CIO: Can IBM redefine the future of email?

February 5, 2016

I was in the middle of the great email battle between Microsoft and IBM [Disclosure: Microsoft and IBM are clients of the author] in the 1990s and there really wasn’t much competition. Microsoft had Exchange, which had its greatest power in its focus on users. IBM bought Lotus to get Notes, which had stronger administration tools and a far better focus on collaboration, but sucked at email. In the end, Microsoft dominated, massively, and Exchange is the recognized standard for business email.

However, IBM just brought out Verse, its new advanced email offering, and it comes to market with many of the same advantages over Exchange that Exchange had over Notes. But, this is email, and experienced CIOs know that changing email is potentially a career-ending process. In order to succeed with a user-focused product you have to get the users excited about it, which may be a skill IBM no longer has.

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Social Media: I’m Doing it All Wrong

February 20, 2014

Fame and fortune are just a few mouse clicks away and I easily let it go by me.

Whether they’re getting retweeted by members of One Direction, or liking the Hunger Games Facebook page for a chance to be included in the movie’s credits, today’s teens are directly interacting with pop culture — celebrities, movies, music, and, increasingly, brands — in ways never before possible.

Tweet pictures of yourself at a Lady Gaga concert, and maybe she’ll call you from the stage — a moment sponsored by the cell phone company Virgin Mobile.

Send Beyonce your selfie, and maybe it’ll be included in the Pepsi-sponsored intro to her Super Bowl halftime show.

Do kids think they’re being used to promote these brands? Do they care? Or in a new teenage reality where being Internet famous seems to be just a click or a post away, does the perceived chance to be the next big star make it all worth it?

In Generation Like, an eye-opening follow-up to FRONTLINE’s 2001 documentary The Merchants of Cool, author Douglas Rushkoff returns to the world of youth culture to explore how the perennial teen quest for identity and connection has migrated to social media — and how big brands are increasingly co-opting young consumers’ digital presences.

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Frontline’s story is fairly amazing; from the amount of information that kids will share to the lengths they will go to have followers and likes. Then to see the parents of those same kids encourage them . . . well, it’s a new world and one where I don’t have to worry about that behavior from my sons.

As one commenter wrote, “If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.”


Connect 2014: MailNext-Screenshots and Thoughts

February 12, 2014

During the OGS at Connect 2014, IBM demonstrated the next iteration of, what can be described as, the next release of Notes. It’s called “MailNext.” While the OGS gave a fairly good overview of the interface, it was when I took the time to visit the Design Studio UX Lab that I received a much better view of MailNext.

The “home” page:

MailNext1

 

The pictures below the search bar are of people who you are interacting via e-mail. The floating numbers show you the number of messages from that individual. At a glance, you see everything you need for the day.

MailNext4

 

I think that one of the better features is in the lower right. There, it tells you who owes you something. For example, if you assigned a “To Do” or a task. Better, it also shows you that you are waiting for a reply from someone, where you asked for something. I think that this is a great tool for managing your peers and managers.

Looking at the interface, if you click on someone at the top of the screen, it pops up mini menus of things you can do with that person:

MailNext2

 

Some of the little pop up menu items are mail, calendar, chat, share.

MailNext3

As you have selected the individual, you see the interface change to be person (or “context”) sensitive. In the above screen shot, you see that you get a “what’s new” view, where you can view mail, mail threads from that person or that include that person. On the right, is a “team view,” where that person is included in some sort of project with you.

And, in the upper right, you see that you still haven’t read 26 messages in your Inbox.

Finally, in what could be described as your traditional Inbox view, potential enhancements include in-line attachment preview, an option to share content with a Connections Community, and “powerful search.”

MailNext5

 

Initial thoughts: While I spent quite some time with a developer in the lab, I was getting the feeling that this interface isn’t totally fleshed out. IBM has some ideas on what they want it to do, however they were very curious as to what I thought some of the icons should mean/do. For example, if I were to hover over a person’s image, and get the mini menus, I expected that if I click on the envelope, a new message would be created, populated with that person’s e-mail address. Or, see all mail that I received from that person.

There were more questions from the developer along those lines: “What do you think <x> should do?” “What do you think <x> represents?” “What are your expectations of <x>?”

And, I discovered that only certain parts of the interface work. Click on something, like “Compose,” and nothing happens. That’s one way to make sure everyone that demo’s the software, from the OGS demo, to the breakout sessions, to the Design Lab, communicates the same message. It also showed my naivete toward demos; I thought it was a fully functional demo.

Next, I didn’t get the feeling that proposed delivery dates for MailNext will be met. To me, there is still a lot of work to be done. And there wasn’t any mention of what needs to be done to the back-end Domino server (other than upgrading it).

Finally, if most/all of your users are running the IBM Notes client, you better start thinking about the ramifications of most/all of your users running mail in a browser.

What do you think of MailNext and what you saw/heard at Connect (or on one of the streamed videos?)

 


Color Schemes: Customizing Connections

January 23, 2014

The other day, we were talking about customizing Connections with our own color scheme. One of the team members recommended “Hot Dog Stand” as the scheme. Who among you remember the “so bad it’s good” color scheme from, ahem, Windows 3.1?

hotdogstand

 

After much laughter, we went with something a little more up-to-date:

ConnectionsColors

 

 

Doesn’t quite have the snap of Hot Dog Stand, does it?


“We should just call it #lame”

November 26, 2013

Hashtags. Twitter started the craze, then other sites followed. What has happened in the meantime is that they have become overused. To the point of comedy. Just look at a few tweets these days, hashtag orgasms are what some people are enjoying.

Alas, however, when companies or candidates use hashtags for the sake of using hashtags, the results are, at best, ineffective. At worst, they can backfire embarrassingly.

This month, JPMorgan Chase scrapped an attempt to engage Twitter users with the hashtag “#askJPM” after sarcastic and off-topic responses poured in. This brings to mind similar #fails by McDonald’s and BlackBerry, in which poorly conceived marketing strategies quickly inspired users across the Internet to lampoon their products and services.

Candidates, businesses and advertising firms that wish to boost their online presence or that of their clients can do two things to improve their approaches to social media.

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If you are feeling down, perhaps a little blue, take a moment to search Twitter for the #askJPM hashtag. I promise you will feel much better.

A little overuse of the hashtag?

Wow2

 

And one of the biggest lies in the universe, too: “Tweets are my own.” Not with those hashtags, buddy. You are bought and paid for by your employer as are “your” tweets.

For the love of all things holy, stop with the hashtag madness.

Thanks for the image, Darren.


New Amusement Park

August 16, 2013

Pearls1Amusement

Pearls2Amusement

Pearls3Amusement

I’m considering a season pass, anyone care to join me?

 


Your Social Media Score is Zero

March 28, 2013

dilbertsocial