IBM’s annual portal conference was organized this year in Berlin under the title IBM Exceptional Web Experience 2011. The event, once again, succeeded in setting, both the pace, and the direction for developing the web experience. We came home with very little energy, but fully loaded with new information and ideas. So we took a while to catch our breath before revisiting the conference presentation materials.
Gradually the new knowledge began to take form, like a map of the Berlin U-Bahn network, with the main message of the conference as the centre point – Exceptional Web Experience. Participants were reminded, that the most popular sites presently on the Internet, such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, are strongly based on sharing knowledge and human interaction. These sites are among the various tools on the web for fostering a sense of community, sharing content, and conversation. They didn’t even exist five years ago, and yet it is precisely these types of sites that have changed people’s conception of web services. The uses of these services are fascinating, and they can be accessed with the most amazing devices. These services have revolutionized private lives: why couldn’t they also be useful at the workplace?
The Northstar shows the way
All of IBM’s web experience development is guided by the vision, which was named Project Northstar. The main points of Project Northstar are:
- Context is the key. The best web experiences make people feel like the service has been tailor-made just for them, by taking into consideration their preferences, device, location, social networks, and behaviour.
- Social is everywhere and everything is social. 88% of the respondents to IBM’s CEO Study 2010 felt that the organization’s most important goal was to get closer to its customers, to talk with them and to listen to their ideas and needs. This applies to both external and internal customers.
- Web experiences can be both visually pleasant and flexible. A service does not have to sacrifice scalability, fault tolerance, or flexibility to have impressive graphics and characteristics.
- Integration must be easy. For a service to be interactive, to know its users, and to be able to make the user’s life a little bit easier, it must be able to make use of existing data sources such as ERP, CRM, and social media services.
- Proper measurement helps achieve a competitive advantage. Analytics is a way to understand if your service is meeting the business requirements set for it. Analytics also gives you more information about your users and helps you provide them with better services.
Now the direction is clear, but what about the speed?
How will this vision be transformed into flesh and bone? The answer: It’s already been done! IBM has developed and bought a whole range of different web technologies to support its strategy. The following diagram shows the capabilities with which IBM – and Descom as an IBM partner – are building web services aligned with the vision:
All in all, the conference revealed IBM’s pace in developing the web experience, and it was incredible. We received such a landslide of new information, that the conference presentation materials have been subject to a major research operation ever since we left Berlin and landed back on Finnish soil. Tug at my sleeve, and I’ll come and share news from the conference with your organization. And next year you should definitely join the other Finns on the expedition to find exceptional web experiences!
Oh, I almost forgot to ask: Should social tools be based on community, content-sharing, or discussion? None of these. They should be based on people. People form communities; people share content; and people discuss. People are the key. Go Connections!