Earlier this week HCL gave us previews of the next version of HCL Connections that will be out by New Years. During the German usergroup’s (DNUG) online conference they gave a demo on how it looks. And it does look very familiar, doesn’t it?
If you don’t know what HCL Connections is, it’s the oldest enterprise for software collaboration on the market, and it’s been a game changer for a lot of companies. It’s people centric rather than content centric, and it integrates with a lot other software, so that it can act as a portal where your employees start their workday.
When I saw the new design at Arne Nielsen’s blog, I did a double take. I mean, it’s almost like it’s lifted from Microsoft Teams, isn’t it? Just look at this screenshot:
Navigation in Connections 7 is done on three to four levels. Applications are listed on the left side, and if they have sub levels they will appear here too. In the right side panel you will find people you collaborate with. And in the middle you will find contents you can navigate through with menus at the top.
But design changes aren’t everything they’ve done with Connections 7. You will also get a lot of new functionality and integrations. And you can modify all communities and pages without the need for any code changes. You set up the pages with the help of widgets. You will get a whole lot of pre-prepared templates, designed for various business areas, but you can also create your own.
You can easily set up your own widgets and applications in Connections 7. These can fetch, present and manipulate data from both external and internal sources.
And maybe this sheds some light on why the new design looks so much like Microsoft Teams. You can integrate applications from Microsoft’s Office 365 platform, like Microsoft Teams. This means you can integrate applications like wikis, blogs, files and activities with your existing channels within Teams. You can then keep your contents in Connections, but make it available in Teams.
There has been a lot of talks about Connections and Teams being competitors, which isn’t true! They can work together! Why would you do that? Because by having the contents in inside Connections, you can share it with everyone, and not just the members of a channel.
This means that you in addition to being able to integrate Connections inside of Teams, you will also be able to integrate Teams within Connections. This will make it easier to start dialogue, share content into Teams channels and notify people about new information. You will also be able to share a Teams channel inside a Connections community.
You will also be able to change the graphical design inside of Connections. This means that if you have design guidelines for your company, you can change the look and feel of Connections. You can easily do this without having to hire consultants or designers.
Huge thanks to Arne Nielsen of Brainworker who let me shamelessly steal slides and contents from his blog posting about Connections 7. Get in touch with him for help with your Connetions environment, or if you want to know more about how you can get started with Connections.