The previous articles in this series introduced IBM Connections 3.0.1, guided you through its installation process, showed you how to customize it and make it suit your organization's look and theme, and demonstrated how to work with and extend the Profiles features to add custom, relevant information unique to your business. This article shows you all the additional integrations capabilities IBM Connections 3.0.1 can bring to your organization.
IBM Connections 3.0.1 integrates and works seamlessly with multiple products. This article, however, focuses on IBM and Microsoft products, as they are more commonly used in organizations out there today. It will also show you Apple iOS and Google Android integration, as being connected via mobile devices becomes an increasingly greater benefit to many users.
Integrating IBM Connections 3.0.1 with other IBM products
IBM Connections 3.0.1 allows you to extend your IBM collaboration platform and make it social. That way, users and teams can work together and share information more efficiently and accurately.
Integration with Lotus Notes
IBM Lotus Notes® perhaps allows the greatest integration by adding activities, profiles, files, bookmarks, searches, and more to the Lotus Notes user experience. These areas of integration are possible via the installation of plug-ins that you can download from the IBM Solutions Catalog (see Resources for more information) and via the built-in integration that you can configure as part of the client by selecting the IBM Connections 3.0.1 component during Lotus Notes client installation (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Installing Lotus Notes with IBM Connections
Using the IBM Connections 3.0.1 component, you can collaborate on multiple projects via the Activities sidebar, search across all IBM Connections 3.0.1 applications, bookmark Lotus Notes documents, and look at business cards of individuals from your Lotus Notes client, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Business cards in Lotus Notes
The Status Updates plug-in allows you to update status, view the status of colleagues in your network, make comments, and even forward an update by email—all from your Lotus Notes client.
The Files plug-in allows you to search, share, upload, and download files from your Lotus Notes client. You can also drag files not only within the Lotus Notes client but also from your desktop and Windows® folders. Figure 3 shows you both the Files and Status Updates plug-ins working together.
Figure 3. IBM Connections plug-ins in Lotus Notes
Integration with IBM Sametime
Bring the powerful social networking applications of IBM Connections 3.0.1 into the IBM Sametime® client. The IBM Connections plug-in for IBM Sametime permits users to save chats to activities (as shown in Figure 4), open related activities, save chats to a community room, and display contact information about other IBM Sametime users that is pulled from the IBM Connections Profiles application. When you install IBM Connections 3.0.1 integration within Lotus Notes, IBM Sametime plug-ins are installed, as well.
Figure 4. Add chat to activities
Integration with Lotus Symphony
IBM Lotus Symphony® is an office productivity suite (documents, spreadsheets, and presentations) based on the open source OpenOffice.org and provided at no charge by IBM. You can install Lotus Symphony as a stand-alone product or as part of Lotus Notes, but no matter how you install it, it provides a great solution for any organization—it is free, robust, fast, and open source; supports multiple files formats; and can be integrated into IBM Connections (among other products).
The integration between Lotus Symphony and IBM Connections is provided by a plug-in that you can download from the Lotus Symphony Plug-ins Catalog (see Resources for details about download and installation instructions). As shown in Figure 5, users can search Profiles, open and share files, publish documents into activities, view wikis, read blogs, add bookmarks, and more.
Figure 5. Integrating Lotus Symphony and IBM Connections
Integration with Lotus Quickr
If your organization is also using IBM Lotus Quickr®, users will be able to associate IBM Connections Communities with Lotus Quickr team places, where they will be able to store and collaborate around documents via all the Lotus Quickr features. All updates are published on the IBM Connections Community overview page, which makes it easier for other team members to know about the latest changes to any given document.
Integration with IBM WebSphere Portal
IBM WebSphere® Portal is the ultimate portal solution on the market. It brings you web content and applications in an integrated, differentiated, and personalized web experience, and now—thanks to the IBM Connections Portlets for WebSphere Portal (see Figure 6)—it also allows you to take your WebSphere Portal implementation to a new level.
Figure 6. IBM Connections Portlets for WebSphere Portal
WebSphere Portal allows users to integrate with the IBM Connections Activities, Blogs, Bookmarks, Communities, Forums, Profiles, Wiki, and Tag Cloud applications. WebSphere Portal users are able to view and contribute to discussion topics using the Forums portlet and set prioritization and activity status for their activities. They can also add and read IBM Connections Blogs entries and comments as well as contribute to Ideation Blogs.
Wiki members can use the Wikis portlet to view and edit pages or add their own pages. Users can fully interact with Bookmarks in IBM Connections that others users with related interests have added and incorporate tags to find associated content and filter the items in other IBM Connections portlets.
Integrating IBM Connections with other products
As mentioned earlier, you can extend the social capabilities of IBM Connections to other products your organization is using. This section covers IBM Connections 3.0.1 integration with Windows, Microsoft® Office—including Microsoft Office Outlook®—and Microsoft SharePoint® Server.
Integration with Windows
IBM Connections can be easily integrated with the Windows operating system by installing the IBM Connections Desktop Plug-ins for Microsoft Windows from the IBM Solutions Catalog (see Resources). Windows users will be able to drag files from their desktop to IBM Connections Files or Communities, share these files with other users, manage file versioning, add comments, and mark files as favorites for quick access.
Figure 7 shows a great example of how users can employ the Desktop plug-in to connect to their IBM Connections implementation and be able to work with files across all IBM Connection components.
Figure 7. Windows Explorer with the Desktop plug-in
Integration with Microsoft Office
No matter whether you use Lotus Notes or Outlook as your mail client or whether you use Microsoft Office as your office productivity suite (instead of Lotus Symphony), IBM Connections 3.0.1 has got you covered. The IBM Connections 3.0.1 Plug-in for Microsoft Outlook (shown in Figure 8) takes this mail client to a new level by allowing users to integrate with IBM Connections. Users can see all content that has been published (and you have access to) in IBM Connections by other Outlook users just by selecting one of this person's email messages. This plug-in also allows users to add emails to Activities or To Dos, invite other users to their networks, and see their business cards.
Figure 8. IBM Connections and Outlook
The IBM Connections 3.0.1 Plug-in for Microsoft Office (shown in Figure 9) delivers features such as adding Microsoft Office Word documents to Blogs, Wikis, and Activities; adding Bookmarks to Word; posting Microsoft Office Excel® and PowerPoint® files to IBM Connections Activities; importing Profile information into Word; and more.
Figure 9. Integrating IBM Connections with Microsoft Office
Integration with SharePoint Server
IBM Connections can also serve as the social layer for a SharePoint Server site by providing business cards, activity streams, and community integration. Widgets are available for surfacing IBM Connections data on SharePoint Server pages and for displaying SharePoint Server document libraries in IBM Connections Communities pages.
The IBM Connections Plug-in for Microsoft SharePoint provides the following features:
- SharePoint Server users can show other users' business cards, send emails and instant messages, open their blog and Profiles, and access Bookmarks.
- Profiles are fully integrated with the Microsoft SharePoint Directory, which allows users to add users to groups and sites.
- IBM Connections' tagging functionality can also be added to SharePoint Server sites, where it can be used to find relevant data based on the tag clicked. This functionality allows users to perform full searches against all IBM Connection applications.
The IBM Connections Widget for Microsoft SharePoint provides the following features:
- Add the widget for IBM Connections community owners to set up and customize.
- Easily add documents from SharePoint Server sites to your communities.
- View and edit SharePoint Server folder and document properties.
- Download and check out SharePoint Server documents for editing, then upload them to share changes with the community.
Mobile access to IBM Connections
Are you a business user who does not always have access to your computer while on the road? Do you like to attend meetings with nothing else but your tablet? Do you like to travel light but still be able to interact with your colleagues and access your project's information? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you need to install the IBM Connections mobile application on your phone or tablet.
The IBM Connections mobile application extends your social experience no matter where you are or how you are connected. For both Apple® iOS and Android™ devices, it brings you a full set of features, such as the ability to securely edit and drop documents and presentations while on the road; find experts in your organization and build a social network with Profiles; track your project's progress to success with Activities; and share news, links, and status across your network at any time.
Covering all you can do with IBM Connections mobile might take an entire article, but the highlights, shown in Figure 10, are that the new IBM Connections mobile app gives you access to all features from a single interface and lets you connect to multiple IBM Connection environments from the same device.
Figure 10. IBM Connections mobile app for Apple iPad
Figure 11 shows the same interface on an Android phone. Because of screen size considerations, Android cannot show everything the iPad version of the app does, but the capabilities are the same.
Figure 11. IBM Connections mobile app for Android
This article showed you some of the additional products that you can integrate with your IBM Connections implementation as well as how you can make the entire user experience more collaborative and social. This is the last article in this learning series: Be sure to keep an eye on new integration plug-ins being published in the IBM Solutions Catalog, new articles on the IBM Connections wiki, developerWorks and popular blogs that focus and IBM Connections and collaboration solutions (all in the Resources section).
- Check out the IBM Connections page.
- Read Integrating IBM Lotus Connections, IBM Lotus Sametime, and IBM Lotus Quickr in an enterprise (Jason Erickson, developerWorks, October 2008) for a business overview and the steps required to implement the IBM Community Collaboration offering.
- Find technical information at the IBM Connections Product Documentation site.
- Check out Luis Guirigay's Family, Lotus, Portal, Collaboration and more blog.
- Check out Luis Suarez's blog, Thinking Outside the Inbox.
- Check out Mac Guidera's blog.
- Check out Luis Benitez's Socialize Me blog.
- Try IBM Connections on the Lotus Greenhouse.
Get products and technologies
- Download IBM Connections 3.0.1.
- Check out the IBM Collaboration Solutions Catalog.
- Find IBM Connections Portlets for WebSphere Portal.
- Download the IBM Connections Plug-in for Microsoft SharePoint.
- Download the IBM Connections Widget for Microsoft SharePoint.
- Download the IBM Connections plug-in for IBM Lotus Symphony.
- Participate in the IBM Connections forum.
- Subscribe to the IBM Social Software blog.
- Get involved in the My developerWorks community. Connect with other developerWorks users while exploring the developer-driven blogs, forums, groups, and wikis.