Telecommuter. Remote Worker. Digital Nomad. Road Warrior. These are but a few of the names used to describe people who don't regularly see their co-workers face to face. I'm one of them. Perhaps you are, too.
The names can imply different things. A road warrior is someone who takes frequent business trips while a remote worker is (usually) someone who works from home. Measuring how many people telecommute is difficult.
Regardless, telecommuting comes with it's own set of opportunities and challenges. Let me share some things I've learned.
We use GoToMeeting and GoToWebinars extensively to manage our company events. I have been following with interest the announcements coming from IBM about LotusLive and as a long-time Yellowbody I really want to use LotusLive. My concern has been that many of our events, like the recent world wide Notes & GTD event with David Allen, have close to 1000 participants and I don't know how LotusLive would handle an event of that size.
It's not about $ as both services are very competitively priced -- it's about stability and features and I really don't have much time or justification to investigate either. No point venturing into this area when what we have works so well for us and there's no visible ROI to switching. So, I continue to sit back, waiting for someone to blog about hosting a large meeting on LotusLive to convince me to switch.
Today, IBM just added another reason to consider. They just announced an app for the iPhone that will allow mobile users to participate in a LotusLive meeting. I'm not an iPhone user yet so that's not terribly exciting to me yet but something Darren mentioned does have my interest - apparently IBM has a mobile app for the BlackBerry in the works, too. As a BB user, that would be cool. A tipping point? Probably not. But value add? Yes.
I've never attended a webinar on a mobile device so I can't speak to how effective this is or isn't, but it has potential as a mobile productivity solution. I don't know how many meetings I would attend this way, but It would be great to manage my meetings and view details from anywhere.
You can learn more about the IBM app for LotusLive and iPhone here.
I have a topic that I want to put out to the Notes community to discuss. I could simply blog about it and ask people to comment. The challenge is I end up with a long list of comments without threads. I could direct people to a forum where discussions would be threaded but at the end I would have to summarize all of the conversations into one document - too much work.
The Web 2.0 thing to do would be to post the document to the web and invite people to modify the document itself. I thought a Wiki might work well for this purpose and so I headed over to the OpenNTF site to download the new xPages Wiki, managed by Steve Castledine and Niklas Heidloff .
In less than 5 minutes I had downloaded the Wiki, read through the quick start guide and set up my first xPages Wiki.
The steps I used were:
Download template to my Notes DATA Directory
Sign template with an ID authorized to run agents on the Domino server
Create a new Wiki.nsf file on the Domino Server and grant ACL rights
Access the new Wiki from the web and start posting
That's it. Less than 5 minutes. Wow!
Some things I like about the new xPages Wiki so far:
Easy to set up
I can access content from a web browser or from my Notes client
Some questions/concerns I have:
Word wrapping appears to change places from time to time. Some times a line will wrap in the middle; other times near the end.
A few times, I created pages that when I clicked on the link I ended up at a Notes 4 era list page. Clicking through worked. (Possible configuration issue, or a bug?)
I do a lot of off-line work. I wonder what will happen if I edit pages and replicate back to the Domino server when others have made changes. I may want to limit myself to off-line reading and reference.
Things I'd like to see:
E-Mail notification of updates with a Notes doclink (in addition to RSS)
Ability to customize the site design
All in all, for a 20-minute investment, including a test Wiki page and this blog post, I'm impressed!
eProductivity is a featured app in the catalog, and I was really pleased to see eProductivity up on the big screen during a session called, "BDD101: Lotus Messaging and Collaborating drives Better Business Outcomes", presented by Kevin Cavanaugh and Mike Masterson.
Here are some pictures I took from the session (click for larger view):
In this clip from my interview with David, he relates his background as a long-time Notes user and advocate. He finds combining the power of Lotus Notes and eProductivity to be a natural fit and he's very pleased with the results.
I had the opportunity to spend time with David Allen this weekend to talk about Getting Things Done, Lotus Notes, Cloud Computing, and extreme productivity. David allowed me to interview him on some questions and record it so I could share it with you.
Here's the first video. I'll try to post a few new clips each day.
Michael Sampson has been focused on the effective use of collaboration technology since the mid-1990s. I met him at a 1997 EMA conference, where we co-presented on the future of unified messaging -- and we've been friends and business colleagues since.
For several years, I've encouraged Michael to write a book on Lotus Notes for collaboration. I even contacted IBM press to see what's involved - a lot. Michael shared that in the absence of significant market awareness of Lotus Notes he did not think a book around Notes made as much business sense as a book around SharePoint. (Michael's been a long time Lotus Notes user and advocate; we continue to use Notes to collaborate.) For the past few years, Michael has been focused on the use of SharePoint for collaboration. Michael's just published his second book on collaboration; this one's called "SharePoint Roadmap for Collaboration." I had an opportunity to be a part of the review process and I think the book is excellent. If the examples were changed, it could easily be called "Lotus Notes Roadmap for Collaboration." What's important are the principles, which are true regardless of platform.
I've asked Michael to write a guest post for the Notes on Productivity blog, because having gone through the copy of his second book, the themes are just as relevant for Notes people as for SharePoint people. I highly recommend that you buy a copy of Michael's second book, both to learn about SharePoint and to read about the principles of effective collaboration that Michael addresses.
I recently received this email from the computer department informing me that the college is moving all Alumni to Outlook Live and they are offering students an impressive array of features. Take a look at this email sent to all students & alumni:
Dear Alumni, Computer Services has begun upgrading TMC's six year old student email system to a new email service hosted by Microsoft called Outlook Live. Testing of the new system is under way and the migration of students and alumni to Outlook Live is anticipated during Spring of 2010.
Here are some of the features provided by Outlook Live:
10GB mailbox size (50x more space than the current 200MB limitation)
20MB attachment size (up from the current 10MB limitation)
Access email via Outlook Web Access, Outlook 2007, Entourage 2008 (older versions of Exchange and Entourage are not supported)
Active-Sync support for Windows smartphones and iPhones
Pull email from existing Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and other supported email services directly into your Outlook Live account via POP or SPOP
Enhanced anti-malware and anti-virus protection
25GB of secure online file storage through Windows Live Sky Drive
Impressive - notice the large 10GB mailbox, multiple POP/SPOP, and Active-Sync support, too. Students will LOVE that.
Now, consider the expectations that young people entering the workforce will have for the tools that they will use at work.
Do you know any employers that allow 10GB Mail, access from a variety of mail clients, including mobile devices, and integration with external mail providers?
Today's productivity tip has nothing to do with Lotus Notes and everything to do with an elegant collaboration application. EtherPad is a real-time collaborative text editor. It lets multiple work on the same text simultaneously. I recently participated in a knowledge management Peer Assist and we used EtherPad to collect our ideas in real time on a single page.
The sky itself may not be falling, but some of your data may be falling out of the clouds.
As I read about various cloud-computing initiatives shutting down (and probably for good reason) I can't help be wonder about the people that faithfully parked their information in the cloud, for free or fee, so that it would be available anywhere and at any time. This year, we've seen several businesses shut down, providing little notice for users to backup their information. And, when they do, it's often in a format that cannot be easily migrated elsewhere.
Others learned about the perils of DRM protected music when you vendor decides to shut down its licensing server. (This subject has been covered widely so I won't go into detail.) I'm sorry, telling a user that they can protect their investment be burning every song they have purchased to CD and then ripping them into another music app is unacceptable. They should honor the service or unlock the purchase. But I digress.
Back to the cloud. Oh yes, the sky is falling. I don't know about you but, unless I have real-time replicas of everything, I am already very cautious when it comes to storing my data where I cannot see or control it. I have almost 20 years of data in Lotus Notes. I can access my oldest information as easily as I can access the newest. I do have hosted Domino servers but the data I store there is simply a replica. If the provider goes belly up, I still have full control over all of my data locally.
I have less of a concern about the social networking sites where the value of much of the information diminishes over time. So, if I lost Twitter, I would not grieve as something else would emerge to take its place. If I lost LinkedIn, I would hurt a little more, but since my public profile is mostly static I can make a copy from time to time. On the other hand, my life working data - my email, my applications, etc., that's another story.
Are you confident that your cloud-computing vendor will be around next year? What about your data? How does this affect your decision to move your data into the cloud?
While I understand that there's always a gap between the marketing/press release and the reality and I do not know how big that gap is, I am very excited about the Lotus Foundations offering from IBM. The idea of a drop-in-place server that is remotely managed and self-healing is very interesting. It appears to provide the benefits of SAAS with the security and capability of an on-site solution.
I have already recommended to a few clients that we include Lotus Foundations in consideration for their 2009 plans. I'd like to say more about foundations, but without hand-on experience, I have little to tell just yet. Meanwhile, I have found the following resources and blog entries helpful:
I've known Michael Sampson for the past 11 years, as a professional (we met as speakers at an Electronic Messaging Association EMA Conference). In that time, we have become good friends and, even though we differ in our choice of computing platforms, I still have great respect for his work as an independent researcher and analyst. Michael funds his own research and enjoys the freedom to publish his observations and recommendations without having to water them down due to vendor pressure. I think he's a balanced researcher and an excellent communicator.
In 2005 -- before Microsoft began promoting SharePoint as the ultimate collaboration tool -- Michael developed and published his 7 Pillars framework as a way to evaluate and filter the claims of collaboration vendors against the capabilities of their products. His framework proposes and defines 7 pillars of collaboration:
Pillar 1 - Shared Access to Team Data
Pillar 2 - Location Independence
Pillar 3 - Real-time Joint Viewing
Pillar 4 - Team-Aware Calendaring
Pillar 5 - Social Engagement
Pillar 6 - Team Task Management
Pillar 7 - Collaboration Auto-Discovery
I've had the opportunity to not only read Michael's 7-Pillars paper but to sit in on his 7-Pillars for IT Professionals workshop. Both are excellent. (You may download the 7 Pillars paper for free, here.)
How does SharePoint measure up as a 7-Pillars team collaboration tool?
Michael Sampson and I are busy working on the session planning for our upcoming eProductivity Conference. There remains much to complete, but we are supported by a wonderful group of advisors and great technology. I thought I wold take a quick break during lunch to share how we are using Lotus Notes to collaborate synchronously and asynchronously, across the Pacific. Michael and I are using a Lotus Notes document library that we have customized to allow us to track all of the session planning and content for the 36 sessions for the eProductivity conference. We've added some very basic workflow functionality. This allows us to flag any document as being in one of eight states: This allows us to work together on content, synchronously and asynchronously - even though we are on opposite sides of the Pacific!
As we work on content I update a field in the document to change the document state to any of the above. In the background, as I work, these changes are replicated from my Windows laptop or Tablet PC in California to my primary server in Arizona and from there to Michael's Tablet PC or Mac, in New Zealand. It does not matter who's on-line, when, or what platform we choose to use. (Michael and I have a few quiet preferences about PC or Mac) After replication, each of us will see the documents that require our attention, edit and comment and flag them for review and the cycle continues back across the Pacific.
Think of it as digital volleyball.
Thanks to Lotus Notes replication, we are able to simultaneously manage hundreds of documents in various stages of completion.
Add to this, our use of MindManager and other productivity tools and we've got a neat system for information sharing and collaboration across the miles.
For me, a powerful aspect of this approach is not only the ability to compress work into a small amount of time, but the ability to break our focus down to very next actions. Between my family, graduate studies, client work, eProductivity Beta, and preparation for this conference, about the best I can do is keep my head down and focus on the simple next actions, the things I can do in one setting.
I'm grateful to have Michael's expertise as the eProductivity conference organizer. I can't imagine doing this without his help and without a cool set of tools to make distributed work easy.
My colleague, Michael Sampson, has just
published the first part of his two-part white paper: Collaboration
Software Clients: Email, IM, Presence, RSS & Collaborative Workspaces
Should Be Integrated for Business Communication.
In his paper, Michael returns to "first principles," as he discusses
the types of software-facilitated interactions the information professional
deals with on a day-to-day basis. I think Michael does a great job of identifying
the key requirements for functional collaboration while proposing how things,
in his view, "should" work.
Michael's paper examines the strengths and weaknesses of:
Email Instant Messaging Presence RSS Newsreader Collaborative Workspaces
I've known Michael for many years and he does amazing work. We first collaborated
together in 1997 on a presentation for the Electronic Messaging Association,
(EMA), on the topic of "Smart Messaging." At that time,
Michael was a strategist for Telecom, New Zealand, and I was CTO of Peloria
Technology Corp. I moderated a presentation with Michael and another colleague,
Eva Wylie, of Unisys Corporation. Together, the three of us spoke about
the present and future needs of collaboration in the area of multimedia
messaging. It's been fun these past years to see some of our predictions
come to pass.
There is obviously still a long way to go, and Michael seeks to address
A neat thing to know about Michael, is that he writes these reports and
his daily Shared
Spaces blog as a way of staying
sharp in his field. No doubt, he generates new business from some companies,
who read his work and choose to engage him for strategic consulting, but
the driver, as he once explained to me, is the public accountability that
his blog and these reports create for him. Michael's already published
that he will post part II of his paper in September, so he's already got
a stake in the ground. (You will want to add it to your "Waiting
For List"). I'm sure he won't disappoint us.
Nice work, Michael!
I've got a busy week ahead; I'll probably have more to say about Michael's
report soon. For now, I encourage you to download
it and have a look.