Preparing for Lotusphere this evening I thought I'd share a story for Business Partner Tuesday.
Two things happened today. I needed to regain control over my iPhone 3GS - no ring control. And the company formerly known as Facetime is now called Actiance.
Why are these two events related? Well...during the day I read about "Actiance" and this evening I was driven to purchase the iPhone 4 because of "Facetime". Driven. A functioning mute button before LS OGS is a good thing. Of course a working 3GS (one that hadn't taken a couple nose dives down a marble stair case, skidded across parking lots) could have done that trick. But while I'm out buying a replacement phone...I might as well get the latest :), fastest, and as John touted in his tweet yesterday about his new iPhone 4 - most amazing resolution.
Truth be told at the end of it - it was "Facetime" that got me to buy the iPhone 4 vs simply a replacement 3GS. What new Mac convert could resist when you just might have a chance to see your kid's face on your phone? Video was the key differentiator for me. Talk about the best marketing strategy ever....market expansion...kids, grandmas...traveling parents...it's not just the email and internet access anymore driving the device purchase. It is also "remote" family members and friends "closer" in "real-time video". Video. Voice. Video. We have been hearing about video a lot haven't we in our own market space? This entire generation might grow up with it being as common as a voice chat.
Another trend we are seeing is a lot of companies renaming their products (or in this case themselves).
So back to Actiance. The company formerly known as Facetime, whose former name is now owned by Apple, is now called Actiance. Quoting Romeo and Juliet in their blog, they describe what the name means. Pretty creative guys! They bridged a couple of key words that describe what they offer into a new word - ACT
IVE COMPLIANCE =
Actiance. I have to agree those were the two most accurate words to hone in on. See more about this on their website.
Today's the last day for the Vendor Expo Hall at Enterprise Connect 2011. Like yesterday, we have scheduled some short presentations on topics of interest, so feel free to come on by.
- 12pm: IBM Sametime Overview: Meetings, Video and Mobile
- 1pm: Preparing your network for private cloud
- 2pm: IBM Sametime Unified Telephony and connectivity with Audiocodes
- 3pm:IBM Sametime Unified Telephony and connectivity with Dialogic
- 4pm: IBM LotusLive Meetings
And it's the last day to get your Sweet Tweets as well! Just tweet #ibmexperience to get a sugary treat that would make your mother fear for your tooth enamel.
The Chief Executive of Contact Center technology specialist Aspect had this interesting experience to share
about using Unified Communications (eating their own cooking, so to speak):
He said: “When we moved our business to UC,
we expected a period of adjustment, but we found that we simply had to
show staff how it worked, and the culture began changing virtually
We've been saying in Sametime for a while that "adoption drives
business value". Here's a real example in the real world. We would love to hear some of your examples of how UC adoption has led to transformation in your enterprises. What are
some of your examples?
I always thought this was odd...
For years, Lotus Notes has included a basic version of Sametime. It provides simple presence and text chat within the Notes / Domino environment. For online meetings, voice, video, file transfers, screen captures, mobile clients, browser clients, the gateway for public IM federation, etc, etc, etc, users needed a license to Sametime Standard or Advanced. Yet, for some reason, we never had an easy upgrade path in place. Now, we do.
Buried in the Sametime 8.5 Announcement Letter are these new part numbers:
- Lotus Sametime Standard Extension from Sametime Limited Entitlement
- Lotus Sametime Advanced Extension from Sametime Limited Entitlement (D0CCBLL)
They let Notes users 'extend' their Notes licenses with Sametime Standard or Advanced capabilities at a discounted price. While the part numbers are in the Sametime 8.5 Announcement, they
can be used for Sametime Standard 8.0.x or Advanced 8.0.x as well. (Just to be clear, these are just for Notes users and you can only extend the number of Notes licenses you have on active maintenance. For users without Notes, you need a regular Standard or Advanced license.)
But, there you go Notes customers, upgrade to Sametime Standard or Advanced today!
* December 16, 2009 update: Corrected Standard Extension part number.
"We are proud to recognize winning companies for the sixth annual
INTERNET TELEPHONY Excellence Awards. All the companies recognized have
created IP communications products that have proven to be exceptional
and in the end delivered winning solutions that benefited their
customer," stated TMC's CEO, Rich Tehrani.
The 2010 INTERNET TELEPHONY Excellent Award winners are published in the October 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine, www.itmag.com
It's always an honor to be given these awards (and we've won many). But it's even more of an honor when you choose us as your UC vendor. For that we thank you even more.
IBM announced our annual Lotus Award Winners for 2010, as blogged about in the Collaborate for Success Blog
. Our Business Partners were a bright spot for us in 2009, and we look forward to even more success in 2010. A sampling of the Sametime business partners who won or were nominated include:
Best Unified Communications and Collaboration Solution Award
WINNER: Instant Technologies (United States)
Finalist: RADVISION, Inc. (United States)
Finalist: KMSLAB Co. Ltd (Korea)
IBM Lotus Breakout Technology Award
Finalist: Alcatel-Lucent (France)
IBM Lotus Marketing Award
Finalist: Epilio (United States)
Distinguished Achievement Award
Finalist: Meridian IT (United States)
If I forgot a few winners or finalists, please let me know so I can post an errata. Congrats to our winners and finalists!
Each year Lotus gives out many awards for best partner, best solution, etc, etc. My personal contribution to award season is the annual Best in Lotusphere Chotski Award. For those of you not familiar with the term, chotski's are the freebie's given out by exhibitors on the show floor. Last year, Premiere Global Services
(PGi) won with nerf-like dart guns (great fun with the kids) and chocolate bars. (This year PGi rolled out Sametime 8.5 + their audio conferencing as a managed service... but no great chotski's.)
This year there were two runners up, Polycom
. On the floor, Polycom was showing their telepresence, voice and video conferencing solutions for Sametime 8.5. Permessa featured their email and instant messaging management and compliance tools (which won the Lotus Award for Best Tool or Utility). Interestingly, both gave away fantastic pens. (Yes, pens.) Permessa went the traditional, but high-end, route with a very substantial silver and black number. This thing is solid. Polycom took a more modern approach with a smooth writing ballpoint with a built-in yellow highlighter.
But this year's winner was clearly Extracomm
. Granted, it might have been because I got to them late on the last day... but they were handing out USB Sametime phones, 3D optical mice, iphone cases and golf shirts. Among other offerings, Extracomm produces ExtraTxt and ExtraFax. These let Sametime users send faxes or SMS messages from their Connect client. Check them out.
Congratulations to all our winners and good luck next year!
I don't know if this has been widely shared yet, but as Lotusphere drew to a close, we learned that Akiba Saeedi would be leaving us for a new challenge in IBM. For the past four years, Akiba has led the Sametime product management team with equal parts passion, intelligence, eloquence and tenacity. (Ok... maybe a little more tenacity.) She, Adam Gartenberg and David Marshak were instrumental in reinvigorating the Sametime brand and establishing our Unified Communications and Collaboration Strategy.
On February 1st, Akiba joined the Information Management division of Software Group where she's taking on portfolio strategy for emerging markets and products. Just to show how small IBM actually is (despite its size) one of the products she's taking on is the Infosphere Traceability Server. This was a key component of IBM Solution for Pharmaceutical Track & Trace... which was of the solutions I used to own before coming to Sametime.
We wish her all the best.
In February, we let you know that our long-time leader, Akiba Saeedi, had moved on to new challenges in IBM (A Changing of the Guard
). Today, I'd like to share a couple of additional organizational changes with you
First, I took over as head of the Sametime Product Management team in March. I have been extremely lucky to be a part of this team for the past two years and will do my best to clear the way for the real brains in the organization... our product managers Rob Ingram and David Marshak, SUT Offering Manager, Kathleen Cooke and our Industry Solutions/Collaboration Agenda lead, Marlon Machado.
Second, I'm very excited to announce that Jelan Heidelberg will take over for me next week as the
Offering Manager for the core Sametime portfolio (Entry, Standard & Advanced.) You may know Jelan as the Offering Manager for Quickr, a role she's held for the last four years. Jelan really knows how to make the IBM machine move and I'm counting on her experience to help us accelerate the transformation that began with Sametime 7.5 and the Unified Communication & Collaboration vision.
Finally, we also have an important addition to our WW Sales Leadership. Rick Schonbrun, a long-time communications industry veteran, joined us in March. Rick was most recently President & CEO of Telovations, a managed services provider "offering outsourced communications services and applications delivered through a hosted SaaS model". He's also had senior sales and marketing roles with Sonexis, Expanets and 3COM. We're happy to have his expertise to guide us as the collaboration and communication markets continue to merge.
Welcome to Jelan and Rick!
I've been reading lots of literature about Communication-Enabled Business Processes, or CEBPs over the last few weeks. Most of it seems to revolve around the notion that CEBPs are nothing but voice-enabled business processes; that all you need to do to enable a business process with communications services is add voice to it. Other ideas around CEBPs call for taking the basic premise of eliminating human latency to the extreme and to actually measure how much a business process can be accelerated through communications enablement in actual minutes. I think both notions fail to present the full dimension of what CEBPs are and why we need them.
I agree that the main purpose of turning a regular business process into a CEBP is to deal with human latency. However, there are business processes in which human intervention is an intrinsic feature and, as a result, expected to be part of the process. I'm talking about processes where human decision-making must be rooted on reflection and careful evaluation of pros and cons, reflection that will invariable manifest itself as latency in the overall business process. I wouldn't mind, for instance, having my doctor taking enough time to evaluate the best treatment options for me or a fund manager taking time to go over a company's books and strategy before investing my money in it. What I would like is for both, my doctor and my broker, to be able to access all the contextual information they need to support the thought process and to have the tools to eliminate latency from their own decision-making process.
I think in these cases the goal behind communication-enabling business processes should be to prevent the process from slowing down as opposed to accelerating it just because faster is better. Doing this requires more than voice, chat and video. It requires a healthy combination of real-time and asynchronous communications and collaboration services to reduce not only human latency where needed but to enhance the context to support decision-making.
I think work styles have a lot to do with the perception that CEBPs are all about voice and reducing human latency. Traditional work styles tend to hover towards extremes: you're either sending email (the most asynchronous way of communication aside from snail mail and fax) or you get on the phone with that person if you can't walk into his or her office. And so, if these are your parameters, that's what you're going to try to optimize. When, on the other hand, you're used to live in a multimodal environment in which chat, voice, a blog post, an entry on a Wiki or a tweet can get you the information you need and when knowing the person who gave you the answer is just there without you having to talk directly to him or her, that's when you realize email and voice alone are way too extreme. Then you learn that just having access to the context in which that person operates can be enough.
Why am I talking about this? Well, this is how we define CEBPs in the Sametime world. We view Sametime as more than just real-time communications--hence the "UC²" thing. We do have the real-time communication capabilities that our competitors have and we also provide the asynchronous and context-based means to provide a better way to do CEBPs through Sametime Advanced and with the help of our sister products and I think we need to talk more about this. I know I should probably write this in a white paper at some point (and I will) but I thought it necessary to rant about it a bit here just to get it off my chest..
See you all in Orlando.
I'm working on the slides for the session I'm going to present at Lotusphere 2010. The session title is JMP201 IBM Lotus Sametime for Web 2.0. The session is really about the Sametime platform and the Sametime SDK with an emphasis on the significance of the Sametime Proxy 8.5 Toolkit.
The more I learn about the Proxy and the Proxy Toolkit the more I like it. I honestly think it represents the easiest way to enable Web applications for unified communications services. It's amazing how easy to use the toolkit is. The footprint it imposes on a Web page is minimal and yet it's gentle enough to be fully customizable.
I like the fact that it has an encapsulation layer that makes it backward compatible with the STLinks and Sametime Connect Web toolkits. I also like the fact that, if it detects that the Sametime Connect Client is running on the same desktop as the Web page, all requests go to the Connect Client through the Connect Web toolkit, which broadens the integration picture from Web pages all the way to custom applications through the Sametime Helper toolkit. The possibilities are endless. I like that.
There are going to be several sessions about the Proxy 8.5 Toolkit at Lotusphere 2010. Make sure to check them out if you're interested in learning more. Check out John's December 2 posting
for more details.
This week IBM Sametime achieved a major milestone. As you probably know, many companies around the world are still debating whether to embrace iOS as a supported platform for enterprise-grade mobility.
Like all responsible companies, IBM has also been evaluating its response to the overwhelming acceptance iOS has gained among enterprise users. The IBM CIO Office has followed a carefully orchestrated process to determine whether--and how--to embrace iOS. As part of that effort, the IBM CIO Office has been sponsoring a pilot deployment of IBM Sametime Mobile for iOS that enables access to our internal server from iPhone and iPad devices.
This week the CIO Office decided to "graduate" the pilot and enable access to all IBMers. This is a major endorsement for IBM Sametime Mobile for iOS and we couldn't be happier. This puts all our mobile clients: Android, BlackBerry, and iOS, in production-grade status on the IBM IT infrastructure.
As you can imagine--and probably already know--the IBM CIO Office manages one of the most complex IT infrastructures in the world; one that serves over 300,000 users and hundreds of sites around the world. I guess if the IBM CIO Office thinks Sametime Mobile for iOS is good enough for their infrastructure it should be good enough for most.
The Sametime User Experience team is conducting an online survey on Sametime Mobile regarding "Top Tasks for Chat". If you're a Sametime Mobile user we'd love to hear your opinion on what features and usage patterns are important to you when using Sametime Mobile.
Completing the survey takes just a few minutes and your input will be invaluable to us--especially as we continue structuring the plan for our next release. So,if you have a few minutes to spare, please take a look at the survey and let us know what you think. You can find it here: https://www-950.ibm.com/survey/oid/wsb.dll/s/ag470
Y'all (I have to use it here...) may be already familiar with the project our business partner UnifiedEdge
has been working on at The City of Fort Worth, Texas. The project is all about outfitting the Joint Emergency Operations Center serving Fort Worth and surrounding Tarrant County with a social communications infrastructure to enable rapid responses to natural disasters and other emergency events in the area. The infrastructure includes IBM Sametime and UnifiedEdge RadioConnect for Sametime.
The story was released as a public reference yesterday. It's a great story that describes a powerful solution that addresses a complex problem in a very elegant way. The benefits are such that you only notice them when they're not there: the solution helps people make better, more informed, wiser decisions in situations when you have to think fast and respond quickly. Check it out if have time. It's an interesting read. You can find it here
As we are moving into the fourth quarter of the year, we will have more news to share on Sametime 9... Today, I am sharing a teaser of some of the mobile capabilities that will soon allow you to take advantage of the new Sametime 9 infrastructure that we shipped on September 20th. Come back soon to this site to find out exactly when this will be available in your favorite app. store.
Here is Luis Benitez's recording that he posted on youtube today, and specifically the sequence that starts at 02:44.
Sametime 8.5.2 introduces a whole new set of administrative features at various levels throughout the product. As I mentioned in previous postings, we're committed to make it easier for everyone, from end users to administrators, to take advantage of the capabilities we offer. This includes, of course, making it easy to administer those capabilities as well as the underlying infrastructure.
When we talk about administrative features we're not just talking about "systems administration". We're also talking about things such as administrative tools for meeting rooms, tools to administer call routing and preferred devices within Sametime Unified Telephony, access to persistent chat rooms in Sametime Advanced, etc.
On the systems administration front, though, we did lots of pretty nice things on 8.5.2. As I mentioned in my last posting, we're making it easier to administer how audio and video are deployed and used on the infrastructure. This includes the new TURN Server for NAT traversal and the new Bandwidth Manager component. We're also providing federated deployment capabilities for the Sametime Systems Console, new monitoring APIs and integration with Tivoli Monitoring.
These administrative features are aimed at making life easier for Sametime administrators. The new capabilities such as NAT traversal and bandwidth management are intended to help manage resources in a policy-driven manner that does not require administrators to be constantly tweaking settings. Even installation and configuration are easier in 8.5.2 than in previous versions thanks to this approach of expressing tasks in terms of policies and guided activities.
On the end user side, we are also providing new administrative features as I mentioned above.
Meeting rooms include improved moderator and audio and video controls and a way to explicitly end meetings for everyone when needed. Meeting room owners can designate managers and they can decide who can do what on their meeting rooms effectively administering (moderating is probably a better word in this context) the meetings experience for the people they interact with. On the other side of the equation, systems administrators can now remove meeting rooms directly from the server.
We are also providing capabilities to manage the audio and video experience. Having the ability to integrate dual TCSPI adapters for audio and video conferencing, users can now select the service provider that fits their needs and switch from one call to the next.
Users can also administer their call routing and device preferences for Sametime Unified Telephony directly from the Android devices. This is a first for us and something that truly mobile users will appreciate.
Our new meetings client for BlackBerry also provides administrative features. Users can manage the list of their favorite meeting rooms and the meeting servers they connect to.
We have enabled support for Sametime Advanced on the Sametime Systems Console. This makes our deployment and management for Advanced fully consistent with the rest of the Sametime family, again, to make life easier.
Additionally, we're providing new administrative features to improve chat history management. Users can now search chat transcripts by person and by date and they can also search files and links sent by a specific person. Very handy indeed.
All this is, as I said, aimed at making life easier for end users as well as for administrators. We will continue refining Sametime along these lines to make it even easier to deploy and to use. Stay tuned.
Now that Lotusphere 2012 is history it's time to take a look at what people are saying about it. Before most of us had even made it home from Orlando, the analyst community was already gearing up to comment on what they heard at Lotusphere. So far, the comments have been positive and encouraging. Here's a few that I found interesting:
Let's start with Frost and Sullivan. Rob Arnold's piece
has an attention-grabbing title: Is IBM Backing Away from UC?
The answer, of course, is no, and Rob gets to that conclusion very quickly when he states that
Leveraging a greater breadth and depth of its strengths, IBM is now
placing the bulk of its emphasis on social business. For IBM, UC has
become a component or a subset of capabilities within social business
environments. Sametime’s IM and presence applications are powering rich
communications, mobile and real-time capabilities within IBM’s flagship
next-gen collaboration platform, Connections.
This is an important acknowledgement. We've been saying for a long time that social interaction patterns provide the natural context for people-to-people interactions; that we've been using them ever since humans learned to communicate verbally and that it's only natural that we should leverage their effectiveness in the enterprise. Integrating real-time communication channels (UC) into our social software is the way to do it. Art Rosenberg
writes in the UC Strategies Blog about the meaning of "Social Business" in What's in a Name? "UC", "Lync" and now "Social Business"
. The piece emphasizes the UC-enabled nature of our Social Business offerings as a leap forward in the evolution of UC.
Art actually makes that point one more time in a comment on Marty Parker's piece
on the UC Strategies Blog: IBM Lotusphere 2012 - Socializing 'Social Business'
. Marty provides a thorough report of the conference and highlights the main takeaways of our Social Business message: Reach, Engage, Discover, Act.
All three pieces hit the mark on identifying and highlighting the message we wanted to convey at Lotusphere 2012. I would, however, emphasize that the Reach, Engage, Discover, Act mantra works precisely because UC is an integral part of it. I would argue that, when put in this particular context, the term UC actually falls short and it may be time to come up with some other term that reflects the new normal more appropriately. We're already working on it.
It's 12:26 AM EST in Orlando. Lotusphere is in full swing and I just came back to my room at the Dolphin hotel after attending the Australian Party--allegedly the hottest ticket in town during Lotusphere. I just said good night to my lovely wife and, instead of brushing my teeth and getting ready to go to bed, I'm here writing this post.
The reason I'm doing this is to clarify what Collaboration Agenda means for Sametime. I've been manning the Collaboration Agenda pedestal at the IBM booth and I'm getting lots of questions about what this actually means; questions from business partners, customers and even from IBM colleagues. So, here it goes.
Collaboration Agenda is a philosophy, a way of doing things, a metamethodology that brings together well-known best practices to help customers address pain points with solutions that will save them money and help them make money.
It all starts with industry priorities defined by industry leaders and visionaries. Each industry priority encompasses a series of well-defined pain points that are measurable and quantifiable. Then, based on that knowledge, we apply known best practices to address those pain points with solutions designed to minimize the impact inflicted by those pain points on the customer's business processes and to maximize efficiency and agility. In the case of business processes that benefit from reducing and/or eliminating human latency, such solutions will be based on unified communications and collaboration software.
Devising solutions using the Collaboration Agenda philosophy produces things such as RadioConnect for Sametime, a solution based on Sametime Standard and a soft radio plug-in developed by UnifiedEdge, an IBM Business Partner based out of Round Rock, Texas. RadioConnect was designed with a manic focus on solving a single problem: lack of interoperability among disparate radio infrastructures in emergency response and public safety scenarios and nothing else.
This is what Collaboration Agenda can help us achieve. RadioConnect may not be very sexy--it won't update your Tweeter status or your Facebook wall--but it will help first responders communicate with each other in an emergency situation, which can contribute to minimizing the loss of life and property.
If you happen to be at Lotusphere and would like to have a deeper discussion about this feel free to drop by the IBM booth. I'm going to be back at the Collaboration Agenda pedestal between 11:45 AM EST and 2:00 PM EST today.
The world is noticing that communication alone is not as useful as when it's done in the service of collaboration towards achieving a common goal--if only talk show hosts would get a grip on that one... but I digress. The point is that communication as an enabler to collaboration actually make sense and people are starting to notice. The steady penetration of social software into business processes proves my point.
I mentioned before we're working with the IBM BPM team in devising integration scenarios for BPM and UC² around a theme known as "Social BPM". We're making good progress along several work streams and we're all very excited about the strength of this story.
Today, an article on Internet Telephony titled Businesses Are Sweet on Social Networking
talks about specific case studies where customers are deploying social software to enrich collaboration and bridge gaps caused geography and other barriers. The author has nice things to say about our very own Connections software:
"...one customer is Rheinmetall AG, a German defense and automotive manufacturer. They have deployed Lotus Connections and embedded it into their internal SAP portal to improve productivity across teams, time zones, borders and corporate divisions. They can tap the expertise of their entire organization from the context of their ERP system.”
Another IBM customer is the Practicing Law Institute, which deployed IBM social software last year to support its extranet site for 100,000 lawyers. “The social capabilities allow PLI to not only deliver continuing education to the legal industry more effectively, it also helps strengthen PLI’s relationships with those customers so they visit more frequently,” says Lamb.
When organizations embed the knowledge of employee or customer communities into those applications, adds Lamb, they accelerate adoption, and they can optimize that particular business process. This results in faster time to market, shorter sales cycles, improved customer satisfaction, lower call center volume and other potential benefits, he says.
Sametime and Connections are first cousins who are growing up together. Sametime is about ten years older than Connections and, as a good older cousin, it has embraced its younger cousin. Sametime features integration with Connections both ways, on the Sametime Connect client, and on the Connections user interface as well.
You can get to a person's activities, blogs, communities, etc. on Connections straight from a chat window on the Sametime Connect client:
Additionally, you can see a person's Sametime presence and availability status directly from the Connections user interface:
In a nutshell, we got this one down. Now we're working on taking it to the next level where social software and unified communications along with BPM software will truly make CEBP happen.