Tag Archives: integration

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.



Highlights from the 2011 IBM Global CMO Study


IBM has released their 2011 IBM CMO Study They interviewed more than 1,700 of the world’s most prominent Chief Marketing Officers – face to face – to find out what they feel is important for their success. These executives control many billions in marketing expenditures. IBM found that these CMOs “painted a picture of a marketing landscape in the midst of major changes.  At the same time that the average CMO is trying to figure out how the tsunami of social media – blogs, Twitter – is impacting the company brand, he or she is being asked by the boss – the CEO – to demonstrate the return on investment of marketing activities.”

IBM reported that while Investments in IT have long been the domain of the CIO, this is changing as CMOs increasingly impact IT investments in our changing social and digital world. For example IBM found that 82 percent of CMOs say they plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years. By 2017, the CMO will have greater control of the IT budget than the CIO, according to Gartner. Marketing budgets will grow 7-8 percent over the next 12 months, which is 2-3 times that of IT budgets. However, despite their growing reliance on technology and their soaring budgets, CMOs readily admit they lack the skills that IT requires.  According to the IBM CMO Study, while 79 percent of CMOs expect high levels of complexity in their job over the next five years, only 48 percent feel prepared to deal with it.

They conclude that given the business realignment between marketing and technology, the CMO and CIO can no longer afford to operate on separate stages. To succeed, they’ll have to forge a shared agenda to deliver business results through innovation and efficiency. Both sides need each other as never before. This alignment between business and IT has always been essential but it is even more so now.

The study found fours key trends: data explosion, social platforms, channel and device choices, and shifting demographics. The world generates 2.5 quintrillon bytes of data daily. Over 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years. CMOs struggle to get meaningful insights from all this data. Social platforms have put customers in the driver’s seat and require that marketing efforts become two-way communication.  The growing number of devices from smart phones to tablets is leading to the rise of mobile commerce. The revenue from this mobile commerce should rise to $31 billion by 2016. Finally, shifting demographics are occurring around the world, from the expanding middle class in India to the rising proportion of Hispanics in the US. All four of the trends have a significant impact on the CMOs job.

To meet these changing demands, IBM has announced two web experience software suites, the IBM Customer Experience Suite and the IBM Intranet Experience Suite. The two software suites help CMOs and CIOs, respectively, better reach and engage with their audiences.

 The new IBM Customer Experience Suite provides CMOs with the ability to manage and integrate all types of data on their web sites and then analyze it for deeper insight into customer buying patterns and sentiment. Web data has evolved today to include social media, videos, and web-based forms, as well as traditional enterprise data such as financial, customer and order data, and transactions.  The software suite pulls together IBM’s enterprise portal, web content management, forms, and enterprise social networking software into a single view.

The new IBM Intranet Experience software brings the power of social and analytics capabilities to CIOs and lines of business employees to help organizations innovate and evolve their internal operations and communications. This solution pulls together company information and data, personalized content and news, and social media and analytics, enabling employees to connect, collaborate and access information at anytime, from anywhere. This is essential as according to IDC, employees typically see up to a 30 percent increase in productivity using social tools internally to complete their work. With unlimited access to any type of information on the Web, consumers expect this same level of information availability in their professional lives.

I like the IBM approach to social business as it includes both internal employee aspects and external customer aspects, as well as the integration of the two. In the changing digital world this integration is critical for success.

AppFusions exhibited new solutions at IBM Connect 2013 in January. We covered the event on this blog  Here is a link to the summary of our IBM 2013 coverage. 

 

Enterprise 2.0 Innovate 2012 Notes: Beyond Team Member Engagement

I was pleased to attend Enterprise 2.0 Innovate on the West Coast for the first time. It occurreed November 12 – 15 in the Santa Clara Convention Center. Here my notes from this year’s Enterprise 2.0 2012 conference in Boston. Here are my notes from the session: Beyond Team Member Engagement: Using Collaboration to Enable Wells Fargo’s Global Sales Force led by Kelli Carlson-Jagersma, VP of Collaboration Strategy, Wells Fargo.  On Twitter she is @northstar. Here is the session description.

“Wells Fargo will share how they are utilizing social business tools in a traditional relationship-based bank to add more transparency and to expand its culture of collaboration for sales and service.  In this case study, they will cover:

  • Strategies for advancing collaboration by enabling social in CRM systems
  • such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics
  • Establishing governance in a highly regulated industry and complying with FINRA, SEC regulations
  • Community management best practices to help foster engagement and sustainability
  • Education and change management for introducing social to executives all the way to our customer facing team members

Key learnings, return on engagement – it’s not always about dollars saved and return on investments.”

Kelli began by saying that she wants to learn from all of us. She works on the B2B side at Wells Fargo. In 2004 they started with social tools. They have tested about everything. In the past their social tool use was siloed and not integrated. They test social tools internally before introducing them to their customers. They test, fail fast, and test again. Recently, they pulled together a three person team to focus on a social strategy for the entire organization and Kelli is part of this team.  They want to focus on collaboration and how social can be integrated into their workflow.

They looked at five areas. Sales is one of the important ones and this was the focus of her talk. They wanted to replace email and text messages with social tools. Email and text are siloed and the information then still has to entered into their CRM. They use Salesforce Chatter for social because they use Salesforce as their main CRM so they can stay in the same tool.

Now instead of texting back and forth, the entire deal team can see what has happened and is happening. As a pilot they targeted five deals and made pages for each customer.  However, no one went to those pages but other people wanted to watch. The back end people wanted to get a head start on the paperwork on a potential deal.  Wells Fargo is still using Saleforce Chatter for conversations and the sales teams really like it. They monitor conversations to make sure them stay on business topics.  There were some positive findings from the sales team pilot: a reduction in deal processing time and fewer missed communications.

As an aside she asked how many people still have a Blackberry. One person raised their hand. She said she felt sorry for them. Blackberry does not integrate with Salesforce and Wells Fargo still has 60,000 people on Blackberry.

At Wells Fargo they are looking at how social can help the business and make things easier. They do not want to create noise with viral videos. They are highly regulated. Their regulators do not understand social media so they want it shut down. However, there are ways to handle compliance. You need to get compliance involved upfront and ask for how to handle the issues without bringing down the process. I have found this helpful on many projects and learned it the hard way on one so I always do it now.

They trained their users on how to use social tools for business processes. They training used specific business tasks rather than general features so it made sense to the users. The created a video to introduce social to the senior leadership team. Senior leaders do not want to be seen making mistakes so they are reluctant to engage. However, senior management engagement is key. People want to know their manager can see the work they do. The video helped with this engagement.

Integration into workflow is key. I would certainly agree. Mobile is also key for engagement. She gave an example of using mobile for polls. She asked the audience to text in votes on their favorite social tools. You could see the results changing dynamically. Twitter won. No one voted for their intranet.

Their major findings: you need a purpose, establish trust by listening first, get senior management involvement, have a community management program. And educate at every level.  I would agree with all these lessons. I also find it interesting that these were the same lessons for knowledge management implementation in the 90s.

In their pilot they ended up with 5494 users and 91 communities. The average community size was 35 and the largest was 343. Eighty percent of those who did not take the training did not use the system.

Kelli moved to discuss their next steps. They are finishing their pilot. They could not replace email but they did change it. Now social is everywhere. They find that all of the their software vendors are adding social layers. Now the question is how do you integrate these social layers to avoid silos?  They also want to integrate customers with their social efforts.

They wanted their social network to replace their intranet but that is not happening. They are still sorting out who will be their final social vendor. No tool covers al their needs. However, they will not mandate a single tool. This is not their culture. For example, they have two approved CRM tools: Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.

Alfresco Continues to Enhance Its Content Management Offering, Enabling More Integration Touchpoints

Alfresco provides open source enterprise content management serving a variety of use cases. I covered them earlier in the year (see: Alfresco Brings its Open Source Document Management to the Cloud). Recently I spoke with Jeff Potts, their Chief Community Officer, to get an update and to go into their integration strategy in more depth.

Jeff Potts, Chief Community Officer, Alfresco

As Chief Community Officer, Jeff leads the Alfresco community. This includes partners, employees, developers, customers, and anyone else with an interest in Alfresco.  Indeed this is a large order, with over 200K downloads, and growing, of their content management server software to date – so that’s a large community.

Jeff focuses on the health of the community and makes sure it has the right tools, tutorials, forums, blog aggregation, wikis, and whatever else is useful to support collaboration and continue its growth. He also conducts outreach to other relevant communities to expand its awareness and participation.

The Alfresco open source offering is built on a repository for files of all types: documents, audio, video, images, and other types. Expanded access is made possible through its API using CMIS, an industry standard that is also used by other tools such as SharePoint and Documentum. CMIS uses “Web services and Web 2.0 interfaces to enable information sharing across content management repositories from different vendors.”

There are several applications that Alfresco has added on top of their repository. Share is a main one and it allows for users to share documents, calendars, links to support collaboration. In addition to collaboration and content management, use cases for Alfresco include records management and digital asset management.

Alfresco provides an on-premise Enterprise version of their software that is offered with support subscriptions. There is also a free community version available through the LGPLv3 open source license.  This year they have added a multi-tenant SaaS offering. This relieves clients of any hosting responsibilities so they can focus on organizing and using their content, not supporting the backend. Both the on-premise and SaaS version (cloud) have the same software and user interface.

With the cloud version, users can share content within the same domain since it is a multi-tenant offering. The cloud version also has a few less features at the moment, as basic document management is the primary use case. So the calendar, blogs, and wikis are not enabled at the moment. There are plans to make them also available in the cloud version in the future.

Next we discussed the Alfresco’s integration strategy.

Alfresco’s goal is to make Alfresco as open and available as possible. They want any interested developer to be able to work in the tools they are comfortable with to connect to the repository and create integrations. To enable this availability they have built APIs for both the on-premise and cloud versions.  While CMIS covers such functions as create, read, update, delete, Alfresco wanted a richer experience, so they added additional features to the API specific to Alfresco such as rating and comments.

AppFusions has worked with Alfresco to create integrations with Atlassian’s JIRA issues tracking tool and Confluence wiki. Both integrations are plugin and play, and provide seamless integration with Alfresco document management capabilities.

  • Alfresco in JIRA

    The JIRA integration allows Alfresco documents to be accessed, previewed, linked, edited, and downloaded – all from inside JIRA. Here’s a video.

  • The Confluence integration allows users to embed and access Alfresco file lists. Users can also preview, embed, print, download Alfresco files from Confluence.
    Alfresco in Confluence, v3.0 – List Macro

    Finally, when you edit an Alfresco document in Confluence, you are able to edit it in your favorite local Office application (MS Office, Apache Open Office, NeoOffice), and when done – the file is auto-magically saved back to Alfresco. Here’s a video.

AppFusions also has a Alfresco to Crowd authenticator, allowing for SSO (single sign-on) and user management of Atlassian and Alfresco via Crowd.

Collectively, these integrations really bring powerful platforms and brands, together. Best of worlds!

Alfresco has also recently released support for iOS and Andriod to enable developers to build mobile app integrations.  They are also expanding CMIS client-side libraries to better work with what Alfresco offers.

Alfresco has its third annual user conference, DevCon, coming up in November. This year the European version will be in Berlin, November 6 and 7. The US version will be in San Jose November 14-15.

The conferences will include technical workshops by Alfresco engineers and partners, case examples by users, and keynotes by the Alfresco leadership team. Both conferences will be preceded by a day of workshops for those new to Alfresco so they can more thoroughly engage with the event.

Jeff sees the use of the cloud continuing to expand and I would certainly agree. Alfresco will continue to offer more capabilities through the cloud. As CMIS becomes more widely used, they will make more CMIS-related tools available.

Alfresco is certainly moving in the right direction, hitting three of the main themes in the application marketplace with its expanding capabilities in social, mobile, and the cloud.

 

iRise Provides Functional Application Simulations to Accelerate Software Development

Visualizations through iRise give users the ability to create visual, interactive prototypes of new software projects that look and act just like the real thing, before a single line of code is written. This can be a major help in application development. I have written a bit about iRise before (see AppFusions’ Integrations of iRise® Visualization with Atlassian JIRA, Confluence).

Recently, I spoke with Pete Indelicato, Senior Product Manager at iRise, to get a broader overview of their capabilities and an update on their latest moves. Pete primary responsibility is understanding customer needs and defining solutions to meet those needs.  He then works closely with the iRise team of engineers to build out the solutions, as well as marketing for sales enablement.

Pete Indelicato, Sr. Product Manager at iRise

Most recently, Pete has been focused on “platform capabilities” based on APIs that let partners and customers leverage and extend the iRise platform.  He also manages the relationships with their integration partners, like AppFusions.

These extensions, like the Jira and Confluence integrations, allow the iRise platform to better fit into customers’ various processes and ecosystems, and the APIs lets other organizations contribute to and customize the capabilities of the iRise platform. iRise is in the middle of creating a new set of APIs focused on events and analytics.

I asked Pete for a brief overview of their Enterprise offering and how iRise helps their customers.  He began by saying that while communication is key to successful software development, many teams still rely on static documents, pictures and low fidelity click-through prototypes to communicate requirements, interaction design, and more.

For today’s rich, interactive software, these types of communication tools are not enough. The iRise platform allows teams to define and develop software collaboratively while focusing on a high-fidelity iRise simulation as the key communication asset.

These simulations can be constructed in a few minutes by non-technical business analysts or user experience professionals, without writing a single line of code.  You simply have to drag and drop application components to build a simulation. Then you add functionality by drawing lines indicating the course of user interactivity and data flow. In the screenshot, you can see a sample iRise studio screen on a tablet and a smart.

The simulations can then be used to communicate with business and technical stakeholders to make sure the organization is building the right thing.  Then, using other platform capabilities (such as RM integrations and code generation), the latter stages of the software definition and development can benefit from the ultra-realistic iRise simulation.

Pete went over several use cases. First, requirements solicitation can be made more effective. It can be difficult to engage business people who provide requirements when you are limited to offering them a text summary of the design with some static screen shots or a low-fi prototype. With iRise, the designer can show their team how the application looks and, more importantly, works to gather much more effective feedback and reduce the number of iterations and rework.

This same principle operates for interaction designs. Interaction designers can experiment with multiple approaches to solving the same problem while gathering useful feedback from potential users without having to build the software.

Then downstream, communication between designers and implementors is facilitated through the use of simulations of the design that look and act like the designer’s vision. Meanwhile, many related tasks such as documentation and training development, and even selling, can get a critical jump start while the application is still being built based on the iRise simulations.

Pete said that the iRise simulations are the most realistic simulations you can create without writing code and that is one of the reasons they call them “simulations”, not “prototypes”. They not only look accurate (visual fidelity), but act accurate: the user interactions and the data/logic in the simulation are also high-fidelity.  This latter capability is particularly important for efficient software development.

In most cases, the simulations that their customers create are indistinguishable from the production product, developed through code, that comes out months later.

When you think about the level of engagement, quality of communication, and all the parallel activities that iRise simulations bring to the table, the advantage integrations and extensions into a variety of ecosystems becomes clear.

I next asked Pete about their application integration strategies.

He said that very few software engineering / development organizations have identical ecosystems (tools, processes, habits, etc.).  iRise could spend many many thousands of dollars trying to make a complex “one size fits all” product, but instead they are choosing to open their product to integration.  This strategy not only facilitates more efficient internal development of their iRise Connect products, but it allows customers like AT&T and partners like AppFusions to build additional extensions and integrations that help iRise fit in other ecosystems.

iRise Catalog in Confluence. Select Simulation to embed and collaborate around.

The simulations are built on web technologies (HTML, CSS3, etc.). That makes them easily embeddable into other web-based platforms like Confluence and JIRA.  Putting iRise simulations in context of the collaborative environments and other development assets (e.g. story cards) makes that blend of information an ultra-effective communication asset.  Then, when team members not familiar with iRise simulations start to see them embedded in streams and story cards, they will start asking “Where can I get one of those?!”

Pete offered specific use cases for the Confluence and JIRA integrations that AppFusions created. Developers often use the Confluence wiki to create requirements documents. You can embed iRise simulations right in the Confluence-based requirements documents (videolisting). For the JIRA integration,  the issue tracking tool, is often used for more granular requirements or specific issues. (video | listing.)

OCT 8 – 10, 2012 in Las Vegas, NV

Again, iRise simulations can make the communication and handling of these development related issues much more efficient and effective.

Visualize 2012 is this year’s version of iRise’s annual conference where they gather practitioners, customers, and thought leaders for three days of workshops, presentations and socializing.  The 2012 session will occur in Las Vegas, October 8-10.  Speakers include Graeme Hackland, the Lotus F1 Team’s IT/IS Director responsible for all the Team’s Information Systems and many members of the iRise team, including CEO, Emmet Keeffe. They will also be doing workshops on their iConnect capability covering all the ways to use their APIs.

Live preview of linked iRise Simulation in JIRA.

Pete said they are very excited about the potential of their APIs because every day, it seems, someone has a new, inventive idea about a new integration, report, extension, etc.  Of course, they build the APIs with specific use cases in mind, but without fail someone outside of iRise thinks of a way of using iRise APIs in ways they never thought of.  He added that it is a good day every time that happens!

Pete is thankful that innovative companies like AppFusions and SquareOne Solutions are willing to spend some time exploring the possibilities with them. As iRise moves forward it is continuing to expand the number and type of API calls to support further integrations. They are also making significant infrastructure changes to support their more rapid product development.