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HCL Connections OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

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 (Enterprise Information Portals) Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: September 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

Archived HCL Connections Reviews (more than two years old)

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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.

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.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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.

How has it helped my organization?

Using IBM Connections, we have embraced the concept of Working Out Loud to more openly discuss and share content.

What is most valuable?

I use the Updates page to know what is going on in our company and which projects are running. External access increases collaboration with customers and partners. Online document preview and editing allows for faster co-authoring.

What needs improvement?

I would like to have more control over the news delivery on the homepage. You now need a third-party app for this. I would also like more information in the overall To Do list. You now have to click More to see where an action item is coming from.

I would like to have more control over the news delivery on the homepage.
You now need a third-party app (we use XCC from Time To Act) for this.
I would also like more information in the overall To Do list. You now have
to click More to see where an action item is coming from. It would be
better that you can see (and sort) from which community/activity a to-do
is coming from. It would be best if you could apply filters to this list.


For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We did not have issues with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not had issues with scalabilily.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were using the cloud version, SmartCloud, but we shifted to on-premises to integrate and extend it more.

How was the initial setup?

You need technical knowledge for the setup, but if you have the right expertise, it is OK.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented in-house, as we are an implementation partner.

What was our ROI?

Our own ROI was within nine months. We directly benefited from more knowledge sharing (and avoiding re-inventing the wheel) and shorter meetings.

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.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are an IBM Premier Business Partner. We advise and implement IBM solutions.
Find out what your peers are saying about HCL, Microsoft, Atlassian and others in Corporate Portals (Enterprise Information Portals). Updated: September 2021.
541,708 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 is most valuable?

The entire suite of features is very important to me. The three features I use the most are communities, activities, and files.

IBM Connections Pink is a journey and not a destination!

IBM Connections Pink means leaving the IBM WebSphere backend and moving to the Docker.

IBM Connections Pink means you can choose where your application and data resists, i.e., either on the local, private, public cloud or a mix of all those.

IBM Connections Pink means leaving Java and moving to Node.js.

IBM Connections Pink means leaving DB2/Oracle/MS SQL and moving to a single, more powerful database platform - MongoDB.

IBM Connections Pink means introducing IBM Watson as your personal assistance.

IBM Connections Pink means a new way of collaboration, like you have never seen before.

How has it helped my organization?

There is no more a discussion of WHERE to store documents and where to find your corporate information. It is centrally stored and has the perfect search functionality. It’s easy to find.

What needs improvement?

The ability to use it as a hybrid solution. IBM has started the Connections PINK journey, and the hybrid option will be part of it.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the solution for six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There were never any issues with stability. It’s fully clustered.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

When you choose to use it on-prem, you have to decide the scalability based on the usage. It can be easily expanded by adding more servers. The cloud is another story and is always perfect in performance.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would give technical support ratings as follows:

  • Level 1: 6/10
  • Level 2: 8/10
  • Level 3: 10/10

Level 1 sometimes seems as if they are part of a call center. When they transfer the call to Level 2, we see that the support gets better.

Level 3 is comprised of specialists most of the time, and sometimes even developers. I often ask for Level 3 directly in the initial call.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I am a true IBM enthusiast, so the answer is NO. But I am aware of other products and have seen them. Still, I would choose IBM Connections.

How was the initial setup?

The latest two versions are easily to install and are well documented.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

IBM is still cheaper in the end. IBM Connections runs out-of-the-box. Other vendors need customizations in order to get what you need.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I am part of an IBM business partnership, so other vendors are not an option.

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.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Yes, we are a business partner with IBM. We build applications on and for IBM Connections for the on-prem and Cloud versions. I am an IBM Champion ICS 2017.
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 is most valuable?

Search functionality and notifications: The search functionality is very well developed and can be easily filtered. All search results take data security into consideration and users will only find data they actually have access to. This functionality also extends fully to the mobile app which is available for both Android and iOS.

File sharing and synchronization over the web to Windows and mobile devices: File sync is a very useful feature that allows users to synchronize files via the Connections system to Windows desktops and mobile devices (iOS and Android) automatically. Similar to how Dropbox or Google Drive would work. This feature is very useful to ensure you always have the latest versions of files available on local devices for off-line/local access.

How has it helped my organization?

It has improved collaboration between users. The ability to have a definitive location for data to collaborate around. The search and incidental discovery of content (not a function, but a main feature in my mind) are really key, as is the ability to share and - when necessary - un-share. Also, the ability for the system to interact with external users, as well, if the environment allows this type of interaction.

One of the most used features lately is the ability to invite external (non-company) users and collaborate with them. yhe integration of IBM Docs into the system has made it possible to use the product more widely and allow the interaction no matter what type of device a client is connecting with.

What needs improvement?

There is an issue with scaling the Solr Search add-on (see the scalability section).

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it since 2007, version 1.x.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Deployment can be complex, depending on the customer environment and requirements.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

None if the system is configured correctly

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The system scales very easily, with the exception of Solr search (search type-ahead), which is only a single server install at this point and cannot be clustered. Currently, implementation only allows for a single search node, so it is a single point of failure when implementing this technology. All of the other components can be scaled and have multiple instances running on multiple physical/virtual machines for better performance and redundancy but Solr cannot.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is hit-and-miss. In general, the support staff is willing, but there is a large range of capabilities among them, from mediocre to excellent. In this respect, they are not much different from most other professional support organizations, though.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I did not previously use a different solution.

How was the initial setup?

Setup is not overly difficult, but there are multiple components that need installing and integrating. Also, the documentation is not the best and the problem is not getting a base install running (that is not that hard); it is adjusting the system to the individual needs that each client has that can be challenging.

What about the implementation team?

I am an implementation specialist for Connections; I am the guy that gets called in to do the installation. Experienced clients (who have had the system for a while) can do an upgrade themselves; an initial install might be a bit more difficult without an experienced hand to help.

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.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: I am an IBM business partner.
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.

What is most valuable?

The ability to sync my files offline and to share them with colleagues or external people is one of the more important functions. Communities are a popular way of combining blogs, wikis, files, and activities centered on a common objective or subject which proves popular and increases collaboration across people/teams. Recently, the ability to collaborate with external people such as vendors, customers, and third-parties was introduced, which allows us to collaborate outside of network in a secure way.

How has it helped my organization?

We are an IBM business partner with circa 80 employees in the UK, India, and home workers. I've found that it increases communication between these dispersed people. Also, I find that I can assist others when help has not been asked for or expected by means of seeing other people's interactions. For example, on a number of occasions, sales people have been pitching to customers whom I have dealt with or had conversations with years before. I have been able to add valuable input, because I have been following the sales people, the tags, or the community where the content was discussed.

What needs improvement?

  • Easier way to add external users
  • Easier UI customization

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for over five years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

There are often deployment challenges, but often these tend to be with the integration points such as LDAP, network, single-sign-on, etc. These tend to be issues that need to be worked out together with other teams

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

If IBM Connections is properly tuned with the environment and load in mind, it tends to be stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The WebSphere middleware allows the number of nodes running the applications to be scaled horizontally and vertically with relative ease. WebSphere has been doing this for many years and is doing it very well.

How is customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Raising PMRs with IBM tends to be a little hit and miss. I personally have had good service. If you are well versed with the application and its components, then troubleshooting is much easier. Many companies see real value enlisting the services of an IBM business partner who knows the applications, the databases, and is the first port of call for problems.

Technical Support:

From IBM, I would rate technical service as very good.

How was the initial setup?

Deployment can be a little complex, but a lot of this relates to the network, corporate LDAP, and security requirements. These can have an effect on the deployment of any application. IBM Connections is a mature product and the deployment path is well trodden and more importantly, it is well documented.

What about the implementation team?

I implemented our internal deployment myself and I also deployed it for customers.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: I work for an IBM business partner, www.chooseportal.com
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 is most valuable?

IBM Connections is a great product, with new functionality each year. It can be integrated with other products easily and you can personalize this product to match with your organization.

How has it helped my organization?

For joint ventures, for example, it's easy to merge employees into the same entity group assignment, hierarchy and organization, with mixed rules and the right community and distinct special areas.

What needs improvement?

I actually work with profiles and identity, and also all the information around entities (not only geographic, but all properties assign to a employee).

My dream: Create a workflow to manage and simplify the lifecycle of a employee across the company...

My entity should be the same if I change companies; only some properties are different, but my links are the same (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used this solution for seven years, providing assistance and support, deploying social solutions or upgrading versions.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

I am certified to deploy complex solutions.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

I would rate customer service as follows:

  • IBM 6
  • JALIOS 6
Technical Support:

I would rate technical support as follows:

  • IBM 4
  • JALIOS 6

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used to deploy Backbase Portal and IBM. I advised the selection of this solution.

How was the initial setup?

It depends on the chosen architecture but initial setup can often be complex for a new user.

What about the implementation team?

I implemented and deployed the solution. You need a good requirements evaluation for design and a good architecture.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Check IBM licensing.

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.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

  • Access to platform resources from all over the world
  • Blogs
  • Fast search of employees/groups/ communities/employees’ profiles
  • Each file entered into the system has a label with the time and the name of the person who uploaded the file
  • Document download is registered and visible to the system users who downloaded the file, time when it was downloaded. After updating the document, a new version is created, but previous versions are not deleted.
  • List of activities to do
  • Private communities with access management
  • Integration with IBM Notes, Sametime.

All the features above improve collaboration among employees.

How has it helped my organization?

The most noticeable improvement was in the communication between the R&D department and the service department, who until now had no communication tools, despite having an email.

Employees from these departments work on different shifts, so the communication between them was difficult. The improvement in the area of cooperation has also been noticed by trade office workers who have easier access to needed and up-to-date documentation such as KRS, NIP, and REGON marketing materials.

The implemented system was very well used by the HR department. They provided training for staff from various companies among the group, set up communities with access only for training participants, where materials from the workshop and additional information was provided.

The system also helped during the setting up of a company in China. Employees engaged from different locations in Poland and China opened a community where they exchanged documentation and had discussions. This tool has certainly improved the opening of the company in China. The documentation was in one place and was available from anywhere in the world.

What needs improvement?

We suggested over 40 improvement of the system in 2014, but nothing has changed in the 4.5 version.

After a few months of using the solution, we have prepared document with the biggest failures and features to improve in the system. We have suggested over 40 improvement of the system, we have made PMR in the system:

  • Movies with high resolution after uploaded in the community had bad quality, were unreadable, or we couldn’t upload files in AVI or WMV.
  • The inconsistency of the editing interface between the various components (different ways of adding images to a wiki page, to a blog, or to a community description)
  • Writing in the editor was treated as a lack of user activity. That means that when editing of content in a text editor for a long time, such as editing a wiki page, the session loses its validity during that time and redirects to the login screen. The previously entered content is lost.
  • We couldn’t have created subfolders in Files component (after one year we bought Library component, which has possibility to create subfolders). I’m writing about the 4.5 version we had.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this since 11.2013.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support should be improved. We made a PMR in the system. Afterwards, a person from technical support sent us an email and asked the same questions. Sometimes a few different people asked the same questions about the same PMR.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We tested Yammer for half a year. We switched into IBM Connections mostly because of Connections’ features:

  • Own server
  • server proxy
  • Privacy access layer
  • Recommendations and comments function
  • Idea management functions, such as monitors channels for idea capture, customer categorization of requests, idea voting, classified idea capture, and request status notes.
  • Each file entered into the system has a label with time and person who uploaded the file
  • Document download is registered and visible to the system users: Who downloaded the file and when it was downloaded.
  • After updating the document, a new version is created, but previous versions are not deleted.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was more complex than straightforward.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I advise only buying a few licenses and test different solutions among a group of employees from different departments with different experience for at least half a year. Then make a list of features they like and don’t like and ask them in what situations the solution will help them with their daily work. After getting the pros and cons of the solution, the decision should be made buying the license.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing the solution, we considered Yammer.

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 management knowledge of employees responsible for implementation.

The experience of people implementing such solutions in the organization is very helpful during the entire implementation process. In order to function effectively, people, not only those from the IT department, are necessary and need this knowledge.

The key, if not the most important role in this case, is the community manager. He or she:

  • Promotes this tool within the organization
  • Organizes trainings
  • Presents functions
  • Present examples of their use
  • Promotes good practices regarding the use of this tool in the organization.

After implementation, in each company’s department should appoint one person who will be responsible for departmental data updates.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user649998
Sharepoint Architect at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Vendor
Helps us save storage costs.

What is most valuable?

It is the single source of truth that can be shared anywhere. This is the most valuable feature of this solution.

How has it helped my organization?

We are trying to save storage costs.

What needs improvement?

The mobile, Outlook, and desktop Plug-ins associated with this product need to be improved.

There were a few challenges that we have experienced with the stability of the Outlook Plug-in.

The mobile product within the good container is still not a fully matured product.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We did encounter stability issues a few times here and there.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There were no scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We have never used any other solution before.

How was the initial setup?

It is a complete setup, which requires a Linux and Windows background.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at other solutions, namely the Microsoft OneDrive for Business and Google for Work.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

Communities and activities are very useful for team collaboration and project level communication. This prevents breakdowns and keeps all the information in a centralized location.

How has it helped my organization?

It has helped us to lean towards social business, instead of just using emails as a primary mode of communication.

What needs improvement?

The UI and UX portions definitely need to be improved. This is challenging for Generation Y to adapt to. Hopefully, the latest version will do its best.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used this solution for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We did encounter some stability issues. However, IBM works closely with its customers to manage that well.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There were no scalability issues. So far, it has done well.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would give the technical support team a rating of 10/10. IBM works very closely with organizations on the implementations.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Initially, we were on-premises IBM Domino customers. We then migrated to IBM Connections Cloud.

How was the initial setup?

Since we were already on-premises Domino customers, the setup was quite straightforward.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing policy is flexible. There is no complex licensing model and it is quite simplified.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated the Microsoft Office 365 solution.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

The ‘Community’ feature is the most valuable. It is a good place to gather a web home page, wiki, blog, forum, file library, bookmark, tag, or @ notice.

How has it helped my organization?

It is a good product for making improvements across departments and in communications. People can share knowledge and files, and other people can search and learn.

What needs improvement?

  • It is not easy to create a company’s Intranet home page since the home page is the first page the user lands on. IBM Connections can create many communities which link to the home page, but not the homepage itself.
  • You still cannot search the contents of files inside, like words in MS Word, PowerPoint, or Adobe PDF.
  • There is no project tracking function. The ‘Activity’ function is not a good feature. We need a Trello-like project management function for agile management methodology, but not only the current ProjExec function.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the solution for about eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We did not encounter any issues with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We did not encounter any issues with scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would give the technical support a rating of 8/10.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Previously we used IBM’s TeamRoom. We changed because IBM changed the strategy from TeamRoom to Connections.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is not complex. But if you add other products together, like Sametime, it will need more customization. If people use the SaaS version, called IBM Connections Cloud, then it is straightforward.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The price should be lower. The pricing model should count concurrent users, not named users. Otherwise, a large company will be reluctant to use it as there are too many named users.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Slack, MS Office 365, Facebook's Workplace, and Google G-Suite.

I was looking for an integrated product which is easy to use for a low price. Slack has the ‘Intranet home page’ functions, too. The per user price is higher than IBM Connections Social Cloud.

My company uses Office 365, and we can therefore use SharePoint, Yammer, and Teams for free because of our Exchange server subscription. But those functions are not integrated like IBM Connections.

SharePoint is very difficult for end-users to create Intranet home pages or departmental home pages.

Facebook's Workplace is easy to use as a consumer version, but no blog/wiki is available, like IBM Connections. But its price is the lowest.

I cannot successfully try Google G-Suite. For the initial setup step, G-Suite asked me to log in with my domain name server to prove that I own the domain name (my company’s domain name). However, I am an evaluator, and not an IT administrator, so I cannot try it.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

The Homepage/Activity Stream keeps you to up-to-date as to what is happening throughout your organization.

I like the ability to create, edit, and share files from your desktop, or mobile app, anywhere, anyplace, with everyone.

How has it helped my organization?

Finding expertise becomes so much easier, especially for international companies who reside all over the world.

Certain solutions aren't solely applicable for one country, but often these solutions can be re-applied to other offices as well.

Sharing knowledge on IBM Connections will give you access to tap into all the knowledge that is accessible in your organization across the world. If they find a solution for an issue in the office in Italy, the office in Sweden can reuse that solution by finding that expertise on Connections.

What needs improvement?

Activities:

  • The Connections Mobile app doesn't work in the same manner as the web version. Sorting is different and not all options are available in the mobile version.
  • There are limitations on how big an activity can become, but there is no functional check to let the end user know. When your activity becomes really big, it can become unreliable and very slow.
  • There are no summary options for an activity. A print-to-PDF overview would be handy.
  • Again, when the activity become very big, it is not easy to keep track of what happens within the activity. (Kudos Boards from ISW is a good alternative for this.)

Files:

  • File sync for folders (coming in Connections 6.0)
  • File sync for community files and folders
  • Option to make individual files available to external users
  • Option to make individual files publicly available by using a password
  • Invite external users based on an email address

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used this since the first beta came out in 2008.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In some scenarios, slow performance can be a tough point to tackle. Regarding stability, there were no issues there. Everything runs on WebSphere, which is a pretty reliable platform.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There were no scalability issues, but the effort to add extra nodes in a running configuration can be cumbersome.

How are customer service and technical support?

Level 1 support sometimes can be a tough hurdle to tackle. Once you have reached Level 2 and Level 3 support, technical support is pretty good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were using Lotus Quickr. It was old, slow, and had a very small user base. There was not much potential.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is a tough journey. Once you get the hang of it, it is pretty doable. However, it takes some perseverance.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not look at alternatives. We are IBM Business partners. We help customers implement IBM Connections.

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.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are an IBM business partner.
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.

What is most valuable?

This depends on which department you're operating in as different departments use different features. I use it for projects a lot. If you consider HR, they use it for personnel files, staff policies etc.

The solution is useful for team engagement and team collaborations, so that everyone is working together towards the same objective and we are using the best practices among ourselves, sharing and craft sourcing.

What needs improvement?

I think it's a lot to do with metrics and in order to push up the momentum and get people to use it more, I need to know what's happening exactly in a more detailed kind of metric. So, if there are any problems identified exactly where it's not going wrong, this would help to understand how I can push it and what incentive I can put there.

Also the interface could be more easily accessible and easy to read as currently the interface is not.

In order to monitor the usage and encourage take up I need like a dashboard to know where things are good and where we are not picking up as we should and react accordingly.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It isn't so scalable really as we keep changing providers.

How is customer service and technical support?

The support is a bit difficult as we need to get into contextual details before they can solve an issue, otherwise it can take a while.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was complex. Integrations were an issue and several things went wrong such as identification, credentials etc. So we had to redo the whole thing because a lot of features were not working. So, instead of actually migrating we had to do a fresh installation.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Product Group Lead Warehousing Solutions at Kühne + Nagel (AG & Co.) KG
Real User
Provides potent document sharing with good integration with the Microsoft desktop and smartphones.

What is most valuable?

It provides very potent document sharing with very good integration with the Microsoft desktop and smart phones. It includes a good feature set with Facebook-like features. It provides a very complete feature set if used together with IBM Sametime to replace desktop sharing and meetings. The feature set gives a pretty complete and easy to use social platform. The entry barrier for business users is low with little training needed.

How has it helped my organization?

We are able to integrate global units and have hierarchy-free communication. Teams on multiple sites are able to collaborate on customer projects and internal initiatives.

What needs improvement?

The product has a pretty flat structure for communities; they are in principle a long list. This gets easily overcrowded and lacks structure/guidance. Tagging is strong, but this may deserve a little bit more.

The platform allows to create communities for collaboration. This is a central feature and very good. It also has a low barrier and is easy. In a large organization, the number of communities increases swiftly. This is like a manila folder containing important information. One after the other with a title page. How is this organized? In a large pile? This did not work in libraries and there are concepts to deal with this.

Connections has only the concept of a large pile. There is obviously good search, but that does not solve the issue as the results depend on words and tagging.

Web pages have the idea about meta data to feed the search engines and this is called SEO as a service offering. This does not work, if communities are not forced to tag our use common titles.

I would prefer if the community element would allow (out of the box) a high degree of structure to allow a navigation.

This is similar to the question, if one searches on the internet via Google 'full text search' or an 'editor list' like Yahoo used to have. Connections is the Google way and it needs to have a Yahoo directory-like component.

After all, it is an enterprise tool and enterprises have a structure with the need of structured information.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the solution for six months.

How are customer service and technical support?

Excellent technical support and documentation. Questions raised during security audits (an unfriendly one) were answers swiftly and comprehensively.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We did pilot SharePoint and moved to Connections due to licensing costs, lack of features and the bad reputation of SharePoint in our market.

How was the initial setup?

Setup is straightforward and moderately complex. I would advise to get some IBM consulting (we talk about days not months).

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Licensing price was very competitive compared to Jive or SharePoint. Open source was not feature complete and would have caused a much more complex roll out project. This is a very “cost efficient” offering. We went from zero to pilot with business within eight weeks.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated many options and IBM was initially black listed from the selection process due to fears regarding price and complexity. We specifically evaluated Jive, SharePoint, Yammer, Drupal, Bitrix, COYO and several other low key vendors.

What other advice do I have?

Use IBM Greenhouse for a test drive of Connections. This works also for Smartphones.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

  • Granular access control across all components provides assurance that confidential and private content stays that way. The access control model carries across to search in such a way that users only see results for content that they have privileges to access. 
  • Desktop add-on makes file management easy to achieve (check-in, checkout, version management, share, etc.) 
  • Community component provides users with capability to create general-purpose and topic/project specific work-group collaboration spaces (can be public or membership controlled) composed of any desired permutation of sub-set components. This includes activities (for ad-hoc to-do lists and structured task management), blogs, forums, wikis, bookmarks, files, all of which feed into a global activity feed. 
  • Extra-net capability of newest release allows for third-party collaboration, e.g., with your customers. 
  • Themes and skins provide basic customization. 
  • API allows for full custom UI implementation if the enterprise needs that form of branding and/or customized UXP. 
  • Mobile apps for android and iOS provide untethered access to connections content and components. 
  • V5.5 (released December, 2015) introduced support of nested folders within the files component.

How has it helped my organization?

  • Our project teams create community spaces to share and collaborate around content and artifacts. 
  • Network file shares are now a thing of the past. There is no more tyranny of the monolithic, directory hierarchy.

What needs improvement?

While connection supports @named.user messaging and #tag.labels, the collaborative interaction UXP could be updated to a more streamlined approach for posts, file-share and threaded conversations such as that which is provided by newer teamwork offerings (e.g., Slack).

I am alluding to the potential to improve collaboration via timely, intelligently presented alerts and notifications. Specifically, I am calling out the examples within other products, such as "bots" that do your bidding and provide calls-to-action and other reminders in context with your daily activities.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the product for ten years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Running in a self-hosted private cloud, there were no significant issues regarding stability. 

Connections is now available as a service for those who need a turnkey implementation, i.e., IBM Connections Cloud.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is a function of CPU and RAM. The file component leverages IBM FileNet under the hood for robust document management.

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.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are a business partner.
Andre Horak
Social Business Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
It changes the way knowledge is shared.

What is most valuable?

IBM Connections Profiles are the heart and soul of IBM Connections. It changes the way knowledge is shared and found by allowing users to identify subject matter experts in their organizations, from there they can either look at the knowledge and content the expert is sharing, reach out and engage with the expert directly, or even reach communities of experts to find the answers they are looking for. It helps the organization to be more productive, reduces the time lost when searching for information, and allows employees to build their own brand inside the organization, resulting in better talent retention and employee engagement.

IBM Connections Activities provides a platform for getting things done by allowing teams of people to collaborate and share to do’s and feedback on tasks quickly and transparently, keeping everyone informed and on the same page without the need for frequent meetings and reviews. Once an activity is successfully completed, it can be used as a “blue print” for similar activities in the future, which saves time and allows teams to have more predictable results.

IBM Connections Mobile application and plugins provide users with the ability to collaborate and share information easily from anywhere – their mobile phone, tablet, or their favourite applications like Microsoft Word, Excel, etc.

How has it helped my organization?

Important information, like policies, procedures, and corporate templates, has become easy to find and has reduced wasted time and user frustration. Distribution of business reports by sharing them in IBM Connections has not only yielded the obvious result of reduced mail traffic and storage, but also allows users to engage and collaborate more effectively on these reports.

Integration with business functions and processes like internal audits has resulted in better collaboration with external parties (like auditors) and better efficiency in addressing audit findings due to open and transparent collaboration and sharing of documents and feedback (no more missed or lost emails).

What needs improvement?

Various plugins are available for Microsoft Windows desktops and this adds tremendously to the user experience.

Mac users currently only have File Sync support and no plugins are available for Linux desktop users, leaving these users heavily dependent of the web user interface. Although the web user interface works great and is constantly being improved, the plugins create a more seamless experience.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the solution for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We did not encounter any issues with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We did not encounter any issues with scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

IBM provides good support, and in most cases support is available world-wide through IBM’s network of Business Partners.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

IBM Connections has replaced a variety of solutions, including File Shares (shared drives), the company intranet, and the corporate directory. IT also reduced the need for various custom-developed ad-hoc solutions due to its rich set of features.

IBM Connections provides a single solution that offers profiles, communities, file sharing, wikis, blogs, surveys, activities, bookmarks, forums, ideation, activity streams and events. The product is mature, has a very strong business focus, and can be integrated with other business solutions.

Using IBM Connections and all the capabilities it offers, provides users with a single place to go for all their collaboration and knowledge sharing requirements.

How was the initial setup?

Initial installation and setup of the on-premises version of IBM Connections requires specific technical skills. Once the product is installed and configured it is easy to use and users have many options to easily control their user experience.

The IBM Connections Cloud offering provides a quick and easy way to get up and running with Enterprise Social Networking without the need for technical skills and expertise.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated SharePoint and Yammer.

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 requires careful planning and guidance, but the rewards are absolutely worth the effort.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are an IBM Business Partner. I am also one of 123 IBM Champions for Collaboration Solutions.
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 is most valuable?

There are multiple applications available for the user.

How has it helped my organization?

  • The blogs became the main source of information for the organisation and establishing dialogue.
  • The forums are the best places to get and provide peer powered support.

What needs improvement?

Design and user experience.

Design: They present consistent shortcomings across their applications. For instance, when you are in a sub-community, it's difficult to figure out what other sub-communities are a part of the parent community. Whenever you land in a sub-community application, it's difficult to navigate to the parent one.

Another example is how the newsfeed tries to provide you with extra information with a blurb hovering to the right. However, it's actually the same information available on the newsfeed item.

User experience: The many ways in which you could use their different applications is, for most users, simply overwhelming.

IBM Connections can be a really good product for power users. However, for most of my users, the consistent feedback has been about how difficult it is to use and how the interface is poorly designed.

For how long have I used the solution?

I used the solution for about two years, from 2013 to 2015.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The forums struggled to keep up when multiple users posted information.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I am not aware of any issues regarding scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would give technical support a rating of 9/10.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I am not aware of any previous solutions.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was rather simple. IT handled most of the implementation. The functional owner designed a series of standard communities for everyone to join.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Using IBM Connections as a standalone product to replace the intranet is not enough. Further investment is required for a landing page, either from IBM solutions, or from any of their partners.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Jive and Yammer.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

Connections is a full-featured enterprise social network solution. Below are some of the features most used by our employees:

  • Files and document management, including file sharing and libraries
  • Employee profiles
  • Communities
  • External communities
  • Blogs
  • Status posts
  • Activities

How has it helped my organization?

Connections, with its file sharing and lightweight document management capabilities, has helped us reduce the volume of email and network file usage.

What needs improvement?

Ideally, the product will increment advances from consumer social networks and file sharing tools sooner, as users expectations are formed by the software they use at home and on their devices.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have used IBM Connections since early 2013, beginning with version 4.0. In 2015, we upgraded to version 5.0. Throughout, we have used the on-premises solution.

In 2016, we extended the platform to external users via external communities.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not had any stability problems.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not had any scalability problems.

How are customer service and technical support?

We used a variety of business partner support models and have been pleased with the support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Prior to Connections, we did not have an enterprise social network solution.

How was the initial setup?

Like any major software implementation, the initial project required planning, resource allocation, vendor management, and communications.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Learn and understand the different product offerings and pricing models and note the difference between cloud, hybrid, and on-premises solutions.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Jive and SharePoint.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

We have Connections 4.5, which is an older version. It does have some features that help people to collaborate in the same community.

There are newer versions that are integrated with Watson and some other features, and that might bring a lot of valuable features. For example, you can really collaborate in multiple channels, using Connections, so whether it's cognitive collaboration, or file or content collaboration, it makes it much easier.

What needs improvement?

From the sharing perspective, it is very clunky. It's very hard to share files and very hard to share content. It is not intuitive in the way it is. It doesn't provide the documentation baseline collaboration, so we're actually moving away from Connections. There are newer versions, but in today's world, with the version that almost everybody uses, it's very, very hard to use.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

I don’t personally use it, but the company uses support all the time.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We needed some collaborative software and space, and IBM is our shop. So, you know what they say, “even our blood is blue”; everything's IBM. Apparently, it didn't make it all the way, so we actually are moving to Microsoft.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn’t involved in the initial setup.

What other advice do I have?

Go with the latest version and get everything integrated.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

It is the single quickest way for us to start consolidating all of our files together when we are going to many countries.

How has it helped my organization?

Communication is a benefit. The challenge with it is whether or not it's a monetary benefit.

What needs improvement?

There's nothing pressing for us about Connections itself at the moment that we are desperate for that we don't already see in version 6. The biggest benefit for us will be nested folders. Until we get nested folder support, folders within folders, we can't move away from the historical file stores on Windows.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have it on premise, so we control the stability. We have had issues with tuning and configuration. The best practice isn't always clear about how to configure it and make it work when it scales. We control the tin, but I'd say that probably there's a gap at the moment in best practice recommendations.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

When we went from 1,000 users to 2,000 users, we hit some problems and then it required a lot of retuning and reconfiguration.

How is customer service and technical support?

When you get to the right person in technical support, they are very good. The challenge is finding the people who understand it. There are probably about 50 people around the IBM world that can deal with the level of detail we sometimes go into but getting hold of them is quite challenging.

How was the initial setup?

I was not involved in the initial setup.

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 get them within 18 months.

When selecting a vendor, trust is the most important criteria.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

File sharing, especially within the communities, is a valuable feature. We have a disaster team and as far as I know, they're using this file sharing functionality, especially now that they can also sync offline. That's something that they wanted from the beginning, so it is valuable for them.

How has it helped my organization?

Collaboration in itself is a positive value.

What needs improvement?

We would like to see more statistics and have full access to files and communities. Especially with the communities; because when a community owner leaves, it's kind of problematic. As an admin, with offline or on-premise solutions, we have a lot of power and we can respond when there's an issue or if there are any access issues. However, with cloud solutions, it's more limited for us.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's quite stable and there is no downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The downside for me, as an admin, is that the admins don't have that much of power in the back end/background, i.e., not much power in terms of the access, tweaking and changing the settings. I feel it is not that much scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have used the technical support. It took us some time to resolve issues. It could be better.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We did not have any on-premise solutions, so the cloud version was the beginning.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was straightforward.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

Its ability to collaborate, keep track of all the updates in one place is great. The ability to search the content, make every content searchable and the ability to share with the external parties are the most important features.

How has it helped my organization?

Going back to its ability to search, I think it is the biggest benefit that you have in your organization, because traditionally organizations tend to keep content in different locations, and what Connections does is, it brings all of that content together and gives you the capability to do full search of that content based on the context that you are looking for.

What needs improvement?

I think a little more of an integration with the calendaring features would be better. Right now, you don't have a direct integration for doing connections in your personal calendar. That's the feature that people are looking for, so I think that would help.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is a very stable solution, because we have done both on-premise as well as the cloud part of it, and traditionally, from the Connections standpoint, there have been no outages.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Until now, we haven't had any challenges in terms of its capability to handle the user base.

How is customer service and technical support?

At times, technical support is a challenge. As long as you get in good hands, you are good.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the setup. It is complex. The way IBM sets up its product, you can never find one thing in one place. Everything that you need is not found in one single location, so now you have to start at one place, then say, "Oh, you need to go to another location to find another content," then you come back and you start all over again.

Some of the recommendations are good, but unless they collaborate well together, - as these are all products placed together into one single solution, unless they bring that all together - it will remain complex. That's my thought.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user616584
IT Infrastructure at a insurance company with 51-200 employees
Vendor
Files, communities, and blogs are the most valuable features.

What is most valuable?

Files, communities, and blogs are the most valuable features.

How has it helped my organization?

There is interconnectivity with all the employees of the enterprise. The possibility to share files in a unified way helps our organization. The same file can be accessed by all the employees of the enterprise just in one place.

What needs improvement?

We are watching the new IBM Connections version 6 right now; it's working right now. It would be helpful to have more interfacing of all the IBM platforms.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is very good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is also very good.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user616587
System administrator at a wholesaler/distributor with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
File sharing, email, and meetings are in centralized locations.

What is most valuable?

I like the centralized locations for everything, like file sharing, email, and meetings; having all that in one easy-to-access location versus having several different areas that you have to go out and bookmark, and having to leave the site each time. That might take a little bit longer than having everything together like it is.

How has it helped my organization?

The ease of use has definitely improved the way my organization functions. Just having everything in one location makes work a lot simpler. There are less accounts to remember to log into, so people have to remember less passwords.

With Cloud Connections, having it online, accessing it from the internet, being able to get to it from anywhere without having to be on the network is very handy, too.

What needs improvement?

One thing that I do wish was available - and it sounded like it might be from the general side, but I'm not 100% for sure on that - is, with the Connections desktop plugin, right now, when we copy files over, we have to do it individually and create our folder structure. We can't just copy our folders over and have them all exist.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Scalability seems great from what I've been told and from what I've seen. I've never seen any outages, really, other than some planned maintenance on emails we get occasionally. Other than that, it seems great.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability also seems to be pretty easily accessible. I know our rep seems to be working with us pretty well in licensing if we need to get any more but other than that, I haven't seen any issues with that.

How is customer service and technical support?

We used technical support a couple times for basic questions, but nothing actual issue related.

How was the initial setup?

I was not involved with the initial installation.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is definitely Files. We have totally transferred the way we work, or developed the way we work on information. The ability to upload files into the cloud, the sharing options, and, even better, the commenting options and the @ mentions on the file just eases the workflow dramatically compared to using email and sending attachments back and forth.

How has it helped my organization?

It saves a lot of time, includes more people that need to be included and it ensures better quality.

What needs improvement?

I’m happy with what I saw at a recent conference regarding Connections Pink and Orient Me.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have had no downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is okay-ish. We are more or less satisfied with the way it works. No major need for fixing it.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is great.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We knew we needed to invest in a new solution because we got advice from our business partner and from IBM that opened up our eyes to see the options out there.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was complex. We suffered some setbacks on the migration from the on-prem solution to the cloud. We are currently in a hybrid solution and the migration didn't work exactly how it was supposed to; so we had some challenges on migrating.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Microsoft.

Quality and cost are the most important factors when selecting a vendor.

What other advice do I have?

Just do it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is Files, because we are working together with our accounting department in different countries.

How has it helped my organization?

It's much easier to have control of what's been done and what's not been done. We can even write comments on the board, and again get all the updates when something has been done.

What needs improvement?

For instance, when you open a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, you just get a copy of it; you can't put it up again.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is perfect.

How is customer service and technical support?

I have not used technical support.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't actually involved in the initial setup.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

When looking for a vendor, price is the most important factor for us.

What other advice do I have?

Just do it right now.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

I use it mainly for my files. I've got pretty much all my personal files and shared files in there. I use it on a day-to-day basis - the Activities part - for managing my work and the work of our teams, the scrum teams and the agile teams. We are able to see where we are in the process for everything that we have to deploy. I also use it for finding people or connecting with people and communicating.

How has it helped my organization?

For me, the benefit is that I have it on my mobile device, because I work a lot on mobile. I've got a lot of different devices and I work in a lot of different locations and most of the times in meetings. For me, it's easy to always be able to reach my files. Everything is on hand all the time.

What needs improvement?

For once, I would like to see better support for files. I mean, file storage is very good. It's not a concept of traditional file storage, but I figure if you want to make a transition from a traditional way of working into a new way of working, the gap between the old way and the new way, should be a little bit smaller.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I think it's very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is also very good.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had a lot of solutions and what we wanted to do was not invent a new solution or bring a new one in. We wanted to combine the solutions we already had and integrate them into a real social enterprise collaboration platform. That's why we use Connections as kind of an umbrella over all the solutions.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was complex. It is a large-scale WebSphere deployment, and we have a twin data center, so you have to do a lot to deploy it at a very big enterprise.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at everybody in the enterprise social space. We looked at Microsoft, but Microsoft wasn't that big; Jive; we looked at pretty much everyone. We did a full analysis.

When selecting a vendor, the integration between current solutions and the new solutions is important, as is the integration between different vendors. Pricing is also important, of course. Also, the social features and the completeness.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

The most valuable features of Connections would be that it opens up communication silos that previously existed in the company. Instead of everybody working in this little box, it opens it up across the enterprise so that people have the opportunity to discover talents and interests in other areas that may not pertain to their normal job function.

How has it helped my organization?

The benefits are, first and foremost, we get to find out exactly what other business units are doing in the company. You work for a company for a long time, but you don't know what everybody else does. You get to find out, "Oh, these are other things that are happening," and it happens in real time. Once someone in a business unit posts something, you get to find out about it if you follow them. Another benefit is that it exposes you to people with other talents and disciplines that are not their normal job function. That's not what they were hired for, but they have that skill set that you can call into play, either as a reference or as a resource.

What needs improvement?

They seem to be implementing some of what we want in the upcoming versions, like an onboarding wizard. Having an easier way to integrate with other third-party tools would be really helpful. Right now, depending on the tool, it's easier or harder to integrate than it could be. That's probably one of the bigger things.

Support has got to know what they're doing. They got to have a good product, and the product has to work. We've dealt with a number of vendors for products that integrate with Connections. They advertise one thing, and it just doesn't work as advertised. It seems like everyone's in a rush to get something to market without being thorough in their testing and QA. They release a product, and that's something else that IBM is kind of bad about. They release a product that's not quite ready for prime time just so they can say, "Okay, we hit a deadline. We released it on this date." I guess in the backrooms they're thinking, "Well, we'll fix it in the next two quarters." We see the same thing with some third-party vendors.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using it now for, probably, three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, it's very stable, depending on your implementation of it. We've been at it now for, probably, three years. The stability and the capability is getting better with every version.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It seems to be capable of scaling. We haven't had to scale it that much, because we did a mass rollout all at once, and our company is not growing that fast. I see where the potential for scalability is very good, because of how we built it.

How are customer service and technical support?

Support needs improvement. The product seems to be released with a lot of bugs. Of course, IBM has multiple layers of technical support. The lower levels of technical support are somewhat clueless about how to support this product, so it takes a lot longer to get to somebody who does know what they are doing than I think it should. That's probably the most frustrating aspect about supporting a product so far. Hopefully they're going to improve that. We've been told that they're implementing different training programs within the infrastructure. It remains to be seen.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We didn't previously have anything else. Through marketing material, we saw what the capabilities are. Management had the foresight to recognize, "Okay, this could change the way that we do business or we do work," and it has.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We didn’t consider any other tools for the connection solution in general.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

For us, the most valuable feature is really the threaded conversations, because we don't get a threaded conversation with other tools. We are looking at a two-way dialog and how we can help enable that.

How has it helped my organization?

For us, at this point, it opens up a door to large broadcasted messages, and larger forms of engagement.

What needs improvement?

For us, the biggest thing we would like to see in the next release is integration with SharePoint.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've had some load time and performance issues with concurrent users. The page was just not coming up.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't run into scalability issues, just because we don't really have high usage, overall.

How is customer service and technical support?

I have not used technical support.

How was the initial setup?

I was not involved in the initial setup.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

I really like the files and the wikis, since we use that heavily in my department. Throughout the company, obviously there are different advantages for the different departments. Our sales staff is using the Activities to attract various implementation projects starting from the earliest phases in the sales process and all the way through to the delivery/final installation.

But for me personally, I love being able to collect our departmental knowledge and put it in a central place that we can look it up, so that we don't have to keep resolving the same kind of problems.

In regards to the Files application, just having a really simple way to track important files and do version control on them, as well as share them out easily, has proven to be very valuable.

What needs improvement?

Actually, I'm seeing all the previews for the IBM Connections version 6 product and I think a lot of the stuff that we would like is coming out in that version itself.

One of our VP of sales has asked for the ability to sync nested folders by using the drag and drop option, and that's going to be in there. There are some of the Community design elements, the top menu, which is something that a lot of our employees have been asking for.

So, it seems that IBM is listening to people when it comes to including new features in the latest Connections product line.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is not as stable as I would like it to be. But, mostly it is a lot more complicated than the Domino platform that we've been on for many years and because of that, with more moving parts, there are more things that can go wrong.

Overall, it is a pretty solid product. We don't have a whole lot of issues with it. Also, IBM has generally worked to try and get any of those issues resolved through their feature packs and fix packs.

We're on the latest release, so obviously at this stage, there are more problems than if you're a little bit farther behind.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We're a very small company and we have 215 employees worldwide. I know there are sites that are running hundreds or thousands of people in the system so, obviously, it scales up very well.

We have drastically overbuilt our on-premise installation for redundancy purposes - multiple HTTP servers, multiple Apps servers, multiple Docs servers, etc, and aren't really hitting any performance problems with the environment we have, but we can obviously always add more resources- more cores, more
RAM, or even more servers in general if it's needed to better support the
application.

How are customer service and technical support?

There are some people that are better than others. There are some really good and sharp people at the backend of the support side, while there are some others that we prefer not to deal with, if possible.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Our CEO is a visionary and he is always looking for a new and better way to do things. When he first saw the Connections product, it was probably about 6-7 years ago. With him, it just sort of clicked, as it was something that he could use in the business to help drive us to that next level with internal collaboration. So, he went ahead and pulled the trigger on it and it's been a slow adoption. A lot of it was trying to get all the other department heads to see the same things that he saw, and that I was able to see.

Now, we're starting to get a lot more traction to it, i.e., once we get each department to solve their specific concern for the system, such as what they're not happy with, which generally turns into what they don't understand and need some additional training on. It's been really good.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was extremely complex; a little less than what it may have been in the past. We've been a Connections user ever since version 3. We're on-premise and there's a lot of documentation that is wrong more often than not. Also, it's a very cumbersome process that often takes us about 4-6 months to get an upgrade completed, tested and ready to roll out. Thus, I feel that anything to reduce that would be appreciated. I know their new Pink strategy is supposed to help with that. I guess that we'll see when they start deploying things under that strategy.

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 taking the product to that point. If you look at some of the competitors out there, they don't really seem to have this idea in their mind as to what they are trying to do exactly. A lot of it is, throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks or by just trying to copy features from everyone else. However, I see with the Connections platform, IBM is trying to innovate.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

The most valuable features of this solution are that it provides a space for team collaboration, sharing, security, and a standard language within the company.

How has it helped my organization?

I think the most benefit is with the asynchronous collaboration, drop meetings, shared files and action items. It helps the team to collaborate.

What needs improvement?

The IBM Cognitive initiative, which is an out-of-the-box feature in Connections: You don't really have to spend a lot of time with it.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is pretty stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is great within the internal organization.

How is customer service and technical support?

I personally haven't used the technical support, perhaps my company did.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

IBM Connections Cloud gives us the opportunity to put files in one location for the people to get access to. Also, we use it in the meeting rooms this time, as it helps us with upgrading to software on-premise and its cost. It's an easier solution for us.

How has it helped my organization?

The meetings rooms have helped us. It's easier for people to use. It's easier for us to support. They went to the VaaS system on-premise and we didn't have any experience with that. It's just easier to use for us.

What needs improvement?

For us in the IBM Connections Cloud, we would like to use the capability for instant messages, but we need to have the groups sync up to the cloud from the on-premise, which it doesn't do at this point of time.

Also, with the file sharing option, that is where you could sync a folder; they say that this feature should be coming soon, but we haven't seen it yet.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There's good scalability because there hasn't been any limitations for us as such.

How are customer service and technical support?

We also have a business partner that supports us. The support has been fine for us. They have helped us with the questions that we've had so far.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

For file sharing, we were using Dropbox, which isn't secure, thus we would like to have something different there. With the meeting rooms, like I have mentioned before, the cost of the upgrade and the lack of expertise on the site was the reason we moved to the IBM Connections Cloud.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the setup process to a certain degree. It was quite straightforward.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

The status updates and the file components are valuable features. Also, we use the profiles a lot to identify people in the organization, to find new talent and for stuff like that.

How has it helped my organization?

Sometimes, I've been able to put a face to a name through their profile, connect with people who are other people's connections and find information faster.

What needs improvement?

There are already forms in there and I like that. Addition of the workflow and Salesforce integration would be nice. We use Salesforce a lot, i.e., both audio and video content. Similarly, IBM Sametime would also be nice.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable; there is no downtime as far as I've seen.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've got many thousands of users on it, so it's very scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support was very good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were testing on a bunch of solutions. There was one from Microsoft and Oracle. We just found this one to be the most feature-rich and also it fit our organization's needs.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the setup process to an extent. It was quite complex. There's a lot of components of the IBM Connections, i.e., the WebSphere Application Server, the DB2 database environment and other different items. It's not something that you can just click and get through the next stage.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

From a Connections standpoint, the most valuable features are:

  • Social collaboration file sharing.
  • Being able to network within the company.
  • Being able to find subject matter experts within the company.
  • Being able to supplement our social portal, by surfacing Connections content back to our departmental portal pages.
  • Being able to have a one-stop social portal, but also having Connections alerts on that page.

How has it helped my organization?

It has really changed the way people work:

  • File sharing.
  • Getting away from shared drives.
  • Being able to set up communities for information.
  • Being able to empower business units to basically leverage support for their business units, e.g., the HR communities, benefits communities, and those kind of departmental communities; training communities within our organization.

What needs improvement?

I would love for the communities to be more row-based, where you could have more of a community, so that you could set up the email alerts to be mandatory for some of the communities and to be standard for the others; those kinds of functionalities.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've had a few issues, but overall the stability has been pretty good. Probably, my confidence level in the stability is around 75-80% at this point.

We've had some PMRs around some of the docs loading slowly, editing and formatting. We have open PMRs. We're trying to get those closed now.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It has massive scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support level is very good and they've always been very responsive.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

When we got our portal, we figured out that we really needed to supplement it with more of a community type of layout and empower the business units a little bit more. Every department didn't need a department page, but we had so many other smaller departments that needed a way to communicate and collaborate with each other.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the setup process. It was probably moderately complex because of the number of servers that needed to be set up in the test and production environments. It eventually ended up being about 16 servers between the test and production environments; it was complex to keep all of them in sync.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We briefly looked at Microsoft SharePoint but we are heavy IBM customers, so we went down that path.

In general, stability, support and functionality are the most important criteria when selecting a vendor.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

File sharing is the number one feature. Profiles would probably be second, but I think file sharing, by far, is the most important aspect of it. I can have a document, or whatever live file I want; I can have it everywhere. It can follow me everywhere. It's like our private cloud. Then come the profiles; being able to find people.

How has it helped my organization?

The main benefit is ease of use. It is very easy to use.

What needs improvement?

I'd like to see them take nested files out. I know they advertise that. I think that's bad.

I think they've implemented most of what I've been asking for.

Actually, they could implement Watson in a way that it would determine what I want to see, content-wise, and remove the need to follow people, and thereby take away that "fire hose" of information. In today's model, connections content is like a fire hose. As you follow and network with people, you see all of their activity. Eventually in a large company/large network, important activity can be lost in that stream of "following". I would like to see Watson implemented in such a way that I no longer have to create a network and select people to follow. Watson could interpret the data available and present to me what is most important and needs to be seen by me.

And their testing, when they release new packs, is not where it should be. Their technical support suffers because of it.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable and reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is highly and easily scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is average; 2.5/5. They have a tendency to ignore all of the information you give them on the first call, or the case opening. They ask for the information again, in separate replies and calls, and it would just be nice to streamline that process. They make what should take a day take a week.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We didn't have anything previously. We consulted with our user base, and they asked for it. It was a long, drawn-out evaluation, and that's what we ended up with.

How was the initial setup?

Setup is complex. It's loosely documented. We've actually had to bring in IBM resources every time, because the wiki is not all-inclusive on information. That definitely makes it more complex.

It's also not a seamless application. It's dozens of applications rolled into one, and each one is configured differently. That makes it more complex than it has to be.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Microsoft and Google.

Reliability is the most important criteria when selecting a vendor. We've had past experience with IBM for a long time, so we knew that they were a reliable vendor.

What other advice do I have?

Engage the IBM Professional Services team.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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…

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 that a vendor is reliable.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

Connections is a social business platform whose key value is the richness of the environment, all accessed in one place, including:

  • Email
  • Files
  • Communities
  • Forums
  • Instant messaging
  • Activity Stream
  • Blogs
  • Bookmarks
  • To-dos and activities
  • Built-in documents
  • Spreadsheet and presentation editors

This is where I go, first thing, to do my work. Everything is now in the cloud thanks to Connections.

Some of the most valuable features of the platform are:

  • Communities, where we can create online communities for collaboration. This feature enables us to share expertise quickly and easily, and to generate feedback and comments.
  • The new Verse email functionality, which is part of the platform, finally gives me a modern email application with a good UI.
  • I value the ability to store and share files in the cloud with folder management and tagging. This makes information easier to share and find; together with a generous allowance of 50GB of personal file storage and then an additional 50GB per community (so, effectively I have unlimited space).

How has it helped my organization?

The directors of the company no longer use email for communication with each other. Instead, we use the Activity Stream and @mentions to collaborate and interact (plus old-school phone calls and face-to-face meetings).

What needs improvement?

I would recommend the following areas for improvement:

  • The UI can always be improved. The UI for Verse is fine but some of the rest of Connections still looks a bit dated.
  • Admin functions need to be enhanced so that community managers have more information about which communities are active/inactive. The community metrics released this year have helped but there is more work needed.
  • There needs to be inter-operability between users on the IBM Connections North American Cloud and the IBM Connections European Cloud.
  • The Activity Stream needs to be enhanced to allow the user to customise what is included.
  • "Push on" and "Deliver", the much-heralded cognitive capabilities of Verse, have been talked about by IBM but so far only seen as demoware.

Generally, I believe IBM are addressing all of these issues but progress seems very slow.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used this solution for over five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We did not encounter any stability issues. The platform has been very stable and reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability has not been an issue.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is through IBM's standard technical support mechanism. The process can be cumbersome at times, but there are ways to escalate and community support is also valuable and helpful.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We have not used another solution.

How was the initial setup?

Setup is very easy. Take out a subscription, click the link on the activation email and you are more or less good to go.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

There are basically two subscriptions; one with email included and one without. Subscription is for a minimum of 12 months. There are some add-ons like archiving and audio meetings which you can also take out. I would strongly advise prospective customers to work with an IBM Business Partner who can help explain the licensing and pricing. Special bid pricing is always available for large customers.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We tried both Yammer and SharePoint. We liked Yammer but didn't like SharePoint. Nevertheless, neither had the breadth and depth of functionality of Connections.

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

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We're IBM Business Partners.
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 is most valuable?

  • Activity: Because this app offers a lot of possibilities. Our users use this a lot for meetings and do their work in it (Getting Things Done principle and other methods for doing your work such as lean management/agile stuff).
  • Communities: To work together with good collaboration. It offers lots of possibilities to collaborate.
  • Activity Stream: See what has happened in our network in a short overview, without having to open up all of the tools you are using in collaboration. You don't need mail notifications anymore!
  • Wiki: This is a very useful tool for information and means having fewer documents. We use wikis a lot for our intranet (WebSphere portal) and in the communities to inform people about themes and work.
  • File sharing: There is no need to mail documents, but rather we can share them in Connections. The possibility to share individual documents with anyone you choose is a great feature in comparison with home and shared drives.
  • Forum: For all questions and discussions is great.

Having all features and tools together in one environment is great and gives the users a lot of possibilities to work in the way that want to. We see a great variety of use with these tools.

How has it helped my organization?

We collaborate in a different, more effective way, with less mail and less physical meeting time. It supports the new way of working a lot. This solution makes it possible to work in a different way. In other words, working in a more social way with more collaboration.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see a better UI and more user-friendly user interfaces. I would like to see them make the tool easier and more intuitive.

We hear complaints from our users that Connections, and other IBM products, are not intuitive.

The users find it difficult to find content. The menu and action buttons are not that simple. It is not easy to understand how to use the solution and what action to take.

Not all the apps work the same way with the same buttons for the same actions. An example is the tag cloud. It is not active or looks the same in each location. Sometimes there is a tag cloud in one app, but it isn't there in another app.

It does not have a very visual look and feel. There is a lot of text and many types of menus and menu columns. The locations can be one at the top, one on the left, one on the right, and each one might have a different look and feel.

Every app has its own way of working and makes it hard to understand why it all works in a different way.

It's hard to explain for me, because I've been using it for many years now. It is very familiar to me now and I'm fully used to it. But first-time users experience lots of confusion about what to use for which purpose, and how to use it.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There were a few stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There were scalability issues. Maximum volume of activity creates a lot of problems. We need more storage.

How is customer service and technical support?

I did not have contact with support. Our administrators worked with them. We have had different issues and lots of trouble with technical support in the past.

How was the initial setup?

It took us a lot time to upgrade to new versions. A whole new installation is needed to upgrade. That is a big problem.

It takes a lot of money and time, and that is a great loss. Companies are not willing to do upgrades frequently and are often a year or two behind the new versions. Because of this, they are missing a lot of new features.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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.

What is most valuable?

The Files feature gives us the ability to store, share and collaborate on documents. This is, by far, the most used feature.

How has it helped my organization?

Helpdesk functionality is now using Forums, so people can ask and answer questions and address issues whenever they wish. Questions can be flagged as such and the correct answer identified.

The Files feature has really changed the way we do business. Instead of attaching documents to email, we send links and collaborate in the tool. This reduces the amount of email each day.

What needs improvement?

I have found the wiki to be lacking in functionality. We don’t use that piece, so we have another vendor for wiki.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for seven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not encountered any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not encountered any scalability issues.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been very good.

How was the initial setup?

I did not perform the setup.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I did not work on licensing or pricing.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

The integration of all tools delivered by the platform itself is the most valuable feature of this product, in addition to its ability to integrate with already available default infrastructure tools within the company (like central directories (LDAP’s), load balancer infra or HTTP infra, which is already in place).

How has it helped my organization?

Projects we run within the company are more structured thanks to IBM Connections, our employees have really started to work more openly and projects run within the company are more transparent.

What needs improvement?

The administration part of the product could be increased. There are, for instance, lots of statistics available for the platform, but you really have to harvest them, as they are available on so many different parts of the product.

It lacks centralized product administration; you have to access different parts of the product. For some administration tasks, you need to be in the web interface of the product; for other administration tasks, you have to be on the command line of the operating system where the product is running, and so on.

Also, the different tools you have to use for day-to-day operations sometimes makes it hard to keep up with the work that needs to be done to keep the product running on a day-to-day basis.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it since the start of the product (January 2007).

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is quite high. We have had some crash issues in the past, but IBM Support did a tremendous job for us at the time to find the issues which caused the platform to crash.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability within the product is one of the big plusses, because the underlying infra where the applications are running on is IBM WebSphere. It is one of the best application platforms, which can scale easily in a horizontal and vertical way.

How are customer service and technical support?

As indicated elsewhere. We haven’t had much interaction with IBM Support, but the times we had to, they really did a tremendous job finding the issues in our environment.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We have used SharePoint in the past, but this product (IBM Connections) is much more a total solution out of the box than SharePoint can deliver, so we migrated all our content from SharePoint to IBM Connections.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was quite easy after we had defined the basic parameters the environment had to fulfill.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Regarding pricing, the product is far from the cheapest in the market, but I would advise to never pay the list price. There is a lot of negotiation room from the IBM side. So use that and defend your own position hard!

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We used the Gartner “Enterprise Social Platforms” reports to identify the leaders in this market. We used these “leaders” as a list to compare features that were important to use. And so we decided that IBM Connections would fulfill most of our needed functions. At the time we had to make our decision, these were the products in the leader quadrant:

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.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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 is most valuable?

I think that the main tools, after file management, are Activities, Community and online documentation management with IBM DOC (embedded in the system). There are many other services such as Blog, Wiki, Forum, Survey, Chat and Conference, Audio/Video, Profiles. Those services are also important, but they are not immediately implemented because other applications or services provide that functionality.

Our customers believe that Activities, Community and IBM DOC are the features that provide particular value.


How has it helped my organization?

All files managed by my team are generated directly in Connections, initially as personal files but shared with each other. Ultimately, files are moved into the community for reference and so shared with all members of the team.

All technical documentation is written in the wiki, which is now the central point of reference about everything necessary to work, both on the project and knowledge sharing.

What needs improvement?

The improvement's are could be more flexibility to manage files and to have a sync file area more intuitive and which respects the characteristics of other similar solutions. That feature should be also only for personal files.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used IBM Connections on premise since its birth. I have used IBM Connections Cloud for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

All versions are developed on WebSphere Application Server. When we have a well-done installation and configuration, I can confirm that it is very stable and scalable for large environments.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have absolutely not encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

IBM support consists of several levels and we can also engage them by calling technical people directly. In some cases, IBM directly develops a fix for the system; later, this fix might become part of a future update.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Basically, I worked with IBM and the IBM Lotus product for many decades, but I also know Microsoft products, such as SharePoint, etc. I also know many new collaboration tools, but I can assert that the level of integration among the IBM products is unmatched nowadays. They are at a level that other products don't have, even if some products seem to be easier to use or more beautiful to see.

How was the initial setup?

Regarding initial setup, I distinguish between the on-premise and cloud editions:

- Cloud: Everything is active immediately and you can focus directly on the product and its features.
- On premise: There is a lot of work to install and configure the environment and it depends upon which installations you need. Initial setup might be simple or complex (for example in a cluster environment, high availability, large distribution and so on).

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The licensing for the two editions is more or less the same, although I think IBM solutions are cheap for the value they provide. However, the market does not seem to acknowledge this point.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

As I’ve written, in the enterprise world, the competition for this product comes from Microsoft and its solutions. I do not think that integration with all services is optimal for Microsoft today. So, I chose IBM Connections and the IBM collaboration tool turned things around.

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.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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 is most valuable?

IBM Connections is born for collaboration and one of the easiest steps is starting a community with a set of great collaborative, built-in applications and starting to collaborate over a project. When a user starts a community, activity, blogs, files, and wikis will be instantly available for the team community with their intuitive GUI. Users can use the platform from browsers, mobile, or a desktop plugin within a minute!

How has it helped my organization?

It increases productivity. One example is using files inside Connections. You don’t have to manually go looking for a file in a folder somewhere. You can search for it with the internal search engine or you can search inside the relevant community.

Connections has a feature named Docs that enables online co-editing of Office documents.

What needs improvement?

The perfect software doesn't exist, but I think Connections is really a good piece of software with few things lacking. Probably they should also build a Windows Phone client app.

Also, IBM could develop an easy way to install the Connections platform. Currently, many steps are required and involving a skilled IBM Business Partner is mandatory for successful setup.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Connections for four years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

I have not encountered any deployment, stability or scalability issues.

Pre-installation steps should also include a plan for deployment to size the correct environment.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Nope IBM Connections is running over WebSphere application server so it is usually up and running

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Nope, Connections runs over IBM WebSphere Application server so you have only your fantasy as limit, you can cluster Connections in many differents ways

How are customer service and technical support?

IBM technical support is great.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I did not previously use a different solution.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup is usually quite complex, but Connections is a set-and-forget environment.

What about the implementation team?

An in-house team implemented it, because we are an IBM Business Partner.

What was our ROI?

I think anyone can find ROI using Connections, but they have to drive users during the initial stages.

What other advice do I have?

Find an IBM Business Partner with experience and start to plan your environment.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

All social interaction between users is really great. Plus, I also like the Community feature and that everything is accessible via mobile devices.

What needs improvement?

This product should have a way to mark Communities as favorites for quick access.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used this product for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I did not encounter any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I did not encounter any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support level is good, both from the community and from IBM.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Previously, we have not used any other solutions.

How was the initial setup?

The installation process is a bit complex. However, IBM's documentation is good and there are step-by-step installations guides that you can use.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have not evaluated any other options, prior to this one.

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.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are business partners of IBM.
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 is most valuable?

Some of the valuable features in this product are:

  • Profiles – It is easy to find people with similar tech skills and reach out to them internally for a project requirement. Project managers find it easy to know who in the organization possesses a skill that matches the requirement.
  • Community - Access to projects and their data remains within the group and all other Connections' functionalities are included internally as a feature, which is great.

How has it helped my organization?

Initially, only our technical team used this product for mainly two purposes - One as file sharing and the other was Communities. However, now our HR team has also started using it, to know more about the employees and their skill levels.

What needs improvement?

Development of more customized widgets as per the organization’s requirement is one area, which if improved, will attract even those employees who don't use this product often.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used this product for more than four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not encountered any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would give the technical support a 4/5 rating.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Previously, we also had another wiki solution to manage project documentation for sharing with other teammates. But, we found wikis in IBM Connections can be used in the same way and hence we decided to move out.

How was the initial setup?

As the version of the product moves up, the complexity of setup also increases, with many other features getting added.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This is not something that I manage.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate other options prior to his product.

What other advice do I have?

The infrastructure team needs a skilled, technical person who is familiar with this product.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

  • Wikis and Files: Work well for process documentation and reference material.
  • Blogs: Used for department announcements.
  • Bookmarks: Used on communities and on the staff’s “my page” to access frequently used links.

How has it helped my organization?

Connections has assisted our business area with our Knowledge Management
initiative. It provides us with a tool that the staff can use to quickly find the information needed to process their day-to-day tasks and assist our customers. It has also been valuable as a collaboration tool within our area and encourages our reps to participate within the community to ask questions and share their expertise.

What needs improvement?

For our Knowledge Management initiative, it would benefit to have capabilities within the tool to have one single source of information that allows access to the information needed based on the user’s role within the organization. We have seen other KM products that offer this feature.

The editors that are supported by the product each offer features that would be useful, but there isn’t one editor that offers all of the desired features.

For how long have I used the solution?

We originally implemented 3.0 in 2011 but most recently upgraded to 5.5 on 10/3/16.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I did not encounter any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I did not encounter any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

IBM scheduled weekly - sometimes bi-weekly - meetings to review the status with open PMRs. They also provided on-site support during the final migration before our “go-live” date.

The support provided through PMRs was helpful, though there were some issues with incomplete, confusing, and incorrect information within the installation documentation.

Also, the support provided was based on the level of the PMR. The level 3 PMRs were handled at a more detailed level, while the level 2 PMRs often required us to provide basic background information and other details that had previously been provided through working other PMRs. These PMRs were more lengthy and repetitive, and required additional fiddler trace reports.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were looking for a KM platform that was easier to use and included social collaboration.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was more complex, as it was not an initial setup but rather an upgrade, which required migration from MSSQL to DB2.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

For pricing, look to see if it is site licensed, or by unit. A unit can be users, core, etc. Are there costs to run this as a cold site, in the event of a D/R situation? Are there volume discounts involved? Look at competing products that do similar functions and compare pricing. Look to see if you have corporate discounts.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, we also evaluated Yammer and SharePoint.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

  • File versioning
  • Variety of content and file types that a user can share (images, gif, documents, embedded videos, and so on)
  • Valuable search to find archived documents

How has it helped my organization?

The platform allows in a very easy way to create community and start collaborating. This value has been easily recognized by the users, above all for managing cross-department projects.

Some departments had a latent need of communication inside the company and they are now starting organizing autonomously, managing their own communities, spreading news and launching surveys. Nevertheless, this result was made possible only with a custom application, able to notify specific users punctually. This particular behaviour that is not provided by the platform, being a social platform, is however a basic need for every company, that has the task to inform its employees and be certain about their reception of the most important messages.

The management of technical projects was facilitated by the creation of communities in which the internal customer of the project and technical teams were able to work on the same project together, although not part of the same hierarchical department.

What needs improvement?

The platform is too dispersive and rigid. It should improve in usability and user interface customization by the user (personalized menu, communities to keep close at hand, always available files, and so on).

There are too many applications that might be replaceable with each other. Excessive opportunities of choice make adoption difficult. You find it difficult to choose the best ways to make sharing actions. For example:

  • Sharing of a file: From my personal files and then sharing it to specific communities or directly inside a community?
  • Communication inside a community: Should I use the status updates of the community or blog or forum?

Having tools that are able to manage slightly different shades of communication purposes is not always an advantage. A common user often feels disoriented and induced to use simpler tools.

Moreover, the status updates section in a community remains completely hidden. By contrast, if we want to read the recent status updates, we can no longer see other applications available only in the general view. We are used to a unique landing page in every collaborative group, in which we can see immediately recent conversations (LinkedIn and Facebook groups are both structured in this way).

These problems can be overcome by governing the initial stage of installation and choosing in advance which applications to release and when.

For how long have I used the solution?

My company has been adopting Connections since January 2013.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Episodes of instability are not uncommon. For this reason, talking about on-premise installations, it is essential to have a good technical partner, if it is not possible to acquire internally the specific technical competence.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We had issues with scalability, including the need to increase the maximum weight of the files and the limit of the size of the community, but they were quickly handled.

How are customer service and technical support?

We are not completely satisfied with the technical support. The platform often presents product weaknesses and bugs. In the first case, the issues are managed superficially, defined as "product characteristics". In the second case, it is almost impossible to solve problems quickly. We are now directly facing this problem with a specific bug that remains unresolved.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had tested Yammer before introducing seriously an enterprise social collaboration platform. We preferred IBM Connections because we saw in it the greatest potential in managing different types of communications to pursue different purposes over time.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was almost straightforward; handled directly from IBM.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I would recommend that everyone adopt the cloud version. There is too much constant maintenance to be performed on the on-premise version that does not allow focusing on adoption strategies.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, we also evaluated Yammer, Jive, Social Chatter, and Tibco.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user478554
Executive Architect at a tech company with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
Communities help us manage teams and cross-team projects.

Valuable Features:

The most valuable feature is communities. You are able to manage your team / organization and also cross-team projects. It is very easy to use and provides a central place for your team.

Improvements to My Organization:

Especially in a distributed organisation like us, it helps to enhance collaboration and gain faster business results. It connects experts from different areas. It also helps to find the right people for a project faster and more efficiently.

Organizational improvements like easier collaboration and Meeting culture are immediately available. But it has also a strong mobile component which is very important for us. It provides for example local sync of documents on iPad etc.

Room for Improvement:

The different Features (Blog, Wiki, Forum, ...) do not behave equally e.g. how they handle files or links. This should be improved by IBM. Also the mobile Interface (app) is good but not state-of-the-art. Workflow Features can be implemented using IBM's Forms Experience Builder but this is an additional product with additional costs. Could be improved as well. The web editor has been improved but there is always room for more Features and Functions.

Use of Solution:

6 years

Deployment Issues:

No, each upgrade needs to be planned but it is no rip-and-replace product (like others). It also runs on differnt OS platforms and web Browsers.

Stability Issues:

No

Scalability Issues:

No, it is very scalable

Initial Setup:

Like each new product you need to know what you do with it and how to implement it. But it is not too complex.

Implementation Team:

We did the implementation by ourselves

Cost and Licensing Advice:

There a bundles available containing other IBM Solutions. This could be worth looking in. Cloud is also available if required.

Other Advice:

It is much easier to use like MS SharePoint/Yammer or Jive.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are a Business Partner of IBM (and others as well)
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 is most valuable?

  • Business contacts network: You can define a business network like LinkedIn, but limited to your installation. You can also view the organizational chart inside the tool.
  • Communities: One of the best functionality of the product. Complete functionalities.
  • Automatic notifications: Users receive notification of all activities done on Connections. When files created, modified, ..., the platform advise users of some of the contents within the function of the role and the past activities. Users can also decide the way in which notifications are sent (they can filter the type of event and also the timing).

How has it helped my organization?

Marketing has created a community open to all internal employees where it has centralized all marketing content (brochures, presentations, communications).

Compared to the past, now we have a single point of interest where all content is available, and all employees receive a notification when new content is published. In addition, all employees can provide feedback and a personal impression about all shared content.

What needs improvement?

File management: File management is a little poor. For example, you don’t have the ability to create a folder or organize the contents of a folder. Some functionalities are available only if the customer also buys the IBM FileNet platform.

User management: Users are mainly on LDAP. There is no way to create a user “on the fly” and to add it to a community or business network. You must track all users on LDAP before interacting with them and this is very boring, especially if you have to interact with external users.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I had some problems on earlier releases; in 4.5, I’ve only noticed some browser incompatibilities.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is 8/10.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I did not previously use a different solution.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup has been simple.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Pricing is not so “easy to access”; licencing is for a single user.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, I did not evaluate other options.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

The ability to have all business owners own, author, and manage content and communications is very valuable. I can use Connections and eliminate use of other software/tools, and it greatly reduces my need for IT support for simple requests. If talking about specific capabilities that make this possible, the integration of email and Connect is a huge time saver. With that, the ability to manage your community/email membership saves time. I don’t need to go to some IT staff or process to update community/email membership.

I have other business users in Connections, managing their information and communicating to 11,000 employees dispersed across the United States. I might have taken 30 minutes to train them and get them started. And that 30 minutes has allowed them to own their information, communicate it to all, receive input from all, and respond to that input. Because I spend 30 minutes training someone, I’ve gotten three years where I didn’t have to manage that information for them. Or someone else or some process didn’t have to manage that information.

I sell Connections internally by saying I can do 10 minutes of work in Connect and save an hour in email. I haven’t done a study to prove this, but I bet if I did, I’d save an hour of email for only five minutes of work in Connections, not 10. I use Connect as my knowledge base for employees. Specifically, I use the wiki capability in Connections often. I store my knowledge there.

Here are three examples of wiki pages. The first screenshot was a wiki set up by another employee who is the subject matter expert for the topic. She’s got files and videos stored in Connections, and then she delivers all the info via a wiki. The other two example are mine, and they also show the comment/interactive capabilities.

If I get 100 emails throughout the course of a year, I don’t have to take 5-10 minutes to answer 100 emails. I have that answer, already stored in Connections. The search capability in Connect is great and can be very specific. But even if a user can’t find something, the 30-second email to get someone to that info saves me a lot of time, rather than the 5-10 minutes it would take me to write that same email over and over.

Basically, Connections saves me time. Lots of it.

How has it helped my organization?

Prior to our use of IBM Connections, any internal web info had to go through a help desk process. It was time consuming. And the business owner of that info had no control or say of how that info was displayed or organized.

What needs improvement?

I understand this is about IBM making money. But I want all the features/capabilities in the base package. For example, one thing I don’t have is the IBM Connections full-documentation solution (FileNet). If I did, I could get rid of our use of SharePoint. Or at least greatly reduce it.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for three years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

This is not my area of expertise, but from what I see, we have absolutely not encountered any deployment, stability or scalability issues. I work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, specifically one agency of USDA called the Natural Resources Conservation Service. There are 15-20 other agencies using this product. The ability for USDA to use this as a whole and communicate between agencies has been good, along with the ability for each agency to use it to communicate within its own agency.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is excellent. I’m sure this isn’t the norm, but because I am assuming that USDA is a large customer, we get a business and IT customer rep that checks with us on a regular basis.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Our use of IBM Connections is a case of, it’s better to be lucky than good. I do not believe we did any requirement-gathering from the business end or evaluation of other IT products.

What about the implementation team?

This is not my area of expertise, but we have an in-house team that did the implementation. Technically, I believe some of that in-house team are contractors, and some are employees.

What was our ROI?

I am not involved with the ROI aspect either, although I have some awareness of it. My only advice is to negotiate hard for what you want. Know all the capabilities of the product, and sacrifice what you don’t need for what you do. For example, Connections comes with a chat service. We have that and I assume pay for it. But we really don’t need it, as we have Skype. What I really could use is the more comprehensive docs capabilities.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

The most important feature of IBM Connections is that it is a Social Collaboration suite covering nearly all aspects of modern enterprise communication and collaboration. As a comprehensive set of Enterprise 2.0 tools, Connections can serve many purposes in an enterprise and so be useful for many people inside. It is therefore superior to any single-purpose tools that sometimes might be better in specific functions, but are only useful for a small group. The reduction of information silos is one of the most important challenges enterprises are facing today and it can only succeed if everybody in the enterprise is using the same platform for open communication and collaboration.

How has it helped my organization?

The whole organization benefits from one of the most important key features of Connections: It provides context to everything either by organizing related information, data and files in communities or by simply adding tags to persons and all kinds of data. Context also means that conversations and discussions happen exactly where they belong and not somewhere else (e-mail, phone, ...).

What needs improvement?

The wiki is the weakest part of Connections, compared to standalone wiki solutions. It does not offer customizable templates for pages, a feature users often ask for. I would love to see improvements in this area.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it since 2007.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

I have not really encountered any deployment, stability or scalability issues. Stability and scalability are excellent due to the underlying platform, IBM WebSphere. Deployment on premises takes between 3-5 days and requires good, skilled and experienced technicians. Deployment in the IBM cloud is easy. Major upgrades on premises are sometimes challenging and should only be done by experienced technicians.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is good, but could be better, as always.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Previously, we mainly used email, which for collaboration purposes has a lot of disadvantages: It has no structure (personal email folders are not a collaboration tool), it is highly redundant, you neither know the status or the context of a message and finally, it is another silo. Sharing is way more efficient than distributing.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup is complex because you have to deal with installation and integration of several systems: WebSphere Application Server, HTTP server, relational database, LDAP, Tivoli Directory Integrator for syncing user data between LDAP and Connections, IBM Cognos for BI, e-mail integration.

What about the implementation team?

We provide implementation of Connections as a service and did it ourselves.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Some IBM business partners offer very attractive prices if you combine Connections licenses with one of their add-on solutions.

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.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: My company is an IBM Business Partner.
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 is most valuable?

We use the wikis extensively, along with activities for managing projects and sharing information globally.

How has it helped my organization?

Our productivity has increased by using IBM Connections. For example, an engineer in Asia used to feel disconnected and missed opportunities to contribute. By using IBM Connections, he was able to have visibility into challenges other engineers had in the US. Our US-based engineer was very pleased when he arrived to the office in the morning and saw some options presented by the engineer in Asia.

What needs improvement?

Our users would like to see more document management capabilities in the base IBM Connections package (without having to install extended components). Users also prefer using a traditional folder structure for organizing content and are not used to tags (might be a learning curve or resistance to change).

Our users are having difficulty grasping the concept of tags and tag clouds. They are used to placing items into folders for organization. I have attempted to explain how tags can provide the same functionality for locating content. I also showed how tags can be associated to one or more tags, which is not possible in a folder structure. I think it was resistance to change more than the inability in understanding tagging.

Without purchasing the additional add-on for document management, Connections offers the ability to make new versions, lock a file,etc. Users would also like to be able to do a check-in, check-out, and co-edit with revision control.0

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not encountered any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is excellent from both our vendor, The Rock Team, and from IBM support. The technical staff at IBM are very knowledgeable and addressed all support calls efficiently and expeditiously. There is always great communication and details provided for all support solutions.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Our prior tool was the SAP NetWeaver Portal. The interface for IBM Connections is much better and is better suited to support organic growth of content in an easier-to-navigate, user-friendly interface. IBM Connections provides better search capabilities for locating content.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was not complex. We did have a bit of a challenge that was overcome in setting up SSO using our Microsoft Windows Active Directory.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also considered Microsoft SharePoint. After further investigation, we realized that IBM Connections and SharePoint are very different. The social capabilities that promote organic growth among users was the strength that IBM Connections had over SharePoint. We wanted more than SharePoint’s strength with document management and deficiency in social capabilities.

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.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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 is most valuable?

Ability to quickly setup a organisation in connections cloud and get them working on the full set of collaboration features - from Communities, advanced file sharing, Blogs, wikis, activity streams and good old e-mail (now via the great new way to work - IBM Verse!).

Training, education and the development of use cases is a key factor in the adoption of any Social business Solution. With IBM connections cloud you are able to get the users active in the solution from day one and start developing Social Solutions that deliver real business outcomes!

How has it helped my organization?

Lots!!

Directory of expertise, using communities to connect internal with external parties, merger and acquisition work and most of all - find out things in the company that you did not know where happening!

What needs improvement?

Communities, File sharing andkeeping up to date via the Connections activity stream.

For how long have I used the solution?

IBM Connections Cloud - 2 years +

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

As it is cloud based and easy to onboard user, no real issues encountered!

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

None

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

None

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Very good!

Technical Support:

Excellent

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have used both Jive and MS Sharepoint in the past - I find Connections a lot more intuitive and easy to get people using the solution!

How was the initial setup?

No real issues encountered

What about the implementation team?

mix of both in house and external consutants (with myself as the main co-ordinator).

What was our ROI?

To get people who have not used any Social technology using the environment on a daily bases.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

YEs, Connections On Premise. Due to the IT strategy of Cloud first, we decided to go with IBM Connections Cloud.

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

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: IBM Business partner BUT a user of IBM Connections since it was launched in 2007!
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…

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 is unique per organisation.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No, but some minor browser related issues especially with Microsoft IE.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service: Business Partners like ourselves often run with this task. Logging of PMR's can be a lengthy bothersome processTechnical Support: Hard to say, don't often deal with technical support as mentioned, we're a Business Partner and often provide this service.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Email, improved efficiency

How was the initial setup?

Complex, leave it to the experts

What about the implementation team?

We're a BP so in-house
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Business Partner
ITCS user
Software Consultant at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Consultant
Full integrated social software with all I need to do my daily work

What is most valuable?

Wikis and Blogs in combination with Activities, I like to work at home, in my office and mobile without thinking about it. I can access the solution through my tablet, iPhone, BB and Browsers.

How has it helped my organization?

We save a lot of mails to big groups. When we want to discuss new ideas or documents, we share them and discuss them online. No one must merge multiple mail attachments after days of changes into a final one. Files and versioning saves us time and bandwidth on the mail servers.

For how long have I used the solution?

4.5 years

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Connections is based on long developed software (WebSphere, DB2, TDI) and need some hardware resources, but when you know the basics of this software it works very stable.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

High scalable up to multiple hundreds of thousands of users. My biggest deployment handles about 80,000 users.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used lots of products like wordpress to blog, docuwiki as wiki, bugtracker, todo apps and so on, but Connections delivers all of it integrated in one solution.

How was the initial setup?

Complex, you have to install all prerequisites like WebSphere, DB2, TDI, HTTP Server.
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We're IBM Business Partners
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.…

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. Errors like this happen regardless if your DB2 databases for Connections are in the IASP or in *SYSBAS. IBM support tells me if you don't have an IASP defined then the databaseName parameter is ignored and you won't run into this problem. In case you don't have an IASP defined and still get these errors it can't hurt to give the below solution a try. I may prove it out on a test partition later.

The solution is to blank out the databaseName custom property for each JDBC data source. Once I did this and restarted the applications I was then able to access the Connections applications that interact with DB2.


My first impressions of Connections on IBM i? It rocks!

I saved a lot of time on the installation because I already had WebSphere Application Server 8, Installation Manager and of course the integrated DB2 for i up and running already. Most of my time was spent was on configuration after the fact. Much thanks to Stuart McIntyre, Sharon Bellamy and Gab Davis for a few pointers when I was scratching my head a little.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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