the most. When you begin typing a name in the To:, Cc:, or Bcc: fields of an email, the more frequently used names display at the top of the list. This makes it less likely that you will send an email to the wrong "John Smith", since the John Smith you communicate with most will appear on top.

  • Thumbnail viewer - With one click you will see a small thumbnail of each of the current Notes applications you have open. This makes it easy to quickly move from one application to another.

  • In-line spell check - Notes will now tell you immediately when you have misspelled a word by underlining it. Right-clicking the misspelled word lets you choose the correct spelling, ignore the word, or add it to your dictionary.

  • Collaboration history - The collaboration history lets you see every interaction you have had with a specific person, including common meetings, instant messages, and emails.

  • Calendar ghosted entries - Before you accept a meeting, it appears on your calendar as a "ghosted" entry so you can visually see which meetings are pending your review. This helps prevent the problem where you are invited to multiple meetings at the same time, and accept a less important meeting before you see the invitation of the more important meeting.

  • Calendar clean-up - Calendar items have always been a challenge to clean up, since repeating meetings will break if the original meeting is deleted. Consequently, we tend to leave calendar entries in our mail files indefinitely. Over time, these entries consume a lot of storage. With Notes 8.5 you will be able to clean-up old calendar entries without fear of breaking repeating meetings.

  • Notes/Windows password synchronization - Although there was a feature to synchronize Notes and Windows passwords in Notes 6.5, the password synch feature in the new Notes 8.5 client is much more robust and user-friendly.

  • Domino Web Access 8 - The new web client for Notes email has been completely redone. It supports most of the features present in the rich Notes client, including instant messaging integration. A new "lite" version of the web mail client can be used over low bandwidth connections. There is even an "ultralite" version for the iPhone.

  • Overlay other public and private calendars - In addition to seeing your own calendar entries, you can overlay the entries of other calendars to which you have access. This could be very helpful for an administrative assistant or a team that works very closely together. Additionally, you can overlay public calendars from Google Calendar. A checkbox makes it fast and easy to choose which calendars are visible.

Remember, this is my list, and it is probably incomplete. If you have a favorite feature of Notes 8.5 that I missed, let me know.

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Today we emphasize both Enterprise 2.0 and IT governance, which can appear to be at opposite ends of a continuum. On the one side we have IT governance which promises to introduce order, discipline, and accountability. There are many frameworks designed to support this level of maturity, including the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), ISO 20000 – IT Service Management Standard, Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT), ISO 9000 – Quality Management Standard, and many others.
On the other end of the continuum we have enterprise 2.0 and social computing principles and tools, which threaten to break down barriers, flatten the organization, and reduce human latency. Enterprise 2.0 tries to breaks down bureaucracy. It is bottom-up, agile, and flexible. The benefits include faster speed-to-market, decreased cost, and increased innovation. So, how do we resolve IT governance and Enterprise 2.0? Are they mutually exclusive? Or can they coexist?

Mixed Messages
Today we receive mixed messages from management. We can hear about the merits of prescriptive processes from the same person who is telling us we need to adopt Enterprise 2.0 practices and tools. We are told that we shouldn't be working on anything except approved initiatives that follow the perscribed process. At the same time we are deploying tools that will make it easy for people to find and engage experts in ad hoc interactions. Do we have a split personality? Can we ever have an open collaborative workplace if resources feel constricted by IT governance?

Ideas for Reconciliation
Here are my ideas for reconciling the seemingly incompatible perspectives of IT governance and Enterprise 2.0. They depend upon top-down management endorsement and communication of how we employ social computing principles and tools within a disciplined work environment.

  • Be clear about why we believe Enterprise 2.0 is important. This message needs to be succinct and repeated often. Tie it to business benefit. This message needs to be part of the earliest communications regarding the upcoming social computing capabilities.
  • Communicate management's endorsement of an open, and collaborative work environment. Acknowledge that this is a cultural shift. Set the expectation that it will take hard work and that we will make mistakes. Introduce performance objectives that encourage collaboration and hold people accountable for achieving them.
  • Communicate that certain collaborative activities are not only allowed, but expected, as part of our new culture. For example, we expect people to enable instant messaging, ensure that their status is accurate, and make themselves available. We expect people to populate and maintain their personal profiles. We expect that anyone can engage with anyone else - no boundaries. We expect people create a personal blog and use it as a knowledge repository, a virtual notebook for meeting notes, and for status reports. We expect people send links to content, and not to send file attachments via email. (There are obviously many others. These are just a few examples to get started.)
  • Determine how to incorporate social computing principles and tools IT governance processes. Look for ways to leverage social computing technologies to reduce human latency and to promote a more open workplace, within the boundaries of good IT governance. For example, are their ways to eliminate some of the governance meetings. Instead of holding in-person review meetings that can throttle progress, leverage a virtual workspace for managing asynchronous discussions and approvals?
  • Make it okay for people to interact with anyone. We must be clear that we expect people to make themselves available for knowledge sharing, even when it is not part of an approved initiative. Get over the idea that when someone wants to tap into your knowledge that it is a negative thing. Calling it a "virtual mugging" or even just annoying discourages the open interaction and trust necessary to succeed with Enterprise 2.0.
  • Sharing knowledge should be allowed and expected, and a measure of one's value to the company. Find ways to reward and provide incentives for sharing knowledge in real-time or by capturing it within a virtual workspaces, such as a blogs or wikis.

The bottom line is that most people will not adopt social computing on their own, despite the personal benefits. You cannot rely on grass-roots adoption alone. People need social computing to be officially integrated into their IT governance processes. Then, from their perspective, they're just following the process. Otherwise, Enterprise 2.0 appears to be something extra, or in addition to their real job. In that environment, Enterprise 2.0 will fail.

What do you think? Do you have other ideas on how to reconcile IT governance and Enterprise 2.0?

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