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.
This week I stumbled on a blog entry in the New York Times by Nick Bilton that made me laugh out loud. It starts out like this:
"On Dec. 31, I had 46,315 unread emails in my inbox. On my first day back to work in the new year, I had zero.
No, I didn’t spend two weeks replying to all those messages. I deleted them — without reading a single one — and declared what is known as email bankruptcy." (https://ibm.biz/BdRfHe)
Nick clearly has never been expected to drive his inbox to zero before going to bed each night -- I've had co-workers who had been told that by their managers, and they routinely stayed up late to make it happen too. A daily empty inbox is a goal that I have never aspired to meet, especially since I work with people all over the globe. The email comes in all day and all night long. Unless I did massive automatic moves of unread emails to "later" folders, I'd never get to zero.
Still, I'm sympathetic to the email bankruptcy approach. This week was IBM Connect, so it was quiet back at the office. I was able to drive my inbox down to as close to empty as it ever gets -- less than 2 dozen messages right now. I've known other people who have sent the surrender notice out. Usually it reads like this: "My hard drive crashed and the last time I did a backup was two weeks ago. If you sent me anything recently that you need me to respond to, better resend it." Everyone who's ever done this tells me they don't get a lot of resends. Maybe Nick Bilton is on to something here.
I've been noticing more messages appearing on my IBM internal Connections board recently -- people asking questions, some of them people I'd never worked with before. I wondered what was behind the trend.
Today, I think I figured it out. IBM has an application called IBM Expertise Locator, and our CIO's office has made it available on our internal Connections deployment. It is one of the most highly rated mobile applications in the IBM internal mobile App store. I'm not sure exactly what data it is mining -- but you can type a series of keywords in the search bar, and it comes back with a list of "business cards" for IBMers who match those keywords in some way.
I was looking for some obtuse information today, hoping to help a client with European privacy law questions, and I remembered I had this nifty method of searching for an expert right there in my pocket. So I brought it up and typed "Safe Harbor", hit search and boom...there's an IBM attorney specializing in Privacy law, and the app gave me the option to contact her....by phone, by email, or by posting on her Profiles board. It's Friday afternoon, so I'm eschewing the phone, and I am NOT going to send an email, so I posted a message on her board. Any IBMer can see that, so if she answers me there, other people looking for the same information will be able to find the answer in future.
Which made me realize, maybe that's why I've been getting these messages on my board from people I haven't worked with before.
I just typed in a Search on "SmartCloud Notes" and "Migration", and......there is my business card, and those of my closest co-workers too. Mystery solved. Thanks CIO office! You're helping IBMers tap the collective IBM mind trust!
IBMer's who aren't part of the old Lotus group have quota's on their email. I've got one (400 MB), since I came into IBM from an acquisition. Most of the clients I work with have set their mail quota's larger than IBM's.
What that means is that it doesn't take much before you start getting the automated hate mail about approaching your quota limit. If you go over your limit, you can still receive mail, but but you can't send email. That's what IBMers call Mail Jail. Inevitably it happens when you are at your busiest, and have the least time to do anything about it.
Luckily I only get the warning occasionally. I have a local archive, and have a job set up to automatically archive daily anything over 60 days old. What gets me into trouble is when someone starts emailing spreadsheets or presentations. Or worse, they don't email them, they just plug them into meeting invitations. And send meeting updates, with newer versions. When I get my mail jail warning, usually it's the attachments that get me.
Today I had a chat with an IBMer who is tracking the size and number of documents in his mail replica week to week, and challenging himself to make it smaller. The best way to get less email is to send less email, so he really does have some influence on that. I think it's a great experiment -- I've got 330 MB of email right now and 6400 documents. Not mail jail territory, but a lot more than I want to have!
This week I happened upon a great article in Wired: Innovating with Enterprise Social Networks: How to Avoid a Ron Burgundy Moment (by Craig Malloy).
It's a short and funny read. What I particularly loved was this bit:
"....social information and knowledge sharing is.... more like a party. You invite your friends and neighbors, advertise good food, a nice location, maybe some entertainment and more often than not, folks will show up and through social interaction everyone has a good time and wants to come over again next time or maybe host the next party at their house. It’s completely opt in, not top down. And unless there is visible personal and team benefit, they are never going to show up again."
That EXACTLY captures my experience with Connections inside IBM. If it's fun to go there, and as long I get value out of it, I keep going back. It does require some a critical mass of people you know and work with using social business to make it useful. Imagine Facebook if you had no friends, and the only things available to "like" were newletters and government publications. Yuck. Getting everyone started and making it positive is the first challenge. That's where company leadership comes in -- starting the party. For IBM leadership, Connections is like having a cafe where they can informally interact with their entire organization, across time zones and national boundaries.
I love it when I stumble across a Connections post that makes fun of IBM and makes me laugh, or when a co-worker re-posts information about a tool that I didn't know existed that will help my clients. We just had our January Executive shuffle, and I saw The News within 2 hours of it hitting Connections. I was the one pinging everybody saying "hey, have you seen this?" I didn't get the notice in my inbox until the next day.
Connections beats email, any day. I don't have to file the stuff in Connections, or delete it, or worry about my quota. I just have to read and post and participate....and it's not a chore. My inbox -- THAT's like washing dishes in a household full of teenagers.
Officially Jan 2nd and 3rd 2014 are work days on the IBM US calendar -- but you wouldn't know it by the radio silence. I'm getting more Troop 75 Boy Scout emails than I am work emails! I can see in Sametime that most of my contact list is online -- and with an "available" status.
So what are we doing? Getting organized. Doing creative work. Making new replicas of applications that refresh yearly -- forecast databases, approval databases, vacation planners. I've got two training presentations to put together once I finish writing this.
I admit, I use my inbox as my work list; I make extensive use of follow up flags. In case you haven't ever noticed, a Notes follow up is that little flag on the menu bar.
I don't use quick flag much, as I find I need to write down WHAT the follow up action should be -- I'm getting older, and need reminders. I do like to use follow up alarms to schedule a time to take action, but admit I'm not as consistent about that as I should be. Sadly I even send myself reminders by email to take action.
Here's a typical follow up I put on an email plugging one of Ginni's Think Friday videocasts.
I've worked down to the bottom of my flagged items and found some flagged last February that I've never taken action on. Guess those aren't that important, so I'm taking great glee in deleting those out of my inbox. Down to no scroll bar in my inbox. Wonder if I can get down to a dozen flagged items today!