Thứ Hai, 20 tháng 5, 2013

Announcing IBM Notes Domino 9 Social Edition - Going Beyond Email (Part 1)

IBM Notes Domino 9 Social Edition

On March 14th 2012, IBM will be releasing the new version of IBM Notes. This milestone represents the latest of a long successful history going back over 20 years with Notes and Domino. With the latest version, IBM Notes 9 Social Edition, there have been two major enhancements made.
  1. A huge design and UI overhaul of the client and mail/calendar experience to make it an integral part of IBM's Social Business strategy
  2. An important reinforcement of its strategy and roadmap to take users beyond email towards more productive social collaborative ways of working.
I can not emphasis the importance of this second factor strongly enough. No other email vendor is taking steps such as these, giving IBM Notes Domino 9 Social Edition users and their corporations a huge advantage in a market where some focus merely upon cost reduction (primarily via cloud) approaches, instead of also extending their focus upon much needed productivity improvements.
Why is this important?
Simply put, because the potential benefits of moving towards more productive collaboration processes has a much greater impact on the bottom line, contrasted with many cloud strategies that actually reduce the capabilities provided.
In a study undertaken via the McKinsey Global Institute in July 2012 - The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies – they estimated that companies could raise the productivity of knowledge workers by as much 20 to 25 percent through evolving to more social collaborative practices. (See for a free download of this report)
And with a growing dependance on managing the ever increasing information and knowledge within businesses the impact will only increase over time.
Adding to McKinsey Global's report is an earlier report from IDC's in February 2012 Paper on the future of email. Here IDC identified a number of areas of “misuse” with email today that directly affects the productivity of people within an enterprise;
  1. Using email as a real time communications tool – many people could attest to at least one email experience of receiving a call from a business colleague asking them if they received the urgent 'email' they sent five minutes earlier. Email is not, and never was, a real time communication tool. It is, and will always remain an asynchronous form of communication.
  2. Using email as a collaboration tool – in this aspect documents, project updates and the like are distributed enclosed within an email along with a request for actions from others. In addition to spreading copies of the document far and wide, email as a collaboration tool drives behaviours towards using the inbox as the storage receptacle for documents. Importantly, documents that can be either contain relevant, or redundant and outdated information, with no way of deciding which.
As an asynchronous communication tool email does its core functions extremely well — it is simple to use and is widely accepted as a standard. The problem with email stems from stretching its functions into areas for which the tool is simply not well suited, which then compounds the situation further by dramatically increase the volumes that people are having to manage.
Rather than envision "a world without email," IDC revealed a future where email capabilities converge with real time collaboration and the developing social tools, evolving into an hybrid productivity tool to support the new collaborative enterprise. (See
Social tools, by themselves and unconnected are not a complete solution and often meet with resistance from employees who are not willing or able to learn yet another toolset. As found by IDC, integration with familiar tools particularly email is also required;
An integrated social tool environment that includes email and a set of social collaboration tools has the potential to increase productivity and innovation across the business. In addition, there are many end-user "wins" from deploying an integrated tool set: empowerment and control over an individual's inbox, more effective information management through individual and social filtering and curation, efficient file sharing, seamless transitions from one tool to another as individual and group needs change in real time, and the ability to find the right information at the right time, to name just a few. Creating a secure, connected environment is a key to opening up the business and building a knowledge-sharing culture.”

New social tools offer very important capabilities that can relieve some of the pressure on email, but they will not replace an important enterprise tool that has become the favoured communication vehicle for many - email. IDC see's the future of email as becoming more social, thereby providing users with a transition path to more productive collaborative practices. In fact they see the future of social collaboration platforms, needing to include email as an integral part of the new enterprise communication suite.

IBM Notes Domino 9 Social Edition – Capabilities

IBM Notes Domino 9 Social Edition brings the productivity benefits of “Social Mail” exposed by IDC , McKinsey Global Institute and many others, closer to reality.
Let me show you what I mean as a picture is definitely worth a thousand words.
The image below shows the IBM Notes 9 Social Edition client, with two highlighted sections showing the most relevant components to businesses today.

  1. The traditional 'inbox' in IBM Notes 9 Social Edition has been extended to become more of an 'activity' stream than a receptacle of static emails. In addition to traditional emails, notifications from other Social Business systems such as IBM Connections are included for action, in addition to updates from line of business systems. In effect, the inbox is evolving from a collection point of emails, to a notification stream requiring action.
  2. Hand in hand with the changes to the changing concept of the inbox, is the necessary inclusion of centralised file storage capabilities, accessible and managed right from the 'traditional' email client. This provides a single point of reference on all knowledge records, those shared, private and public, as well as those that have been shared with the user.
Why is this important? Simply because it allows those who favour the traditional inbox way of working, to engage in more productive collaboration activities beyond traditional email. Let me explain.
When a user send an email, the nature of the email changes firstly through NOT attaching the physical file. Instead a user 'drags and drops' the link from the file section of their client into the mail. What is send therefore is a link to a single, centralised 'knowledge record' or document. Even if the file is stored as 'private' the mere act of dragging and dropping the 'link' into the mail extends access rights to the person to whom it is addressed.
As the image above illustrates. The recipient then has the option upon receiving notification to preview, or physically download the attachment.
The net affect of this simple enhancement is far more reaching. Besides dramatically reducing infrastructure costs through not having to cater for every mail recipient receiving a physical copy of the attachment it also ensures;
  • relevancy of date – as access to the most current version is always provided via the link.
  • A move away from having the acknowledged unproductive use of the inbox and email as the centre for collaboration.
IBM's approach and strategy with IBM Notes Domino 9 Social Edition is to move reliance upon traditional email as a communication mechanism (along with it's sequential processing style of sending to one then another and another recipient to solicit feedback) towards more productive collaboration, AND knowledge re-use, through collaboration on the knowledge record itself.

  • e-mail is NOT the driver for collaboration (records of knowledge are the drivers)

  • the inbox is NOT Centre for Collaboration (it is an activity stream of asynchronous notifications) It is no longer the repository for 'lost' attachments

  • Collaboration revolves around documents as knowledge records, their value, re-use and conversations on them
This is emphasised further when you look at what happens when a user receives a 'traditional' email with an attachment from someone external to the corporation. All that they need to do is drag the attachment to the file section in the email client and then share it. Permissions are granted as to whether the attachment is to be stored confidentially (private), share with everyone, or shared with people or a community of people. You can even grant access to people as either a reader or author (allowing them to edit and re-save modifications). 
What is to be done with the attachment? Simple, include those details when you share it. No email. As you can see below, comments, requests for, feedback and the like are all attached to the Knowledge record, not buried in an email, not lost in an ever increasing inbox as it is via traditional email clients.
In the new IBM Notes 9 Social Edition client, collaboration is NOT centred around emails and attachments.
What the ^&*()! is an Embedded Application?
Excuse my french in the title. It is worth reinforcing at this point that unlike other email systems on the market today, IBM Notes Domino is first and foremost and application platform – email is just one of many applications capable of being hosted on this platform. (I will discuss this aspect in more detail in later posts).
With IBM Notes Domino 9 Social Edition the platform now supports OpenSocial API's (in addition to others). And support for this open system standard means that 'embedded applications' are now part and parcel of IBM Notes 9 Social Edition.
So what is an 'embedded application'?
Consider the norm that exists today. A user receives an email with a url embedded in the body. They click on the url and then they are taken to a browser where the application (in this case a web page) is opened. The traditional way isi therefore based around users being taken away from what they are doing into an application located somewhere else
An 'embedded application' does the opposite. It brings the application to the user so they can continue working in the content of what they were original doing.
Consider the embedded experience that is shown in the 'preview' pane of the notification (notice I don't say email) received in the users inbox.
From the 'preview pane' the user can preview the attachment or download it, plus see comments, instructions, feedback in fact everything to do with what others have done around collaboration, including who they have shared it with, who others have shared it with plus previous versions. Now don't get me wrong. This is not Enterprise Document Management. This is pure collaboration; collaboration based upon the knowledge record, not email threads meaning that it is stored for prosperity and leverage by others way past the original creation date, or even when the creator of this knowledge record has left the company.
But the benefits of embedded applications goes even further.
As comments are added, and the discussion continues, the 'new' status is reflected in the original notification. No the 'original' email has not changed and can be viewed as an indicator of the original transaction, but the view presented to the user in their 'inbox' is automatically updated to reflect the interactions. In effect, email becomes dynamic representing the most latest action, without the need for yet more email traffic. Hence, users can be assured that the notifications they view in their new 'social mail' inbox represents the most recent transactions taken.
Embedded Applications are not restricted to what comes with IBM Notes 9 Social Edition. As stated. IBM Domino and notes are first and foremost an application development platform. So it is possible to leverage the OpenSocial API's that are embedded in the IBM Notes Domino Social Edition platform to embed line of business applications. Consider the example illustrated below which shows a travel request, received via the users Inbox.

 Straight away, without even going past the 'preview pane', the user can approval, reject, add comments and act upon the request without sending yet another mail. The originator of the request will then see the updated status from their 'inbox' notification stream and act accordingly. Again, the application, in this case an approval workflow, is brought to the user to act upon in the context of the work they are doing; clearly an improvement that has positive benefits on productivity.

Wrapping it all up (for now)

Even through this brief explanation you can see the potential benefits that IBM Notes Domino 9 Social Edition will have on changing perceptions of email, and in encouraging users to move towards more productive Social ways of collaboration.
  • From static email file attachments to integrated social file sharing. Files and documents are stored centrally right from the users inbox, so they can be managed and shared with others. Instead of sending attachments a user simply drags and drops the link from the list of centrally stored files into the email and access is instantly granted to the recipients. The actual document is never sent. Instead a link to the central storage facilities is provided so only the most current, relevant information is available.
  • From excessive and disruptive switching between complex communication activities to seamless transitions between multiple tools across multiple devices
  • From unintegrated task and work management to integrated workflow and collaborative task execution
  • From the risk of uncontrolled sharing of corporate intellectual property over open public social networks to the security and policy protection of socially integrated enterprise-grade messaging platforms
Remember. All these capabilities are provided simply through IBM Notes Domino 9 Social Edition. Athere are NO additional licensing requirements or additional products require.

To me, the benefits of IBM are clear: The capabilities of IBM's evolution beyond email can help enterprises ultimately move from a siloed and disconnected culture to a culture of knowledge sharing, collaboration, and integrated communication.

Enjoy Chris Blake

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