HCL Connections Overview

What is HCL Connections?

IBM Connections™ is a leading unified collaboration and social networking solution that helps you filter out the noise to get work done. Connections empowers your teams and organization to engage with the right experts, accelerate innovation, and deliver results. All the collaboration tools you need to be productive are united under a single sign-on so you can reduce time spent switching between disparate tools and focus on the people and work that matters most. Experience a security-rich and business-compliant environment sanctioned by IT. Confidently share knowledge within your teams and your organization, and extend collaboration beyond traditional boundaries. Connections can enable you to improve decision-making, increase productivity, and accelerate time-to-market. Shift from being merely productive, to truly effective with Connections today.

IBM Connections can help you: Engage experts. People-centric platform enables you to easily locate the expertise you need, right now. Accelerate innovation. Illuminate and promote new ideas within a thriving social network of teams and communities. Empower teams. Get work done together and take action; anywhere—from any device. Deliver results. Leverage cognitive insights to prioritize results and arrive at better outcomes. Extend collaboration. Safely collaborate with customers and partners, bringing them into the conversation.

HCL Connections is also known as IBM Connections, Lotus Connections.

Buyer's Guide

Download the Corporate Portals Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: June 2021

HCL Connections Customers

Yamato Financial Co. Ltd., University of Zurich, Gwinnett County Public Schools, Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V., Telus, Rabobank, Christian Brothers Services, Grupo Financiero Banorte, The Loft Group, Dow Water & Process Solutions, JGC Corporation, College of Medicine, Swansea University, solvito GmbH, Loft Group, Hamm-Reno Group GmbH, Geno SA

HCL Connections Video

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IT Support Manager at MAX Burgers AB
Real User
Easy to use and adapt to different teams either in-house or B2B

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use for this solution is B2B and in-house collaboration.

How has it helped my organization?

This is a great set of tools that is easy to adapt to different teams.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the Activity flow that is used to catch new activities.

What needs improvement?

The file plugin for Mac need some improvement.

For how long have I used the solution?

Six years.
Roland Driesen
Project Manager | Business Consultant | Learning & Development | Managing Partner at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
Top 20
I use the Updates page to know what is going on and which projects are running.

What is our primary use case?

IBM Connections is our primary collaboration platform used for all our internal communications and knowledge sharing. We also use it to work together with our customers.

What other advice do I have?

We see IBM Connections as the richest ESN platform on the market today. But it takes time to understand and you need to drive an active adoption program.
Find out what your peers are saying about HCL, Microsoft, Atlassian and others in Corporate Portals. Updated: June 2021.
510,882 professionals have used our research since 2012.
ITCS user
IBM Infrastructure and IBM Escalation at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
The three features I use the most are communities, activities, and files.

What other advice do I have?

Connections will be shipped soon and contains Orient Me, a new dashboard with IBM Watson technology. See Watson as your personal assistant and whom who you can get advised in your daily work.
ITCS user
Chief Solutions Architect at a tech consulting company with self employed
Consultant
All search results take data security into consideration and users will only find data to which they actually have access.

What other advice do I have?

Get somebody to help you with the initial planning and install. The most important part of this product is not the technology but rather the effort you put into adoption of its usage. People will not just flock to it to use it; you have to work at making it valuable to users.
ITCS user
IBM Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
Provides the ability to sync files offline and share them with colleagues or external people.
ITCS user
Responsable Technique IT at a tech company with 51-200 employees
Real User
It integrates with other products and you can personalize it.

What other advice do I have?

* Search for a good partner who has installed a lot of solutions and multiple integrations with other products. This may not be easy and more skills may necessary. * Most Connections functionality must be customized and personalized but it is more expensive to customize this product, and the product does necessarily provide the widespread coverage that a customer may seek. * I developed a personal project to help integrate and interoperate where I can define like a ERP, and My ERP is based on a identity Management and access management much more.
ITCS user
Senior Manager of Network at a mining and metals company with 10,001+ employees
Vendor
Gives us access to platform resources from all over the world. There is an inconsistency of the editing interface between the various components.

What other advice do I have?

It is very important to set the proper goal for such an implementation and to verify the goal in the organization. The next step is to test a few similar solutions by selected employees: Those specialized in different areas of the company, not just IT, but also communication, marketing, HR, finance, and manufacturing. Then examine the pros and cons of each solution and decide which solution will help in achieving a goal. I suggest at least three months for testing for each solution. An important issue is to choose the best project management methodology and the communication and project…
it_user649998
Sharepoint Architect at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Vendor
Helps us save storage costs.

What other advice do I have?

It is a very good solution, if you are looking for a file-sharing solution. It is scalable to a larger audience.
Rajesh Ravella
Senior Analyst - Messaging & Mobility at a construction company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Communities and Activities are very useful for team collaboration and project level communication.

What other advice do I have?

As an existing IBM Domino customer, the implementation was smooth, and this is the case as well for new customers. However, if you are migrating from a different solution to IBM Connections, relatively hefty planning and tooling is required. We did experience some hindrances during the implementation period.
it_user615213
CTO with 51-200 employees
Vendor
The Community feature is the most valuable. It is a good place to gather a web home page, wiki, or blog.

What other advice do I have?

IBM Connections is a good product with many functions. People should refer to the best practices to guide the company in how to use it. For example, when to use Blog, Wiki, Forum, Activity, Files, or Bookmark.
it_user639681
IBM Technical Software Specialist at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
You can create, edit, and share files from your desktop or mobile app.

What other advice do I have?

Keep your eyes open for IBM Connections 6.0 and the future version of Connections, Connections Pink. This version will move away from the IBM technology stack and take the route of micro-services. Connections will enter the world of Docker, MonogDB, Node.js, CFC, Redis, Muse, etc. The complete software will be rewritten for this new technology. Also, the on-premises implementation will depend on the cloud offering. Updates will be seamlessly pushed towards your on-premises deployment. This technology will make big, clunky upgrade projects become a thing of the past.
it_user616605
CIO at a hospitality company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
The solution is useful for team engagement and team collaborations. A clearer interface would be useful.
ITCS user
Senior Vice President Global IT Services at Kühne + Nagel (AG & Co.) KG
Real User
Top 10
Provides potent document sharing with good integration with the Microsoft desktop and smartphones.

What other advice do I have?

Use IBM Greenhouse for a test drive of Connections. This works also for Smartphones.
it_user635457
Principal Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
Our project teams create community spaces to share and collaborate around content and artifacts

What other advice do I have?

Here are a few of feature improvements. IBM addresses, improves collaboration and user experience with IBM Connections 6.0: * Communities - Smart following; notifications; modern layouts; enhanced rich-text content management * Files - Selective sync of top-level folders for offline file access; hybrid-cloud storage option adapts to workload needs Follow @IBMSocialBiz for direct updates.
Andre Horak
Social Business Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
Top 20
It changes the way knowledge is shared.

What other advice do I have?

Work with an IBM Business Partner who has skills and expertise, not only in the installation and configuration of the IBM Connections Suite of products, but also in the implementation and adoption of Enterprise Social Networking and Social Business. The deployment of IBM Connections has a much lower focus on technical skills when compared with other business solutions. The success of your IBM Connections project will depend heavily on successful integration with everyday business processes and activities and user adoption. Becoming a successful business using IBM Connections is a journey which…
it_user619791
Collaboration Engineer at a consultancy with 51-200 employees
Consultant
There are multiple applications available for the user. The user interface is poorly designed.

What other advice do I have?

You need a strong governance model and an effective adoption strategy. If possible, do not use the IBM Connections Files app as the main CMS of the organisation.
it_user535224
Director of Digital and Mobile Strategy at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
File sharing, employee profiles, communities, and blogs are some of the most-used features.

What other advice do I have?

Do your research and look for the solution that best fits your organization. Ultimately, enterprise social network adoption will be about culture and fit, and not the technology.
it_user616566
Director of technology at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Some features help people collaborate in the same community. It's hard to share files and content.

What other advice do I have?

Go with the latest version and get everything integrated.
it_user616596
Services projects and European it at a non-tech company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
Provides a way for us to consolidate files when we are going to many countries. When we doubled the number of users, we hit some problems.

What other advice do I have?

The product itself is good, probably best in its class still, but the solution brings it down. They don't approach it as delivering a solution to a customer. They look at it as a product that then you work with. And they're making a big mistake there. Get a good partner that understands how to implement it and don't expect that IBM can respond quickly enough. Make sure that if you buy the product and you use the product, that you've got a partner that can fully manage it for you. Don't expect there to be rapid releases. If there are gaps in functionality, be very clear that you probably won't…
it_user616569
Systems admin at a non-profit with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
The file sharing functionality supports offline syncing. Admins don't have full access to the back end.

What other advice do I have?

You should do a thorough analysis before applying any solution, compare different products and look at the costs. If it's not going to save costs, then it is not worth it. Cost is not everything but it's a major factor. So, it is important to do a thorough research and ask the businesses about the product. The roadmap - i.e., where the product is going to be, in probably a year or two - is an important criteria whilst selecting a vendor.
it_user616572
Team Lead messaging and collaboration at a healthcare company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
The ability to search the content is one of the most important features.

What other advice do I have?

I would definitely recommend it. You need to accept that this solution has a big learning curve for organizations that are not tech savvy. However, once you accept it, you will definitely start seeing its benefits.
it_user616584
IT Infrastructure at a insurance company with 51-200 employees
Vendor
Files, communities, and blogs are the most valuable features.

What other advice do I have?

Just do it and go to the Cloud version. Certifications are the most important criteria while selecting a vendor. The vendor has to be really helpful, stay close and work together with us.
it_user616587
System administrator at a wholesaler/distributor with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
File sharing, email, and meetings are in centralized locations.

What other advice do I have?

Look at IBM Connections Cloud, just because of the ease-of-use. Again, I don't know how the setup went exactly but it all seems, at least once it is set up, to run very smoothly and fluidly.
it_user616611
Head of Crewing, HR shore, Staff and Support at Seatrans ship management as
Vendor
The ability to upload files into the cloud, the sharing options, the commenting options and the @ mentions on files are valuable features.

What other advice do I have?

Just do it.
it_user616614
Accounting manager at a transportation company with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
The most valuable feature is Files. We are working together with our accounting department in different countries.

What other advice do I have?

Just do it right now.
it_user616617
It architect for collaboration and mobile at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
I use it mainly for my files. I've got my personal files and shared files in there.

What other advice do I have?

Do a comparison of the different solutions, and really look into what your use cases are and how you want to use them. Especially, look a bit forward, for example, whether you want to be dependent on one vendor or to have multiple vendors and integrate them. I think Connections is a pretty good choice but it depends on where you're coming from and what your current installed base is.
it_user616578
Connections administrator
Vendor
People can discover talents and interests in other areas that may not pertain to their normal job function. Support needs improvement.

What other advice do I have?

Do your research. Don't skimp on marketing within the company, in terms of adoption. Invest heavily in adoption strategy, because you can put it out there and it will be great for a week because it's new and shiny. But unless you have a serious plan for adoption, your utilization is going to drop off like a cliff if you don't have a staged plan of keeping adoption rates high and incentivizing people.
it_user616593
E-business Manager at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
The threaded conversations are valuable. The biggest thing we would like to see in the next release is integration with SharePoint.

What other advice do I have?

Have business-level use cases before anything else. Also, think about integration, and where you want to integrate, and then also just basic usability.
it_user616599
VIP it and security at Imagining business machines llc
Consultant
I like the files and the wikis. We use them heavily in my department.

What other advice do I have?

It's absolutely worthwhile but it is not a technology project, it is a cultural project. In order to get traction on an implementation with any social system like this, you've got to get the culture on board, before you roll out the technology. Otherwise, it's just viewed as yet another tool, that some people are going to use and some aren't. The product's scalability, ease of use and completeness of vision are important criteria whilst selecting a vendor. One thing that I really have to give to IBM is that they do have a really good vision on what they are trying to accomplish and they're…
it_user616602
System administrator at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
It provides a standard language within the company. The out-of-the-box IBM Cognitive initiative has room for improvement.

What other advice do I have?

Go ahead and implement it. As long as you get help from a business partner, it's not a big deal. Just plan ahead of time how to engage the user because the behavior is totally different, if they were not using something similar before. The fee for my company's use is an important criteria when selecting a vendor.
it_user616560
Technical services supervisor at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
It gives us the opportunity to put files in one location for people to access.

What other advice do I have?

Just understand what's all there and its cost. We haven't moved any files or applications or mails yet, just because of its cost. However, you should understand what's available and what you can use out of it. Don't be afraid to just pick and choose what you need. When we choose a vendor, we are looking for somebody with whom we can work with and who doesn't speak a language that goes over our heads. In other words, a vendor that speaks our language and that assists us with what we need.
it_user616563
Process consultant at a transportation company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
We use the profiles to identify people in the organization.

What other advice do I have?

Do your research, but give IBM Connections a full tryout. Do a PoC and I think you'll be happy. Relationship is the most important criteria while selecting a vendor. We want somebody who is going to be there and listen to our needs/feedback.
it_user616590
Web Development Manager at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
We are able to supplement our social portal, by surfacing content back to our departmental portal pages.

What other advice do I have?

Start slow - “Don't try to boil the ocean” is one of IBM's phrases - but basically plan and scope it out. Take your time and make sure you have all of your training in place, ahead of time.
it_user616575
Analyst/Programmer at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees
Vendor
File sharing is the number one feature. Documents and other live files can follow me everywhere.

What other advice do I have?

Engage the IBM Professional Services team.
it_user616608
IT Manager at Bank Data
Consultant
It's easy to use for both developers and end users. I would like to see better stability and performance.

What is most valuable?

It's easy to use for both developers and end users.

How has it helped my organization?

It is easy to integrate to other parts of the company.

What needs improvement?

I haven't any particular features to request. I would like to see better stability and performance.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is not good. We've been having a lot of problems lately with the fulfillments.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is okay.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support is not that good at the moment.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't involved in the initial setup.

What other advice do I have?

At the moment, I would say, "Think hard about it." I want to trust…
it_user568380
Director at a tech consulting company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
Offers the ability to store and share files in the cloud with folder management and tagging.

What other advice do I have?

To get the most out of this product, the challenge is not technical but changing the way people work, in other words; user adoption. Get that right and Connections can genuinely transform your business
it_user549546
Project Manager at a educational organization with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
The Activity Stream shows us what has happened in our network.

What other advice do I have?

Be aware that this is a whole new way of working. The product needs an adoption process to help all users. And you need a goal for the solution. Otherwise, you face the risk that only a few users will learn how to use it. Start with understanding why you want to use it. Be aware that you need the CEO and the rest of management to embrace it to be successful.
it_user541275
Rational Rollout at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
Real User
The Files feature gives us the ability to store, share and collaborate on documents.
it_user506664
IBM QRadar Specialist at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Consultant
It integrates with the existing infrastructure tools within the company.

What other advice do I have?

Be very specific on features your business expects form such a platform as this, and then be honest about which products fulfill them the most. Don’t let your IT department decide to buy the product; the business department in your company should make the decision as they are your end users.
it_user506652
Social Business Advisor at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
All technical documentation is written in the wiki. It is now the central point of reference.

What other advice do I have?

Adoption is the key that makes the difference. If you install/use it without a clear adoption plan, this solution becomes a Black Hole, which is the case for all kinds of these solutions. We have developed a system of adoption for both solutions, and I think that in most cases, the cloud solution of IBM Connections will be the best choice. The on-premise edition is useful only if you require significant customisation and integration with internal legacy applications.
it_user502014
System Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
When a user starts a community, activity, blogs, files, and wikis will be instantly available for the team from an intuitive GUI.

What other advice do I have?

Find an IBM Business Partner with experience and start to plan your environment.
it_user539469
Lotus Software Consultant at a tech consulting company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
All social interaction between users is great. Everything is accessible via mobile devices.

What other advice do I have?

It is really important to have a plan on how to be successful with the implementation and adoption of this platform in your organization. You can't just install it and tell users to go ahead. Using this product as a transparent social platform where you share you work with others, is often a new way to work in most organizations.
it_user535221
Lead Consultant with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
The Community feature allows access to projects and their data remains within the group. All other Connections' functionalities are included internally.

What other advice do I have?

The infrastructure team needs a skilled, technical person who is familiar with this product.
it_user541287
Senior Enterprise Solutions Architect at a insurance company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
Wikis and Files work well for process documentation and reference material.

What other advice do I have?

I recommend taking advantage of any offers for IBM staff to come onsite for adoption workshops for the staff using the platform. This was a helpful step in our rollout to the staff. I would also recommend that they be prepared to provide ongoing support after rollout, to be successful with adoption and to ensure that the staff has the information they need to be comfortable with navigating in the tool.
it_user539625
Enterprise Social Network Community Manager at a tech company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
A user can share a variety of content and file types. Usability and user interface customization require improvement.

What other advice do I have?

I recommend internal testing of the functionality of the platform to understand the pros and cons compared to the modes of interaction and cooperation that already exist in the company. Then, I would proceed migrating one or two existing processes, launching a driven pilot that should involve an entire team / department. I would strongly recommend a gradual release of applications and training dedicated to each instrument. The platform is too complex to be used entirely from the start.
it_user478554
Executive Architect at a tech company with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
Communities help us manage teams and cross-team projects.

What other advice do I have?

It is much easier to use like MS SharePoint/Yammer or Jive.
ITCS user
Division Manager at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
I find that communities is one of the best features of the product.

What other advice do I have?

It’s very important to understand what you want to do with “social” before implementing something on the platform.
it_user506667
Web Project Manager at a government with 10,001+ employees
Vendor
I use it to save time answering emails by storing content. I like the search capability as well.

What other advice do I have?

Sell the time-saving aspect of this to any leadership. Less email. Way less email. Less IT help desk support needed. A little use of Connections in its place.
ITCS user
Digital Workplace & Collaboration Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
It provides context to information, either by organizing related information, data and files in communities, or by simply adding tags to persons and all kinds of data.

What other advice do I have?

IBM Connections is a software product but deploying Connections is not mainly an IT project. You should know WHY you are deploying it and which GOALS you want to achieve with it. Otherwise, it will fail even if the infrastructure is running perfectly.
it_user504069
SAP Portal Architect/Developer at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
We use the wikis extensively, along with activities for managing projects and sharing information globally.

What other advice do I have?

User acceptance is very important. I recommend looking at the processes within an organization and then identify the alignment of IBM Connections tools to support the processes. Then, migrate users into IBM Connections in a phased approach by showing each process area the benefit of using IBM Connections to support their process. User buy-in and acceptance is improved when users can see the immediate benefit, while at the same time discovering the power of IBM Connections for other tasks.
ITCS user
Social Business Consultant at a integrator with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
I have used both Jive and MS Sharepoint in the past - I find Connections a lot more intuitive

What other advice do I have?

Start small, develop use cases with the usser community. Appoint champion users and train them in new ways of work. Employ an experienced group of consultants who know IBM Connections and IBM Connectiosn Cloud
ITCS user
Director at a tech vendor with 51-200 employees
Vendor
Feature rich, fully integrated secure mobile communication solution

What is most valuable?

Fully integrated solution, love the social element of Profiles, Files and Activities all securely accessed on Mobile !

How has it helped my organization?

Communities of practise have gained value in communicating and sharing knowledge and improving processes using e.g. Wikis

What needs improvement?

Interface, but that has had some make-over in v.5 which has now been released. Portal can complement the UI if needed I guess. Licensing !!

For how long have I used the solution?

3 years

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

It's a complicated setup, but then again it's built for enterprise and volumes. Adoption is always going to be a challenge, changing the way people work. So many people are still stuck in the email paradigm. Deployment…
ITCS user
Software Consultant at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Consultant
Top 20
Full integrated social software with all I need to do my daily work
ITCS user
Project Manager with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
IBM Connections on IBM i - DB2, JDBC and IASPs
For anyone looking to do an IBM Connections install on IBM i, the biggest "gotcha" I encountered was due to the fact that I have an Independent Auxilliary Storage Pool (IASP) defined in my relational database directory entries list (think WRKRDBDIRE). If you're using IBM PowerHA for replication then you'll have an IASP defined. I would log into the Connections homepage successfully but then get an error that the request couldn't be completed. I found errors in the systemout.log for each application like "SQLException: Relational database not in relational database directory. DSRA0010E: SQL State = 42705, Error Code = -99,999." Connections tries to connect to DB2 using the JDBC databaseName custom property, not find it in the WRKRDBDIRE list and then the DB2 connection fails.…
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