IBMers tend to be a little enthusiastic about IBM Connections Cloud as a way to collaborate with people outside IBM. It is just so plain nice to create a Community where you can collaborate with your client. It's a great place to put files, ask and answer questions, keep important bookmarks, start activities for projects -- and add new people as the collaboration rolls along, so they can see everything the team has done so far.
But before you can add your client to a community, you have to connect. More than one person has expressed a LOT of frustration with this. "But I know he's got a Connections Cloud account already. WHY can't I see him in the directory and add him to the community?"
The way I explain it is that it's like all the other social tools most of us use in our personal lives. Yes, that ex-colleague who likes to write long political diatribes may WANT to be my friend/connection -- but that doesn't mean I want to be his. A good social connection engine has controls in place to prevent it from being a spam generation machine. And that applies to social business tools just as much as it does to your favorite source of cat videos.
This is hard for me to imagine, with my 435MB mail file, but we've had a few SmartCloud Notes clients run into issues where users get into "Mail Jail" -- they have hit their quota. IBM will soon be increasing quotas for existing users to 50 GB, but in the meanwhile there are some users who have managed to run the size of their inbox up to 25 GB. When this happens the user can still send mail (except with Traveler), but they can't get mail. That includes getting return receipts and non-delivery notifications. In IBM, we call this mail jail.
The user then has to go delete some email. But if their administrators have chosen to prevent users from emptying their trash (which is what I always recommend!), deleting email won't shrink their replica. In the normal course of things, stuff will age out of their trash 14-90 days later, depending on organizational settings.
Clearly something else has to be done, users can't go that long without email. So here's what we tell administrators to do:
1) Have the user delete email, just as they normally would to get out of mail jail, and have him call you when it's in trash
2) When the user calls, keep him on the phone and get into the SmartCloud Notes Admin UI (Admin>SmartCloud Notes> Account Settings,>email management)
3) Toggle on the switch that allows emptying trash
4) Tell the user to empty his trash
5) When it's done, toggle off the switch that allows emptying trash
Obviously you're running the risk that somebody accidentally deletes something they shouldn't and empties their trash in this interval (including the user in mail jail), sending that important set of bits into oblivion forever. If you keep the window short, and don't advertise what you're doing, the risk is pretty low.
I've been part of the IBM Verse beta for a while now, and as the weeks have gone by I spend less and less time in my Notes client.
Verse is now to the point that I only need to go to Notes to process the convoluted emails sent by IBMers which contain buttons and other Lotuscript miracles -- things which rely on capabilities of the Notes client.
Verse is now my primary email client. What I love about Verse:
1) I can see at a glance that there's mail from my boss somewhere in the 40+ new emails that arrived in the last 2 hours. I can filter to those with one click, and open them up with a second click.
2) I do not need to file any more. Seriously. The only folder I need is my inbox-- which only holds unread email, email I have to take action on, and email where I am waiting for action (from someone else). Everything else can just live in All docs, because...
3) Verse search is AWESOME. I don't have to remember where I filed it, or who sent it, or a keyword in the subject line. I can type a few terms or names in the search bar, and in seconds I have results -- no matter where it was filed. I can filter the results by date ranges (yesterday, last week, last month, before February), or whether it contains attachments/links -- and I can add onto the search terms list.
Last week I had to look up some history on how to invoke an exception process. I had only the vaguest memory of when this had occurred (I was off by 2 months!), and I didn't remember who was involved. It was the kind of odd search that can take a quarter of an hour (minimum) in my Notes client. In Verse, I played with my search terms for less than a minute...and I found it.
I am really liking this. Good bye folders!
Many people have e-meetings they attend regularly -- for instance, IBM Support recently started a daily (11 am eastern time) "Ask the Experts" session about IBM Connections Cloud and IBM SmartCloud Notes: Link to Schedule
I attend most of these, which means I'm logging into that emeeting almost every day at the same time. I've used a common short cut which is to name that meeting -- here's how:
I go to my Meetings page (open from the Apps drop down):
and I identify the meeting I want in the Recently Joined Meetings list and click on the Add Description
And then I type my text....including the meeting password so I don't have to go look that up.
and now the meeting shows up in my meeting history and I can just pick out that link to start logging into the meeting
I already knew that IBM Verse was great for deleting junk out of my inbox quickly. What I didn't expect was how much the auto-filter capability could turbo charge my post vacation cleanup. This is what the auto-filter on my inbox looks like right now in IBM Verse (and yes I am mid-cleanup).
Here's an example of why this is nice. I was able to quickly click on the PMI sender, and move all seven of those messages into a folder within seconds. Even better was taking a break to read all the Dilberts....click on Dilbert under Sender, just see those messages, and chuckle through them all in less than a minute. I know I can do this in my old inbox by sorting on sender -- but I tend to get distracted by seeing the messages around each sender, plus I'd tend to approach it by alphabetical order, rather than volume. This view helps me stay focused, make a decision on what to look at RIGHT NOW, and then do that...and nothing else. The more I use this, the more I like it.
Because I'm on IBM SmartCloud Notes now, I was eligible to participate in the IBM Verse beta -- and it was turned on for me last week. Yesterday folders made their way into the service, which is the one thing I needed for the beta to be usable for me.
The first thing I like about IBM Verse is that it is SO EASY to delete email. There's a list of emails in the left pane. If I see one I know I do NOT want to read, I just click the trash can that pops up when I move the mouse over that subject line. One click, boom, GONE. I don't even have to look at a preview. I can clear the cruft out of my inbox in a minute...even with the influx of Christmas "special offer" emails.
The second thing I like is the "Important to me" capability. When I first brought up IBM Verse, it loaded up bubbles with pictures of the people I interact with most often, based on an analysis of my email. It did a pretty darn good first approximation - it missed my new boss, but I haven't had that many email interactions with him yet. It was quick and easy to load up my peers and my boss as people important to me, so that anything new that comes in from them sets a red "pay attention to me" flag over their picture. When I click on their picture, it shows me all the email from them, ordered by when it was sent...today, yesterday, this week...even if I've filed it out of my inbox. Now when I want to find that message my boss sent last week with a request...one click, and there it is. No need to open a folder (or two or three) and sort by sender.
The third thing I found that was sweet was a translation capability. I work with clients and account teams all over the world, and it's not unusual for me to get forwarded a long thread that has a significant portion in a language I cannot read. I used to cut and paste chunks of those into IBM's translation service -- but now I don't have to. I selected the message, right moused for more options, chose Translate to English.....and voila....I was still right there in the message, at the point in the thread where it started to be in Spanish, but now it was in pretty darn understandable English. Even though I knew what the client was upset about, once I read the translation I understood more of the nuances of WHY they were upset. I can advocate for them more effectively as a result. Talk about a delighter --in place translation was a benefit I did not expect. Nice job IBM Verse team!
I took a total break from email over an extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend. When I got back to work on Tuesday and logged into Notes the first thing I saw was the mail jail warning. . As I slogged through 300+ unread emails, deleting and archiving like mad, I found a note from the CIO's office (sent after I had stopped reading email the previous Wednesday) that I was going to be migrated to IBM SmartCloud Notes Tuesday evening, December 2nd. That night!
This was great news -- I've been asking to be moved to SmartCloud Notes for years. It's been embarrassing to work with SmartCloud Notes clients and not be on the service myself. It was also great news because IBM SmartCloud Notes has a MUCH bigger quota than the lousy 400MB I'd been living with on the IBM CIO servers. I stopped worrying about being in mail jail.
I expected this move to be a yawner, and it was.
Wednesday morning I started up my Notes client 30 minutes before my first meeting. There was the expected Welcome to SmartCloud Notes subject at the top of my Normal Priority email, pointing me to a URL for instructions on how to re-configure my Notes client and my mobile device. The instructions were easy to follow. It only took about 20 minutes to have my Notes client reconfigured for SmartCloud.
It took a little longer for my Traveler device -- mostly because I tried to follow the Android instructions for an iphone (proving I am a typical user who can't follow instructions), and also because I entered the Application password into my mobile device with the spaces. The spaces are displayed for readability when the service gives you the generated Application password,, but they are not part of the password. Oops!
I've been on the service for almost a week now, and frankly I can't tell the difference. Which is a good thing!
On November 18th, IBM had a major announcement about email -- and it was NOT a yawner, really! It's called IBM Verse, and I've already put in my begging notice to get on the beta ASAP.
IBM Verse brings the power of Analytics (think Watson), to your inbox and calendar. It learns what is important to you, and to keep those projects and people center stage. I love the tight interface with Connections -- since I now live almost equally in Connections and Email, I'm looking forward to having all those capabilities on one screen. If you'd like to see a demo, there's a 3 minute video up on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XL5tgpZmpk
I also started re-listening to my audiobook of Getting Things Done by David Allen this week. It really struck me that the core of what he teachers, of making sure the important stuff gets scheduled and having a trusted store, is something I could implement right now, between my Lotus Notes email/calendar and IBM Connections Cloud activities. I think IBM Verse will make it even easier -- but my goal is do the due diligence in my inbox and Connections now. No point putting it off!
If you want to see the whole announcement about IBM Verse: that's up on YouTube too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1nsDgl5eB8
Next week, on November 18th, IBM is making a big announcement -- about a big leap forward in personal productivity tools -- if you're on Twitter, you probably have seen the #NewWayToWork hashtag showing up. Based on everything I've seen (they've given IBMers SOME previews), I can't wait. If you use IBM Notes or IBM Connections Cloud, ask your favorite IBMer what all the buzz is about, and see if you can't get in, either to the event itself or into the Livestream.
In the last couple weeks, in spite of my putting new mail rules in place, being ruthless about filing and deleting, and using instant messaging or IBM Connections whenever possible instead of email, my inbox got out of control. I was missing email messages sent by clients because I wasn't scrolling down far enough to see that I had new messages I hadn't opened yet. I've been feeling like my job description is "reads and writes in email all day, every day." It's ridiculous.
I am looking forward to seeing the Livestream event, and hoping that I'll get to experience the new capabilities myself -- and soon!
Every few years I decide it's time to listen again to Getting Things Done (by David Allen) on audio. Like many people, my time management skills wan over time, and I find a need a refresher.
I've decided it's time for me to listen again (as soon as I finish listening to The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, by Jonas Jonasson -- which I'm finding just as delightful as his first novel) -- but this time, I want to do this a little differently. I've decided I want to have my "trusted repository" of things to do recorded as "to do's" in IBM Connections Cloud. Last time I did it using the capabilities of BM Lotus Notes -- using to-do's, and flags on email. The flood of email has increased so rapidly, that it's no longer possible for that to work well.
First step, I've created an activity to hold my projects and notes and to-do's. After this it will be interesting to see how much I remember about implementing GTD!