As posted many times, many of you are aware of Virtual Collaboration for Lotus Sametime
("Sametime 3D"), a virtual world technology solution available from IBM Software Services for Lotus, which allows organizations to bring teams together in highly interactive online meeting spaces. We've taken a big step forward in making this great technology easy to show to you, our customers and partners, by making it available for demonstration on Lotus Greenhouse
Now you can see the collaborative benefits of this virtual world technology by engaging in a meeting that leverages tools such as brainstorming areas, action item walls, planning spaces, virtual flipcharts, interactive polling, presentation sharing and more!
Seeing is believing so contact your Lotus Sales or Channel Sales representative to set up a demonstration to see how to Virtual Collaboration for Lotus Sametime can help you realize the benefits of in-person meetings without incurring the high cost.
Final reminder: Join IBM at VoiceCon Orlando 2010, at the Gaylord Palms Resort and
Convention Center in Orlando FL, March 22-25. Visit the IBM Booth at
the Expo Floor to see demonstrations of our unified communications
offerings, including IBM Lotus(r) Sametime(r), IBM Converged
Communications Services, LotusLive cloud services, Lotus Foundations
small office appliances, integration with mobile, audio and video and
IBM will also be participating in several sessions and panels as well:
- Monday 9:00am: "Implementation Options: Unified Communications"
- Monday 11:00am: "Summit: Next Generation Communications Architectures"
- Monday 1:00pm: "Summit: Unified Communications Executive Forum"
with Bruce Morse, Vice President, Unified Communications &
- Monday 2:00pm: "Comparing Unified Communication Options: Who's offering what?"
- Tuesday 1:00pm: "Summit: Role of Cloud in Enterprise Communications"
- Tuesday 2:00pm: "Integrating Mobility and Unified Communications: Comparing the Vendors' Solutions
- Wednesday 8:00am: "Managed/Hosted Services for Unified Communications"
- Wednesday 9:15am: "Keynote Presentation: IBM - Alistair Rennie, General Manager, Lotus and WebSphere Portal
- Wednesday 1:00pm: "Marrying Social Networking and Enterprise Communications"
- Wednesday 1:00pm: "Unified Communications Leadership Roundtable: How far have we come? What's next?"
- Wednesday 3:00pm: "Presence: Preferences and Rules Drive Communications Effectiveness"
Oh, and I almost forgot our Friday Funnies for this week, courtesy of Mitch Cohen:
As our team gets all geared up for our General Manager Alistair Rennie's IBM Keynote at VoiceCon (Wednesday 9:15am - if you're in Orlando it's a Don't Miss Moment), a couple of news items we wanted to bring to your attention.
The first comes from an article on Forbes.com written by Alistair, "Managing Communcations Overload
". The article discusses how information overload is partially a result of communications overload: too many information sources vying for our attention via too many tools and applications and devices. The answer isn't technology per se, but how to better integrate the multiplicity of tools and sources and devices into a more people-centric vision of collaboration:
Unified communication and collaboration (UC2) is not a technology
itself. It is an approach that lets us use technology to help us work
smarter. UC2 centers on delivering a unified experience for users,
allowing them to communicate and collaborate seamlessly within the
context of their daily work. People don't have to bounce around between
applications to find, reach and collaborate with the people they need
to get the job done.
Please comment on the Forbes article (or here) - we'de love to get your feedback.
The second comes from CDW, "UC Delivers on Payback Expectations
", a survey of 915 IT professionals on the state of Unified Communications in the enterprise. Not sure how I missed this one, since it was released back on March 1 (I guess it was all those VoiceCon preparations that distracted us). A lot of very encouraging data showing the continued growth and penetration of unified communications in the Enterprise. My favorite quote:
"...71 percent of organizations that have fully implemented UC and track
return on investment (ROI) say that ROI has met or exceeded their
expectations." (emphasis mine)I tweeted earlier in the week
about a possible perceived "value gap" for Unified Communications. This survey shows that given the right business case, UC provides real, tangible value for enterprises. Something you should include in your next upgrade cycle or proposal to your CFO or CIO.
Our Sametime team was very busy this week, what with our extensive presence and sponsorship at this year's event. While they're flying home and catching up, I wanted to highlight a few items of note.
- Alistair Rennie's Keynote: you can see a video replay of our General Manager's keynote address here at tv.voiceCon.com (free registration required). IBM clearly differentiated around business value and process expertise, while many of the other keynotes were focused on technology nuts-and-bolts. The reaction was very positive, with the Twitterverse abuzz. My favorite one so far -- Cberndtson #voicecon IBM's Rennie: Integration is the better way. "The assets you have are valuable. They work. Why don't we just integrate them." Eric Krapf over at nojitter blog had a nice liveblog review of the keynote as well.
- Sweettweets were once again a popular draw for the IBM booth. Nothing like a sugar rush to keep the conversations flowing.
- The big IBM new news at the event was the IBM and ShoreTel announcement of General Availability of ShoreTel for IBM Lotus Foundations, a unified-communications-and-collaboration-in-a-box solution specifically designed for small and medium businesses.
- IBM participated in a lot of sessions, including a few particularly contentious ones where Bruce Morse, our fearless VP of Unified Communications, and Pat Galvin, our equally fearless CTO of Unified Communications, made strong cases for open standards and interoperability (and the lack thereof, or resistance to, from some of our competition). Good write up of that in both the nojitter blog and in InformationWeek.
As our team gets back on track, I'm sure we'll have additional updates for you next week. Until then, here's the next installment of our Friday Funnies.
FaceTime just announced their new Vantage platform, the successor to IMAuditor. Vantage includes a number of new capabilities for Sametime users, including:
- Support for Sametime 8.5
- A new connector deployment option for Sametime
- Sametime announcement logging and auditing
- File transfers from Blackberry devices to Sametime can now be captured and scanned for viruses and content violations
- Support for importing group chat from Sametime advanced
- Compliance disclaimers, ethical walls, archiving and auditing for Sametime
The Vantage policy framework allows granular policies to be defined between groups of employees and for communications with non-employees through federation and external connections. Vantage enables the management of users outside of the organization through expanded inter-group policies, domain-based groups or through the concept of registered non-employees – protecting and restricting communications by employees with unregistered individuals.
You can find the press release here
Last week at VoiceCon, our good friends at Meridian IT Inc., announced plans for a Sametime Unified Telephony (SUT) Center of Excellence.
The Meridian SUT Center of Excellence, located in Deerfield, Illinois at Meridian's IBM Business Partner Innovation Center, responds to clients’ needs for a source of expertise to integrate disparate communications and collaboration systems and teams.
The SUT Center of Excellence can eliminate risk and allow organizations to maximize the value of their current technology investment. Meridian offers IBM unified communications & collaboration expertise around solutions from Cisco, Avaya, 3Com, Polycom and others.
As an international systems integrator with offices on three continents, Meridian Group operates two IBM Business Partner Innovation Centers, one in the United States and one in Australia. These centers allow customers to experience IBM’s latest software solutions, along with voice, video and data solutions from Avaya, Cisco, 3Com, Polycom, HP, EMC and others. Offering customers 30 years’ IT experience, Meridian, as a certified top level partner with providers of solutions for the unified communications and collaboration environment, meets the technology, integration, consulting and service needs of today’s enterprises.
You can read the full press release here
Just FYI. We are currently testing the beta release of Plantronics' plug-in for Sametime 8.5. The plug-in allows seamless integration of Sametime 8.5 and SUT with Plantronics' product line. If you happen to have a CS50 or CS60 USB, Voyager 510 USB, Voyage Pro UC, Blackwire 6xx or 4xx, DA45 USB, Calisto Pro, Savi Go or Savi Office device from Plantronics, you're going to like this when it comes out. Stay tuned.
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?
From the geek chic comic writers of UserFriendly.org
, I share with you today's UC Friday Funnies. I think this is what conservative CIOs fear when they think of opening up their networks to video...
Alex Williams at ReadWriteEnterprise recently blogged
about observing a 2-year timelag between consumer and enterprise uses for new social networking tools. I won't comment on his thesis, but will specifically talk about the example he used: Foursquare
I'm not sure what will be net new about a Forsquare service for Enterprise, as -- as others have already indicated above -- both the "check-in" and "live tracking", enabled by GPS, rich presence, and microblogging, have been around in one form or another for at least a decade. Just one example: when I log into my Sametime, it automatically picks up my (IP) location, device, and links to my Lotus Connections micro-blogging status to provide additional context and location awareness:
What does this have to do with Unified Communications? As our General Manager spoke about at VoiceCon (link to Keynote video
), and as the rebranding of VoiceCon to Enterprise Connect
attests, UC is increasingly part of a broader collaboration strategy. There's increasing bleed-over between traditionally siloed collaboration of voice, video and data. This is just another example where this has already been happening for some time, even if took a hot little startup to grab people's attention.
I've had the pleasure of representing IBM to the business partner community since 1998. As a member of the Sametime product team I get to work with those partners that build applications on top of the Sametime platform and I have the opportunity to listen to their stories and to learn about how their solutions help customers solve problems.
That's all good. The nicest part, however, is learning, first, about how our technology helps people do things better for other people and, secondly, how the power of people gets to shape business.
I met with the co-founders of Zylinc
, one of our business partners from Denmark, at Lotusphere this past January. They told me the story of Sydbank
, Denmark's fourth largest bank with 2,500 employees and branch offices in Germany and a subsidiary in Switzerland, and one of their customers.
With only 2,500 employees, Sydbank is a small bank compared to the three largest in Denmark or the bona fide large banks of the world. Perhaps because of its size--it may also be a Danish thing--Sydbank decided that customers should have access to virtually everyone in the organization. They decided that no call would ever go unanswered and that there will always be someone from the bank at the other end of every phone call. How about that? How many of us can say that about the banks we do business with?
Zylinc's ZyDesk Operator, a desktop switchboard that integrates Sametime presence and instant messaging, calendaring and click-to-call to give all employees the ability to pick up incoming calls from customers. The drive to make sure no call goes unanswered is such that it has transformed the bank's culture.
According to René and Thomas, the Zylinc Founders, ZyDesk is the first application Sydbank employees open when they arrive in the morning. I saw a demo of the application and I can see why: the thing is a situational awareness dashboard for customer service. It is non-intrusive and yet it provides a pretty good view of the bank's interaction with the outside world. It's not a call center application in the traditional sense but it's just as--if not more--effective.
Without having to build a costly call center in a remote country Sydbank is giving its customers something most of us don't get: real customer service. I know their use case does not apply to all banks and I'm not, by any means, attempting to diminish the importance of call centers. I'm just impressed to see the power of people at work; having all employees engaged in providing a superior customer service experience and doing it with a single tool. Moreover, I'm pleasantly surprised to see Sametime being an integral part of this story.
People are asking me about how one would integrate Sametime and the new WebSphere Application Server v7 Feature Pack for Communication-Enabled Applications (WAS 7 FP CEA). The answer is you use the new Sametime 8.5 Proxy Toolkit to aggregate the functionality at the user interface level on the Web browser and let the servers sit next to each other or, potentially, run on the same box--after all, the Sametime 8.5 Proxy server is a WAS-based REST services runtime.
A customer service scenario where a Web application provides WAS 7 FP CEA-based co-browsing and reactive click-to-call can be enriched by adding presence and instant messaging capabilities through the Sametime Proxy. Co-browsing can be greatly enhanced by giving customers the ability to chat with a specialist on the other end of the firewall when talking is not an option for whatever reason. The same goes for peer-to-peer co-browsing scenarios.
Technology Marketing Corporation
(TMC®) has named IBM Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony as a recipient of its 2009 Unified Communications Magazine
Product of the Year Award. "IBM has proven their dedication to quality and excellence while supporting the needs in the marketplace,” stated Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC. “We look forward to seeing continued advancement in technology solutions from IBM in the future.” A complete list of Product of the Year Award winners will be published in the March/April 2010 issue of Unified Communications magazine.
We are proud of the continuing momentum from our 2009 launch of Sametime Unified Telephony. This also comes on the heels of IBM winning both the 2009 Internet Telephony Product of the Year Award
and the 2009 TMC Unified Communications Excellence Award
our IBM Global Technology Services Converged Communications Services
for Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony. The combination of our
award-winning software, converged communications services
, hardware and industry expertise
uniquely position IBM as a vendor you can trust to provide you real business value with your unified communications, and indeed all collaboration, projects.
's always a good source of laughs for a Friday. Enjoy!
UCStrategies just published a brand new article that outlines a no-nonsense value proposition and a basic roadmap on how to partner with IBM in the new and exciting field of unified communications.
Before you go read it, though, let me say a few words about why partnering with us is better than partnering with the competition:
- Business partners are an integral part of the IBM software strategy. We thrive in making software platforms and, as such, we tend to keep our platforms on the neutral side of things. Because of that, we rely on business partners to provide the necessary specialization actual solutions require to be useful. In short, you'll be treated better here.
- We don't eat our partners for lunch. We either work closely with them and, in some cases, we bring them fully into the fold in a proper way.
- We don't suffer from the not-invented-here syndrome. When it comes to developing cool technology we fully understand we can't come up with every single bright idea ourselves. We actually appreciate the fact that our business partners are smart cookies and we're happy to work with them when they're nice enough to let us use what they develop.
I've learned these three maxims over the last twelve years that I've worked with business partners. I think it's still true and, honestly, that's one of the reasons I like working for IBM. In a world where there's not much of it left our relationship with business partners is still based on integrity and honesty. That means a lot to me personally.
I'm sure some people out there will disagree and say we have strayed from that principle more than once. Nevertheless, I can say I've never done it--the sizable community of business partners I've worked with over the years can attest to that--and I can also say I don't know any IBMers who have done it either.
Now, if you're curious, please go take a look at the article. You can find it here