Featured image: Connections at Think 2018

What we learned at IBM Think 2018 and what is next for Connections

All quiet on the Connections front?

It may seem "all quiet on the Connections front" as the promise of Connections Pink/Next/7 (or whatever it's name is likely to be), has not materialised publicly as yet. To think that nothing has been happening is far from the truth, infact more is going on behind the scenes than we could have imagined.

Firstly a lot of the new changes are going to be deployed out to the Connections cloud before becoming available on prem. This is partly due to the architecture. Orient me, the new metrics and now Connections customizer are all available in Connections Cloud and although theoretically they are also available to deploy on prem there has been some issues with the sizing of the archiecture (more on that later).

One of the big pieces of news to come out of the ICS keynotes was integration. We have heard lots of noise about integration in the past and how connections would be able to consume data from other products in the ICS portfolio and we started to see this in Verse and Connections Engagement Center. It's become obvious that the team have been working hard on building the foundation of what will be the next iteration of the ICS Collaboration Framework.



This screen shot shows Connections Engagement Center deployed to Connections cloud using content from Domino, Connections Cloud, Box Relay and other external tools to build a sales dashboard, making relevant content available in one place.



That personalised tailored experience will be the way forward. René Schimmer gave a fantastic presentation on some of the things the team have been working on and what will be coming in the future. One of these is Tailored Experiences - which is the evolution of what communities are today. The idea behind this is that the community manager can pull in content from many sources and design it to their needs.


The next iteration of Orient Me will also be working on the tailored experiences mantra, its all about the content that is useful and relevant to you. Combining updates from your network and browsing across spaces (Watson workspaces), content available to you and the people service (the new Profiles). The ability to pin what is important will also be added - a welcome addition for those of us who forget where we have put /seen important information.



A new feature that the Connections team are working on is Collaborative Notes which should be available in context everywhere. Collaborative Notes will be easy to organise and to find. I think of it like Evernote but with more features and with the ability to share them again everywhere with whatever is integrated.



The other big news was that the team are making Connections GDPR compliant. With the Cloud having the features built in and for  on prem customers a full set of documention will be available (no set date as yet, but May 2018 was mentioned) to help us achieve the compliance levels required.

Integration with Watson Workspace will also be coming to on prem Connections at some point in the future - assuming that your organisation can allow a cloud service to be consumed. More details are promised to be coming soon. I for one am very much looking forward to that piece of news when it arrives.



As the implementation of the new pink stack of Docker, Mongo etc, takes a very large hardware stack and lots of effort its not overly accessible for most SMB customers at the moment, BUT the news is that IBM is thinking about how to make this easier or change the deployment model to help the smaller customers migrate to the new stack when the time comes. IBM have acknowledged that not all SMB customers can or want to move to a cloud only solution and they are working on how to ensure that these customers are supported and they are continually looking at feed back from a select group of IBM Champions and Customers to keep them honest. As I am part of that panel, if you have had any struggles or are interested in deploying these extra features please let me know using the comment box below.

So although it may have seemed like things were quiet, it has been far from that.  The IBM Connections team is working hard on what comes next in the short and long term.

Our Connections practise is looking forward to these developments and you can be sure that we are involved with IBM behind the scenes helping with real-world thinking on what comes next.


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