Category Archives: Integrations

Any Organization, Any Industry – The Vegas Casino Story

Every industry has it’s own unique issues within their collaboration story. And the story doesn’t end when your organization buys an enterprise collaboration platform like IBM Connections.

Why? Because, no doubt, you use many tools in your work day to organize and share data, keep track of clients and leads, manage issues or a git repository, etc. Think about it – all these tools to get things done and collaborate with data, processes, and people in your organization, and all of it in different systems that don’t talk with each other. Collaboration? Hmm – more like two steps forward, one step backward given all those silo’d systems!

Maybe you have a fragmented email culture as well – which creates churn, politics, and other linear work models and inefficiencies. Perhaps all your silo’d tools prevent cross-enterprise engagement and lead to miscommunications and confusions?

IBM Connections “Integrated” by AppFusions – a platform to bring all your systems together in unlimited contextual communities – is the solution to your problems.  It’s time to stop wasting time, bouncing all over the place! It’s time to work smarter and faster, drive attention to key content in context, and reduce data and process duplication efforts. It’s time to streamline your workflow. Finally, a collaboration solution that “just works” – 24/7 for you.

In the spirit of this month’s IBM InterConnect in Las Vegas (see you there!), let’s think about IBM Connections “Integrated” – in a real-life scenario … Meet Vincent, a Las Vegas native.

Photo: www.westgatedestinations.com
Photo: www.westgatedestinations.com

Hello, I am Vincent.

I run a large Vegas casino hotel with high rotating traffic, which results in a very high volume of documentation – from employee data to guest information to incident reporting to housekeeping management records… yeah, it’s A LOT.

For years, given the diversity of our workforce, data was tracked via our central Facilities office that doubled as HR. They use a number of systems to get their job done. Over time, however, Facilities began to balk at the enormous amount of documentation, the many incident and record tracking systems, and the different levels of expertise required for HR.

HR was spun-out as a separate department, but we decided to move all our data records into Dropbox, categorized by different types. We also deployed JIRA ServiceDesk for incident tracking, and records associated with incidents were attached to the logged incidents. This helped a great deal, but still, it’s a never ending chase.

The HR spin-out was a good thing, but it brought to light other issues, of lacking real-time community communications, relationship development, and ongoing collaboration. While the data tracking and records issues were solved partly, we ended up with more systems and no central place for the many types of communities the casino needed (internally and externally)…

Enter IBM Connections integrated with Dropbox and JIRA ServiceDesk. We are thrilled with the new system since now everyone is looking at other ways to improve our work processes via integrations into the IBM Connections system. The good thing is everyone is aligned, in one home – the silo’d system is gone.  

The journey is just beginning – we hope to also build communities within Connections for our external customers that are regulars. By connecting with those customers closer, we can grow our relationships and they will come back more often. We are also excited about the IBM Connections integration with Salesforce – it’s about time we had access to our CRM within our HR and Account Management communities!

Thanks for reading! Vincent’s Vegas casino story is one of hundreds … unsure how your industry or organization would benefit from IBM Connections “Integrated?” Contact us at info@appfusions.com, and we’ll help you connect the dots!

Related links:

Again, if you like what you find here, please join the conversation through our comment fields!

Rock on,

The AppFusions team

Post by Rosalie Plofchan, Marketing Manager of AppFusions

Why IBM Connections + “Pink” + AppSpokes are perfect for each other

One of the biggest stories at last week’s IBM Connect is IBM Connections Pink. According to its creator at IBM, Pink is not an IBM Connections’ release, but a vision.

There were several sessions on Pink. I went to one led by CTO and Director of IBM Collaborations Solutions Software Development, Jason Gary, and another by Pink’s lead architect and developer, Andre Hagemeier.

Here is why I think Pink and AppSpokes are made for each other. (AppSpokes in AppFusions’ growing family of deep integration solutions for IBM Connections cloud and on-premise systems – PDF brief here).

First of all both emphasize an exceptional user experience as the #1 objective.

People are at the heart of the digital workplace – past, current and future.

IBM Connections “Pink” promises to provide a customizable UI for IBM Connections using “Muse” (another technology built for IBM Connections) for customer experiences, which allows for tenant-specific javascript code to be injected into IBM Connections. UI customization can be added to the App Registry, a central repository for all types of IBM Connections’ platform extensions (including IBM Verse extensions).

AppSpokes’ extensibility solutions, by AppFusions, also have been created with an end-to-end emphasis of the user experience in mind. Though the AppFusions’ team are firm believers of the API economy, we are also pragmatic.

AppFusions’ CEO, Ellen Feaheny, said it very simply: “APIs are not enough!” in her IBM Connect 2017 session, “Confront the Madness! All Your Tools and Systems of Record Integrated Natively in IBM Connections“. AppSpokes integrations provide a natively integrated user experience – and all the underlying integration “connectivity” technology – so everything “Just works!” in cloud or on-premise IBM Connections environments.

IBMConnectionsIntegrated


Second, both the Pink and AppSpokes teams realize that HOW YOU BUILD software is at least as important as WHAT YOU BUILD.
IBMConnectionsPinkTechnologiesAgain, AppSpokes is aligned with Pink: rapid agile development, open source technology, micro-service based architecture, multi-tenant services, single code base for cloud and on-premise environments, and containerized deployments are just a few examples of our shared vision and practices.

If you listened to the Pink sessions and the AppFusions’ sessions at IBM Connect 2017, you will agree that the people behind the visions and the work efforts too are risk-takers that are leading the tribes (as Seth Godin so poignantly describes!)


Last but not least, both Pink and AppSpokes are ultimately about strategy. That is, the customer platform experience strategy, not just IBM’s or AppFusions’ strategy.

PinkHow
Strategy – people first. Build the HOW with the WHO.

Both believe extensibility is a core part of a lasting strategy for digital collaboration in the enterprises. Both embrace open ecosystems with partners in mind.


IBMConnectionsPinkAtAglance
It’s a foundational strategy with “the people’s experience” at the heart.

With the motto of “Everything is an API”, Pink will allow both “Integrate In” and “Integrate Out” between your external applications and your enterprise social network.

The goal of AppSpokes is to power your IBM Connections environment, enabling powerful enterprise collaboration desktop with ready solutions, packaged yet extensible for easy deployments and enablement,UI-rich integrations, SSO, and capabilities through community and profile apps, activity streams, embedded experiences, menu items, macros and much more in IBM Connections (and soon IBM Verse).

AppSpokes implements “integrate in and out” designs – bringing your external applications inside IBM Connections so you can work from one platform, with unlimited contextual communities. For example, in the JIRA in IBM Connections integration, not only can you create, comment, and transition a JIRA issue in-context within your IBM Connections community, you can also link back to IBM Connections from your JIRA issue or task, among other.


At the closing session of IBM Connect 2017, composer Eric Whitacre showed us how the collaboration of thousands of singers across the globe can create the most beautiful music that lifts our spirit, touches our heart, and changes our view.

Like that! Let’s apply that viral tribe building joyful notion to IBM Connections’ extensibility, growth, and delight!

IBM Connect was a fabulous conference – the beginning of a new era – this year. The AppFusions’ team greatly looks forward to our continued work with the IBM Connections’ team, IBM partners, and of course and NOT least: IBM customers, to bring the richest and best experiences – IBM Connections (Pink) “Integrated” – to you!

EricWhitacre
Eric Whitacre conducting his virtual choir – a bold, unique, and beautiful “tribe” that he and his team created.

 

Bringing the team together at IBM Connect 2017 in San Francisco!

Last week, the AppFusions team met in the city by the bay for the annual IBM Connect 2017 conference at Moscone West in San Francisco. Our diverse team came together from the Rocky Mountains, East Coast, SF Bay area, and the UK to meet with IBMers, partners, and our wonderful customers to discuss our latest integrations into IBM Connections.

What a trip! It was a promising, memorable, and inspiring experience on so many levels. We were proud to be a Silver Sponsor of the event this year.

"There's always one unruly student in the back!" ... Some of the team at the EXPO
“There’s always one unruly student in the back!” … Some of the team at the EXPO (where’s Handly, Ross, Justin, Colin?)

Thank you, thank you IBM for your support and for an exciting opportunity forward; the game has only just begun! And thank you to everyone who stopped by our EXPO booth or came to listen to our team’s break-out sessions.  There was great energy from all who came to meet us at the booth – we love that our solutions really do address the work issues that frustrate our customers. Let’s work smarter together!

We laughed...
We laughed…
IMG_7838
AppFusions booth at the bustling EXPO – great to walk around to learn about new innovations by other IBM partners too!

Some highlights from the week include:

  • Learning more about the plans for IBM Connections Pink! Looks like the demand for integrations is key to the strategy :) Love that!Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 12.13.15 PM

    Presenting IBM Connections "Pink" Extensibility Vision
    IBM’s Baan Slavens and Jason Gary speak on the future of IBM Connections on #PinkWednesday
  • Talking to our customers, gaining new leads and a many new requests for integrations into IBM Connections Cloud and On-prem. Demand for our Salesforce, Atlassian JIRA and Confluence, and SharePoint Online/Server integrations was especially HOT. Yay :)
  • Watching AppFusions Senior Architect David Simpson demo Watson IOT, Speech, Cognitive, Node-RED, and Alexa in IBM Connections – cool! The integrated future of connections is finally inevitable in so many ways.

    Go David! Go AppFusions! Go Cognitive Integrations!
    Go David! Go AppFusions! Go Integrations!
  • An absolutely brilliant evening out at the SF Exploratorium with the conference attendees for an evening of great food including sushi, rockin’ band and more laughs..
  • The amazing opening and closing keynote speakers!
    Sheena Iyengar gives a captivating speech at the Opening General Session on how cognitive technology can help us make choices
    Sheena Iyengar gives a captivating speech at the Opening General Session on how cognitive technology can help us make choices

    Closing General Ceremony speaker Eric Whitacre conducts "Deep Field" ... "Art tells us who we are. #Technology tells us who we want to be." -Eric Whitacre
    Closing General Ceremony speaker Eric Whitacre conducts “Deep Field” … “Art tells us who we are. #Technology tells us who we want to be.” -Eric Whitacre

Overall, the week has been deemed a success, with customers on our backs following up with us already, and it’s only Tuesday!

Again, thanks for a great opportunity to network with customers and partners and get the team together. We’re excited for what 2017 will bring and look forward to next month’s IBM InterConnect… see you in Vegas, baby!

Again, if you like what you find here, please join the conversation through our comment fields.

Gratefully,

The AppFusions team!

 

Social Connections 8, AppSpokes, Atlassian Confluence in IBM Connections

Last week, 4 of us from the AppFusions team traveled to Boston to participate in the IBM Connections user group called Social Connections 8.

Here’s a “storify” slideshow that captures some of the essence, as well as this quote by Simon Vaughan:

It was a great conference that I would highly recommend, if interested in getting up front, close, and personal with “who’s who” in the IBM Connections’ ecosystem. This includes the many folks that work daily to make IBM Connections’ customers successful: IBM developers, PMs, and IBM Collaboration Services’ (ICS) management — they were all there!

In addition, the conference was attended by a passionate group of customer end users and administrators, and dozens of expert consulting implementors from across the globe.

With a packed schedule, it was an exciting two days and we are grateful for attending!

Boston Science Museum Dragon – Gala Reception 4/16/2015

For our part, on Thursday afternoon, AppFusions’ Patrick Li and Ellen Feaheny presented about our new AppSpokes Framework for faster development and deployment of single code-based integration applications for cloud, on-premise, hosted, or hybrid IBM Connections environments. We’ll be sharing more on that soon enough; just getting going with some initial deployments.

Already from the conference, David Simpson, a full-on dragon slayer AppFusions’ developer, was inspired, and quickly integrated the IBM Connections functional header with Atlassian Confluence, bringing a native IBM Connections Cloud feel to Atlassian Confluence.

Here’s some of his results:

ConfluenceInIBMConnections1


David then took it another level and added the header integration into AppFusions’ Immersive for Atlassian Confluence, in IBM Connections, and with a bit of additional theming, he morphed the Confluence theme to mirror the currently applied IBM Connections look and feel/theme.

For example, this:

ConfluenceInIBMConnections


… which looks a whole lot like the default IBM Connections theme, as shown here:

ConfluenceNativeInIBMConnections

Power10Men
Harvard or MIT Crew doing a “Power10” on Charles River – 4/16/2015

AppFusions’ Technical PM and overall great human Danielle Zhu was also with us, and AppFusions’ “Boston-camp”spin-off wouldn’t have been the same without her!

AppFusions left the conference with more knowledge than we arrived with or brought too, which to me means success. Our plate runneth over on great IBM Connections’ integrations plans and fired-up-ness — going to be a great rest of the year! THANKS to the Social Connections planning team!

The “Next” Social Connections event is planned for October, 2015 in Stuttgart! If interested, email info@socialconnections.info.



AppFusions is excited for IBM ConnectED 2015 – Orlando

440x220_2z_11-12For our fourth consecutive year at this IBM social business conference, AppFusions is pleased to be digging in deeper as a Silver Sponsor, further cementing our belief in connected systems and reduced silos given the social business/collaboration movement sweeping enterprises across the world.

9 of us from the AppFusions team will be attending the IBM ConnectED 2015 conference in Orlando, on January 25th-28th. We can’t wait to share our new and updated product releases with customers and IBMers alike.

IBMConnectED2015_AppFusionsThis year, we’ll be demo’ing both new and updated packaged integrations for IBM Connections V5 and Sametime V9. You can find us at Booth S4.

Cloud File Management Integrations with IBM Connections

Video here – yet development continues too! :) 

These integrations allow you to seamlessly authenticate, access, preview, download, upload, display all your cloud files, directly from within IBM Connections.

IBM-Integrations-Graphic-Connections-Wordpress-AtlassianWordPress with IBM Connections

Video here – yet development continues too! :) 

  • WordPress in IBM Connections V5 Extended!

This integration allows you to post your WordPress blogs directly to your IBM Connections community. Further, activity streams are logged, and IBM Connections business cards are displayed for the WordPress authors.

Atlassian Integrations with IBM Connections

Video here – yet development continues too! :) 

  • Immersive for Atlassian JIRA, in IBM Connections V5 Extended!
  • Immersive for Atlassian Confluence, in IBM Connections V5 • Extended!
  • Immersive for Atlassian Stash, in IBM Connections V5 • New!
  • Immersive for Atlassian Bamboo, in IBM Connections V5 • New!

These integrations bring your Atlassian systems into IBM Connections. All from within IBM Connections, you have powerful advanced search capabilities into all the different Atlassian applications, native IBM business cards in Atlassian applications, you can create a JIRA issue directly or share it, access and interact with Atlassian applications’ live activity streams, and more. AppFusions have been developing these integrations since 2013.

Atlassian Integrations with IBM Sametime

  • IBM Sametime V9 in Atlassian JIRA • Updated!
  • IBM Sametime V9 in Atlassian Confluence • Updated!
  • IBM Sametime V9 in Atlassian Stash • Updated!
  • IBM Sametime V9 in Atlassian Bamboo • Updated!
  • IBM Sametime V9 in Atlassian FishEye • Updated!

These integrations allow you to run rich IBM Sametime chat sessions, with context, from inside your Atlassian systems. These integrations have been supported since 2012.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AppFusions will have two demo pods, so we hope you will stop by to check these out and/or to discuss with us your use cases or other possibilities for IBM Connections integrations.

Note: All AppFusions’ integrations are for sale as packaged supported solutions. As you grow and evolve, as well as your systems, so also do your AppFusions’ integrations. We’re right there with you on your integrated social business/collaboration journey.


GoldenGateBridgeSmallAppFusions senior integrations experts build supported use-case driven integrations between some of the most popular collaboration tools in the industry. Our integrations are not just web-links. AppFusions’ solutions bridge systems with enhanced user experiences so you can work faster and better.

With over 50 packaged integrations, and counting, AppFusions solutions quickly solve common yet tough pain point integration challenges by bridging together Atlassian Software, IBM Connections and Sametime, Jive software, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Egnyte, Alfresco, Microsoft OneDrive, Yammer and Parature, Lingotek (translations), single sign-on solutions (SAML2, Kerberos, OAuth2), UserVoice, and more.

Accelerate access to your JIRA 6.1 with Google Apps SSO Authenticator for JIRA

Earlier this month, Atlassian released JIRA 6.1, the very latest in their increasingly slick and easy to use project and issue tracking system. The latest release introduces an improved workflow editor as well as improved search.
Love Candy!
JIRA 6.1 is all about making change happen faster, for everyone in the organization.

For users of Google Apps, what better way of increasing productivity for all than automating the JIRA sign-in process using your existing Google Apps account. Minutes saved are minutes accumulated are minutes earned!

AppFusions’ Google Apps SSO Authenticator for JIRA simplifies user management. It automatically assigns users to groups and optionally automates JIRA user creation.

Find out more in this video:

Try it now by grabbing an evaluation.

If you find this useful, why not improve your Atlassian Confluence sign-in process too with Google Apps SSO Authenticator for Confluence. More details can be found in this video:

Try it now by grabbing an evaluation.

 


The AppFusions team provides tough-problem expert-level product development and consulting servicesOur portfolio of solutions is a prime example of our expertise, aside from much other community involvement. Nonetheless, we are only at the beginning of our journey.

Please reach out any time. We know we can help you – it is our relentless obsession and passion!

E2 Conference (Boston 2013) Silver Sponsor AppFusions Enables Collaboration

(PRNewswire Press Release reprinted)

AppFusions Breaks Down Silos, Connecting Software and the Enterprise

BOSTON, June 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — AppFusions, a social business and engineering systems integration firm, is a Silver Sponsor and featured exhibitor at the E2 Conference, June 17-19 at the Boston Marriott Copley Place.

The E2 Conference (formerly called Enterprise 2.0) kicks off today, showcasing corporations with agendas aimed at a more connected enterprise – both culturally and system-wise. E2.0, also referred to as “Social Business,” is the concept of systems, solutions, and methodologies that encourage businesses to collaborate more openly and seamlessly, both in terms of systems and communications. One of the key goals is improved process efficiencies.

“Enterprise 2.0 is about working more fluidly at the content, data, and systems level. When done right, documented efficiency gains and streamlined business processes result,” Ellen Feaheny, AppFusions’ CEO, explains. As a movement with integrated technologies at its core, E2.0 brings game-changing innovation and performance results to businesses. “E2.0 breaks down human and systems silos inside and outside of enterprises,” Feaheny emphasizes.

Although technological seamlessness is the business and systems goal, it is not yet the norm.  That’s where AppFusions steps in.

For example, with AppFusions enterprise-grade content/document management system connectors, physical document collaboration moves away from local desktops, email attachments, or siloed file repositories. Instead, “other system” document management is integrated into social business, project management, or wiki systems. When integrated, enterprise users can preview, edit, download, and embed physical documents stored in external repositories like Box, Dropbox, Alfresco, Google Docs, etc. directly from their social business platform or wiki system as native user experiences.

AppFusions Integrations … Bringing it together.

IT administrators appreciate such integrations to standardize business methodologies, and ward away rogue attachments/document repositories. By providing integrated “best of all worlds” solutions, document management and collaboration is managed, thus mitigating the “wild west” of systems many CIOs wrestle with these days.  AppFusions’ packaged content management integrations, to date, mix together Atlassian Confluence, JIRA, IBM Connections, Jive Software, Box, Dropbox, Alfresco, and Google Docs.

Another E2.0 example of AppFusions’ integrations is “in-app/in-context” instant messaging, which allows end users to message or video chat directly from inside an enterprise social, business, or engineering system.

“At the core, these are not technical problems we are solving; these are business collaboration problems that waste crucial time, money, and – even worse – lost contextual mindshare,” Feaheny explains.  “If I’m working in a wiki, bug tracker, git repository, or continuous integration server, an AppFusions connector allows me to see whether a recent contributor is online, and if so, I can connect with them instantly using IBM Sametime.”  This type of integration is not only convenient, it’s smart.

“I should not have to constantly jump between systems and browsers to collaborate,” she continues. “Instead, AppFusions feels systems should all be conveniently connected, no matter where you are working.”

AppFusions’s booth in the E2 exhibit hall will focus on its 40+ packaged integration applications, bridging systems like Atlassian JIRA, Confluence, Stash, FishEye, Crucible, Crowd, IBM Connections and Sametime, Jive Social Business Platform, Google Drive and Analytics, Box, Dropbox, Alfresco, LingoTek, MixPanel, Parature, UserVoice, iRise, and others.

Come talk to us about how we can solve your application integration problems.

AppFusions is a social business, and engineering systems integrations firm offering multi-technology application solutions. By enabling enterprises to harness together key systems with “plug and play” integrations, corporations almost instantly gain improved efficiencies, faster innovation potential, and ultimately saved time and money. Its product portfolio includes packaged integrations with Atlassian, Jive, IBM, Box, Google, Dropbox, Alfresco, UserVoice, Attensa, and more. AppFusions’ development expertise in the technologies they work with is among the most technically capable in the industry. AppFusions’ customers overlap with their technology partners’ customers – from SMB to Fortune 10s, worldwide. AppFusions is based in San Francisco, and works in the U.S., Australia, and Europe.

SOURCE AppFusions

AppFusions is Fired Up for IBM Connect 2013 – Bring.It.On.AGAIN

It’s been a great last week, as AppFusions has been closing down on many preparations for the imminent IBM Connect 2013 conference in Orlando, Florida from Jan 27 – Jan 31. We are sponsoring an exhibitors booth at the event, and can’t wait – it’s going to be a great event.

Further, last Wednesday we received a mail notifying us that we’d made the cut for a stage demo at the 2nd annual “App Throwdown” event – an open demo/contest for OpenSocial application integrations into IBM platforms.

Here’s a video of last years, where we were sitting in the audience. Now, maybe we’re app integration geeks or something, not sure — but anyways, for us this event got us into quite a bit of an excited tizzy! It screamed “APPFUSIONS!”

After the session we all mutually agreed: “WE need to be on that stage next year!”

And now we will be! Yay!

==

In the last week, our development team has continued working hard at putting in many last minute polishes to show off IBM and Atlassian software, together, for the following integrations:

  • IBM Sametime in Atlassian JIRA, Confluence, Stash, Fisheye, and Bamboo
  • Atlassian JIRA, Confluence, and Stash in IBM Connections

Here’s a preview!

For the IBM Sametime integrations, Atlassian customers running JIRA, Confluence, Stash, FishEye, Bamboo can natively work with an embedded Sametime client available to them in context inside their Atlassian tools.

Wherever a user’s name shows up in the interfaces, presence indicators tell you whether your colleague is available to chat. If green (available), right click on the presence indicator and start a chat on the fly.

Bring in other colleagues for group chat, or if your IBM Sametime subscription allows for video conferences, go ahead — launch into those too — all from right inside your Atlassian tools!

As for the IBM Connections integrations, of course these are a bit different – but also super convenient to bring together platforms, and more, workflows.

Feature highlights include:
  • From IBM Connections, launch the sharebox and log a JIRA issue straight-away from IBM Connections.
  • Atlassian JIRA, Confluence, Stash (and Bamboo, coming) activity is pushed continually in real-time into IBM Connections, with:
    • live contextual / actionable links back to your Atlassian systems – or,
    • you can launch a JIRA embedded experience for commenting or status dispositioning, from IBM Connections.
  • Atlassian Confluence is integrated into IBM Connections as the “wiki of choice”. (From the Apps menu, find Atlassian Confluence wiki at your fingertips.)
Finally, if you are one of those mobile types (aren’t we all?!) — we’ve got you covered there too. Directly within IBM Connections’ mobile application, find native JIRA and Confluence application nodes!

As great as all this is – it’s only the beginning!

AppFusions will be continuing to feature develop these integrations throughout 2013.

We can’t wait to see how they evolve, with the help and great ideas of IBM and Atlassian customers who in our experience, like AppFusions, simply want to “bring it together!”

(Keep in touch, if you would like more info!)


So come visit us at the show. We’ll be at booth B57, right on the way into (or out of) the keynotes!

You won’t be able to miss us — we’ll be the ones with the gigantic Atlassian Experts sign, and bright colored AppFusions sign like the one below!

Note: AppFusions’ Bill Ives will also be covering the event daily on this blog beginning Jan. 28. Hope to see you there!

Get excited – 5 days left!

Look out for our new banner !!

IBM Connections 4.0 Expands Its Social, Integration, and Analytic Capabilities

With the latest release, IBM Connections 4.0 continues its movement from providing a suite of applications to becoming a comprehensive social business platform with tighter integration.

Suzanne Livingston, Senior Product Manager, IBM Social Software

I recently spoke with Suzanne Livingston, Senior Product Manager for Connections on the 4.0 release. I have covered Connections a number of times before (see for example, Review of IBM Connections 3.0 and IBM Connections: Analytics + Social). Suzanne and I discussed several enhanced capabilities within Connections 4.0.

First, IBM expanded Activity Streams to include 3rd party applications and “embedded experiences”, a new OpenSocial API to allow for tight integration with other special purpose business applications.

This feature allows the user to not only receive updates from a variety of enterprise apps through the Connections Activity Stream, but also it allows them to take action (e.g., approvals, changes) on these updates directly without going to the originating app.

The Activity Stream is the event listing (“for example, Bill commented on your request for approval”) and the embedded experience is the mini-view that lets you interact with the app. Both the Activity Stream and the Embedded Apps enable 3rd party integration.

Connections 4.0 aggregates Activity Streams that are customized for your context and you can further enhance this contextualization through following or unfollowing items, groups, people, etc. This filtering allows for more relevant content and reduces the potential for fire hosing the user.

I think this is huge and a potentially transformative step toward better enabling the connected enterprise. Connections can become the hub of this connected enterprise, by not only introducing more social features into enterprise apps, but also by establishing greater integration between the apps, the tasks, and the people within the enterprise.

Suzanne said that this is part of IBM’s goal to transform business processes and I certainly agree with this direction.

This embedded experience feature is built on Open Social, a set of standards that IBM and other firms such as Jive Software, Atlassian, Microsoft, and Google have collaboratively developed or utilized.

IBM has turned its contribution into the Open Social Foundation, allowing third-party vendors to make better use of the embedded feature capabilities within Connections for even more robust integrations.

SugarCRM, the leading open source CRM, is one example of a firm that has taken this step. Suzanne said that we will continue to see even tighter integrations moving forward.

AppFusions is actively working on such integrations with Immersive for Atlassian, for IBM Connections, integrating the “Atlassian Suite” to bring business and engineering users and functional system access together.

In IBM Connections – Coming Q1, 2013 firm.

With a target release at IBM Connect 2013, AppFusions will unveil native integration with Atlassian JIRA (issue tracking), Confluence (enterprise wiki), Fisheye (source code viewer, etc.), Crucible (peer code reviews), Stash (enterprise Git), and Bamboo (continuous integration server).

Suzanne next covered upgrades to email usage within Connections 4.0. Now you can work on your email within Connections, without having to go to the email client. They have this feature for both IBM Domino and MS Exchange (Outlook), hitting the vast majority of business email.

Not only can you respond to emails within Connections, but you can also easily share social content. In addition, access to calendaring is provided. This gives you access to the major collaborative capabilities within one environment.

You can have this email access anywhere within Connections and “click to share” updates within your Activity Stream, including adding hashtags and images with these updates.

You can then look for trending topics within related hashtags to follow the flow of relevant conversations by those people you are interested in.

You can also drill down through filters to see more detail and obtain greater focus.

Connections 4.0 also provides expanded metrics. There are now tools to make use of available analytic data and create custom reports. For example, you can track adoption across the enterprise and create reports on this activity.

There are many use cases for this new capability.You could use Connections to roll out a new HR policy and then track who reads it, who shared it, and what they said about it to get a better picture of how it is being received.

Communities are becoming a major use case for Connections and these analytic capabilities are proving very useful to community managers. They can see the most valued content, the top contributors, and other ways the community is performing. They can make adjustments to the community interface and track responses to these changes.

To further support communities, Connections is making it easier to tie different communities together, even those in separate spaces, or inside and outside the enterprise. This latter feature is important as McKinsey has shown that higher enterprise operating margins correlated with the “a willingness to allow the formation of working teams comprising both in-house employees and individuals outside the organization.”

Now one central community can be used to track what is going on in several related communities, becoming the hub for connected conversations. Activity Streams with embedded experiences can be used to facilitate these cross-community conversations.

Suzanne said they are also facilitating the use of public domain content within the communities. She gave an example of using a blog post, such as this one, to spark a conversation within a community.

  • The community manager can ask for responses to the post or comments on it from the community.
  • The manager can also use the post content to spark conversations about product improvements or enhancements to customer service.
  • The community’s reaction can then go directly back into the blog as a response to the post.

They are also allowing for other public domain content from such sources as LinkedIn or Quora, as well as other internal communities, to used by the community.

Connections 4.0 also includes mobile support for iOS, Andriod, and Blackberry. It provides devices specific enhancements such as using the browsing capabilities specific to tablets versus smart phones.

In addition, you can add geolocation to your status updates directly from your mobile device and even upload photos for your network or communities to view.

Collectively, these enhancements are making Connections into a hub for the connected, social enterprise and should greatly extend its adoption and use.

IBM’s 2012 CEO Survey revealed that 57 percent of CEO’s identified social business as a top priority and more than 73 percent are making significant investments to draw insights into available data. The new capabilities within Connections support both of these findings.

Jive’s Platform Enables Comprehensive Enterprise Integration

Creating the connected enterprise is the key to driving business value in today’s economy. When over 84% of the value in S&P 500 firms is derived from intangible assets, the content within employee’s minds, facilitating collaboration across the enterprise in the context of work brings more of those minds to focus on solving meaningful challenges.

It leverages the firm’s most expensive investment, its people, to build revenue. Application integration is a foundation for this collaboration and Jive has certainly recognized this need in their product strategy.

I recently spoke with Mark Weitzel, about their integration strategy. We began with an overview of the Jive social business platform.

Mark Weitzel, Jive’s Director of Platform and Ecosystem

It is built to enable several use cases. One is building internal social intranets, supporting collaboration across the enterprise to break down silos through such features as activity streams and social groups to achieve the value described above.

Another is enabling external support groups. In this case companies set up external customer communities to address questions from other customers. These efforts have shown to both build customer engagement and loyalty and reduce support costs.

Mark said that Jive recognized the need to have integration with a firm’s legacy systems, their custom systems, and their other third party systems to put their own capabilities where work gets done. I could not agree more.

Jive did their research and found that their customers spent 34% less time searching for information and experts, had 28% fewer support calls, a 33% increase in customer satisfaction, and a 34% increase in brand awareness after they implemented Jive.

This supports the value of the use cases described above and is consistent with research by McKinsey on the value of the connected enterprise (see The rise of the networked enterprise: Web 2.0 finds its payday (2010) and How social technologies are extending the organization (2011).

“What Matters” Streams

The key to getting this value was opening up their platform so collaboration could more easily occur across applications. To facilitate meaningful collaboration they provide such capabilities as an activity stream called “What Matters”.

What Matters Jive Screenshot

In this case Jive allowed employees to move away from the fire hose of content provided by many activity streams to focus the content through several means.

Jive’s What Matters stream intelligently provides only the relevant information to the user based on the information that is visible to them and the relationships they have in the system. For example, if you are a member of a group, then you will see all the activity for that group.

In addition, Jive’s activity stream delivers targeted information a user’s social “inbox”. The social inbox is managed by the user and they can choose what information is delivered there.

The user can set up custom activity streams that combine information that is relevant to their specific context. For example, to quickly and easily follow all the activity of a company’s executive staff, a user could simple setup a custom stream and select the relevant e-staff members. In addition, Jive created a recommendation engine that pushes content to you based on your behavior in the system.

Application Integration Strategy

Jive based its application integration strategy on OpenSocial.

They made a significant move to adopt this opne, community driven standard and Mark is now the President of the OpenSocial Foundation. OpenSocial defines a Web based component model for the delivery is cloud applications along with a set of social APIs that allow an application to be easily embedded into a platform and take advantage of its social elements, e.g. the connections between people and their activities.

It gives a clear programming model and an easy way to use APIs. This allows legacy applications to be integrated with today’s leading edge social collaboration platforms. You can give legacy systems a “social life”.  This allows the creation of connections where employees might not have previously used an application.

For example, AppFusions built a JIRA in Jive application that enables this integration on a seamless basis. (Here’s the video.) There are many situations where one employee might not have access to application where much needed content resides. For example, while the IT department might use JIRA for issue tracking, a sales person who does have JIRA might want access to the JIRA status on a customer issue. Now with the JIRA in Jive connector, they can bring JIRA into a Jive conversation and ask about how the issue is progressing.

Embedded Experiences

I asked Mark about their next steps in integration. He showed me an interesting demo where you can have embedded experience form multiple applications in an activity stream. He started a discussion in Jive. Then he referenced an INXPO Social TV event to in the content.

Next, he brought in additional content from Wikipedia, and CrunchBase. Activity around discussions naturally flow into the stream in Jive, and because of this other users were able to gain visibility into this exchange of information.

The technology that these interactions are built with is using OpenSocial’s embedded experiences. Jive calls our realization of that “!App Experiences”.

I asked Mark more about that. He told me Jive’s !App Experiences is an exciting way to embed applications directly into Jive content, e.g. a discussion. Because the application is embedded with the content, the application is available wherever the content is.

Mark then logged in as another person and could access all the content right within the activity stream without having to go to the other applications or have them installed. This provides for a very rich collaborative environment. It allows you to contribute to a conversation where you are working.

Jive’s activity stream (“What Matters”) intelligently determined that this person should see the content that Mark created. When they looked at that activity stream entry, the artifacts that the application embedded in content were clearly indicated as special links.

When the user clicked on an embedded !App Experience, the application opened and the user was able to have a rich interaction right from where they were in Jive (again, in this case, the activity stream).

And here the activity is fully expanded.

And here is the Goshido action opened.

Finally, you can also create action tasks for follow up to the original post in yet another tool, such as Goshido. Now multiple applications are linked around a work activity.Jive is the glue that brings all these application together.

It was very impressive and an excellent demonstration of how the connected enterprise should operate.

AppFusions is also working on !Apps Experience integrations with Atlassian Confluence, JIRA, GreenHopper, Fisheye, Crucible, Bamboo, and Stash (Enterprise Git). AppFusions will be showcasing these integrations at JiveWorld12, in October.

Early demos of these integrations can be scheduled now however, by contacting AppFusions at info@appfusions.com.

Interview by Bill Ives of the Merced Group, and who also blogs at Portals and KM.