eXo Tribe Spotlight: how Ole Jessien uses eXo for social collaboration in an ad agency

eXo Platform Blog


Ole Jessien is in charge of graphics and IT at Yellow, a mid-sized ad agency in Copenhagen with about 35 employees. He uses eXo to accumulate knowledge and make it available to the entire organization.

Fun facts:

Besides being a unique blend of designer and techie, Ole is fluent in 7 languages (Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, French, Italian, German and English). He can also count to three in Finnish, and say “cigarette butt” and a less polite word for “urinating”.

He has a tattoo of a digital owl that he got in San Francisco after hanging out in Castro/Haight Ashbury.

He loves traveling and has visited over 30 countries, with his favourite being Japan. He describes his attitude to life as a contradictory mixture of a slow, calm Buddhist approach while actually being really impatient. He says that the impatience gives him drive and the slow approach gives him thoroughness.

Read on to see what Ole has to say about social collaboration with eXo…

Tell us about the work you do.

I’ve been at Yellow for 7 years. I’m the IT and Media Manager and am in charge of both graphics and IT, although I focus more on the technical aspects of design than the creative.

What are your typical daily responsibilities?

My daily routine is broad and varied. We recently changed our infrastructure into a virtual environment. My main responsibilities include managing these virtual machines through VMWare and setting up and maintaining our Linux machines.

Tell us a bit more about this environment.

I used an old Mac OSX server that I virtualized using vSphere. I then set up ESX1 on a couple of old Mac Pros to virtualize the OSX server. We use LDAP to serve our 35 staff members, running an Active Directory. I set this up and maintain it.

What challenge were you trying to solve that prompted you to look around for the kind of tools that eXo provides?

My first challenge was to find a better wiki platform to replace our existing one. We were using the default Apple wiki, which I found to be lacking in several ways. It wasn’t user-friendly, there was no navigational tree structure, and it lacked proper searchability. So I began to look for a replacement wiki solution.

How did you find out about eXo?

I first tried Atlassian running on Tomcat, but that didn’t really work. So I searched for other wiki options, specifically looking for open source intranet and wiki solutions. I needed one that was both free and user-friendly.

It was also very important to me to find an open source solution that is supported by an active and healthy community with high levels of forum participation. And one of the other real dealbreakers was that the user interface needed to be modern and appealing.

I must have found 10-20 different solutions that met these criteria, but still none of them were exactly what I was looking for. I came across eXo via Bitnami – I love the concept of pre-packaged VMs; it’s a really easy way to get acquainted without hours of set-up and initial learning. So I downloaded one of its virtual machines that had eXo on it.

As it happened, the Bitnami package didn’t work as well as I hoped it would, but I was intrigued by eXo, so I went directly to the eXo website and downloaded it. It was immediately clear that there was no better choice than eXo. It was obviously the best solution I’d found.

Was it easy to set up?

The set-up was quick and easy. To get it working on Tomcat all I had to do was install it and execute a few commands and it was up and running.

Roll out and information migration were quick as well. I manually transferred as much information as possible from our old Apple wiki system and then simply redirected user logins to the eXo front-end. So basically one morning when everyone came in the intranet had changed. I didn’t even have to give any advance warning; it all just worked seamlessly.

What did you like so much about eXo?

Its straightforwardness is wonderful and it’s very easy for people to use. I also really love its searchability, and the way you can constrain searches within spaces in the eXo wiki.

Crucially, I found that the eXo forums are really active, with a vibrant community. This was a huge help when I encountered issues that I didn’t want to spend too long trying to work out for myself. For instance, the eXo documentation is excellent – really thorough, but also quite technical. I didn’t want to spend too much time going through it all, so I turned to the forums where I was quickly able to get some extra support through live interaction with other eXo users.

What have you specifically used eXo for?

Besides the wiki aspect, we’ve used eXo as a social intranet. We needed to accumulate knowledge and get it into the hands of everyone, enabling discussion and strengthening internal collaboration – to open up the community workflow in our company, so to speak. We wanted to take away individual ownership of information – our ethos is that we want people to be invaluable in their ability to apply information, not to be valued only for their unique access to or ownership of knowledge. Our emphasis is very much on the application of knowledge rather than custody of information.

What are your favourite features of eXo?

As I said, I really like how straightforward it is to use. I also love the Spaces element – it’s a really powerful way to segment information in social network form. It gives a “space” for users to pull in files to discuss and work on projects for each of our advertising clients.

I also need to stress again how important the interface is. It needed to be modern and appealing. The people I work with are rather critical from a design point of view. It’s not good enough for something to just work properly; it has to also look right. This is one of the most favourable features of eXo. On top of this it is also functionally intuitive, so it really is a powerful combination.

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I am the Chief Executive Officer of eXo Platform (the open source digital workplace platform), a company that I co-founded while in college and that I came back to after several years in the banking and consulting industry. I blog about modern work, about open-source and sovereignty issues. Occasionally, I also blog about my personal areas of interest, such as personal development, work–life balance, sustainability and gender equality.

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