Enterprise IT is changing rapidly, and it's fascinating to watch in real time -- both as a consumer of IBM's IT and working with IBM's enterprise clients.
What I do every day is work with clients moving from on-premises enterprise messaging to IBM's Software as a Service cloud messaging solution, SmartCloud Notes. Unless the move is to Private Cloud (IBM's Softlayer, for instance), then there are going to be some changes to the client's environment. My job is to help clients plan for those changes, mitigate risk, and understand how SmartCloud Notes differs from what they've been using on-premises.
What I've seen in just the last 6 months is clients starting a small pilot have changed from saying "I just want to kick the tires" to saying "Oh, we're going to cloud. That decision is made. It's just which one." More and more of them are making "all in" decisions. Internally, the IBM mantras for development teams are "Cloud First" and "Mobile First". I don't know who the strategist was who saw this coming, but wow, were you on target!
IBM is moving more of our internal employee work onto our SmartCloud platform as well. Our internal emeetings is being shut down (maybe is already gone -- I don't know, I haven't used mine in years) and instead everyone is expected to use their e-meeting in SmartCloud. And I can tell we're going to stay on SmartCloud too -- I see notices that managers can expect to see blue-dollars charges for SmartCloud. Even IBM worries about cost recovery for cloud subscriptions applied globally. :^)
In my work with SmartCloud Notes clients, I get all kinds of interesting queries that require some research.
Today, a client was concerned that they were going to run into a problem when they migrated an executive to IBM SmartCloud Notes. Previously they had run into a bug in their on-premises Notes Traveler 8.5.1 Server which had caused that executive's mobile device to not synchronize correctly. The fix was first released in 8.5.2. They did NOT want him to have that experience with his mobile again. They wanted to know -- what version of Traveler is running in SmartCloud?
This is NOT the kind of information I keep at top of mind (IBM makes me remember too many passwords and numbers already). I pinged a buddy in Documentation --she didn't know. I pinged a buddy in Support -- he didn't know. Both people pointed me to the same devops contacts. One of them was in a meeting with Do Not Disturb status, and the other was offline.
So....here I go with a search of IBM's internal Connections deployment. Very quickly I found the Support team's wiki page on SmartCloud Traveler, which had a link to a build page. This showed me IBM is walking the talk about our Cloud First initiative. Traveler 18.104.22.168 build 20140310_2233 is up in all three SmartCloud for Social Business data centers.
10 minutes of searching in Connections, and I had the answer the client needed. We are a go for migrating that executive in SmartCloud Notes.
This week I started working with a new team in Spain. They're working with a large client to plan a migration to SmartCloud Notes. I'm the expert who is going to help dodge the icebergs.
Obviously we have the time zone challenge and not a lot of overlap in our working day. Not surprisingly, we started out in email. They had a LOT of questions -- I had answers, and more questions for them.
But then, they surprised me. One morning I logged into IBM's internal Connections and my status stream was filled with activity -- notifications from people I did not know, filled with acronyms that were meaningless to me. When I went to figure out why, I was delighted. While I was sleeping, the new team had created a Community for this client effort. They took all the questions we had flying back and forth in email and put them into an activity in the community. They even flagged the activity with action items, so we'd know what hadn't been answered yet.
As new questions are added, we're using the notification feature to make sure we're all aware a question has been asked.
I love that. I see in my email that there's a question. I click the link in the email to open the activity. I answer the question. And I delete the email -- no need to save!
In three short days, that Community has a LOT of information in it. I've shared a lot of our standard SmartCloud Notes client planning assets via the community. I'd pointed the team at some important files IBMers keep in SmartCloud, and they bookmarked them. If we add new members to the team, we can add them to the community and they can see everything we've discussed and decided.
I love Connections! ALMOST as much as I love Instant Messaging.
Unlike most IBMers, when I get a new laptop, I hold onto my old one as a laptop. The reason most IBMers don't hold onto the old one is that you have to keep it up to date. The reason I do is because I have in the past experienced sudden laptop death, and have spent days on the phone with the Help Desk before they would bless my the emergency replacement.
Due to a family situation, I've had to work from home a lot this school year. My backup laptop is kept locked up in my lab office. Last week I was able to get into the office for a few hours, so I went to boot up my backup laptop for virus and security updates while I worked.
Disaster. My password vault didn't contain the current disk encryption login password, oops. I eventually remembered the password to get past that....and then immediately hit a catch 22: the Windows password had expired, and due to a bizarre interaction between the encryption software and Windows, I had no option to reset it.
I was in non-stop meetings (as usual). The Help Desk forums I browsed while listening told me that I'd be spending a lot of time working with the Help Desk remotely. Ugh.
An IBM Connections search found me something intriguing to try....someone with the exact same problem reset the date in the BIOS back to before the Windows password expiration. Duh, why didn't I remember that old workaround? I reset the BIOS date back 4 months, was able to login with the old Windows password AND got prompted to change it. Success!
IBM Connections is awesome for capturing those small nuggets of organizational wisdom -- all you need is Connections and a culture which encourages people to "work out loud".
I have a repeating meeting with a client that had to be rescheduled this week. Much to my surprise, I got a message back that one of the IBM attendees was no longer in the corporate directory.
Well, darn. When the heck did THAT happen? I couldn't find anyone online to ask, so I decided to connect with him by LinkedIn. According to his LinkedIn profile, he left over a month ago.
I was happy for my former colleague -- he's leapt out into the startup world (the economy is looking up!), but sad that I "didn't notice" for over a month. Now, if I had already had him in my LinkedIn network, I would have gotten a notice about this life change.
He WAS in my IBM Connections Network -- it would have been nice if Connections had notified me when he dropped from the corporate directory. For that matter, it would be nice if Connections gave me a notification when someone moved to a new department, or got a new title, or moved to a new location......
The moral of the story is that for now I should take a look at my LinkedIn network and my Connections network, and start issuing some LinkedIn connection invitations. I notice that most IBMers have many IBMers in their LinkedIn Network. This is a good reason why!
I was very happy to see an announcement go out to SmartCloud Administrators this week, letting people know there will be an option coming soon to allow connection to the SmartCloud Sametime community even if you have implemented SAML for single sign on.
I was even happier to find out (through a Connections microblog -- yeah microblogs!) that IBMers had access to that capability right now, using beta code. I have been missing the capability for my clients to ping me directly and have a Sametime window pop up on my screen. Theoretically we could use the webchat on SmartCloud to keep that channel open, but it was always timing out, and I wouldn't see any notification when someone pinged me. In short, real time communication -- NOT.
I very quickly installed the beta Sametime code, which is a Sametime 9 client, and am happy to report that it is working great! Since most of my chats with clients start with one party typing "can I call you?", it's handy to see that status update that says "in a meeting", or "do not disturb" and knowing this isn't a good time to reach out. Even better, my clients can set alerts on me (and I on them) to see when status changes from "In a meeting" to "available".
I am so pleased to have this capability back. Thank you CIO and Sametime team for figuring out a way to make this work!
Every time I turn around, whether in an IBM meeting or watching a morning show while on the treadmill at the gym, people are quoting statistics about smartphones. The one that gets the most attention is the large percentage of smartphone users who have their smartphone within arms reach 24/7. Depending on who ran the study, that's between 80 and 91% of smartphone users.
Which puts me decidedly in the minority.
My smartphone is NOT in my bedroom at night, and stays in the locker when I go to the gym. It's not at the dinner table. Sleeping and working out and family dinners -- those are no-smartphone zones. When I'm in the office, it's on the desk or in my pocket. When I'm in the car, it's in my purse. When I'm home, it may or may not be nearby -- much to my kids chagrin. After I go to an event, I often forget to take it off vibrate, so I miss texts and calls until I remember to look at my phone (usually when I go to track something I've eaten in my Weightwatchers app) and see I've missed something.
I understand the allure of "always connected", but I don't think it's healthy to live that way. Being always online means never being fully present.
Which reminds me....my son is at the movies, and will probably text to be picked up.....did I leave my phone in the laundry room or the kitchen?......
IBMers all know the three key values we share: Dedication to every client's success, Innovation that matters -- for our company and for the world, Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships." Today a story about Innovation that matters showed up in my inbox -- an article about a breakthrough in childhood cancer research, resulting from the work of the World Community Grid.
A lot of IBMers are a part of the World Community Grid -- people donate the "idle time" of their computers to take on very small parts of very large computing problems. World Community Grid runs the infrastructure to enable this. Years ago, IBM decided that IBMers could donate the idle time of their work computers to World Community Grid. The kinds of problems the Grid tackles are a natural fit for our values. Though I'm sure our security guys went over all the Grid infrastructure with a fine tooth comb before we got the "go".
Today's article resonated with me. A team of researchers used the Grid to crank through massive modeling problems, and have found 7 (yes, SEVEN) promising candidates to treat neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. That word, neuroblastoma, leapt off the page at me. My cousin's 4 year old daughter has only recently finished an extremely intensive year of treatment for neuroblastoma; she's lucky, the protocol has worked for her, and today she is NED (No Evidence of Disease). As my cousin has seen in her many trips to the pediatric hospital, not all children respond to or can tolerate today's protocols. We are a long way from curing this cancer.
I've always been proud of the contributions IBM has made to scientific research through the Grid. But today, I am more than proud -- I am grateful.
If you want to read more, here's a great place to start: ibm.biz/BdRSmH Do you have a computer that doesn't do much most of the time? How about putting it to work to cure cancer?
This week I did something very brain dead -- I saw something that looked like an email instance in my replication list that wasn't flagged to replicate, so I turned it back on without really looking to see what it was.
It was really old copy of my email replica from several years ago. Which was mostly annoying, because the design of that old replica got applied to my nice new Notes 9.0 instance.
This meant I had to reapply the 9.0 IBM design template to Notes 9.0. No problem, only takes a few minutes, and I'm up up and away.
HEY, WAIT A MINUTE. WHERE DID REPLY ALL GO?
Sometime between my install of Notes 9 in early January and now, somebody at IBM decided it would be a good thing to discourage Reply All, so they changed the design to put it in a sub-menu.
I just started working with two new clients, and the IBM teams for both are just spinning up. One team is in Italy, 6 hours ahead of me in the business day. One team is in Hawaii, 5 hours behind me in the business day (yeah, bad planning that). Because I have limited overlap in the business day with both teams, we have big batches of information being exchanged by email. For better or worse, there is a lot of "reply all" in my life.
I am finding this very very annoying. It is making me think a little harder before I hit send, and I'm sure thinking about moving a lot more of this information exchange into Communities.
Me and a work buddy started an internal email flurry today, because we had just heard from a second client reporting an installation problem. One problem can be a random glitch. Two identical problem reports, not so random, and maybe the beginning of a flood, since this was a cloud service download we'd just turned on for a few thousand people this week.
My work buddy opened a Problem Report for the client, and I sent off a heads-up email because I didn't know who owned this bit of our technology. The list of people on the email thread expanded rapidly. Development was as worried as I was, and wanted to know exact details, right now. Luckily one of those two clients was in my SmartCloud Sametime list, so I pinged him to find out what development wanted to know. I got the first set of answers, and then I pinged the Developer, using our internal Sametime.
I spent the next 10 minutes being a communication wire. The Developer was asking me questions by internal Sametime and giving me directions, and I was doing cut/paste over into my SmartCloud Sametime window with the client, and then back to development. My client's network went down, so we couldn't test the final fix, but still...in 10 minutes Development knew a lot more to go run down this glitch, and (I hope) our client had a work around. Now, if my development colleague had gotten his SmartCloud account set up before this interchange, he could have logged in, I would have started a group chat in SmartCloud Sametime, and we would have been done in 3 minutes.
All this, and the Problem Report hadn't even flowed through the system yet so that Development could open it up. I've seen exchanges like this between our Level 3 Support teams and clients take a week by email to exchange as much data as we did in those 10 minutes.
Social Business rocks for getting things done.