From its inception, the HCL Connections collaboration suite was built around the central premise of openness and discoverability.  This was specifically done to ensure that content and expertise needed to collaborate effectively with other team members is easily discoverable. Information silos, on the other hand, disrupt and slow down collaboration. Eighty percent of companies in a recent survey reported a moderate to high degree of information silos within the organizations. Silos impede employee efficiency and can negatively impact both the top line and the bottom line of a company’s financials. 

Information silos separate employees and information 

What causes information silos?  Overlapping and disparate applications that don’t talk to each other or are only used in specific parts of an organization. Disconnected and dispersed content leads to document duplication, version control difficulty, and productivity loss as employees needlessly search for crucial information across multiple content repositories. These unintentional boundaries can have a profound impact on employee productivity, engagement and the ability to solve problems.

Breaking down information silos 

Our most recent software release bridges the silo gap by bringing the benefits of Connections to the Microsoft Ecosystem, adding information-sharing capabilities to both Connections and Microsoft. Inside Connections, you can now start a conversation via Microsoft Teams Chat with any of your Connections contacts from their business card, profile page, or the Important to Me bar.  You can also immediately share and start a conversation around any page in Connections by clicking the Teams icon that you’ll find on that page.

You can bring your SharePoint libraries into your Connections Communities, and users can round-trip edit their files in Office with changes automatically saved right back into Connections files – no need to upload an updated file each time.

Inside the Microsoft applications, you have one-click access to your Connections community applications — files, wikis, forums, activity feed, etc. — right inside your Teams chats and channels.  You can also insert files or any recent content from Connections into your conversations simply by clicking on the Connections icon in the chat bar.

And lastly, we’ve introduced a brand-new Outlook add-in that lets you seamlessly shift content back and forth between Outlook and Connections, such as moving file attachments into or out of Connections or looking up details on meeting recipients from their profiles.  These enhancements work on all Outlook clients — Windows, Mac, web, and mobile.

Tear down walls

Removing internal boundaries and information silos should be a priority given the tangible impact on improving employee productivity. Making work more seamless with built-in integration will not only improve productivity, but it will also amplify team communication and decision velocity. Productivity gains include reduced toggling between Connections and Microsoft applications by up to 50%. You can also share content with team members five times faster while at the same time reducing unnecessary searches. Add to this the 1-click collaboration with cross-functional team members capability, and it’s easy to understand the real benefits of integration. Integrating the value of your Connections people-powered communities and content into your Microsoft tools will leverage the best of Connections and Microsoft.

To see our integration capabilities in action, check out the video replay of our recent webinar.

Frequently asked questions about our integrations 

Q: Are the integrations you have shown today directly available after upgrading to v7? Or are they still under development? 

A: All of the integrations shown today between Connections and Teams, SharePoint, Outlook and Office are available today. 

Q: Is there any integration between Activities and Outlook? 

A: Yes, you can save an email or an attachment to an activity (e.g. as a To-Do) 

Q: What about integration to other HCL products? Connection to Domino, Connections to Sametime, etc.? 

A: Enhanced integration with the latest version of HCL Sametime is coming soon, and we will continue to update integrations with Domino and other parts of our portfolio.

Q: How are employees authenticated between Connections and Teams? Via Microsoft Active Directory? Or Domino LDAP or both? 

A: Single sign-on is accomplished by setting up a trust relationship between the Connections server and Microsoft Azure using the WebSphere OpenID Connect Relying Party Trust Association Interceptor (OIDC Relying Party TAI).   Check out additional details here.

Q: Do you have any best practice documents for where there is overlap in functionality between Connections and Microsoft 365 (e.g., managing files)? 

A: Our recommendation would be to consolidate files in one place to make them all searchable and discoverable.  Storing them all in Connections Files ensures they are accessible and discoverable all in one place. Integrating from there into Teams means you still have a single file store while making them accessible when collaborating in Teams.

Q: Teams Channel and Connections Communities seemed to be similar and can also lead to duplicate content? Any reason we should use one over the other? 

A: There are a lot of capabilities and benefits that a Connections Community offers that Teams doesn’t provide.  Communities enable structure and organization to a team or project, allowing you to use the right tool for the right job (e.g., wiki vs. forum vs. file share, etc.), and is open and discoverable across the organization.

Q: What type of the Teams tab do you use to integrate with Connections? Is it just a Web tab or some custom application? 

A: Once the integration is deployed, you’ll find Connections as an option along with all the other Teams apps when you go to the Add Apps component in Teams.  From there, it will walk you through selecting the community and the specific app within that community.

Q: Do you have a documentation how to deploy the Connections integration into a Teams? 

A: Further details on deploying this integration are here

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Further Reading
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Digital Solutions | March 30, 2021
Why Connections Communities Are Critical for Project Teams Success
Project teams are a critical component of getting work done, and their productivity is key for success. Since collaboration and communication are so important, how do you know if your current toolset tools support your needs? Eliminate roadblocks One of the biggest roadblocks to close collaboration is the lack of a fundamental framework that makes collaboration easier. In other words, collaboration is not just a personal skill, it’s a result of structure and tools that support content sharing, ideation, and interaction between team members. If you add virtual project teams into the mix, the challenges of effective collaboration are even more pronounced.  HCL Connections solves this dilemma by enabling organizational teams and project teams to create “Communities” to support a collaborative work experience. So, what is a Connections Community? It’s a flexible, digital workspace where people come together to communicate, collaborate, share information and expertise, and solve problems. Communities enable information flow and sharing across the entire collaborative ecosystem. Make success repeatable Connections Communities make collaboration an integral part of the work experience by organizing your productivity tools, apps, content and tasks all in one place. Virtually everything you need, focused on a particular project or important activity, is at your fingertips. Whether you need to view the status of assigned tasks or edit a shared document, your Connections Community provides the tools to get the job done efficiently. Connections also includes a setup wizard to simplify the creation of new Communities. Use our built-in, professionally designed templates or reuse proven and engaging templates built upon your own best practices. Creating a new community and getting a new project team up-and-running has never been faster or easier. Be more productive One of the biggest productivity losses for project teams is searching for information. Information is typically disconnected from projects and tasks, and therefore hard to find. Studies consistently demonstrate that employees spend needless hours...
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Digital Solutions | February 1, 2021
HCL Connections v7 Is Here
Staying connected at work is more critical than ever. Speed and efficiency are paramount, and communication is more and more vital. You can’t afford to get this wrong. The latest version of HCL Connections is here and it helps teams and organizations overcome workplace challenges and helps create solutions better than ever before.    HCL Connections v7 provides the structure to close information and communication gaps. It drives efficiencies for teams that are working remotely and enables employees to get project teams up and running more quickly, to interact more seamlessly with other team applications, and drastically reduce deployment and upgrade cycles. Connections keeps project teams connected, helps manage communication around strategy and shifting business focus. And it helps promote a strong sense of community for employees — especially important as we work through the last months of this global pandemic.  Unlike other collaboration platforms that require tiresome toggling between application silos, HCL Connections delivers an intuitive experience that delivers team content, news, conversations, and project tasks all in one place.   HCL Connections v7 lets you deliver these innovations and more:   Jumpstart your project teams and make success repeatable: get your teams up and running 80% faster with new, easy-to-use set-up Community wizard and templates built upon your best practices. Templates save time and help drive increased consistency that promotes successful results.   Integrate the power of HCL Connections with Microsoft 365® eco-system: leverage the value of your Connections people-powered communities and content into your Microsoft applications. Readily access and share critical knowledge, conversations, and content in your communities. Make teamwork more seamless — built-in integration amplifies team communication, decision velocity, and productivity. Accelerate discovery and decision-making and remove boundaries with one-click access to content, conversations, and expertise.   Reduce IT costs and headaches with cloud-native support: deploy powerful new features 90% faster with component pack and cloud native support. Deploying and upgrading is dramatically faster and easier with new component pack installation scripts which automate deployment. Easily deploy the latest functionality with a cloud-native version of Component Pack (Amazon EKS and RedHat OpenShift). Connections enables a structured, collaborative approach for teams to get their work done. It offers a seamless work experience and the flexibility to...
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Digital Solutions | September 10, 2020
HCL Connections v7 Software Preview Now Live
We know you’re anxious to get your hands on the new Connections software release due out later this year. We are excited to share that our hosted Connections v7 preview site is now live. Sign up now and you’ll be able to try out pre-release software for our new tailored experience Community features, integration with Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, and more. You will also have a chance to provide feedback to the development team and get your questions answered. Our new capabilities featured in the Connections v7 preview include: Delivering a tailored Community experience Reusable templates to get teams up and running faster. Improved Community layout options for a more customized experience. Simplified Community creation to save time getting started. Enhanced Microsoft ecosystem support Link Microsoft Teams and your Communities for a more seamless experience. Access SharePoint files/folders without leaving your Connections application. Easily print Connections content or save as a PDF file Don’t miss your opportunity to test drive our new functionality in this software release preview. And remember to provide your feedback to us.  Our customers are an integral part of our product evolution, and your feedback is invaluable to our continued commitment of delivering the best collaborative solution in the market. Register Now for the Connections v7 preview:  https://hclsw.co/cxn-7-pre
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