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Email is like Tetris: you lose eventually

How Social Business is changing Work

Recently there have been four short (longest is 73 seconds) and sweet IBM Verse videos posted up on YouTube,  which are well worth the viewing time.  IBM released some Verse videos in late 2014 for the initial  launch, which don't look quite like the current service.    I've had multiple people ask me why their Verse doesn't look like the older videos -- so I'm delighted these updates are available.  

If you want to know more about Verse,  you can get a great tour in less than 4 minutes.   The first one shows off  my favorite feature of IBM Verse; Search analytics are saving me hours of filing and searching time every week.    The Follow up features shown in Plan and Prioritize are also helping me get better about conducing regular reviews of everything I have on my plate -- the key tenant of Getting Things DoneĀ® that I've always had trouble being consistent about.  


IBM Verse:  Finding Emails with Ease  (47 seconds) :
IBM Verse: Plan and Prioritize (40 seconds):
IBM Verse:  Connect and Collaborate (73 seconds):
IBM Verse:  File Sharing and Collaboration(1 min):

Beth Benoit | 28 August 2015 11:42:56 AM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

Several IBM Connections Cloud administrators have recently asked: "what do I do when someone leaves?"     When I was a manager I got the fun job of cleaning out the junk that a former employee had left in their office,  and then tracking down and revoking all their electronic accounts.  It usually took a few days, especially to find all the electronic accounts.    So I sympathize.  Luckily,  figuring out what to do with the electronic assets an employee left behind in Connections Cloud is not much harder than dumping paper files into the shred bin and finding a home for the stapler.  

Ideally an employee leaves the company in a professional way,  and distributes ownership of their electronic assets before they go.    Regardless,  there will still be some "stuff" someone has to go through, just in case .

For Connections Cloud, the best practice is to suspend the account,  change the password,  un-suspend the account, and then give the employee's manager (or other victim) the new credentials and the task of figuring out what to do with all the files, activities, and communities the employee owned.     You need to give the manager  a deadline too -- otherwise you're using a subscription forever to keep that account around just in case.    

The manager should login into the account and use the Communities/I'm an owner to visit every community where the employee was an owner and check the membership list to see what kind of owner.  
Image:Bequeathing electronic assets -- not much harder than finding a home for the stapler   Image:Bequeathing electronic assets -- not much harder than finding a home for the stapler

 If the employee was a "Business Owner", the manager should assign new Business Owner(s)...otherwise the community will be deleted when the account is.    If the employee was just an owner (not a business owner),  the manager may still want to give another employee Owner rights to that community -- that can be done by editing an existing member,  or adding a new one with owner rights.  

    Image:Bequeathing electronic assets -- not much harder than finding a home for the stapler

Activities are a little harder -- there's no handy fast way to identify the subset of activities where the employee might be the business owner, so the manager will have to open those up, one by one, and check the membership.  If the employee is the business owner of the activity,  then the manager should assign the activity to someone else as a business owner....or delete it, if it's junk.  

Ideally the manager should go through all the employee's files and use the  "give copy to community" option to save copies of the employee's files.   If I was a manager, I'd probably create a community just to keep copies of those files.

There doesn't seem to be a way to bequeath folders to anyone, unfortunately.   I'll have to bring that use case up!  

When the Administrator finally deletes the employee,  they have the option of reassigning their Files to a person (usually the employee's manager), but their communities and activities will disappear.   Which is why you really want the manager to go through everything before you delete the account.     There are options for retrieving the account from trash within 30 days of deletion, but after that it may not be possible to retrieve it.  After 90 days it is definitely gone forever.  
One company I talked with created a Connections Cloud account "Ima Hoarder", and when an employee leaves,  they re-assign the employee's assets to Ima Hoarder.  This has the benefit of keeping everything if it's really needed,  but not being easy to paw through unless you REALLY need it and know what you're looking for.     So far it's working for them,  but it should be interesting to see what they think of this in another 5 years!  

Beth Benoit | 28 July 2015 02:16:03 PM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

IBM Verse really is a #newwaytowork;  sometimes it's hard to let go of old learned behaviors to see what's really possible.  

I've been an avid email hoarder for years -- a religious archive and folder user. So I was initially alarmed that there wasn't a Send and Save in Folder option when composing email in IBM Verse.   I mean, really, how was I going to be able to find my sent messages?   What were the IBM designers THINKING?  

I was wrong.  Honestly I haven't missed it.   

The first thing that makes it so I don't miss filing my sent emails is threads.    If I open up an email exchange in Verse,  it includes all the emails in that thread,  regardless of where I filed them, or IF I filed them.   My sent emails are there in the chain.   

The second thing is the filtering by To, From, or both when I search,  so it will pull up the emails I sent if I'm searching by a person.   
Image:Why I don’t miss "send and save to folder"

And finally there is the search itself.   I can forsee a day when I get busy enough that I say "to heck with folders", and switch over to just an inbox and everything else, because the search is that good.    Already there are whole classes of emails  that I glance at and hit the "get this thread out of my inbox" icon (the minus in a circle).  
Image:Why I don’t miss "send and save to folder"
This is SO much faster and easier than my previous careful filing.    And yes, I  know mail rules are good at that kind of auto-filing, but in spite of my good intentions I never go back to look at the auto-filed folders, and I want to look at this stuff just once, to triage it.   IBM Designers -- I'm really appreciating this, and I don't mind saying "I was wrong!"  

Beth Benoit | 12 June 2015 02:33:45 PM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

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.  

Beth Benoit | 22 May 2015 04:20:47 PM ET | | Comments (5) | Permanent Link

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.    

Image:Sometimes inelegant gets the job done:   getting out of SmartCloud Notes Mail Jail

Beth Benoit | 26 March 2015 03:16:15 PM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

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!  

Beth Benoit | 6 March 2015 03:50:52 PM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

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):  

Image:Name that Meeting (and shameless plug for Ask the Expert sessions)

and I identify the meeting I want in the Recently Joined Meetings list and click on the Add Description

Image:Name that Meeting (and shameless plug for Ask the Expert sessions)

And then I type my text....including the meeting password so I don't have to go look that up.

Image:Name that Meeting (and shameless plug for Ask the Expert sessions)

and now the meeting shows up in my meeting history and I can just pick out that link to start logging into the meeting

Image:Name that Meeting (and shameless plug for Ask the Expert sessions)

Beth Benoit | 27 January 2015 11:50:52 AM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

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).  
Image:IBM Verse -- great for post vacation email 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 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.  

Beth Benoit | 5 January 2015 11:41:01 AM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

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, 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 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!  

Beth Benoit | 19 December 2014 03:04:26 PM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

 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!  

Beth Benoit | 8 December 2014 12:47:15 PM ET | | Comments (1) | Permanent Link

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