I mentioned yesterday that I was waiting for final sign-off on the Foreword. Thanks to Jeff Schick of IBM, all that happened earlier today. Here’s the Foreword that Jeff wrote for my new book – Doing Business with IBM Connections. Many thanks Jeff!
Foreword – by Jeff Schick (IBM Corporation)
I joined the Lotus team in 2006 to create the next generation of collaboration product that IBM would bring to market. The thinking at the time was that it was becoming easier and easier to publish and share information on the Internet and that this same phenomenon, if applied to the business enterprise, would really help people do their work. This meant IBM needed to move beyond email and instant messaging. At the time, fledgling social networks on the Internet were so easy to use that even non-technical people could post and share content. Even young people could do this!
We started the project and gave it the code name of Ventura after a beautiful, artistic, beachfront California community. As we mapped out what we would build, it became quickly apparent that IBM had many of these capabilities internally so we could use these to fast track our development. For example, IBM’s BluePages became Profiles, and IBM’s Blog Central became the Blogs service, and so on.
It was our plan to announce this new product at Lotusphere 2007 and deliver mid-year. By late 2006, we really needed to name the product so we hired an outside branding firm to help us with this effort.
The branding company started out by talking to many people on our team and beyond. They asked questions that they felt could help them come to a conclusion on a great brand name.
Is this product hard or soft? Huh?
If this product was an animal what would it be—a lion or a bear? What!
What does this product do? Does it help you?
The branding team went away after they surveyed our team and then came back several weeks later.
They said that they had found, in their view, the perfect name for our product.
Drum roll please.
The perfect product name should be — Scove. For them, Scove embodied everything we had built in Ventura because it represented the intersection of Search and Discovery!
I looked at the branding team and told them that Scove sounded like a very bad skin rash and something that you would need special ointment for. We fired them immediately.
The IBM team kicked into high gear. We were getting close to where we needed to solidify the name so we cast our net far and wide asking people for suggestions. None seemed to resonate.
Mike Rhodin, the GM of Lotus at the time, took some of the development, product management, and marketing people, along with our sales executive and locked us in a room. He told us we were not leaving the room until we had a name. After several hours, John Dunderdale our sales executive said: We talk about this product by describing the way it better connects people with people and people with information. Why don’t we call it Connections? Now can you let me out of this room! This was a eureka moment. We all thought it was a great name and hence Connections was born.
Today Connections represents the #1 social software offering in the market with tens of thousands of customers around the planet. We are in eight of the top 10 banks and retailers. Railroads, cement companies, defense contractors, governments, and many more are using Connections today. There are real customers gaining quantifiable value in every country and every industry.
Michael has written a terrific book that answers the question: How can my company become a Social Business and gain value from deploying Connections? His insights and examples provide the foundation for an enterprise that is embarking on this journey. There is an extraordinary amount of practical information in Michael’s book. No social deployment should be without it.
Enjoy and learn.
Vice President of Social Software
IBM Software Group