HCL Connections has been a leading platform for enterprise collaboration for years now, and with the release of Connections 8, it’s set to get even better. In this article, we’ll take a look at what’s new and improved in Connections 8, starting with a quick recap of the previous releases.
Connections 6, 5, and 7 have been around for a while, and we will not focus on them. Connections 8 introduces a new look and feel for the platform, along with improved user experiences around search, sharing, and uploading to drive engagement and adoption of Connections.
Better User Experience
HCL Connections V8 comes with a re-imagined user experience, a simplified search and ubiquitous sharing:
One of the great improvements is the new Navigation which puts focus on consistency – no matter where you are in Connections. This also allows you easy access to features.
The top navigation comes with a configurable logo, color and environment name. You also get an always present search bar with an updated search experience from start-to-find. The left main navigation comes with access to key Connections apps and is configurable to enable adding more apps.One other great thing is the Important-to-Me bar which is now always on the right and gives users quick access to their key people and Communities.
New Search Bar
HCL Connections V8 comes with a new centrally located search bar which simplifies the user interaction with context sensitive focus and intuitive filtering. You also get a newly designed results page for visual and intuitive filtering of the results.
You also have a recently viewed content on first click which gives you access to commonly used resources.
You can easily broaden or narrow the scope with suggested options.
The new share buttons lets users easily share the currently viewed page within HCL Connections or integrated chat tools. Any page within Connections can be shared within Connections, Sametime, Teams or other chat tools. You can choose to share it with People or Communities while permissions are still enforced on private content.
Another great feature is the option of quickly uploading a file with the new upload and share button.
The Universal Important-To-Me bar
This bar was introduced in Orient Me and Verse; is now pinned and recommended contacts, communities are now available everywhere for instant interaction.
You have quick access to a pinned contact’s updates, content, chat, meeting and more. Recommended contacts based on shared interests and actions are available.
Always the right Homepage
Combining Orient Me with Latest Updates, the Discover view and a configurable “My Page” let’s users choose how they want to catch up on all the action.
- Orient Me delivers updates based on their importance
- Latest updates delivers updates in chronological order
- Discover by recommendations
- My View with dashboard-like access to the HCL Connections apps.
You can easily switch between the 4 modes and set a default.
Customization Made Easy
The new App Registry editor will allow easy customization of the HCL Connections user experience. You are able to easily change colors, logos, text and icon size, location of elements like search and more. There is also no need to restart Connections, the changes will be applied with just a browser refresh.
HCL Connections offers a “Better Together” roadmap, which focuses on integrating the platform with other HCL products and third-party applications. For instance, Connections 8 offers a limited use license of Leap that enables users to download and build apps such as polls or surveys that can be embedded into a community. Also, HCL Connections is working on improving the experience of its integration with Microsoft Teams, and with the Sametime 12 release, there are plans to improve the experience beyond the current presence awareness and chat options.
In addition, HCL Connections offers desktop plugins for Mac and Windows that enhance the user experience by providing easy access to the platform’s features from the desktop. With HCL Connections, businesses can look forward to an integrated collaboration platform that is constantly evolving to meet their needs.
HCL Connections Roadmap
As you can see, the platform has come a long way and continues to add value to our customers. From enhanced security features to improved collaboration tools, Connections 8 has it all. And with the updated marketing materials, it’s easier than ever to showcase all that Connections has to offer to those who are not yet using it.
Like other HCL products, Connections is switching to product names, and the three themes that will be the focus of future releases are infrastructure, community focus, and better together. To help you keep track of the releases, they will be named after evergreen trees, starting with cedar for Connections eight release, followed by Juniper, Sequoia, and Spruce.
However, the key thing to note is that HCL is committed to increasing velocity and shortening the release cycle, so customers can expect more frequent releases. For instance, HCL Connections 8 took longer to launch because it involved rebuilding the UI, which meant touching every page. Going forward, HCL will adopt a more agile approach to release management, while the signature releases will bear the names mentioned above.
Let’s delve deeper into the themes that HCL is focusing on. Firstly, infrastructure. HCL aims to make it easier for customers to operate their Connections environment by reducing the was dependency, modernizing the was stack, and making the compact stack with containers more accessible. Also, HCL plans to bring the data privacy toolkit into the core of Connections. This feature allows you to manage your environment better, comply with GDPR, and anonymize user interactions easily.
Secondly, community focus. HCL believes that people are at the core of Connections, and the community is what brings people together. Therefore, HCL plans to add features to increase the value of communities, such as lifecycle management to archive read-only communities, better membership management, admin-like features to move content between communities, and cue docs workflow for wikis.
Lastly, better together. This theme focuses on improving the integration between Connections and other HCL products to make it easier for customers to use them together.
For any assistance in your journey with HCL Connections just send us an email and we are more than happy to lend you a hand.