Here in IBM-land we use Connections every day, often without thinking about it. I’ve got so used to it being there that it’s become second nature, but every now and again I stop to appreciate its value. And here’s a simple example.

About a week ago, I received an e-mail about the UK ODF Plugfest – I’ll let you visit the web site (if you’re interested) to find out what it’s all about. The question posed in the e-mail was “how are we [IBM] involved and are we getting any coverage from it?”. The assumption was that, because Symphony is part of my portfolio, I’d know all about the ODF Plugfest. The reality however was somewhat different – I’d never heard of it.

Not being the sort of person just to e-mail back with a “sorry, don’t know” I decided to dig a bit further. The web site itself really doesn’t describe what goes on, who attends, the remit of any attendees, the agenda… so wasn’t much use. But someone in IBM must know something about this… right?

Right indeed. I headed to the Communities in the IBM Connections deployment and searched for ‘ODF’ in the public communities. Milliseconds later the search results appeared, and top of the pile was a community named ‘Open Document Format Interest’. Sounds good. Inside the community were a number of bookmarks, documents, a wiki, an activity and – the key to the success in this example – twenty three members. I looked at the profiles of the owners – one was an ODF architect, the other an ODF program manager. And there was one other member I recognised, someone who in the past had answered a question relating to Public Sector in the UK. It looked like I was in the right place.

The first element of the community was a discussion forum, so I asked a question about ODF Plugfests and whether anyone had any knowledge or experience of what goes on at the event. Within a couple of days I’d received two responses giving me the answers I needed, and providing an interesting link about the push towards ODF in the UK Public Sector (which I bookmarked, of course).

And that’s it. I said it was a simple story, but Connections was key to finding the right people amongst the huge IBM population and collaborating with them.