After a few weeks on the road attending IBM user group conferences and connecting with our customers in Europe, I’m back in sunny Palo Alto, California thinking about the fantastic time I had at the Social Connections conference in Toronto, Canada.
Ephox was a silver sponsor of the event, which saw IBM Champions, customers and IBMers alike gather over two compelling days packed with speakers, case studies and exhibitions on management, the future of work, product development, design and much more.
I was grateful to have been chosen to speak, where I discussed how IBM Watson will dramatically and positively change content creation in the workplace. Read on to learn more about my experiences at biggest IBM Connections User Group event in North America.
Connecting via IBM Connections
Social Connections is all about IBM’s Connections social business collaboration solutions. As you can imagine, so many new perspectives about the future of social business were shared during the event. With over 70 speakers, 200 attendees, 64 sessions and 18 sponsors, you couldn’t help but feel the energy pulsing through the air. Although it was a two-day event, there was so much insightful information that I would have loved it even if it were a weeklong conference.
When surrounded by so many attendees excited about IBM Connections, it’s hard not to feel just as or even more spirited. On top of interacting with some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met, and getting the chance to speak, my event highlights include:
- Reviewing the new IBM Connections mobile app
- Attending a master class on Connections adoption presented by IBMer Luis Suarez
- Listening to insights from well-respected analysts Dion Hinchcliffe and Alan Lepofsky
- Learning about upcoming IBM Connections features
- Hearing of exclusive content from Luis Benitez, Chris Crummey and Rob Ingram
- Watching Project Toscana code being run live for the first time
- Touching the Stanley Cup at the gala event in the Hockey Hall of Fame
- Practicing ‘Design Thinking’
It was a breathtaking conference that took place on the 16th floor of a skyscraper overlooking the Toronto financial district. With Ephox as a proud silver sponsor of the event, it only made everything feel so much more meaningful.
Presentations & Topics
Social Connections 10 was about getting together to learn as much as we can to share it with our respective teams and valued clients. Knowing I was scheduled to speak on the second day of the conference, I wanted to soak everything in beforehand. Some of the speeches on the agenda included hot topics around the future of work, adopting social business, best and worst collaboration practices, the post-millennial era, and of course succeeding with IBM Connections.
The future of content creation at work
I was elated to share Ephox’s views on new ways to create content in IBM Connections. Content is still king, but the means of producing content is continually evolving. We want to ensure our users can create engaging content with an incomparable user experience. I talked about some of the known issues around rich-text content creation, such as:
- Difficulty and in some instances the inability to create content as a team
- Problems dragging and dropping files directly into the editor from web pages or Word documents
- Difficulty editing images within the editor itself, rather than needing to use an external tool such as Photoshop
- Difficulty manipulating images and tables within the editor
- Lack of checking for accessibility issues when creating content, let alone recommending solutions to known issues
Using Textbox.io, I conveyed the ease of using our editing solution for IBM Connections and IBM Web Content Manager to generate great content. Textbox.io excels in many areas, and I highlighted some of these features:
- Advanced copy and paste options that save massive amounts of time and hassle when moving content from Word into documents
- The ability to correct spelling as-you-type, rather than by manually running a “spell check”
- Working with tables is easier, as is the ability to not only add images to content from anywhere but also resize them inline
- Access to a less confusing and more intuitive user experience
I also shared how Textbox.io uses responsive design to deliver a clutter-free contextual toolbar. I was very excited to provide attendees an exclusive preview of our Textbox.io (proof of concept) integration with IBM Watson, which provides authors with real-time content suggestions contextually relevant to the content they’re creating.
Since content is essential for successful social collaboration, we feel Textbox.io is a must install for anyone deploying IBM Connections. During my Q&A session, I was pleased with the thoughtful questions on how to best use the editor and how to easily integrate it with existing applications. Thanks to everyone who attended!
Why I love this conference
For starters, Social Connections gives me the opportunity to learn about new ideas and products in real time. With a conference of this caliber, there is no way you could leave without learning something. With around 200 attendees it has an up-close-and-personal feel and with so many informative sessions, you certainly could pick and choose the ones that match your objectives best. On the other hand, you could attend them all if you were interested in doing so.
Secondly, the opportunity for networking is priceless. I have made so many new contacts, many of whom I’ve already started collaborating with. Furthermore, I also got to visit with old friends who were also attending the conference. It would cost us an exorbitant amount to fly out to meet each and every one of the experts who spoke at and attended Social Connections. Seeing them all under one roof provides an incredible opportunity for collaborating on future projects together.
Another aspect I value about this conference is the opportunity to get immediate feedback from leaders in the industry. These are people with years of experience and education in their field. People with deep domain experience who know their subject matter. Presenting our product and speaking about it with my peers produced some practical feedback I have already shared with the Ephox team. Thankfully, it was very positive feedback.
I also enjoyed perusing through and unpacking the free presentation materials I received from sessions I attended. These are presentations created specifically for Social Connections 10, which means they aren’t available in many other places. It made me feel like a special beta tester evaluating the latest technologies and hot topics.
Overall, my time at Social Connections 10 was quite memorable. I enjoyed listening to presentations, and I enjoyed speaking about Ephox. I hope to see you at this great user group conference next year!