We just released a new app: the IBM Sametime Meetings Viewer for iPad. It is available for download at the iTunes Store.
As with all Sametime mobile applications, this one requires a full-fledged Sametime infrastructure in the back end (we recommend moving up to 8.5.2 IFR 1). If you don't have that you can always point the app to Greenhouse.
Thanks to our partners at BelSoft AG for recording and publishing this video:
Those of you who saw it at Lotusphere 2012 have been waiting for it. Those of you who didn't will be as excited to know that the IBM Sametime Video Chat Widget for IBM Connections just came out today. It's a technology preview that provides an easy way to associate a Sametime audio/video session with an IBM Connections Community page.
The plug-in is available on developerWorks. You can find it here.
Info-Tech Research Group just published its UC Vendor Landscape report, which ranks UC vendors and UC products based on various criteria. Their rankings go from Emerging Player to Market Pillar to Innovator to Champion. That's where we are:
We're sharing the honor with Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft and Siemens. Congratulations to them. Congratulations are in order as well to our partners Interactive Intelligence and ShoreTel for making the Innovator quadrant.
Here's a couple of videos showcasing what IBM's software for social business can do.
First, here's Sandy Carter doing an overview of a few interesting case studies in government as part of the Social Business Coffee Break series:
Sandy talks about the Joint Emergency Operations Center serving the City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Texas, which is outfitted with IBM Sametime and UnifiedEdge's RadioConnect for Sametime to integrate real-time communications from over 40 agencies from the US Federal Government, the State of Texas and the local agencies from Tarrant County and the City of Fort Worth itself. This is one of the coolest projects we've ever been involved in and one that has brought a lot of attention to Sametime deployments in first-responder scenarios thanks to our partners from UnifiedEdge.
The second video showcases the awesome integration IBM's social business software, including Sametime, has with Polycom's REALPRESENCE platform. This is a very nice video that shows how it's done when it comes to integrating a real general-purpose platform like Sametime with Polycom's state-of-the-art technology.
It also shows how Sametime and Connections complement each other. You find the people you need using Connections and you reach out them using Sametime. I like to call this paradigm "Enable+Connect" as in enabling with Connections and connecting with Sametime:
Thank you Sandy, UnifiedEdge and Polycom. We couldn't have done it without you.
I think I've said many times here that we envision the next generation of Sametime to be heavily influenced by the tablet usability paradigm. We are spending lots of time studying what people do with tablets today, how the usability pattern will evolve in the near future and what new capabilities software programs will have to include in order to accommodate the transition from mouse-and-click to finger-and-gesture as the main interaction vehicle with the glass.
As part of that research I've gone tablet myself. I got me a very nice 10-inch tablet running Android 3.2 and I've been working on figuring out how it fits into my daily work routine. The first thing I did was install Sametime 8.5.2 IFR 1, Lotus Traveler and the Lotus Symphony Reader. I haven't installed Connections yet but I will soon.
So far, I have to say I am equipped to go on a business trip without my laptop. The tablet gives me pretty much what I need with the exception of authoring documents and presentations. Authoring content is still easier to do, for now, on a laptop running a legacy operating system. Applications such as Symphony and MS Office are definitely designed for the mouse-and-click paradigm and it's very hard to use them when all you have is your finger.
I think this is a point-in-time issue that will get resolved soon. I know Apple already has an office suite called iWorks that allows you to create content, including presentations, on your iPad. I know there are at least two other office suites for iOS that have good potential. For Android there's QuickOffice Pro and OfficeSuite Professional, both of which allow you to create and edit MS Office documents. I haven't found a product that handles ODF, though.
I'm not stressing about not finding an office suite that I can run locally on my tablet, though. Storage is limited on a tablet and I wouldn't want to crowd it with lots of files that I may only need sporadically. I like the fact that the tablet forces me to narrow my context and helps me focus on what I need to work on. Instead of carrying my 500-GB hard drive with me (I thought about that), I can focus on just taking what I need--as opposed to my entire digital life--with me. I can upload just the files I need (and nothing else) onto the tablet's SD card (I got a 16-GB Class 10 card) and go.
There are a few "mainstay" files I always need ("What's New in IBM Sametime", "The IBM Sametime and SUT Roadmap", etc.). These are files that I'm updating constantly and it wouldn't make sense to have outdated copies on my tablet's SD card. The solution lies in the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business (LotusLive) Connector for Lotus Symphony. Whenever I update one of those files, I upload the new version to my file repository. That way, if all I'm carrying with me is my tablet, I can just log into my IBM SmartCloud for Social Business account and get what I need.
This brings me to what may turn out to be the utilization paradigm that will make tablets stick: cloud.I have to confess that before getting this tablet I hadn't found a mission-critical reason to make daily use of my IBM SmartCloud for Social Business account (I didn't even remember my password!). Now I don't think I can rely on my tablet without it. The most interesting thing is that I don't need a VPN client to have access to it. In the future, once IBM Docs supports Android, having an office suite will be a non-issue.
At this point the experience has been positive. I can do most of my work from my tablet and I could take measures to minimize the impact of the things I cannot do. I could, for instance, upload the 12-or-so GB worth of files sitting in my hard drive's My Documents library to my tablet's SD card if I have to. I could install a VPN client on my tablet and get to all the internal sites I don't have access to just yet, or I could get me one of those RDP apps that would allow me to access my laptop from my tablet over the Internet--as long as IBM IT is OK with me doing that.
This experience is also giving me valuable insight into how Sametime will fit into this equation. The dynamics of "current context", i.e., what's in the foreground, will change and, with it, how we experience situational awareness. We'll have to rethink what the idea of "presence" means, what kind of information becomes pertinent at a given time and whether it merits to be shown, and how we enable real-time communication among users and devices. It's challenging and interesting.
The most important point of all this is that, for the first time, there's a lightweight computing platform with enough potential to replace traditional PCs. Based on what I saw there were more tablets than laptops at Lotusphere this year. That's very encouraging.
This doesn't mean I no longer have a need for a PC; at least not yet. The one thing I still need my laptop for is to play Battlefield 2142 Northern Strike when I travel. I just don't do Angry Birds. I can't; I won't!
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.
IBM developerWorks has just published a brand new white paper titled "IBM Sametime 8.5.2 Security Features." The paper was written by Smriti Talwar, our security architect, with Anna Guri from our development team and Jonathan Crissey from our support team. Here's a summary:
IBM Sametime 8.5 has many new components that leverage IBM WebSphere and IBM DB2 infrastructures. This paper provides an overview of the security features of the new WebSphere 8.5.2-infrastructure-based offerings along with security-related best practices for the existing components.
Check it out. It's a good read. You can find it here.
I had originally installed it on my HTC Incredible 2 from an email I got from our development team. I went to the Market and launched a search for "IBM Sametime". It came up as expected. The Market app recognized that Sametime was already installed on my phone and asked whether I wanted to upgrade. I said yes, it downloaded the updated app, installed it and picked up my settings flawlessly. I launched it and it worked. The way it is supposed to b e. Pretty nice and painless. I like it.
For those of you who won't be able to join me in the UX lab at Lotusphere but want to contribute to the conversation, we've created an ideation blog where you can post your thoughts about features and capabilities you'd like to see in Sametime, and vote on features that others have entered. Here's a link:
We'll have lots of great activities and conversations in the User Experience lab at Lotusphere, located in Asia 4. I'll be in the lab with UX colleagues from all product areas -- so be sure to stop in!
Monday, January 16 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM Tuesday, January 17 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM Wednesday, January 18 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM Thursday, January 19 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
We'll also have some scheduled talks in the lab:
Date: Monday, January 16, 2012 Time: 5:00pm - 6:00pm Topic: "IBM Collaboration Solutions Future Product Design Direction" Speakers: Chris Paul, Director, User Experience; Ethan Perry, STSM; Brian Utesch, STSM. Abstract: How is the user experience (UX) of IBM Collaboration Solutions products designed? What role does Lotusphere play in ongoing collaboration with customers? The ICS User Experience Director, Chris Paul, and UX Design and User
Research Senior Technical Staff Members, Ethan Perry and Brian Utesch,
will discuss how design direction is set, the importance of user
adoption, and how you are engaged in the design process. Bring your questions to this interactive session. Date: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 Time: 9:30am - 10:30am Topic: "Mobile User Experience Directions" Speakers: Tyler Walters, Chris Reckling Abstract:
Social Business and mobile technology go hand in hand. See where we are
going in designing mobile apps for tablets and smartphones in 2012.
Provide feedback on the design directions and help prioritize features. Date: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 Time: 9:30am - 10:30am Topic: "Meet the User Experience Designers" Speakers: Amy Travis, Margo Ezekiel, Ethan Perry, Eric Wilcox Abstract: Join
our lead user experience designers and talk with us about our design
challenges and future design directions in a fun and lively session. It's your chance to see how we design your favorite products.
I got this nice little PNG from the Lotusphere 2012 team that says "I'm a Speaker":
I think it's pretty cool and I'm already using it as part of my email
signature. It's great that the Lotusphere team decided to do this for
next year. They're also collecting Social Business stories, which I also think it's pretty cool. You may want to check it out here.
My session, ID213 - What's New in IBM Sametime is scheduled for Tuesday, January 17 at 3:30 PM. Feel free to drop by if you're attending the conference. But before you do that, please make sure to attend John Delpizzo's session, INV209 - Strategy and Roadmap for IBM Sametime, on Monday, January 16 at 5:00 PM. It'll give you the necessary context you'll need to make sense of what I'm going to talk about. We'll publish a full list of all the Sametime-related sessions on this blog once we get the final list. Stay tuned.
Blair Pleasant writes on No Jitter (here) about how UC and Social Business have more in common than most people realize. She quotes Alistair Rennie on how "...three years from now we won't call this social business--it'll just be business." I happen to agree.
I've said many times that social interaction patterns are natural to us while linear interactions, the way we've worked with each other for years, are learned behavior.
In our natural environment (home) we use people-to-people interactions to communicate, collaborate and deal with each other. When we are at work, we use people-to-process and people-to-information interactions as the primary means of getting something done and we use people-to-people interactions when we need to. Social Business reverses this paradigm and makes people-to-people interactions the center of the universe, the way it should be.