No Laptop Onboard. Now What?

Almost a decade ago I wrote about my mobile office using an iPAQ 212 and foldable Bluetooth keyboard. With new requirements out of the US (and now the UK) around no laptops on board under specific conditions, if you still need to get work done while enroute or once you’ve landed, the modern equivalent of the above is still one of your options.

A couple of things that I’d pursue if the new “no laptop in cabin” ruling applies to you:

1. Foldable Keyboard. Since the devices allowed onboard can be “no larger than a mobile phone,” I’d be looking for a foldable Bluetooth keyboard that works with your devices. Microsoft sells the Universal Foldable Keyboard that supports multiple types of devices, and there are other alternatives too. You’ll have to ensure it’s foldable though, otherwise it will be bigger than a mobile phone. And then you’ll just have to ensure you have access to any files, documents and communications you need while disconnected from the network, but there are ways of doing that.

2. Get a Larger Mobile Phone. Get the largest mobile phone you are allowed, in order to maximum screen space. Something like the Apple iPhone 6/7 Plus, the Nokia 950XL (with Windows Continuum for docking to a larger screen and keyboard), or the largest non-exploding Samsung device you can find. I would previously have said the Galaxy Note, but anything with a 5.0″ or larger screen will suffice.

3. Google Chromebook. If your organisation is using Google G Suite, perhaps the answer is to travel without a laptop at all, and basically embrace the “disposable device” idea of the Chromebook. Have all of your data in Google’s cloud, and when you arrive in the United States, buy a Chromebook, login (and two-factor authentication is always a good idea), and get back to work. It doesn’t help with productivity in the air, but it does eliminate the risk of device loss or theft if it’s in your checked in luggage. You can take it back out of the US when you leave too.

4. Cheap Windows Laptop. If your organisation is using Office 365, and most of your data is there, take the same approach with a cheap Windows laptop on arriving States-side.

5. Cheap Apple Laptop. Ah sorry, that doesn’t exist. Would one of the new “cheap” iPad 9.7’s work?

6. Hardened Case. If you do want to carry your laptop in your checked-in luggage, now’s the time to protect it from as much physical damage as possible. If you have a Surface Pro 4, try the UAG composite case (UAG also has a range of similar options for Apple devices). Or if you don’t want a hard shell cover for the laptop itself, pack your laptop first into an SKB iSeries or Pelican Protector or Storm case.


Logitech Spotlight

As a frequent presenter of workshops and other meetings involving slides, the Logitech Professional Presenter R700 has been my traveling companion on many, many trips. It is one of the “must have” devices in my travel bag, almost regardless of whether I’m scheduled to give a presentation or not. I’m on my third at this time, the second breaking during a trip to Europe in 2013.

But I have wondered what Logitech would do next with its wireless presenter range, and have visited the Logitech site multiple times over the past couple of years to see what “next” looked like.

Well, “next” is here with the Logitech Spotlight. It takes a new approach to a wireless presenter, de-emphasising the static red or green laser dot, and replacing it with a spotlight option that “highlights areas of focus or magnifies them in pixel-perfect detail.” This and other functions are controlled through the companion app.

Chaim writing on The Verge calls Spotlight an “expensive solution to a super boring problem,” but does note the following about the device:

Logitech’s new Spotlight presentation remote is an attempt to remedy this by bringing presentations to the present day with a new, modern design. It’s an elegant-looking device, made of machined aluminum and a dramatically simplified interface. Spotlight cuts down on buttons to make it easier to use without looking at the remote, offering only a single oversized forward button, a back button placed below it, and a media button on top. And it’s compatible with most major presentation software, including PowerPoint, Google Slides, Keynote, and Prezi.

I look forward to trying one out.

Weaponised Devices

On just about every flight I’ve taken recently, a voice from the front of the plane has read a statement to the effect of:

The United States Federal Aviation Authority has limited the carriage of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 device. If you have one of these in the cabin, or in your checked in baggage, you must advise us immediately as you are prohibited from carrying a Galaxy Note 7 onboard.

For example, here’s the official statement from Air New Zealand.

This wasn’t some marketing ploy by Apple to eliminate a device from a competitor that was setting the market on fire, but more ominously a device that was setting itself and its owners on fire. Having that happen in an airplane is a very bad idea.

In light of the above, I fail to see how adding a heat-based physical self-destruct mechanism to gadgets makes any logical or moral sense. With widespread adoption of such technology, everybody would be carrying weaponised devices that could be activated in the case of theft (the positioned use case), but also run the risk of compromise (time-based malware, GPS-based activation, etc.). Every gadget-toting flyer would now be a potential terrorist.

It’s worth reading the comments on the article too (e.g., how do you deal with your toddler taking your phone outside and now having first degree burns covering their body?).

We should indeed protect our devices – encrypted drives, strong passwords, remote wipe and brick capabilities, two-factor authentication, biometric logins – but not weaponise them.

The “Other” Consideration of Collaboration Tools; Welcome to the New World of GDPR

Collaboration tools provide amazing capabilities for helping people work together across time and space, and selecting the right tools for your organisation is important. However, there’s another side to the whole area that I haven’t often written about on this site: compliance. And if you or your organisation does anything with the personal data of European citizens – regardless of where your organisation is located in the world – you need to know about GDPR – the “General Data Protection Regulation” released in May 2016 and due to go into force from late May 2018. Given its wide scope, as the white paper below points out, it would be better to refer to it as the “Global” Data Protection Regulation. Seriously. And it has implications for how your organisation uses collaboration tools too.

Osterman Research recently published a new report on GDPR – exploring what it is, and the types of organisational and technological responses that will be required:

GDPR Compliance and Its Impact on Security and Data Protection Programs
Protecting personal data has been an important issue in the European Union (EU) for more than 20 years, and the recently ratified General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes data protection to an entirely new level. In addition to a new set of legal requirements that necessitate both organizational and technological responses, the GDPR is applicable to almost every organization around the world that collects or processes data on residents domiciled within the EU, including permanent residents, visitors and expatriates.

It’s worth a look … because it is likely to cause a lot of soul searching (data analysis, policy formulation, technology considerations) for organisations across the world. Including yours.

See: The Impact of the GDPR on Your Business

BlueJeans Huddle

BlueJeans Network announced the introduction of BlueJeans Huddle, a new way of setting up meeting rooms for video conferencing:

The BlueJeans Huddle system is a combination of standard hardware and BlueJeans proprietary software that can turn any room into an interactive meeting space for a fraction of the cost of legacy in-room systems. Currently an average of eight to 15 minutes of every video meeting is wasted getting participants connected. BlueJeans Huddle democratises video by freeing employees from difficult to navigate systems and giving them an in-meeting experience they will love.

Group video conferencing usage throughout the enterprise will increase 400 percent by 2019, with huddle rooms showing particular momentum, already doubling in market share since 2015, according to leading research firm Gartner. Yet while huddle rooms and video meetings are in growth mode, businesses have been plagued with adoption hurdles. BlueJeans Huddle eliminates these obstacles, including the hassles of set up, dial in, connection, and meeting management– the issues that equate to a sort of “tax” on the use of live video in the enterprise. BlueJeans Huddle users are automatically recognised and can initiate live video conversations simply by walking into a room, and the video solution delivers the same great user experience powered by the BlueJeans Enterprise Video Cloud™, regardless of whether people are using their desktop, mobile device, or are in a video-enabled room.

Thinking of it as a “tax” to be reduced is an appropriate metaphor.

Read more: BlueJeans Network Eliminates the ‘Video Tax’ with Introduction of BlueJeans Huddle

Surface Studio – the Surface Hub for Professionals?

At its reveal event in New York yesterday, Microsoft introduced the Surface Studio, its first desktop computer under the Surface brand. Basically it’s a very large Surface Pro or Surface Book (with a 28″ high-resolution display), made in such a way to enable “creative professionals” to draw and create … plus do everything else you can do on a desktop with a large display. The Surface Dial adds a new way of interacting with application controls – e.g., when drawing it can control colour and brush width/type.

What I’m wondering about though, is whether the Surface Studio can provide an answer for individuals or small groups (2-3) joining an online meeting where one of the meeting rooms has a Surface Hub – the 55″ or 84″ version. While you can do screen sharing already from a Surface Hub to a Surface Pro or Book, there’s quite a difference in physical screen size between the two ends. And yes, you could connect an external display to the Pro or Book, but the Surface Studio would give quite a large touch-capable display that would make such a meeting a whole lot more natural.

Interesting. I look forward to seeing where this goes, and how the Surface Dial can be utilised in other applications – like Skype for Business and OneNote.

Where were we again? Re-starting that last meeting


I’m sure you’ve been in a meeting where you had to pick up where you left off from last time … and the quick questions are “What were we talking about again?,” “Where did we get to?,” and “What is unresolved?” There might be a mad scramble for photos of the whiteboard from the last session, or a glance in email or a team site for any previous meeting notes.

If you have Surface Hub, Microsoft has a new possibility for you, courtesy of the just released (but not fully rolled out) update to Windows 10 on Surface Hubs:

One of the most loved features of Surface Hub is the ability to send whiteboards to meeting participants via e-mail as image or OneNote file. Now, we’ve added the ability to sign in, to save and recall Whiteboards directly from OneDrive. This helps people pick up right where their last meeting ended with a simple and secure sign-in experience.


Other updates include inking support in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, enhanced multi-touch, and support for third-party peripherals.

Report On Intranet Analytics – Required Reading for Collaboration Teams and Analytics Vendors


At the end of 2011 I published Collaboration Roadmap, and then faced a decision about what to do regarding User Adoption Strategies. That first printing had sold well, and with only 50 copies left to sell, I could just order another print run or alternatively write a second edition. The second edition option won out for a couple of reasons, with adding a new chapter on measuring and evaluating user adoption (Chapter 11) high on the list of reasons. At the time I was concerned that collaboration service owners, collaboration strategists, intranet managers, and other people focused on delivering great tools and content were too focus on the easy numbers that came out of their analytics tools, and weren’t getting to the heart of what measuring adoption was all about.

In light of my research above and the advice I give in the User Adoption Strategies workshop around measurement and analytics, I was pleased to see the new Intranet Analytics report from ClearBox Consulting in the UK. In describing the purpose of the report, Sam Marshall (Director) says:

We want to move the focus away from reporting about platforms and onto reporting about how an intranet is being used from a business perspective: Who is engaged? What content is working well? Are people creating and collaborating or only consuming?

That intent very much aligns with the type of interest I have in the subject too, and I spent some hours yesterday reading the report and then talking with the report’s author (Dorje McKinnon, Vajra).

A couple of things to note about the report:
– it provides an indepth evaluation of seven major players in the market – HarePoint, CardioLog, NGAGE, Piwik, Webtrends, Adobe Analytics, and Google. The first four vendors provided interviews; the last three did not.
– in order to move away from reiterating a list of features or capability areas, the report runs the products through eleven scenarios, including intranet / enterprise social network / email, site-based activity, content and contributions, and collaboration. Using a scenario-based approach for exploring a topic is one I’m very supportive of.
– Dorje and Sam have provided multiple easy-to-scan tables, summaries, and visual dashboards for comparing and contrasting the tools.

For internal collaboration and intranet teams being asked for analytics information, the report presents the state of play – and will give useful insight into which tools would make most sense given the purposes (scenarios) sought. This is required reading for anyone reporting on or commenting on how their collaboration / social business / intranet / digital workspace is performing.

For the included vendors of analytics tools, the report shines a light on the weaknesses of current analytics products, and will be very useful in planning future capability areas in order to address the real-world scenarios examined in the report. For products not included in the report – such as Kudos Analytics, the brand new Panagenda ConnectionsExpert, and Nintex Hawkeye Workflow Analytics, among many others, the report will give an expert and informed view on what’s needed. This is required reading for every product manager of an analytics tool.

After reading the report yesterday I spoke with Dorje (who is also mentioned in my recent book) about the key message that he wanted people to take from the report. He said:

Thinking about what you need from analytics is the critical place to start. Until you know why you need analytics information – the purposes, the decisions to influence – you won’t get maximum value from analytics information, regardless of the tools you use.

Interestingly, Sam writes the same thing on page 3: The real art to digital workplace analytics is knowing which questions to ask – which requires a clear strategy and a set of goals.

So here’s what I think after reading the report:

  • If you have anything to do with analytics on how your collaboration spaces, social network, intranet or digital workplace is performing, you need to get a copy. It’s available for no charge, although registration is required.
  • As a consequence of this report, Sam and Dorje have established themselves as leading experts on the topic. Once reading the report, you should get their advice in a consulting engagement so as to optimise your internal efforts. Sam is in the UK (giving good coverage of the top half of the world), and Dorje in New Zealand (great access for customers in New Zealand, Australia, and Asia). Internal teams would get a lot of value from securing that consulting support – whether as an outside expert to guide and advise for a few hours a month, or securing Sam or Dorje to facilitate an internal workshop on planning an intranet analytics strategy that makes business sense.

Get your copy of the report
Contact Sam Marshall
Contact Dorje McKinnon

Integrating Alfresco with Office Online in Office 365 – Options?


Alfresco is an enterprise content management and business process management vendor. In the early days, Alfresco cut through the noise due to one of the founders being ex-Documentum, one of the players-to-beat in the ECM space at the time. Over the years, the firm has matured its offerings, and of specific interest in this post, has inserted itself into firms as a SharePoint replacement (for some SharePoint functions). The latest version of its integration is called Alfresco Office Services, which:

… provides a fully-compatible SharePoint repository that allows Microsoft Office Suite applications (for example, Word, PowerPoint and Excel) to interact with Alfresco as if it was SharePoint. AOS enables online editing for Office documents within Alfresco Share and allows users to modify Office files without checking them in and out. Alfresco locks the file while it is being modified and releases the lock when the file is saved and closed.

So here’s the question: in the new world of Office 365, how does Alfresco provide an integration with Office Online? If there is no app installed on the client’s computer which can be intercepted for saving into an Alfresco repository … what then?

This video from Microstrat shows a way of doing this:

What’s of specific interest to me in the video is that the document is pushed out from Alfresco to OneDrive for Business. That is, another copy is created in the current user’s OneDrive for Business account. From OneDrive for Business the document can be shared with others, or opened with Office apps or Office Online. When the user has finished editing or co-authoring the document, the person who pushed the document to OneDrive for Business must then check the document back in – bringing the updated copy from OneDrive for Business. So yes, Office Online has been used, but there is now a second and separate copy floating around in OneDrive for Business. That’s a weakness … perhaps fundamentally so.

What other possibilities are there?
– Searching for “office online” on the Alfresco web site returns zilch.
– Searching for “office 365” on the Alfresco web site returns nothing helpful.
– Pratyush at Algoworks says that integrating Office apps and Alfresco can be done (as noted above), but that “integrating Alfresco and Alfresco Cloud with Office 365 is a different game altogether and a topic of another post.” I look forward to reading that post.
– Some Alfresco partners are working to enhance the SharePoint and Alfresco integration options, such as Zia Consulting and SeeUnity. Partners may provide something of an answer.
Technology Services Group says they can deliver an integration between systems like Alfresco and Office 365 in order to support the use of Office Online. They too use OneDrive for sharing the file, but critically also state that “when a document is checked in from Office 365, our integration deletes the document to prevent any confusion.” That’s good.

Unless Alfresco joins the Cloud Storage Partner Program – to enable “cloud storage providers the opportunity to integrate Office Online into their web-based experiences …. [so] users will be able to view and edit PowerPoint, Word, and Excel documents stored in third-party cloud storage,” I don’t know of any current better approaches.


Unleashing Meeting Go on the Enterprise (aka Pokemon Go Enterprise Edition)

Somewhere in a meeting room of a collaboration software vendor around the world, I imagine the following brainstorm is currently taking place:

“Have you heard about this new Pokemon Go game? It’s making people get up and move in the real world.”
“We already provide great tools to enable virtual collaboration across the enterprise. But we’re not getting people to turn up to meetings too well.”
“Yeah, they’re late. They come unprepared.”
“They zone out.”
“Why don’t we take the Go phenomenon and apply it to meeting scheduling.”
“Exactly! It’s about catching your meeting, and you have to be there in time for it to happen.”
“And as each agenda item comes up, there’s something else for you to catch in the room.”
“We could feed this into the gamification analytics engine, showing real-time stats of meeting attendance based on Go! ratings.”
“Indeed. You get points for turning up, staying engaged, catching the stray monsters, and more.”
“And if there is a particularly nasty discussion going on anywhere in the building – we could analyse that by listening in to tone of voice by hacking the microphone on smartphones, we could issue extra monsters to encourage the right people to spontaneously turn up.”
“You mean like an unorganised flash mob, but instead a meeting mob to get the right outcome?”
“And we could use it for town hall meetings too. Have a particular monster that looks like the CEO to catch at that one.”
“Let’s call it Meeting Go.”

Please … let’s not do this.