IBM Notes: Working with text-formatting is easy

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Handling text in Forward/Reply email-threads can be a challenge. Remote parties using different fonts, signatures and disclaimers can make your e-mails look like a rained Picasso. Fortunately, we have styles that come to help.

How to change your default e-mail text-style

First, create a new e-mail and type some text. Set the font, size and paragraph-spacing using the text-formatting tool-window, accessible by the menu Text > Text Properties (or simply Ctrl-k):

 Note: Open the text-formatting tool-window anytime by pressing Ctrl-k

When your text is formatted correctly, select it and go to menu: Text > Set Current Font as Mail Default.
After this, your new e-mails will use the text-style you just set.

Text formatting IBM Notes
Working with text styles

IBM Notes supports text-styles as much as word processing apps do. Users can change existing and add new text-styles. These text-styles are stored in your Notes client and can be used in all rich-text-fields in IBM Notes. For example in your e-mail, but also in the comments section on a contact-document or in rich-text fields in your business apps.
Applying a text-style to some selected text is done via menu: Text > Apply Style > style-name (or: Alt – t – y – …)

Text styles IBM Notes
Adding to, or updating existing text-styles is easy. Just format some text as you like it, select it and open the text-formatting tool-window via the menu: Text > Text Properties (or simply Ctrl-k). On the last tab in the formatting tool-window, press “Create Style…” or “Redefine Style…” to add or update an existing text-style. Name or select the style-name and click [Ok]

Note: The floating tool-window can be switched to other functions. Click in the top left bar to select the “Text” tool-window.

Create Style IBM Notes

Note: text-styles are applied to paragraphs. That is text-blocks you end by a hard Enter.

Assing your favourite text-style the quick way

You may want to access your favourite text-style even quicker. For this, we have the F11-key. The [Assign to keyboard] button allows you to assign one or more defined text-styles to the F11-key. When you assign only one text-style to the keyboard (F11), you can apply that text-style by just hitting F11 – handy right?
When you assign more text-styles to the keyboard (default), the F11 key will step through each style each time you press F11. Keep the text-formatting tool-window open on the last tab if you want to see the active style.

I will describe the preparation-steps to assign your favourite text-style to the F11 key exclusively

First, create a new e-mail and type some text. Set the font, size and paragraph spacing using the text-formatting tool-window, accessible by the menu Text > Text Properties (or simply Ctrl-k).

On the last tab in the text-formatting tool-window, press “Redefine Style…”, select *Basic and click [Ok].

Favourite text style IBM Notes

Next, click on the [Assign to Keyboard] button and make sure only the *Basic style has a checkmark in front of it. Click [Ok] to close the “Redefine Paragraph Style” window.

Assign to keyboard IBM Notes
After this, you are able to apply your favourite text-style to any selected rich-text and hitting F11.

Artificial Intelligence? No, Chatbots are dumber than you think

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If you are a tech fan or an IT professional, you know that Artificial Intelligence is one of the trendiest topics in tech right now. Discussions, different opinions, apocalyptic scenarios like in Hollywood movies, positive implementation of AI for enterprises. In other words, everyone is nowadays talking about AI in all different sauces. But, have you ever asked yourself what exactly AI is? And what exactly AI is not (yet)?

Well, in this article, we want to focus our attention not only on AI but also on cognitive computing and chatbots, IBM Watson chatbots specifically.

What is Artificial Intelligence

John McCarthy first coined the term artificial intelligence in 1956 when he invited a group of researchers from a variety of disciplines including language simulation, neuron nets, complexity theory and more to a summer workshop called the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence to discuss what would ultimately become the field of AI. At that time, the researchers came together to clarify and develop the concepts around “thinking machines”.

Artificial Intelligence Today, modern dictionary definitions talk about AI as a sub-field of computer science and how machines can imitate human intelligence. For example, the English Oxford Dictionary recites: “AI is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”

Despite the definitions, instead of talking about artificial intelligence many people describe the current wave of AI innovation with terms like cognitive computing or smart applications, intelligent application, predictive applications etc. Despite the term issues, artificial intelligence is essential for and in, among others, information management, healthcare, life sciences, data analysis, digital transformation, security, smart building technologies, robotics and so on.

What is the difference between AI and cognitive computing?

Cognitive computing might be closer to the idea of artificial intelligence. What’s the difference? As VDC Research IoT analyst Steve Hoffenberg explains, an AI and a cognitive computing system would approach a data-intensive task quite differently.
Imagine that both an AI and a cognitive system had to analyse a huge database of medical records and journal articles to determine treatment for a patient. “In an artificial intelligence system,” says Hoffenberg, “the system would have told the doctor which course of action to take based on its analysis. In cognitive computing, the system provides information to help the doctor decide.”
Cognitive systems are designed to solve problems the way humans solve problems, by thinking, reasoning and remembering. As Saffron Technology explains, this approach gives cognitive computing systems an advantage allowing them to “learn and adapt as new data arrives” and to “explore and uncover things you would never know to ask about.” In other words, cognitive computing is considered the ability of computers to stimulate and complement humans’ cognitive abilities of decision making. But cognitive computing is not responsible for making a decision for humans. On the other hand, artificial intelligence is not intended to mimic human thoughts and processes, but to solve a problem through the use of the best possible algorithm. AI is responsible for making decisions, thus minimizing the role of humans.

In this context, where do Chatbots fit in?

Chatbots are computer programs that mimic conversation with people using cognitive computing. This means that chatbots are learning from human input, not able to make decisions, learn or think by themselves.

Chat-botA few years ago when chatbots started being popular, there was a lot of talk around what a chatbot actually was. Natural language processing and machine learning techniques, some of the more advanced conversational applications wanted to differentiate themselves from their competition by calling themselves “virtual assistants.” This implied that they were more powerful than existing chatbots, being able to cover a wider range of topics.
However, the market appeared not to care that much about the different names, as far as chatbots or other applications were able to solve the right problems. This is why many of these different terms for bots became synonymous with each other. The thing they all have in common is that they are all able to have a conversation with you.

What is important to have in mind when talking about chatbots is that, based on the purpose they were created for, there are many types of chatbots that give different end-user experiences:

1. Support chatbots

Support chatbots are built to master a single domain, like knowledge about a company. Support chatbots need to have personality, multi-turn capability, and context awareness. They should be able to walk a user through any major business processes and answer a wide range of FAQ-type questions. Speech is an optional feature, and not a necessity since users typically have sat down at a desktop and are ready to figure out their solution.

2. Skills chatbots

Skills chatbots are typically more single-turn-type bots that do not require a lot of contextual awareness. They have set commands that are intended to make life easier: “Turn on my living room lights,” for example. Speech functionality is recommended for this type of chatbot. They should be able to follow commands quickly so that your users can multitask while engaging with the bot.

3. Assistant chatbots

Assistant chatbots are more or less a middle ground between support and skills bots. They work best when they know a little bit about a variety of topics. Many people envision these bots will someday become navigators of all other bots. Want to pay a bill? Ask your assistant bot to talk to the support bot for your bank. Assistant chatbots need to be conversational and respond to anything while being as entertaining as possible. Siri is a good, current example. When building an assistant chatbot, it is important to make it as obvious as possible how the bot is trained. The range of questions a user might ask is large, so making sure you have adequate coverage is going to be the most difficult factor.

Our expert talks about chatbots and IBM Watson

Tim Van der Hoek is our developer and he is specifically specialized in chatbots. His opinion about chatbots?

“Chatbots are dumber than what people think”

IBM WatsonDuring a workshop in Amsterdam this year about IBM Watson, the chatbot expert explained that chatbots are should not be considered artificial intelligence, since AI bots are able to learn by themselves, without the human input. That’s why chatbots are different.
Specifically, chatbots from IBM Watson need help and input from humans. A chatbot can only answer questions that are filled in advance in the admin panel by an administrator of the chatbot.
For example:
When you are making a bot, the admin has to create a “dialog”, meaning a conversation within the chatbot who simulates a conversation with an end user. The admin has to predict what people or users will ask to the bot and fill in the information related to some ‘triggers’. All the questions not related to the established triggers will not be answered by the chatbot. That is what makes IBM Watson chatbots different from AI, even though most people think chatbots are AI.

Nowadays, a lot of businesses that have support functionalities chose to create chatbots on their website, so they don’t have to hire people to answer FAQ or other simple and common questions. Moreover, the enterprise uses of AI to improve employees’ productivity for business purposes is already a topic of discussion. According to Tim, also chatbots will evolve in AI with access to big data in the near future. But which will be the consequences when the human input is not needed anymore?

Migrating Domino or Lotus Notes applications

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It can be quite a challenge to migrate ANY application to another platform. A few of the most difficult topics when migrating are to preserve most of the functionalities people are used to, and to migrate the existing data.  Lotus Notes applications are usually used for many years and hold a lot of valuable information, making migration a not so easy task.

In the current IT landscape, moving applications to the Cloud is becoming the norm. The question that arises is: “Can we move our Lotus Notes application to the Cloud?”

And the short answer is “Yes”. But you probably do not want to use Lotus Notes clients anymore.


Moving Lotus Notes applications to the Web

What if you move your Lotus Notes application to the Web first? This would give the users a modern web application, making this platform and device independent and cloud-enabled.

If you have a Domino environment, and you are considering to migrate, you need to look at all your options. And moving applications to the web is quite a good option.

Personally, I developed a lot of applications and a lot of different platforms and to be honest, I really like the Domino server a lot. Yes, the platform has disadvantages, and some odd things too, but it is worth it to at least consider a path to migrate applications to a web frontend.


Some of the Domino advantages:




* Very robust

In comparison with other platforms, I find the Domino platform far ahead on this topic. You really need to do stupid things or throw a lot of data to cause issues. This also helps a lot to reduce the overall running costs.


* Easy setup

The administration and setup are not that hard. And the development environment is pretty straightforward. I saw other platforms that take days to set up a correct working development environment and had a lot of dependencies on components/programs (dependencies tend to make things fragile).


* Low on hardware costs

This topic is usually underexposed, but I think those costs could really matter. If I compare the domino platform with other platforms like Microsoft SharePoint, or web environments like LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySql, PHP/Python) Domino is doing a great job with fewer costs.


* Rapid Application Development

This is something I want to emphasize. If you know some tips and tricks on how to develop Web applications for Domino, you will be able to make huge steps in a small amount of time (I made a JSON API with 10 small lines of code… that is just WOW).  If (web)developers can think out of the box and do not use some of the default Lotus Notes components, they can really bend this system in every way they want.


rapid development


* Out of the box default features

A few standard features that are just great are: Security, replication across multiple servers, full-text indexing, speed, templating capabilities.


There are disadvantages too:


* “Not sexy”

The domino platform is often seen as a legacy platform. And yes, this is one of the biggest downsides of using Domino. This “feeling” is not easy to ignore and does not go away easily. A fact is that the decision making persons often take the safe path, and do not want to be associated with anything that feels like a legacy.


* IBM’s progress with the Domino platform has not been something to be happy about

I do feel that they are making progress now because the development has been assigned to an external company called HCL, but that needs time. The new version has out of the box JSON API’s and can run Node.js.


* Good developers are not always web developers

Good Lotus Notes developers are NOT by default good Web developers. Web development is quite different. You need to train developers. But this is a common issue. Good developers are hard to find anyway (on any platform). Despite this, a lot can be achieved with training.


Migrating a Lotus Notes application to the Web is certainly a way to preserve your data and to be more future proof. There are many suppliers on the market that offer toolings or help you to migrate your application to the web. Or you can do it yourself (you may want to consider training if you do). But if you see the advantages that the Domino platform has to offer… then it should be a real option.


“At Silverside we strongly believe that you should use the things you have to the maximum”

Hide groups synced by Azure AD Connect (O365)

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When you are syncing local Active Directory groups to Microsoft Office365 using Azure AD Connect, you can hide groups from Outlook’s Global Address List (GAL) by setting “Hide group from Exchange address lists”. This is the same as setting the attribute msExchHideFromAddressLists to True.


group synced by Azure      group synced by Azure


This method works, but it requires that the Exchange schema is added to your Active Directory. Without the Exchange schema, the msExchHideFromAddressLists attribute will not be available.

If you migrated all your mail servers out to O365, you probably prefer an Active Directory without the Exchange schema. If that’s your situation, you are stuck; you either install the Exchange schema, or accept that synced groups can’t be hidden in the GAL.
I recently came across this situation at a customer, but was able to solve this with some “Azure AD Connect trickery”:

  • This customer named its groups according to best practices, allowing me to filter visibility based on the group name. The client wanted its Global-Groups (GG_*) to be synced to O365, but they should not be visible in address lists.
  • The solution was to add an additional transformation-expression to the inbound synchronization rule in Azure AD Connect. This expression sets the msExchHideFromAddressLists attribute, if the name of the group starts with “GG_”.

group synced by Azure

Expression: CBool(Left([cn],3)=”GG_”)

You can use other expressions as well and be as creative as you can. An extensive description of the available functions can be found here.

IBM Brings native Notes/Domino apps to iPad and more in Domino 10

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In October 2017 IBM announced that it initiated a strategic partnership with HCL Technologies for the Lotus portfolio (Notes, Domino, Verse and Sametime). As business partners, we were hesitant what to think of this. The promises of this partnership looked good, but as typical Dutch, we choose for a wait-and-see approach.

We did not have to wait long. Within two months IBM/HCL held some 25 Jam sessions worldwide and got a lot of feedback from over 2000 customers. A significant request that resonated through all sessions was to bring modern development tools/frameworks to Domino and to deliver existing Lotus Notes applications to mobile devices / web without any major investments.

This is understandable given the situation most customers face. Lots of companies use Notes applications, of which some where build decade(s) ago. Building apps with Notes as Rapid Application Development (RAD) platform was quick and easy. Thanks to the great backward compatibility of Notes/Domino, these apps are never touched again by a developer and their user interface aged year by year. These Notes applications need a Notes client to run, and for years this client has received lots of aversion from its users (partly due to some decade old company applications).

IBM domino

Currently, Lotus Notes is often labeled “legacy” and mail and agenda are simply migrated to some other (cloud) platform. A common company strategy is to leave the Notes applications to be handled “in a later stage”. This leaves the company with their Domino servers and the requirement to keep the Lotus Notes client to the desktops. Nothing changed, only the mail is now in another application.
On one hand, the Domino server provides a web-server trough which Notes applications can be made accessible from a web-browser. On the other hand, most apps will require some major rework because web-browsers do not support the client-side LotusScript / @Formula’s. Often this redesign has not been done, because the Notes client is installed anyway on the desktops. This method only postpones the problem.

Actually, it’s a shame that good functioning applications should die-out like this. Some major company-value can reside in these applications and often rebuilding these apps will cost too much.
Besides this, the Domino server is an unrivaled database and application platform. It even was the genesis of ‘modern’ NoSQL databases like CouchDB and MongoDb. It is not surprising that the founder of CouchDB (Damien Katz) actually worked in the IBM Notes/Domino development team on the @Formula language. It’s a small world…

In fact, CouchDB has lots of parallels with Domino. But there is more; Domino works with self-contained single database files, views, documents. Out of the box Domino does: transactional logging, full-text indexing (incl. attachments), attachment-viewer/converter, database-security, database encryption, document-security, field encryption, signing, certificate security, versioning, replication, clustering, Java, JavaScript, LotusScript and @Formula language.

By enabling DAOS on a database, attachments can be stored (normalized, compressed and encrypted) outside the actual database file, completely transparent for the clients/developer saving storage. And besides all of this, Domino can do your e-mail and calendar as well. You may use a Notes-client, Outlook-client, mobile mail apps (Apple / Android), ActiveSync-clients, pop3, imap, iNotes web-client and a new fresh web-client called “Verse”. So, Domino is an application-sever that does your mail as well (or a mail-server that does applications as well).

After a few months after the IBM and HCL partnership was announced, they were able to showcase some fascinating things that we can expect in Domino 10 that is to be released this year. They presented a roadmap tagged #Domino2025 and aimed for a “Wow!” factor.

I will name my favorite three:

1. Run existing Domino apps (nsf) on your mobile
This certainly will appease customers with existing native Lotus Notes apps. On “Engage 2018 in Rotterdam” we could try the ‘Domino for iPad’ app that is able to run native Notes applications without major modifications. It supports client-side code like @Formula and LotusScript, and even will support filtered database-replication. Making the app available on Android is on the plan as well. After that, there are plans to provide this app like a browser app (WebAssembly).

Because the UI (forms) of existing Lotus Notes apps are optimized for desktop users (landscape + mouse) a new ‘design-target’ will be added to the Notes Designer for mobile devices (portrait + touch). With this, developers can copy a complex form, re-arrange fields to make it suitable for portrait /phone use and present it to the phone users. Basically no redesign of code is needed here.

New functions will be provided to give access to the device camera, compass and accelerometer.

2. Domino & Node.js opens up a plethora of web apps (and developers)
The Domino server will get some major modernization. Domino 10 will run Nodes.js. Nodes.js is a server-side JavaScript runtime engine based on Google’s V8 JavaScript engine (used in Chrome). It is lightning fast because the programmer is forced to send off slow i/o operations as asynchronously events that prevent blocking the overall code-flow. Web-browsers will connect to the internal HTTP/2 webserver of Node.js, while the backend traffic from Node.js engine to Domino databases will use the native (fast) NRPC. This allows high data-transfer-rates and clustering /failover.

JavasScript is the core programming language in web-browsers and in the popular Node.js. Any Knowledgeable web-developer will be able to build and maintain modern web applications on a Domino server. This will open up access to a larger community of web-developers and web-applications.

3. Enhance existing functionality
In Domino 10 several enhancements will be provided. To name a few: Databases and full-text indexes will get more self-healing capabilities; Additional tooling will be provided to maintain Domino clusters; Support for NewRelic monitoring will be added; The maximum single-database-size (excl. attachments and indexes) will be increased from 64 GB to 256 GB; LotusScript will get its own web-request function; Elasticsearch will compliment Domino’s own full-text indexing; Support for native Outlook / Apple mail clients; Ability to schedule e-mails; Apply mail-rules to existing mails. Forward multiple e-mails as attachments; etc.
The baseline is, that in a couple of months IBM and HCL certainly did earn my “Wow!”

4 Steps to Change your Company Culture

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 Change a company culture is the most difficult decision for managers and leaders. Indeed, as Tom Peters affirmed:

“It is easier to kill an organization than it is to change it.”

However, nothing is impossible in the business world. For this reason, here there are some tips and tricks that everybody can use as a guideline, in the process of changing company culture and management. Four steps are almost mandatory:

Assess your Company CultureAssess company culture

The best way to start the change, is to understand where your company culture exactly is. This means understanding which specific characteristics shape it, the mission, the values and the vision. In this challenge, online surveys can help to highlight qualities, pitfalls, challenges and allergies. They also offer specific advice for running an implementation project within the organization and tips for the required change management. Don’t you know how to do it? The Company Culture Assessment will definitely help you.


Start with Why

start with why

Simon Sinek champions the philosophy of “Starting with Why”. This is a simple yet profound message that motivates leaders and employees to change. There is a strong need to communicate to all employees the reasons for a project and what the consequences of this migration will be for them. And motivation means people want to change, rather than must change. This will drastically reduce employees’ retention towards the change.

Productivity scenarios: Find the right tools

productivity scenarios

Productivity scenarios provide a structured way of exploring the effects of a new company culture. Scenarios paint a picture of a possible near-term future where new tools, combined with better practices, can create more efficient ways of working. Finding the right tools for the change, having as a base the features of the company culture and the behavior of its employees, is one of the most decisive task in the process.

Tiny Habit

Change HabitsA “Tiny Habit” is a simple behaviour or action you do at least once a day, that takes you less than 30 seconds and that requires little effort. Every time you success in doing or embracing the new habit, you must celebrate. The stronger you feel a positive emotion after your Tiny Habit, the faster it will become automatic. Yet, with little actions repeated regularly, we can easily transform our attitude at work. If you are thinking to change a company culture and employees’ behaviour in only one day, we can ensure you this is not going to happen. The process requires time and efforts, but at the end, the result will be successful.  


Altogether, these four steps make leaders understand that the change is never immediate, nor simple. Remember, what you need is: awareness, team collaboration, motivation and hard work, it is possible to change the company culture, without neglecting the core values at the base.


Be Productive by Choosing Productivity Scenarios

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Most experts agree on benefits that collaboration can bring to business and claim that effective collaboration enhances the work productivity. The combined brainpower of intelligent people can solve complex problems and successfully work on achieving wonderful results.

Without talking too much about the clear benefits of a good collaboration Silverside presents more concrete information and shares the knowledge on productivity scenarios. It provides a structured way of exploring the effects of a new collaboration platform on how teams work. Scenarios paint a picture of a possible near-term future where new tools combined with better practices can create more effective and efficient ways of working. Scenarios specific to an organization are the most impactful—and this process of discovery is something Silverside can help you with—but there are also generic scenarios that apply across most teams at many organizations.




  • Smarter Meetings. Hold better meetings that save time and drive an outcomes-focus, by preparing appropriately for meetings beforehand and spending the actual meeting time on making well-informed decisions. Use new meeting technologies that enable remote participants to join, and shared repositories for distributing meeting materials, documenting decisions, and tracking next actions.
  • Finding Expertise. Make your experience accessible to benefit yourself and others by maintaining an online profile of your expertise, knowledge, projects, education, and interests. Identify other people with common interests, and learn from their experiences. Your up-to-date profile helps other people find you for new projects and assignments that will grow your career and also enhance organization’s productivity.
  • Running a Project. Run effective action-oriented projects to create something new, by pulling together the right team members based on their expertise and knowledge, and using a shared project space for project documents, discussions, decisions, and deadlines. Shared project visibility enables everyone to pull in the same direction.




  • Co-authoring Documents. Create valuable and validated content together with other people, by embracing new generation online document authoring and editing tools. Be productive and stop emailing documents to other people for review and input, and instead work together on a shared collection of documents that alert on changes and enable seamless online/offline synchronisation.
  • Onboarding People. Introduce people to new processes and information they need to be across, both when they initially join your organisation and when they move into new projects, departments, and areas of contribution. Helping people more quickly get up-to-speed enables them to make a better contribution faster.
  • Collaborate as a Team. Create teams with a strong identity, clear objectives, and members with well-defined roles and responsibilities. Hold open discussions, smart meetings, and inspire out-of-the-box thinking. Use a common digital place to store the team’s current work, and keep task lists real and relevant.
  • Smarter Decisions. Make informed and intelligent decisions at the right time, integrating both thinking and feeling into decision-making processes. Be clear on decision criteria, evaluate the options, get input from the right people, and make a strong decision to guide future action.
  • Sharing Information. Create collective intelligence to grow shared knowledge by using open documentation and discussion systems rather than private document collections that hide knowledge from everyone else. Discovering other people with similar interests and shared expertise enables deeper learning.


Take the new approach and evaluate the power of collaboration.By choosing right productivity scenarios you can bring your business to the new level. More about collaboration and why it is necessary for our business How to Put Collaboration at the Center of your Business.

How to put Collaboration at the centre of your Business

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In the hyper-modern era where we are living, new technologies and social media are affecting our way of working and living. Now, everyone worldwide, needs to be 24h connected, 100% efficient and productive. The key to survive in this business environment, is collaboration.

Living in a transforming environment

Transforming business environment

The face of work is rapidly changing and it is affecting organizations in many aspects. Firstly, team work has been modified: from an individualistic way of working to a more collaborative one. Secondly, decision-making processes are transforming, due to the more than ever limited time available. Lastly, the legal and regulatory demands are revolutionizing with tightening mandates on data protection and data sovereignty. In response to these multi-faceted changes, organizations should   choose for modern approaches that enable people to connect, communicate and collaborate.

The key is Collaboration


collaboration is the key

There are many reasons why this collaborative change in organizations is necessary today. On one hand, current enterprise tools are outdated, while now the need is for fluid tools that enable connection from anywhere. Therefore, the challenge is how to introduce new technological capabilities in enterprise communication. On the other hand, consumer-oriented tools have outpaced enterprise capabilities. With the widespread adoption of new technologies and platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and LinkedIn, consumers have limitless connectivity to communities, ideas, and expertise. As a consequence, the idea of both contribution and consumption media channels is becoming more and more real. Companies and organizations should think about how to manage these changes in the consumer landscape to benefit business. Furthermore, we should take into consideration the huge amount of availability of new technologies. Vendors are releasing a torrent of new technologies. Business leaders should determine which one has the greatest potential for improving their business.

What is needed to reach Collaboration?


Collaboration Silverside


A successful collaborative strategy requires several conditions, such as:

  • Clear linkage and alignment between the collaboration intent, business vision and strategy.
  • An organizational culture that encourages key collaborative behaviors to drive innovation and performance. On the contrary, employees in a hierarchical organization with strict processes will find it more difficult to collaborate.
  • Leadership that can drive the adoption of new ways of working by setting a good example.
  • Recognition that collaboration is a human activity, and that face-to-face meetings have an important place in the collaboration repertoire.
  • Availability of a collaboration platform and set of tools that support business needs


Follow the right methodology


Pace methodology Silverside

The PACE methodology can provide a concrete help for organizations that wants to become collaborative businesses. In particular, four phases are essential in this process:


Start with a consultancy-led engagement to understand your organization and define the opportunity for becoming a collaborative business. By working with key stakeholders, using assessments, interviews, workshops, company-wide surveys and illustrative productivity scenarios, the vision will be defined. Then, with a well-balanced 3-year goal/3-month plan, the road to achieve your vision is set.


Acquire the new collaboration resources required to execute the plan: new technology to support collaborative working strategies, a business framework and an adoption strategy to instill change and transformation across your organization.


Inspire, equip and motivate your people to embrace the transformation journey in their sphere of work in the newly emerging collaborative business.


Optimize and increase the value of your change for a collaborative company. Address key challenges that threaten the output of the process and ensure ongoing alignment with the business goals.


Putting collaboration at the center of your business is crucial nowadays, if you want to be competitive in the market and optimize your efficiency and productivity. In other words, be the leader, by reaching the best results, in the easiest, smartest and most collaborative way.

SKG – The digital workplace with IBM Connections

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A few years ago Stichting Kerkelijk Geldbeheer started using IBM Connections to share knowledge, documents and updates. Improving collaboration between colleagues. However, adoption of the platform was not automatic.

Stichting Kerkelijk Geldbeheer (SKG) provides financial services, in particular to Protestant churches and related organizations in the Netherlands. Operating from their offices in Gouda. The team is busy every day to provide their customers with the best service possible. Until a few years ago, collaboration and knowledge sharing took place almost entirely ‘offline’ or in separate digital documents. “Minutes were worked out on paper”, says IT Manager Dick Veenstra. But even information relevant to the client, such as the current interest rates, were updated manually in Excel files.

Many versions of the same files

This often led to chaos. Especially when, for example, different versions of the interest rates were in circulation. “With a great impact on the services. You definitely want to communicate the correct, current rates to the customers. That should not depend on which letter or version of the document the employees happen to have open at that moment”.

In recent years, the work pressure has increased. In order to guarantee the quality of the service, and to improve collaboration, Veenstra went in search of a digital solution. “At an IBM event, I was introduced to IBM Connections. The platform enables efficient sharing of files and streamlines mutual communication. As far as I am concerned, the right solution for SKG”.

Veenstra immediatly saved the interest rates in IBM Connections, to eliminate the misunderstandings they had experienced previously. Everyone immediately had access to the right, up-to-date rates.


Nevertheless, the introduction of IBM Connections within SKG was not an easy task. It was not welcomed with open arms. Veenstra: ”We have always done it that way’ or ‘we communicate face-to-face’ is what I often hear. It’s not so strange: people are naturally reluctant to change. Management was also not immediately enthusiastic”.

Nevertheless, management gradually began to appreciate the value and started using the platform for meetings. “Paper minutes became a thing of the past. During the meeting, they could immediately set out action points in IBM Connections. Working out the minutes later was no longer necessary, and everyone immediately had the right information”.


Veenstra called in Silverside to help increase the adoption of IBM Connections for the rest of the team. “During workshops and training sessions Silverside presented the value of using the platform in practise and that opened eyes for many colleagues. The Credit and Payments department in particular, started seeing the added value and started adapting the tools slowly but surely”.

In practice the Credit and Payments department quickly began using the platform. They created a variety of Wikis for describing business processes in IBM Connections. As a result, everyone always had access to the right procedures. Once that happened, the platform spread within the organization. Now SKG uses the digital tool for all kinds of processes, the platform is especially popular for distributing internal updates.

Solid basis

Veenstra is not yet done with his task to deploy IBM Connections more broadly, but the foundation is now established within the whole organization. “At the moment, the platform is used for internal updates as well as recording meetings and storing central overviews. A number of colleagues even uses the platform on a smartphone”.

According to Veenstra, the adoption process is primarily a matter of patience and trust. “People must start to see what the platform offers them. When a number of people become enthusiastic, the rest automatically follow. I am pleased that Silverside gave us a push in the right direction”.

IBM Watson: is it the next step?

At the moment, SKG is busy implementing the platform: SKG Online. After the launch, we will continue to work on ‘collaboration’. Also – partly due to the introduction of IBM Watson – there is interest in the next step: accelerating complex processes. Currently financing takes a lot of time and demands a lot of resources from the organization. However, in the future the deployment of bots may provide a solution.There is a need for the rapid processing of information on permits, laws and regulations drawn up by the government, among others”.

We are very satisfied with IBM Connections. It has allowed us to grow as an organization and to deal more effectively with processing information. ”

Read more about the success story of IBM Connections at Kawasaki Motors Europe.

Reference story Kawasaki – IBM Connections

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In conversation with Frank Barendsma – ICT Manager at Kawasaki Motors Europe N.V. about the implementation of Kawasaki Connect with IBM Connections as intranet and communication platform.

IBM Connections at Kawasaki?

As an international player in the world of motorcycles and with multiple branches in Europe, Kawasaki Motors is constantly in search for better forms of communication. A few years ago, the R&D department began the search for a new platform to improve the communication within the company. They already worked with IBM Cognos and, from this perspective, we thought of IBM Connections as the best option to satisfy the organizational needs.

When did you start thinking about changing how you communicate within the organisation?

The IT team currently responsible for IBM Connections, inherited the project from a colleague who has now retired. This resulted in a new start, with a new approach: “Introduce IBM Connections slowly, in small steps and see how the organization reacts.” The introduction of a Bulletin Board System (BBS) helped us to introduce IBM Connections. This is a good method.

R&D had picked it up, but never successfully. With this knowledge, a new pilot was set up in which the KPIs were clearly defined. The implementation started with the Bulletin Board System (BBS). Where information was shared within the organization, fed from IBM Connections. Stories like successes during Motorcycle Grand Prix, but also HR reports of interest to employees and organisation.

Was there resistance within the organization?

At first there was resistance, as is common with change. Connections was compared to Facebook. There were reactions like “Are we getting another system?” and there was also fear, because … “Now everyone can see what I am doing!”.

“The biggest challenge was user adoption of Kawasaki Connect.” I am pretty stubborn and was convinced that people would automatically understand that they should use it, I was wrong!”

What really helped you?

Before the introduction of IBM Connections, various pilots were started and within these pilots the success factors were examined. During the pilots the same questions were asked (questions also raised during the session with Silverside). For instance: “What processes do you use?”, “What do you want to achieve?” and “Go and see where you can deploy IBM Connections and convince the management with KPIs”. This is where the real adoption process for IBM Connections began.

“The Silverside method helped us convince people not to fall back into their old way of working”.

When did you decide to launch IBM Connections?

After the first successes, the Champions within Kawasaki Connect acted as ambassadors for the platform. The first success was achieved through file sharing and in particular around the Rotation Schedule. This is an important document that makes it clear which motorcycles are at the different shows throughout Europe. Where at first – in the old-fashioned way – a document was first emailed to all branches, IBM Connections is now used to keep track of everything. There is a lot of communication around this document, so updated and correct data is fundamental.

IBM Connections

“The Silverside methodology allowed us to convince several groups to adopt IBM Connections.”

After this step, were there other trials and successes?

After the pilots, people became curious and resistance was turned into interest. The fear disappeared and there was success during various training sessions. This also created a need for extra training. By this time the Marketing department had also started with IBM Connections. It became obvious that there was room for improvement, specifically with file management. During the training sessions you actually saw people catching on.



The next step was logical: discover other applications for the platform and try to get more people on board. HQ – the head office in the Netherlands – took the lead, but we had to get all countries (branches) connected? Specific training could be the solution. There were case studies available and we had to use these to make IBM Connections transparent and to show the added value. We noticed that Video training was not effective, so there was a need for more live sessions. The impact of a Video training was simply ineffective.

The Netherlands is clearly a forerunner, but in other European countries things are going slower than we would like. This is mainly due to the hierarchical culture, old habits and the laws and regulations that apply to the organization. This is our next challenge. Especially when it comes to sharing knowledge and expertise. IBM Connections must make this possible for us.

“Do not put energy into people who do not want to work as the Rogers Curve prescribes – the 16% laggards will always try to find a reason not to participate.”

Silverside's Rogers Adoption Curve

Like every IT department, we also have our challenges. The ‘not invented by me syndrome’ and ‘because it runs on a computer is probably IT’ combined with questions like “How many hours a day are you working with IBM Connections?” have made us realize that the use of the Silverside methodology has helped us to further develop our new way of collaboration.

“It is up to you to decide which tools you want to use. 1-on-1? Use IBM Sametime. Working with a team? Then work in IBM Connections!”

What was the low point in the process?

If we had focused on adapting the behaviour within the organization sooner, we would have been able to accelerate the lead time of the pilots and adoption. This is something that we will take with us in the next challenge.
After the turning point – perhaps a little setback – you gain knowledge. What was your goal, your vision? Are there still major obstacles ahead or is there a final challenge?

Kawasaki’s goal is to first connect all departments in the Netherlands and then share this success with Europe. In every country there is a champion to promote the platform and we need these ambassadors to make Kawasaki Connect an international success. This will be done by sharing success stories with others.

“We have only really been active for a year, and after three years it feels like we are almost there. Adoption of the platform has begun, thanks to the training. We have to stay on top of it as a team. Everyone is busy – so we all have little time. ”

Looking back at the project, how do you feel?

Literally: “like there is a light at the end of the tunnel”. The new way of working is also paying off. New employees are immediately introduced to the new method. The Silverside Work Agreement is used for different purposes, as a guide, think of:

  • What problem are we going to solve?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • Which tools do you want to use?
  • For which group do you do this?
  • ‘Stop doing and start with’ scenarios.

What would you do differently?

If we started the process again, we would have more patience. Start with the same enthusiasm, but look also at the right methodology. Be more convincing internally and support others. Sometimes I have to control my enthusiasm. We invested a lot in the buy-in and approval of senior management to create more awareness. The buy-in of the users is far more important.

“Find ambassadors to make adoption possible. Short but powerful: More bottom-up than top-down management style. Finding ambassadors is crucial to gain support. “

What kind of possibilities do you see for ‘bots’?


Chat Bot


The progress of bots is unstoppable. It is just a matter of time before we start working with them. With the speed at which things are going now, we also have to make choices. Before you complete something, technology overtakes you.
“Pick your battles” Bots might close the gap? We just don’t know yet. At the moment we have other challenges. We are curious about bots, or I certainly am. The thought that our Rotation Schedule will automatically update and be distributed on the basis of GPS signals from the motorcycles, makes me really happy. But maybe that’s too much to ask … or maybe not?

In the short-term? Measuring the mood within the organization? People check a weather app to see what the weather is, but what are the expectations within the organization? Is it an automated bulletin board (BBS). Currently we still rely on people to fill the system with information, but of course it would be brilliant if this could be automated based on personal interests.

And … if I do not have to do anything for it, then it’s even better. It must have a low-threshold! I can’t wait to see how it all works out!

You can also read about the digital workplace of the smallest bank in the Netherlands.

Where does the key for a successful business lie?

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Culture itself is a vague concept and if you ask ten people how do they understand the word ‘culture’, you would have hundreds of different explanations. Indeed, it is such a fuzzy concept, so this time let’s take a look at company culture in more depth.

organizational culture

If we try to take a different angle and raise the question what it is a ‘’good company culture’’ and a ‘’bad culture’’, it sounds quite clear that if it is done well it has a positive impact for an organization. Meanwhile, if it is done badly or the culture in the company does not exist at all, it has a negative influence.
Luckily, more and more business people tend to understand that if we have two comparable companies with a similar strategy, the winning one is the one with a better company culture. However, there are people who do not see the culture as a significant aspect simply because it is such an obscure concept.
This happens because people tend to focus on strategy and results where you can see an actual outcome. However, the benefit of a good company culture hides deeper and itself has not any tangible results. Despite this fact, the culture of the organization is a tremendous factor that has a huge impact on employees’ motivation to work for the ultimate results.
Due to the reason that people are so busy with their own tasks and responsibilities, they might not think about the culture within the organization on a deeper level and just because the culture is so complex, managers have a doubt – do they have the time for an extra work on the company culture? Isn’t it a waste of time? However, responsible people have to be aware of the fact that it is has an impact and gives (or does not give) a motivation for many people to work towards common results.
If you are a CEO or a manager, you have to know that your organization (or department) has a culture, it exists anyway and every organization has a different culture. However, the trick is to focus on those aspects that would really boost the motivation.
The simple question that is important for any business was raised: what are the factors that motivate people to work on the same goal for a successful business? And so, a lot of researches have been done on motivation factors in a work environment.

Without going into details, the majority of surveys show that factors such as communication, recognition and reward, appreciation, opportunities, a feeling of independence go beyond money. The graph that is presented on shows the results of a survey that was held in the United States in 2017. It shows the list of incentives that would make employees engage better at work. 27% of respondents say that more opportunities at work would motivate them; 20% think that career development opportunities and training would drive their motivation, and as we see form the chart, motivators such as flexible job condition, improved cooperation among coworkers, challenging work, and better relationship with manager play an important role in motivating people.

Motivators at work
Figure presents top motivators at work that were named during the survey in the U.S. 2017 (Brandon [Gaille] marketing expert & blogmaster)

We see that these motivators are closely related to the concept of company culture. It means that the key to a successful and well managed business lies inside of the organization – in the human resources – motivated employees.

Hence, not only extensive knowledge of business, trends in technology, but also interest in human potential is required to develop a plan that will fit into the current situation while allowing successful growth and change in the future in your business. The answer of the question where lies the key for the successful business is very simple – motivated employees. Help them feel appreciated and they will work for the success. But remember one thing, different people need different motivation and different means are required to stimulate them to get engaged in any actions.

You can read more about productivity at work in the article Small steps for big changes: Tiny habit huge advantage.

When was the last time you had ZERO emails in your inbox?

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I bet it was a long time ago.

Is too much emails ruining your life? Are you struggling with information overload? Are you not as productive as you would like to be? If the answer is ‘Yes!’ then join us in taking part in the 7th annual global ‘No Email Day‘ which takes place on 7th July 2017.

The premise sounds simple enough – avoid email for 24 hours so you can be more productive, social and collaborative at work! All other methods of communication: phone, SMS, face-to-face, social media, or handwritten notes are fine.

No Email Day 7/7/17

No Email Day is a campaign encouraging you to stop using email completely for 24 hours on 7th July 2017 and do something more productive with the time saved instead.



Find more about productive way of communication in the article Productive meeting tips: It’s not about technology.