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 - ACTIVE COMPLIANCE = Actiance. I have to agree those were the two most accurate words to hone in on. See more about this on their website.
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?
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 (D0CCALL) (D0CC9LL)
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 Americas:
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 and Permessa. 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.
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.
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..
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 ithere.
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.
As some of you may already know, today was my last day as the Program Director for Sametime Product Management. On Monday, I start the next chapter in my IBM career - as the Program Director for IT Solutions for Rational. There, I'll oversee strategy and Industry Solutions for a billion dollar portfolio. I'm looking forward to learning about a new space and leveraging my previous experience in industry solutions. (They tell me I'll be dreaming about DevOps in my sleep.)
I've been a part of this business for a long time and am happy to leave it in very capable hands. Kramer Reeves, the Director of Product Management for Messaging and Collaboration, will take on management responsibilities until he names my replacement (soon from what I hear). The rest of my team will handle the day-to-day activities, with Kramer's support:
Julie Reed - Product Manager for Audio, Video and Telephony
Marlon Machado - Product Manager for Chat, Presence, Meetings, Mobile, APIs and other core services
Marc Pagnier - Product Manager for Cloud
William Kulju - Offerings Manager overseeing licensing, pricing, packaging and other business issues.
While I'm proud of all of our accomplishments, Sametime 9 has to be the crowning achievement of my tenure. With its new, streamlined (dare I say, sexy?) user experience, the cutting edge continuous presence video, deep integrations with Connections and incredible mobile clients... I'd put Sametime up against any communications software on the market today. It's been an incredible amount of fun watching customers and partners get so excited over this release. More importantly, the team is building on Sametime 9 and has great things in store for the future. I look forward to watching the Connect 2015 live stream - as a user - to see all the innovations on the way.
Lastly, I want to thank the entire extended Sametime team for their ceaseless dedication and hard work. And to the members of my direct team - both past (Lisa, David, Rob, Kathleen, Akiba, Bruce) and present (Julie, Marlon, Marc & William) - thanks for being great colleagues and incredible friends. I probably would have moved on long ago if it wasn't for how much fun I had with all of these great individuals.
And with that, I'll leave you to have a fantastic weekend.
Earlier in 2011, we told you about changes in the way Yahoo! Messenger federates with IBM Sametime. As you may recall, your IBM Sametime Gateway integrates directly with the Yahoo! Messenger servers through a single sign-on capability, letting your employees use their corporate Sametime identity to exchange presence information and text chats with Yahoo! Messenger users. Yahoo! has communicated their intention to shut this service down on or near mid-December 2011.
IBM planned to deliver a plug-in to the Sametime Connect client that would allow users to exchange text chats with Yahoo! Messenger users through a new Yahoo! Messenger IM API. Unfortunately, despite diligent efforts by both parties, IBM and Yahoo! have not been able to agree to terms that would allow us to use the Messenger IM API on conditions that are mutually agreeable. When Yahoo! shuts down their SIP infrastructure this month, your IBM Sametime Gateway will no longer work with that service.
Please note that the Sametime Gateway will continue to function as normal for AOL, Google, XMPP based services, Microsoft OCS and other Sametime communities.
In case you missed the tweeting a few weeks ago, you should know that a new cloud offering for Unified Communications was launched by IBM (it's us) on April 16th. Under the name "IBM SmartCloud Unified Communications Dedicated", this offering delivers a complete communications suite from a private cloud. This solution is built on enterprise-grade software components, such as: feature rich telephony, instant messaging and presence from IBM Sametime and Sametime Unified Telephony, unified messaging from IBM, video integration, and more... A wide variety of communication devices can be made available with softphones, deskphones, and of course, support for smartphones and tablets.
This offering is designed to facilitate the transition to cloud-based telephony, and provides support for flexible deployment models (IBM data centers, or managed on customer premises). This offering is the result of an extended partnership between IBM Collaboration Services (Sametime software) and IBM Global Technology Services (ex: networking and managed services), aimed at delivering a best-of-breed and complete UC solution.
For more information, here is the official IBM announcement (www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/cgi-bin/ssialias?htmlfid=897/ENUS613-002&infotype=AN&subtype=CA). You can expect more news around this new offering over the next few months.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me, or anyone in the Sametime product management team.
On behalf of the entire IBM Unified Communication & Collaboration organization, I am pleased to introduce IBM Sametime 8.5.2 (Standard, Advanced and SUT). This is an absolutely jam packed release that continues to deliver against our "UC2" vision. More importantly, this release helps position Sametime as a critical part of your Social Business Platform... making it possible to find, reach and collaborate with your colleagues, customers and partners when and how it is most beneficial.
Here's an overview of whats new in this release:
New in Audio / Video (av):
Native and third-party audio and video in browser-based online meetings. Sametime 8.5 made it easy to access meetings through the Connect client or through a browser. Now we've added audio video to the browser experience. You can leverage our own native capabilities (up to 20 people with switched video) or use third party audio, video conferencing and telepresence systems for more robust capabilities. Either way, all it takes is a a small browser plug-in (2 mb).
Standard-based Network Address Translation (NAT) support and Firewall traversal for Audio & Video. This bit of infrastructure makes it easy to use av with customers, partners and anyone outside of your network.
Bandwidth management tools to protect the network by managing audio and video usage. Protect your mission critical applications by controlling how much bandwidth is allocated to av overall, how much is allocated to different classes of users and locations and politely prevent av sessions from connecting if there is inadequate bandwidth.
Support for dual Telephone Conferencing Service Provider Interface (TCSPI) adapters. This enables simultaneous integration with multiple audio and video conferencing systems and gives users the choice of which makes the most sense for them.
New in Mobility:
A new Sametime client for Google Android devices Text to speech reads you incoming messages, embed images in Sametime chats, update your location through the phone's GPS and initiate SUT calls.
A new Sametime Meeting client for Research In Motion (RIM) Blackberry devices
New in Telephony:
SUT Lite Client License An easy way to get started down the UC path, this new license turns your Sametime Connect client into a simple softphone. It requires minimal configuration (a SIP trunk from the Sametime Media Manager) to make or receive voice or video calls.
Intelligent number recognizers within the chat window. Sametime will now recognize phone numbers sent to you via instant message and let you click on them to dial.
Active speaker notification in ad-hoc conference calls
SUT Dialer on Google Android devices Change your preferred SUT device and initiate SUT calls while mobile. Call recipients will see your unified number and other Sametime users will see when you are on the phone.
New in Sametime Advanced
An infrastructure refresh that improves both scalability and deployability. Sametime Advanced helps you interact with communities of users (for example, your IBM Connections Communities) in real time. A great way to tap into experts you don't personally know right when you need them.
As if the greatly improved administrative experience, user experience and overall business value from IBM Lotus Sametime 8.5.1 weren't enough (hey, I had a lot of coffee this morning), you might want to also know that IBM has announced that as of September 30, 2011 (over a year from now), IBM will no longer be providing support for Sametime 7 and Sametime 7.5. This should give you, our esteemed clients, plenty of time to upgrade. And remember, if you're on Software Maintenance (and most of you already are), there is no charge to upgrade*: begin planning your upgrade now by starting with Upgrade Central or Planning for migration from an earlier release in the Sametime Information Center.
(*terms and conditions apply, see Announcement Letter for details. I had to say that or IBM Legal would get mad at me).
Our friends at Arkadin have just published a very nice video showing how nicely their audio conferencing platform integrates with IBM Sametime.
Arkadin's Hybrid audio brings Sametime voice and PSTN telephony into an integrated experience right from Sametime Connect and Sametime Meetings. If you're coming to IBM Connect 2014 next week make sure to stop by the Arkadin booth at the exhibit hall to take a peek.
FYI folks. I'll be at IamLUG 2010 in Saint Louis tomorrow and Tuesday. Tomorrow at lunch I'm scheduled to do a presentation about the Sametime Proxy and the Sametime Proxy toolkit at 1:00 PM in Room D. Feel free to drop by if you're interested in the topic or just to say hello. I'll be at the conference until Tuesday afternoon.
I'd like to invite those of you who will be at IamLUG 2011 in Saint Louis next week to stop by Room A on Tuesday at 3:30 PM. This year I'm going talk about how to help our customers make the transition from good-ol' fashioned collaboration into Social Business.
My session is titled Leveraging the IBM Exceptional Work Experience Suite on the Path to Social Business. I'll talk about how we can help customers replace linear collaboration workflows, which is what we've been telling them to do for years (remember Workplace?) with the more natural social interaction patterns that we use in our daily lives as they make their way into the enterprise. The trick to making this transition successful resides in enabling those social interaction patterns from the start. Enablement in this case means giving the people involved the means to find, reach and collaborate with each other using both, real-time, and asynchronous communication channels. I'll talk about positioning unified communications as the connective tissue that makes capabilities such as communities, profiles and Wikis context vehicles for enabling social interaction patterns.
Feel free to stop by. We'll have about 75 minutes to talk about these things. It's going to be fun.
My colleague Louis Richardson over at the Collaboration Soapbox Blog just posted a great entry, Beware brood parasites in your company. Although he wrote it specifically within the context of social software, it applies equally well to the world of unified communications. Many companies have experienced very similar frustrations with their (non-IBM) unified communications deployments. So it bears repeating: make sure the solution fits your business, and not the other way around.
It is with mixed emotions that I'm announcing that today is Bruce Morse's last day with IBM. After 32 years, he's decided that it's time to pursue other challenges and adventures in life. Most of you know that Bruce has led our Unified Communications & Collaboration segment for the past 4 years. But in his 3 decades with IBM he also
helped manage IBM's
S/390 and AS/400 businesses through a number of challenging industry
transitions in technology, computing styles and business models
was responsible for building strategic
alliances as part of IBM's business development initiatives
built the Software Group mergers and acquisition team and played a prominent role
in the acquisitions of Lotus, Tivoli, and eight other software
played a leading role in the
launch and development of the WebSphere Portal business
was a major driver in a number of our software start-up businesses,
Computing and Software Group Industry Solutions
participated in some really bad skits on the Lotusphere stage. Holy cow they were bad...
The entire UC2 team wishes him all the best and his leadership will be missed.
As for Sametime, the rest of the team remains intact and our focus unchanged. I had hoped to be able to announce Bruce's successor at the same time as his retirement, but that is still in the works. I'll let you know as soon as I am able.
#ucoms #socbiz Before announcing back at Lotusphere 2011 a new compliance solution for IBM Connections, Actiance had been an active IBM Sametime business partner for some time, specifically with their Actiance Vantage for Sametime solution. The addition of IBM Connections to the Actiance Vantage family continues to generate news, with The VAR Guy publishing an August 9 story on Actiance's plans to build a U.S. channel for its compliance software: "The VAR Guy: Social Media Compliance Vendor Builds U.S. Channel".
The collaboration between Actiance and IBM, including integration with Sametime and Connections, is highlighted:
Actiance also partners with IBM, a long-time ally. The companies have been working together in conjunction with IBM’s Sametime unified communications software. More recently, IBM announced plans to offer Actiance’s technology with IBM Connections, a social software product targeting businesses. The resulting product, Vantage for IBM Connections, will let customers archive social media content.
Today's IBM Business Partner Feature looks at our Sametime integration with Alcatel-Lucent OmniTouch 8400. IBM and Alcatel-Lucent provide desktop-level integration to speed decision-making and streamline communications. Integrations include:
OmniTouch sidebar application ("My Instant Communicator") in the Sametime Connect client
One-click calling services
Rich call control, desktop control, and call forwarding
Choice of multiple endpoints
Call notifications, including inbound calls, voicemail, missed calls, callback requests, and more
You can download the Quick Guide from the Alcatel-Lucent website for more information. If you're using this integration today, what do you think about it? Comments are welcome.
IBM and IBM Business Partner Citent will be hosting 2 live seminars on Unified Communications and Sametime, Tuesday Oct 5 at the IBM San Jose offices (4400 North First Street, Room 1032 Garnet, San Jose CA 95134) and Wednesday Oct 6 at the IBM San Francisco offices (425 Market Street, room 20-240, San Francisco CA 94105). Both seminars will be from 10am to 1pm, and review the features and benefits of Lotus Sametime.
Qualified attendees will receive a half-day Advanced Collaboration Assesment by CITENT’s team of Collaboration Consultants. Please RSVP to Kennedy Cato at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (714) 436-6100, or visit www.citent.com for more information. If you're in the neighborhood, please RSVP and stop by!
So much business partner content we had to do 2 posts this week.
At the GigaOm Mobilize conference recently, IBM Business Partner Plantronics released an interesting study, How We Work, that surveyed
more than 1,800 employees in six countries about their communication
habits and preferences. The results show that workers are increasingly leveraging a diverse toolbox of communications capabilities. E-mail, phone and IM are by no means dead (in fact, usage of all forms of communication has actually GROWN over the past 5 years); however, the more critical collaboration is to success and productivity, the more
people prefer in-person and video-driven meetings over text-based
communication. And SMS and social collaboration have grown in importance as well.
shows that, given the demands of work today, professionals are
essentially creating communication tool belts that allow them to pick
the right tool at the right time,” said Clay Hausmann, vice
president of Corporate Marketing at Plantronics. “Video, voice and
text-based communications all have a role, as does social media, and
one isn’t growing at the expense of another. The pace of innovation
around new communication technologies is astounding, and yet it is
the end user who ultimately decides which technology will play a key
role in their business communication and for what purpose.”
Interactive Intelligence's partner conference is going to take place in beautiful San Antonio, Texas from October 11 to 13 at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter (see here to register if you want to attend).
Yours truly has been invited to do a session on the value proposition behind the CIC-Sametime integration. The session title is Selling Success with CIC and IBM Lotus Sametime and it's scheduled for Monday, October 11 at 4:15 PM CDT as part of the sales and business solutions track. The magic will happen in Salon K-L.
Our friends over at IDoNotes and Plantronics are sponsoring a webcast this week. Tomorrow (Wednesday August 25) at 10am Central US time, please join them for How to Get the Most from your Sametime Client (A User's Perspective). Marie Scott and Tom Duff, authors of a book on this very
topic from Packt Publishing, will show you how you
can effectively collaborate with your colleagues and teammates both in
your organization and outside your organization by using the features of
Sametime. It's practical, down-to-earth, and most of all, fun! Registration is free.
The Sametime Wiki has a new section dedicated to business partners. The section is called, quite appropriately, Business Partner Resources and it will feature content to address issues related to education, deployment, application development, and best-practice advice in general.
Todd Page has written the first article. The title is "Business Partner Enablement Roadmap for IBM Sametime" and it outlines what business partners need to do to acquire the necessary skills to become Sametime practitioners. This is just the first of many articles to come.
Among the various solutions to the "chat-from-a-Web-page-into-the-Call-Center" problem, Zion Software's Instant Help is one of the most elegant ones.
Instant Help is a cloud-based solution that enhances existing on-premises Sametime installations with the ability to communicate with customers and partners outside the company's firewall. It provides the queuing mechanism to route instant messaging requests. It has a skills-based rules engine, a routing engine that takes skills and availability into consideration when routing incoming requests, it has the ability to hold queues when things get too busy, it allows transferring a session to colleagues and it provides redirection options to accommodate changes in staff availability.
I had a chance to see a demo of Instant Help and I was very impressed; good stuff.
This week's Business Partner Tuesday is a day late, but if you saw our earlier post today, you'de know why :-)
Would you like to connect instantly with other members of the Lotus Community? Perhaps your favorite blogger? A presenter you saw at Lotusphere? A Lotus Business Partner? Or even an IBMer? Well the people running BleedYellow.com are helping make this a reality. Here's an easy how-to guide to set yourself up. I've already done it, so you can now connect with me via Sametime (say hi!).
BleedYellow is a public Lotus Connections site, run by IBM Business Partner Lotus911 (now GROUP). So the first thing you need to do, is go there and register. (the Register link is at the bottom left corner, as shown below):
Once you have an ID and PW on BleedYellow, you next go into your Lotus Sametime client, and add an additional community, allowing you to connect to both your company's Sametime server to chat with your coworkers, and the BleedYellow Sametime server to chat with people from all over the world (but you already knew that Sametime client can connect to multiple communities, didn't you...)
In Sametime: - Choose File - Manage Server Communities from the top menu. - Click Add New Server Community - On the Log In Tab, add the username that you registered at BleedYellow.com, and your password. * Note: Some people have told me that they use the email address they registered on BleedYellow with, not their username.
On the Server tab, enter im.bleedyellow.com as the Host Server, and 1533 as the Server community port.
Then click OK at the bottom. Now the last thing you have to do is add a group so you can see the people to chat with. Click on the New icon, and choose New Group:
Select Search for a public group (1), select the bleedyellow community (2), search for the group yellowbleeders, select it (4), and click OK.
I've been working with a lot of people from Denmark lately and I must say it's been quite a rewarding experience. I don't know whether it has to do with the fact that Denmark is one of the happiest places on Earth (it was number one last year) and that state of mind gets to you when you talk to Danish people over Sametime Unified Telephony (it only happens over SUT and TCSPI adapters, by the way) or because we're lucky enough to be working with great business partners hailing from the land of Mr. Andersen.
Convergens A/S is one of those partners. I've been working with them in building a reference for Collaboration Agenda to highlight their CitizenCasePortal, an integrated solution for municipal case workers that features Sametime, WebSphere Portal, Domino and Notes.
Convergens built the solution for a municipality in Denmark to help case workers improve accuracy and delivery of the various services the municipality offers its citizens.
The main selling point of the solution is to, first, present a unified picture of a citizen's case history along with access to the case workers that participated in building that history and, secondly, to give ready access to those case workers in real time.
The solution pattern proves, once again, that communication is only useful in-context. This is a line-of-business application used by task workers that has improved case processing time in about 90% when compared to the time it took a case worker to gather all the information and build case histories from scratch--every time.
The solution has been in production for about two months now and it's already proving to be one of the smartest decisions the customer has ever made, according to their CIO. I could not agree more.
Continuing our Business Partner Tuesdays series, this week we feature Dialogic. They recently announced their Dialogic(R) 2000 Media Gateway to help with the integration of PBX systems with (and through) Sametime Unified Telephony. They also have online training modules to help sales, sales engineering, and installation/support engineering teams get up to speed.
What makes a successful solution ecosystem isn't just the vendor platform, of course, but the business partners that add value to that vendor's platform. In the case of IBM Unified Communications, we have over 400 business partners that make Sametime one of the leading unified communications platforms out there. Here's just a few of those business partners that happen to be exhibiting at Enterprise Connect this week. In addition to stopping by our own booth at 623, please stop by their booths to learn more about what they do, and how they work with IBM.
As I mentioned in a previous post, we've been working with AwesomeBobcatVideos to include Unified Communications videos in her ongoing series of short videos that cover Enterprise
Collaboration as well as other topics.
The third video that I worked with her on as part of this series was just recently posted. Here I talk briefly about why Business Partners are so important to the IBM strategy for unified communications and collaboration. Take a look at the video on YouTube here.
#ibmsocialbiz As many of you know, we've been working with Interactive Intelligence in integrating their CIC contact center suite with Sametime. The integration allows contact center agents to tap into expertise beyond their immediate reach.
The expertise location pattern is critical to improving customer satisfaction, up-selling and cross-selling, and to keeping customer-facing business processes moving. That's exactly what the CIC-Sametime integration does. Our friends at InIn produced this nice video illustrating how the integration works. Take a look: