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Building a Collaboration Roadmap – Part1 February 4, 2010

Posted by dreanotes in Uncategorized.
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Roadmaps are awesome.  Roadmaps can help you learn how to get to your vacation destination or to your new office.  Roadmaps can show you how to put together furniture.  Roadmaps can even help you run your business.  Roadmaps seem to be multi-talented little things, aren’t they?!

So, roadmaps are helpful – I get that!  What I also get is that roadmaps are a big part of what customers are looking for these days.  We need roadmaps to help us get out of these “yucky” times and show us how we’re going to succeed.  I also get that roadmaps apply to collaboration and a lot of my customers are asking about Collaboration Roadmaps.

It seems that companies are waking up about collaboration and have decided they need to outline how collaboration will work and when it will be available.  It’s a good thing, I think that this is happening – it means collaboration is coming to the forefront again and it means that people are getting “smarter” about how they should be working.

So…enter my day job.  By day, I’m a Lotus ITS.  What that exactly means, I can’t really explain – it’s a difficult role to explain, I think.  Essentially it means that I help customers understand the value of Lotus  software and how to implement it in their organization.  And, since Lotus Software happens to focus on collaboration…that naturally leads to me being called on to help out with collaboration roadmaps!  So…I set out to build a process for building collaboration roadmaps – a roadmap for roadmaps, you might say!

In true “smart work” fashion, the first thing I did when called upon to build these collaboration roadmaps was to search within my company to see who had created them before.  (I mean, why recreate the wheel, after all??!!)  What were they, I wondered?  How did they come about?  What does one look like?  What I got was a conglomeration of answers – a TON of material that provided a TON of information that had been used a TON of times for a number of customers.  Almost every asset was different – each had something different to say – each had it’s own “message” and each led to a different destination.

Upon closer inspection however, I found a pattern.  Like a true roadmap, there was a way to get from Point A to Point B in the most efficient way.  A specific path showed up in all the mess, and that’s where I focused my game.  That’s where I believe the payoff is, and that’s where I started with building MY roadmap.

I think what I ended up with is pretty cool.  It seems to fit with the message we are sending out at Lotus and it seems to fit with what my customers are looking for.  I think it’s a good roadmap, if I do say so myself!

So..in true “sharing my jungle gym” fashion, I’m going to share with all of you.  That’s right – I’m going to tell you about my roadmap in hopes it will help you with YOUR collaboration roadmap!  Stay tuned!!!!  It’ll be fun!!  😉

What’s it like to be a Lotus Pre-Sales IT Specialist? July 21, 2008

Posted by dreanotes in Work-Related.
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You know, I constantly get asked what I do for a living. I usually just say “I work for IBM” and that ends the conversation. People just don’t know how to respond to that. I’ve been told it usually conjures up visions of geeks locked in rooms, serious math-types with big brains furiously typing away.

Sometimes, the unsuspecting person follows that up with “So what do you do there” or “What does that mean”? And I launch into a typical elevator pitch..(which is some variation of the following)

I’m a pre-sales technical specialist in the Lotus Software Group that focuses on collaborative technologies using Lotus Software. I help customers define their collaboration and social software strategies to help foster a collaborative, innovative and globally aware work environment. I remove technical inhibitors and questions for these products by conducting demonstrations, architectural workshops, proof of technologies and giving insight into deployments and administration

That invariably leaves them with a “huh” look on their face and immediately ends the conversation!!!

So what does that mean? What do I do? How do you “remove technical inhibitors”? What is the “Day in the Life” so that people know if they would like this job, or if it’s fun or cool??

Well, first of all – there is NO “Day in the Life”. I don’t have a typical day. Every day, every week is different. I think the best way to answer this is to tell you what my life as an ITS was like last week. It wasn’t a great week, but it was about as “normal” as one could be. So, bear with me..here goes…

Monday

Monday morning started off with a bang – what a way to start the week! First up – a critical situation with a pilot install at a major customer. Things are not working, the customer is in an unsupported configuration, and tensions are high. How does that translate?
7:45am meeting
9:00am meeting
12:00 meeting
12:30 meeting and
4pm meeting.
All phone calls – all 1/2 hour or so – all for the same customer.

In between those meetings, I’m checking email, making additional phone calls to support and other team members, looking up technical information for the customer, trying to secure an on-site resource and trying to get something done for other customers as well. My day ends relatively early at 6pm. It’s a high-stress, tear-your-hair-out, nothing can go right kind of day. Definitely in need of a post-work pick-me-up.

Tuesday

Tuesday – another early morning for the customer critical situation then hit the road for a meeting with a customer that is a 1.5 hour drive away. So..
7:30am meeting
9:30am meeting
then drive for 1.5 hours – on the phone the entire drive! (thank goodness for hands-free bluetooth in my car!!)
11:00 meeting – go over who’s going onsite to the crit-sit customer, talk about strategy for approaching the crit-sit, provide more executives with more updates, etc, etc.
12:15-12:45 – actually get to eat lunch today! Tried out new noodle place near office – YUM!
12:45 – head to my 1pm-4pm meeting.

My afternoon meeting, was great! I had 3 hours with a customer we hadn’t been able to get in front of before – one that had been threatening to go to MS. I pull out my Mac (which gets the typical conversation going with — “What..IBM supporting Mac’s??”), pull up my Notes8.5 client and a few presentations, and have an open, free-form discussion. I go over the new Lotus strategy, talk about Notes/Domino 8 and 8.5, talk about new products, how they can upgrade from their current version, all that stuff. And the whole time, they just wanted MORE!! More info! More products! And, they LOVED what they saw! I think our meeting clinched it — they will stay with Lotus! I walked out of there with a smile on my face, and feeling much better. Nice way to end the day (plus the 1.5 hour drive back home).

Wednesday

Still dealing with the customer crit-sit from Monday, but beginning to not be my problem anymore. I handed off my knowledge to another on-site resource and am able to move on to my other customers – which is good, because they’ve been neglected. Calls for today:
10-11am – training on new unified communications tools to demo to customers
11-1230am – design partner update call for Notes/Domino 8.5 beta
3:30-4:30 – meeting with co-workers to discuss new account coverage strategy

So, this was not a bad day! It was a busy morning with back-to-back calls, but the afternoon opened up. I spent most of that free-time in the afternoon on follow-up items from my BIG customer meeting the day before. I put together a TON of information for him, which took some time to gather. The rest of the afternoon was spent answering emails, phone calls, and the occasional Sametime message. Oh – and I got to catch up on some of the comments from dominoblog.com – the Domino development blog I’m helping out with. Fairly easy day – done by 5pm!

Thursday

Another big day of teleconferences:
8:30-9:00 – crit-sit customer update
10:30-11 – Prep call for big presentation to the technical community on Friday
1:00-2:00 – Call with customer about Notes email archiving options, best practices, etc.
2:00-3:00 – Prep call for executive presentation next week for large customer
3:00-3:30 – 1:1 call with my manager (partial, have to move the rest to tomorrow)
3:30-4:30 – All-hands business unit call regarding Q2 results, etc.

So, my ear hurt by the end of the day! Still, in-between calls, I had enough time to do some screen captures for some documentation, answer emails, send more info to the BIG customer from Tuesday and call it a day by 6pm!

Friday

My goodness…will the conference calls ever stop!!! TGIF tho! Man – WHAT a week!! Calls for today:
9:00-10:00 – Tech team open mic call – discuss week’s stuff, what’s going on, accounts, etc. with my peers
11:00-12:00 – 1:1 call with my manager – finish up our discussion that started yesterday
2:00-3:00 – Technical Community council call to discuss competitive info for one of our products

So, not a bad day of conferences, but enough is enough! I’d been on the phone almost all week, and I was done! Still, I got to spend some of the day researching planning tools for my Mac. I found a couple of good ones, and will spend some time over the next couple of weeks testing them out. I also got caught up on my blogs, and contributed to a few activities and social software tools. Not bad.

Wrap-Up

So there you have it – a “typical” week. Although, I was only actually on-site at a customer for one day. Some weeks, I could be on-site every day at different customers, some weeks, I never leave my house! The phone conferences are pretty typical though, and I’ve even had days where they have been back-to-back. Yup – as in, have to dial in, tell them to give me 5 mins just so I can have a bio break!! UGH! I HATE those days!!

I’m not sure if that gives you any idea what a “Lotus Pre-Sales IT Specialist” does. It pretty much only says where I spend my days, I guess. Not sure if you want the gory details, but I think you get the idea!

WHEW!…maybe it would be easier to rent umbrellas and chairs on a beach!!! 😉

Dashboards for Quickr Domino July 13, 2008

Posted by dreanotes in Work-Related.
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Have you ever wished there was an easier way to see all your to-do items, latest news, calendar entries, etc. across all your Quickr places? Quickr is relatively new in the space, and while it’s a great tool, there isn’t an easy way to see all your stuff in one place (yet).

When you log into Quickr, you see a list of your places, and that’s great. But without going into each place, I’d really like to see things I need to act upon – new posts, new documents, upcoming calendar entries and the like – wouldn’t you? Sure, you could use WebSphere Portal and the Quickr APIs to create some cool portlets – but if I’m not a Portal user, then what?

Well, enter a Lotus/IBM Business Partner, OpusNeo.

Opus Neo has a tool called Neo.Dashboards that creates a great dashboard-like page for Quickr Domino places. This page can be modified/customized as it essentially has some sytylesheets associated with it and is a bunch of iframe-like portlets. It’s a great way to show those things like tag clouds of the metadata, a list of what’s new across all your places, calendar entries, tasks or to-do items across places, etc. It’s a very cool product, and I’ve shown it to a couple of customers so far who have loved it!

And, Neo.Dashboard provides a ton of other stuff besides just the pretty interface! They give you easier administration for things like administration of places, customization and logging.

In fact, Opus Neo’s Dashboard product was nominated for the 2008 Lotus Award for “Best TOTAL Lotus Software Solution”. They are a great company to work with and even have a demo out there you can watch.

So, if you have a lot of places and use Quickr for Domino, take a look!