Using the Profiles Feature
The Profiles feature is a person directory that provides access to information about people, how to get in contact with them, their background, what they are interested in, and what they work on. It has powerful enterprise data integration that allows you to pull several sources of enterprise data into the profile fields. It also provides areas for easy-to-update user-generated content, as well as allows you to build a social network by inviting people to connect as your colleague in Lotus Connections.
Throughout Lotus Connections, you will see a search area in the upper-right corner that allows you to run a search across Connections or specific services. When you are in Profiles, this search box will allow you to run a search based on a name or keyword or even an advanced search. Figure 6.6 shows a sample Profiles search area. A keyword search looks at the About Me, Background, and Tag information in a profile to determine a match. If you select advanced search option, you will also be able to search on specific attributes of the profile—for example, email address, phone number, location, and more.
Figure 6.6 A Profiles search widget
The search results page will show you a snapshot business card of the matching results, showing their names, positions, locations, phone number, and email address. You will also see a set of organization tags on the left that allow you to refine your search (see Figure 6.7).
Figure 6.7 Profile search results
Profiles Business Card
Hovering over a name in any Lotus Connections view will cause the pop-up business card to appear (see Figure 6.8). This business card is used throughout Lotus Connections and can even be used in external applications—for example, on the Renovation intranet. It provides links to all the Lotus Connections tools that the individual might be sharing so that you can quickly see the person's bookmarks, blog, or other information. A snapshot of contact information is provided in the business card, and with integration with Lotus Sametime, you can also see the person's online status and custom status message. Actions are provided in the business card as well, so you can send this person an email, chat with her if she is online, add her to your colleagues, or even call her if voice services are enabled with Sametime. You will also see a similar card when hovering over Community names as well that allows people to quickly learn about a Community and join it.
Figure 6.8 A Profile business card
Selecting a person will take you to that person's profile page. The profile presents various information about a person, from her contact information to her interests to her colleagues. New in Lotus Connections 2.5 is the ability to post status updates and comments on a profiles page. Starting at the top of the profile is the person's photo, her name (also business card enabled), and an optional icon. The optional icon provides an audio clip of the person saying her name properly. This can be added by the profile owner in the Edit My Profile section, which also offers instructions on how to record the audio. Below that section are links that enable you to send an email to the person, add her to your network (if she is not in it already), and download a v-card to add to your own address book. There can also be selected contact information in this upper section. In Figure 6.9, we see the person's job title, phone, and email.
Figure 6.9 An overview of the profile
Below the first section of the profile is the Contact Information section. This part of the profile is most often connected to back-end data sources that provide the information listed in the profile. Companies can choose which fields they would like to display and which fields are editable by the end user. If the fields they want to use are not part of the standard defaults, they can add their own custom fields to the profile. Every field can point to a different back-end source if necessary. Common sources include corporate LDAP directories and databases, but custom sources can also be used. Companies can determine which fields they want to populate using a back-end source, and which fields they would like the profile owner to fill in. They can also choose to synchronize the data in either direction, meaning they can select which employee-generated fields will write to the data source, which fields are not editable by the employee, and which field values will be determined only by the back-end source. This synchronization can be run on a schedule as determined by the company. In the Contact Information section, you will also see the person's online awareness through integration with Lotus Sametime and the time in her local time zone.
Below that section are two generally user-generated sections of information: the About Me and Background sections. The profile owner can choose what she would like to share about herself in these areas. Typically, current and past projects, biographies, areas of interest, education, and descriptions of jobs are expressed in these areas. The profile owner can simply edit this information using rich text, allowing her to highlight text, embed links, and add images if desired. This information is used along with tags, discussed later, in profiles keyword searches.
New in Lotus Connections 2.5 is the Board widget, which records your status updates and allows others who are visiting your profile to comment on your updates or leave you a message. Status updates are a great way to tell people what you are working on and promote conversations about it. New comments will be sent to you in email as well so that you can stay alert. You can update your status from your profile, from your home page, or through the status update API. You can delete any comments or updates by clicking the x next to each.
The last section in the middle of the profile is the Recent Posts section. Here is where you are able to discover a person's contributions to the other social software provided in Lotus Connections. You can see the Communities he recently updated, the social bookmarks he recently posted (not including private bookmarks), recent blog entries he has authored, recent activities he has contributed to that you have access to see, and files that this person has shared. This gives you a well-rounded view of not only his self-described interests but also his current areas of focus.
The columns on the left and right side of the profile contain widgets. These widgets can be customized depending on your organization's needs. Starting in the left column, you see the profile photo and current status. You can update your status from here if you are on your profile. Next is the Tags widget. Tags are keywords used, in this case, to describe a profile. Users can tag themselves, showing skills or interests they would associate to their own profiles. Organizations can also enable social tagging, allowing people to tag others. For example, in the screenshot shown in Figure 6.9, we have tagged Jasmine with keywords such as "product-design" and "engineering" so that we can easily find her again based on the terms we want to associate with her. A common use case is to tag someone with a keyword that describes the context under which you met—for example, at a conference or customer engagement. You can pivot between a list view and a tag cloud view, both showing the number of times a tag was used on the person's profile. End users can see who tagged them with a particular keyword by clicking on the number next to each tag.
In the right column are several other widgets. The Report to Chain widget shows two levels of management above the employee, and it provides links to view the full chain all the way to the top of the organization, as well as a view to see people reporting to the same manager (which is helpful if you are looking for someone on the same team as that person). Clicking any of those views will take you to a full page showing the hierarchy. This page is also accessible on the left-hand navigation of the profile under "Reporting Structure."
The next widget is the Network widget. This is used to build social networks and also to deliver information from your network to your home page, which is discussed toward the end of this chapter. This widget shows to whom the person has most recently become connected. To connect to someone, simply click Invite to My Colleagues when browsing the person's profile. This link will show up on any profile you are not connected to under the name and next to the photo. You will be able to send a custom message with your invitation. To establish a new colleague, the recipient of your invitation needs to accept the invite. After this is done, the person will be added as a colleague. You can click Show All under the list of recent colleagues to see the full list of your colleagues. The full list will allow you to remove colleagues and will also allow you to view outstanding invitations. If you have any outstanding invitations, you can accept them or ignore them from that view. Depending on how the system has been configured, users may not be able to see the content of someone's board unless they are part of their Network.
The last widget on the page is the My Links widget. Here you can add any number of web links that you want to associate to your profile. Certain site icons will appear when you add links. Frequent links include external social software sites, popular articles or resources, and links to photos.
Customizing Profiles Using Profile Types and Widgets
Profiles are highly customizable. We already discussed how organizations can customize the Contact Information section of the profile. Organizations can also create profile types to determine what contact information and widgets, as well as widget placement, should be used. For example, a profile type for regular employees might include name, office address, email, reporting structure, and other fields. Another profile type for interns can also be created. This type might remove the reporting widget and replace it with a custom-made intern application widget. The Contact Information section for an intern type might choose to include College/University and Project in addition to or instead of information displayed there for a regular employee. Profile types can determine where widgets should appear and what fields to hide or show, and even determine the use of the third-party widgets.
Filling In Information
Keeping the profile up-to-date is simple and fast. Clicking on Edit My Profile will bring you to the area where you can modify contact information, edit your background, change your photo, and add a name pronunciation file (see Figure 6.10). On the Contact Information tab, any fields you are authorized to edit will be editable. On the About Me tab, you can use the rich text editing tools shown in Figure 6.10 to add or edit your About Me and Background fields. The Photo and Pronunciation tabs allow you to upload files for those fields. You can edit as much as you want and simply save your changes.
Figure 6.10 Editing the profile