Many of you I'm sure will be, or are considering, attending Enterprise 2.0 in Boston next week. As unified communications continues to integrate more closely with the broader collaboration requirements of enterprises, this event will be sure to generate a lot of exciting conversations about the state of collaboration in general and the direction of the Web 2.0 world within the enterprise.
IBM has a sponsorship with a large, 20x20 booth including 6 pedestals staffed with product experts. The booth will cover pretty much our entire collaboration portfolio: Lotus Quickr, Lotus Connections, Mashup Center, LotusLive, Lotus Notes & Domino, Lotus Symphony, Websphere Portal, Lotus Web Content Management, Lotus Forms, Project Vulcan, and of course Lotus Sametime and Sametime Unified Telephony. The exhibit hours are Tuesday, June 15 and Wednesday June 16 from 11:30 am to 6 pm. Stop by the IBM booth on Wednesday at noon to get a free book signed by
Rawn Shah, Practices Lead Social Software Enablement, IBM
In addition, we have several speakers participating:
On Monday, June 14, 4:30 - 7:00pm, don't miss IBM Evening in the Cloud. Cloud is poised to change the way we access technology - see IBM showcase their Cloud solutions and hear industry experts speak about the competitive Cloud marketplace, with Sean Poulley, VP Online Collaboration Services, IBM.
On Tuesday, June 15, 3:30-4:30pm , join Kevin Cavanaugh, VP Messaging and Collaboration, IBM for "Lotus Knows Enterprise Collaboration and Productivity"
On Wednesday, June 16, 2:15-3:15pm, join IBM for "Evolution of E2.0 at IBM: The Frustrations and the Glory", with Jeanne Murray, Program Manager, Social Software Adoption, IBM, and Rawn Shah.
On Wednesday, June 16, 3:30-4:30pm, join Dave Millen, Research Scientist, IBM, for "Social Behavior, Usage Patterns, and Adoption".
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.
Yesterday, Apple introduced the new iPhone 4 and iOS 4 (the new name for the iPhoneOS). I'm an iPhone user (white 16GB 3G) and am really looking forward to the new enhancements. For a long time I've used Traveler for push email and calendar access and the Sametime iPhone browser client for chat services (part of Sametime 8.5). (And with iOS 4's new background services, my product managers are already tired of me asking for Sametime Unified Telephony on the device.)
Even so, I don't think I'll be upgrading. The reason.... I really want an iPad.
I can hear some of my favorite customers groaning from here. "An iPad??? It's just a big iPhone / iPod Touch!" Yes, it is. I actually think that's a bit of brilliant marketing on the part of Apple. What was an iPod? Your music in your pocket. How about the iPhone - before apps and the web? Your iPod and phone in one device. Each new Apple product is very simple and easy to understand (a big iPhone). That makes them easy to buy... which is a lesson many in the technology industry have yet to learn.
I won't get into the benefits of the larger screen for reading content
(like research reports over Sunday breakfast) or watching movies
(keeping the kids calm on the airplane)... other to say that it makes
participating in Sametime Online Meetings a breeze from anywhere (pictured on the left).
From a business person's perspective - especially one who travels -
the iPad is just about spot on. What are the things I'm likely to need
on the road? Email? Web? Minor edits / reworks to presentations?
Entertainment? Easy to carry? Long battery life? Location services?
Access to content on the road? All there. And let me stress that last
one. There is nothing like tapping iTunes over wi-fi in the airport for a
couple of movies to make the return trip across the country a
bit more bearable.
The iPad does still need a couple of things to be perfect. First, is multi-tasking. The larger screen size almost demands it and Apple says it will be available in the fall. The other is Symphony / Open Office editors and viewers. Without ODP support, my laptop is still required.
So I'm curious where the iPad & iPhone fit into your plans. Will you be getting a new iPhone? An iPad? And if anyone has a suggestion for ODP support, that would be great, too!
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.
"Before Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, Jim Henson
made short films for Big Blue. The tech may be archaic, but the
entertainment is timeless."
Although not directly related to unified communications, I'm far too much of an avid fan of the Muppets (since Sesame Street, 'natch) to not share this one. (hat tip: fellow IBM blogger Adam Gartenberg)
One of our Public Relations team members, Michelle, has put together an ongoing YouTube channel, AwesomeBobcatVideos.
She puts together a wide variety of short videos that cover Enterprise
Collaboration, including Unified Communications, as well as some other
fun and intriguing videos.
The Sametime team has just joined her series. The first video our new collaboration has me at the beautiful Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, a short drive out of a foggy San Francisco and into the sunny South Bay. I talk briefly about why IBM should be considered as one of your short-list vendors for Unified Communications. You can see the video on YouTube here.
I'm happy to report that a new thought leadership piece based on a long, long, long paper based on deep, deep, deep research that yours truly undertook last year has finally been published.
The Value of UC² in the Banking Industry is finally available for public consumption (yay!) The final product is shorter than my original paper and the editing process rendered the writing more lively than anything this old geek can muster. I'm very pleased with it and I think you will too if you feel so inclined to read it. You can find it here.
I get numerous requests for references of Sametime being used in call center scenarios. We've worked with three business partners in building integrated solutions featuring Sametime for call center scenarios.
Two of them are new and are just being brought to market. The third one has been around for a while and it has already garnered many accolades and, with that, some very nice references. I'm talking about Instant Technologies' Instant Queue Manager. Check it out and, more importantly, take a look at these nice case studies.
Speaking of business partners, FaceTime has built a very nice solution that adds considerable value to Sametime deployments in various industry scenarios with high security and regulatory compliance requirements.
FaceTime for Sametime augments Sametime deployments with hardened compliance for regulatory and e-Discovery. It provides tamper-proof logging, it provides a framework for defining ethical boundaries, it allows exporting Sametime file transfers to IBM Enterprise Content Manager and it adds an e-Discovery user interface to facilitate searching and reviewing.
When it comes to security, the solution adds protection against viruses and worms for instant messaging sessions. When it comes to data loss prevention, it scans file transfers over IM sessions and it allows filtering file transfers by keywords and regular expressions.
Regarding management, the solution allows controlling availability of features (IM, VoIP, video) on a per-user basis and it provides a rich reporting framework that allows retrieving conversations as they occurred.
In short, wherever there's a need for IM archiving and compliance, security and data loss prevention on IM sessions, enforcing compliance, ethical boundaries and communication policies, I think FaceTime for Sametime is a a good way to go.
I want to elaborate a bit on the ideas I rambled about on one of my previous posts about how UC without collaboration doesn't do the trick and how this makes IBM's vision for Communication-Enabled Business Processes (CEBP) better than our competitors'.
Humans are wired for communication. We just cannot shut up (some more than others) and that's why our brains developed the ability to create language as a coding system to express ideas. This is also the reason our bodies evolved to have the anatomical features that allow us to talk and not just grunt and howl at each other--we still do that in general but that's another story. In short, communication is natural to us and we will communicate no matter what; even when we have nothing important to say (Twitter anyone?)
Collaboration, on the other hand, is trickier. We are social animals but human nature is not necessarily wired for cooperation. Instead, we are wired for survival at a very individualistic level. Our brains have evolved to understand that cooperation is a more cost-effective way to survive than going it alone and, arguably, having learned to internalize that understanding is what makes us civilized. However, collaboration is learned behavior and that's why it doesn't come as natural as communication.
So, when we put the two together and we end up participating in a CEBP having the ability to communicate with others doesn't mean much unless we have something to talk about, i.e., a context. Some of our competitors will tell you that CEBP is all about adding voice to everything, which suits them well because they sell hardware and phones, but what do you do once you got the SIP session going? What do you say besides "Hello!"?
In my view, CEBP is as much about collaboration as it is about communication. In order to get there you need to create the conditions that will provide the context in which people will collaborate before they have anything meaningful to communicate about. This is known as Business Process Management, or BPM, and IBM is a strong player in this market.
For us, BPM is not just about automating everything and removing people from the picture. It's about optimizing and creating context. Collaboration is a new theme within BPM and there are new buzzwords such as "social BPM" and "people-centric BPM" that reflect the ways in which this may play out:. The way I see it, collaboration is the realm where people operate within an optimized business process and communication is what enables them to collaborate.
We always say we don't do just UC. Our thing is UC² (Unified Communications and Collaboration). When you do BPM+UC² you're bound to get a better CEBP as a result.
We're working with the IBM BPM team in building concrete scenarios for CEBP. We're just getting started and we're very excited about the possibilities. Stay tuned.
I got a piece of good news a few minutes ago. The WebSphere Portal team recently released a software asset called the IBM Retail Banking Template for WebSphere Portal. This is a generic retail banking application (a template) that integrates Sametime 8.5 through the Sametime Proxy toolkit. This is what it looks like:
When you click on the advisor's name a Sametime Web Client chat session starts so you can chat away for as long as you want. Pretty cool.
You can learn more about the template here. You can see it in action here.
A couple of days ago as I was driving to the office I was listening to a discussion on the radio about whether being always online and overloaded with information makes us more isolated or more connected. One side argued that being constantly bombarded with information from multiple sources makes us more aware but less focused and, as a result, more isolated. The other side argued that being more aware is good enough; that the nature of the work knowledge workers do does not require any kind of deep thought and that jumping from one task to another while being aware just enough to not screw something up is acceptable.
The first argument has some footing, in my opinion. Last year I did extensive research on finding ways for unified communications and collaboration tools to help address the pain points plaguing the banking industry in the face of the current economic crisis. I found that information overload breeds uncertainty and, with it, isolation. My research revealed that in cases where organizations face structural isolation uncertainty exacerbates the issues that prevent people from knowing what they need to know when they need to know it. I also found that even when structural isolation is not a problem there's a risk that information overload will cause us to just tune out and, as a result, we end up being less aware than we think we are. When we see this in the context of different areas of an organization needing to be aware of each other the result is what I called a communication dead zone.
The second argument is intriguing. It basically says that superficial awareness is the new normal. It says it's OK to know just enough to not screw up and I find this really disconcerting. It reminds me of how doctors interact with patients nowadays: they come in, skim over your chart, ask you to stick out your tongue, ask you a few questions, order a round of tests for you and they're gone; off to the next patient. That's being mildly aware for you but, hey, it is what it is.
But let me get to the title of this posting. We like to say that, in the past, people went to work and that today work comes to you. One could argue that when we went to work we were less isolated from our teammates and collaboration was the natural way to do things at work. I can see someone saying to me that being part of a virtual team scattered all over the planet makes us more isolated regardless of how many unified communications and collaboration tools we have at our disposal.
My previous job made me move to Austin. My manager at the time wanted her team to come to the office every day and to work together as much as possible. In those days our mission was to help business partners build applications on IBM middleware. The projects we worked on were complex, long, and had lots of moving parts and it made sense for us to be physically in the lab every day and to travel together when we went on site to work with partners. In those days we did not have much in the area of unified communications (Sametime 3.0 only did presence and instant messaging) and broadband was something you really came to the office for.
Then I moved overseas. I was the first member of my team to be (really) remote. In 1999 my telephony expenses were about $400 per month just for dialing three times a day for 30 minutes each time--just long enough to let Notes replicate--and to attend the few conference calls we used to have at that time.
As time went by and broadband became available work started coming to me more than it ever did.
As IBM started deploying Sametime 7.5 my phone bills went to zero and my conference calls started to multiply. Collaboration became the norm: I used to share my screen with my colleagues; I used to be on a voice chat session while logging in on remote servers; we abandoned conferencing bridges for long discussions and went with voice chat pretty much full time and things started to look more or less as they do today. I worked from my overseas home most of the time when I wasn't traveling. I came to Austin from time to time but I was not really required to anymore. The job had changed and the requirements had changed and, thanks to the new tools me and my teammates were given, we were not isolated from each other.
I must say, though, that when work came to me I had an advantage: the years coming to the office left me with good friends with whom I still get together regularly. Isolation doesn't stand a chance in the face of long-lasting friendships.
When I changed jobs and joined the Sametime team in 2008 isolation did become an issue at first even with an ever richer set of unified communications and collaboration tools. I was being bombarded with information from all sides (the whole fire hose analogy) and I was now part of a group of people who were perfect strangers to me.
I went from an outward-facing environment in which my manager's job was to shield me from the internal workings of IBM to a situation in which my job was to master those very internal workings I had comfortably ignored since 1996 when I joined the company.--I'm still working on that today.
Work came to me all right and, with it, isolation. I learned that, when work comes to you, having the latest and greatest in unified communications is not enough without a healthy dose of collaboration tools. Our humanity, the instinctive side of us recognizes one and only one kind of human touch: actual human touch. I think our primate selves cannot register a chat session or a conference call as equivalent to meeting another human in person no matter how much we try. Body language doesn't translate very well over a headset and it's arguable that even telepresence and video chat may not be enough.
What helped me get over my isolation and the fact that I was part of a team of people I knew nothing about was the collaboration bit. Unified communications by itself won't to the trick to stifle isolation in cases where there's no preceding rapport among humans. When you introduce collaboration tools as the context driving the interactions among people isolation is less likely to occur. Collaboration tools provide a catalyzer, a filter that helps us keep the focus where it should be.
Collaborative environments help us learn more about the other humans in our group and allow us to get a glimpse of the personalities. This is funny--you learn all these things not from people's body language but from the way they talk on the phone, their writing style, the way they use graphics in presentations, their style for structuring information, etc. Eventually strangers become teammates and, with a bit of luck, they may even become your friends.
In conclusion, the first argument is dead on. It happened to me. The counterargument is also right but it's not ideal. Being aware just enough to not screw things up is not a good thing. Unfortunately this is the new reality. I don't have too many chances to get together with my new teammates. They're not total strangers to me anymore but I can't say we know much about each other besides what we do at work (I do know David Marshak is also a photography aficionado).
The good news is there are ways to cope with the new reality: a healthy combination of unified communications and collaboration tools can help prevent becoming isolated. The thing is that learning to take advantage of collaboration tools takes more time than learning to use unified communications tools. All we need to do then is be aware of that fact, be patient, and, as it's printed on the cover of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "DON'T PANIC".
One of the great things about a blog is you can quickly experiment with editorial calendars. A month ago I started the Friday Funnies postings, where I try to inject a little humor into the Unified Communications market. This newest series I'm calling Business Partner Tuesdays, where I would like to feature a specific member of our loyal and critically important business partner community. If any partners out there have some interesting things they're like to share about being a Sametime partner, from customer references, new integrations, new technologies, partner success stories, or more, just send me an e-mail (just click my name above).
This week I wanted to showcase an upcoming presentation by Epilio (sponsored by LotusUserGroup.org and Plantronics), a business partner who has written many interesting plug-ins for Sametime. Carl Tyler will present "Two tin cans and a piece of string? Sametime can do better than that!" virtual event, June 10 at noon ET (registration link here). The focus will be on features and capabilities that customers are using to make their employees lives
easier. If you're confused when you hear
Sametime, VoIP,TCSPI, SUT, and Lotus Foundations Reach in the same sentence,
then this webcast is for you. Registrants are entered to win a Plantronics Plantronics Voyager PRO UC wireless Bluetooth headset
(drawing void where
prohibited, see rules for details).
Under the "better late than never" section: Bruce Morse, VP for Unified
Communications Software, had the opportunity to talk with Roger Green of
CIOZone about IBM, unified communications and collaboration, the
intersection with social collaboration, and other issues. The first
interview was from Enterprise 2.0 San Francisco back in November (Part 1
video linked here, Part 2 video linked here) while the second was at
Lotusphere 2010 in January (Part 1 video linked here, Part 2 video
linked here). Some key highlights:
"...from our point of view, communications and
collaboration, enterprise communications and collaboration is really
about connecting people together in the context of the work that they do
every day. It's really not about voice or about any particular
communication media. It's really about using all of those capabilities
along with things like social networking that allow you to connect the
best people together that have the expertise to be able to resolve
issues quickly, et cetera." - Bruce Morse
Here are the links to the specific videos:
Unified Communications: Interview with Bruce Morse at
VoiceCon/Enterprise 2.0 San Francisco 2009 (part
Communications: Interview with Bruce Morse at Lotusphere 2010 (part
The IBM presentations, including our keynote and focus sessions, should be posted to the site shortly. In the meantime, there's also a podcast you can listen in on.
The entire event had a great, dare-I-say "intimate" feel, allowing vendors and channel partners to really connect 1-on-1 over a longer period than one normally has at the bigger trade shows, where everyone's also busy chasing deals. Here it was about creative business development and channel development discussions, which was a nice change of pace.
It was also very enlightening to hear first hand from the traditional (and not-so-traditional) consultants and resellers who are struggling mightily with an industry under metamorphosis. Whether it's traditional end-point or hardware consultants finding they need to beef up their software and collaboration skills, to traditional collaboration software SIs needing to better understand telephony and VoIP networks and end-points, clearly they are facing a challenge and need the Vendors help to navigate these new waters.
The Hospitality Suites was a great ending to Day 2. I was at the IBM one (of course, as I was also the host) and didn't get a chance to visit the other ones, which all looked as well-attended) and everyone was having great conversations. A little wine and beer certainly helped.
Although June Gloom came a little early to La Jolla, the weather didn't disappoint for the most part, adding to the very pleasant surroundings of the Hotel and Spa (alas, no time for a spa treatment).
Oh, two small "good news" housekeeping items that should hopefully help us collaborate with you, our readers, a little more:
I've linked The Sametime Blog to our @sametime twitter ID, meaning every time there's a new post, not only can you subscribe via RSS but you can also get updates via this new Twitterfeed link.
I've also linked The Sametime Blog to our Facebook page in the same way, thanks to the NetworkedBlog app.
And in honor of last week's Summit, a little Trade Show humor for you, courtesy of the Trade Show Guru, Trade Show Zombies. I find this amusing because at every trade show I see them, and particularly bad were the ones at Web 2.0 Expo this past week here in San Francisco. Luckily we kept them at bay at the UC Summit. Rule #1: Cardio!
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.
One of the great new components of Sametime 8.5 is the Proxy Server. It let's you embed Sametime services into your web apps using standard web 2.0 tools. One of the most commonly discussed applications of the Proxy is to chat enable customer service sites to improve satisfaction and lower support costs. Well, if you want to see this in action, check out the new "Technical Support Chat" on the Lotus Support sites. You can engage with an IBM Support Engineer when creating or updating a Problem Management Records (PMRs) or reach out to the IBM Technical Support Engineer who is working with you on your open service request. Just look for this logo:
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.
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.
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.
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?
Sydbank adopted 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
From our friends over at UCStrategies.com, a new article from Blair Pleasant on how IBM is integrating unified communications with social software. Several real customer examples are cited, with a nice quote or two, including:
IBM is not the only company to offer enterprise social software capabilities, or to integrate them with their UC capabilities but it has a head start over most of its competitors, which have only recently announced such capabilities.
If you are considering ways to improve asynchronous communications, teaming and sharing across your organization, you can see first hand that integration with Lotus social software, including Lotus Connections and Lotus Quickr.
Lotus Education has put together a new course on "Demystifying Sametime 8.5: Designing and Deploying a Sametime 8.5 Infrastructure". "This webinar brings together multiple Sametime experts, sharing their knowledge and best practices to help you design, deploy, install and administer a new or upgrade an existing Sametime 8.5 Infrastructure. Get a jumpstart on your Sametime 8.5 education today!"
Module 1 : Designing your Sametime 8.5 Infrastructure
Module 2: IBM Lotus Sametime System Console: The New Browser-based Dashboard for Managing Your Sametime Infrastructure
Module 3: Installation and Setup of IBM Lotus Sametime 8.5: From "Zero to Hero" in under 2 Hours
Module 4: Sametime System Console - Post Installation Tools demo
Just so you don't think we don't have a sense of humor around here (wait, that's a double negative...), I thought we could start a Friday Funnies section. Here's a typically good one from Dilbert, which made me realize that maybe online meetings aren't ALWAYS better that in person.
Feel free to share other humorous sources and any particularly good ones I'll save up for future Fridays.
Internet Telephony has just awarded IBM a 2009 Product of the Year Award for IBM Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony. "IBM has proven its commitment to quality and excellence while addressing real needs in the marketplace,” said Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC. “We’re happy to recognize and honor IBM for their development of IP communications technology. We look forward to more innovative solutions from them in the future.” A complete list of Product of the Year winners is published in the February 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine (www.itmag.com). For more information about TMC, please visit TMCnet.com.
We're very proud of the 2009 launch of Sametime Unified Telephony. This also comes on the heels of IBM winning the 2009 TMC Unified Communications Excellence Award for our IBM Global Technology Services Converged Communications Services for Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony. The combination of our award-winning software, services, hardware and industry expertise uniquely positioned IBM in 2009 as a leader in unified communications, and we look forward to an even stronger 2010.
Jim Burton wrote an excellent article outlining what Lotusphere 2010 meant for Unified Communications.
What impresses me most about IBM’s UC2 solutions are
the breadth and depth of the product offerings. Most of IBM’s UC
products have evolved over 10 years, with continual added
functionality. Many of the demos at Lotusphere showed how easy it is to
add functionality to an application...
While waiting for the Sametime 8.5 demo I assumed that it
couldn’t be a big deal – not with a .5 release. Well, I was wrong. IBM
Lotus really beefed up the collaboration capabilities with a new online
meeting experience, new mobility support, and a social views capability
that makes it easier to find people you collaborate with the most.
Another surprise was the improved integration with Microsoft Outlook
Lotus also made it easier for partners to integrate with its UCC
platform. Of special interest to me is the SIP-based audio/video
interoperability, which brings me to Sametime Unified Telephony (SUT).... Several customers had integrated Sametime into a multi-vendor PBX
environment using SUT. This is a really big deal. Customers told me
that they were able to combine the value of Sametime with telephony and
video capabilities without replacing their existing phone systems.
What made the biggest impression on me from Lotusphere is the large number of customers who got on stage to talk about their Lotus implementations and applications. Almost every announcement and product introduction included customer testimonials. What’s more, many of these customers were or are Microsoft shops using Exchange and SharePoint. IBM went out of its way to explain its desire to provide customers with choices – even when it means supporting a competitive product... I know that based on what I witnessed at Lotusphere, IBM Lotus continues to have a great vision for UC and collaboration – as well as lots of passionate and loyal customers.
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.
A new PBS Frontline documentary that airs tonight has a segment on IBM's efforts to conduct internal meetings in virtual worlds (using Virtual Collaboration for Lotus Sametime - aka Sametime 3D) and how more than 10,000 IBMers are incorporating virtual world meetings into the way they work.
Part of the IBM segment for the Digital Nation documentary was filmed from the home of Francoise LeGoues (IBM VP of Innovation Initiatives) and follows her as she participates in virtual meetings and talks about the use of virtual worlds for collaboration. Another part shows IBMers being trained on virtual world technology.
All of the "in world" scenes shot in her home office as well as the training session were done in Sametime 3D!
addition to meeting with customers and business partners, Lotusphere
is also a great opportunity to meet with IT analysts, reporters and
bloggers, share with them what we're up to, and get their feedback,
since they have such a strong pulse on the marketplace. Our Analyst
Relations lead, Public Relations lead, along with our Unified
Communications leadership team met, with several analysts and
reporters throughout the week.
wanted to summarize some of the feedback we received, mainly to show
IBM's continued commitment to the Unified Communications and
real-time collaboration market.
up is a video interview with Zeus Kerravala from Yankee Group. He particularly liked
the themes of multi-modal UC and cost effectiveness that were in the
broader themes covered in Bruce Morse's Unified Communications
Keynote Monday afternoon. Zeus is also a regular contributor to the nojitter.com blog.
think the most interesting new stuff right now revolves around the
Meetings [function in Sametime 8.5]. And I think that what we saw
especially how fast and easy it was."
Riggs from Current Analysis blogged extensively
about his thoughts from Lotusphere 2010 on nojitter.com. Money
Sametime client can of course provide the same click-to-call and
other telephony features. And with the release of SameTime Unified
Telephony last year, IBM can now deliver a soft phone that combines
instant messaging presence, telephony presence, and the ability to
initiate and receive calls in a multivendor PBX environment. So while
IBM has stayed out of the PBX business, it is quite capable of
delivering a UC-enriched soft phone that works with a variety of
IBM is demonstrating is that no matter where an organisation is
starting from, it can move the communication and collaboration
platform forward to wherever the organisation feels it needs to go:
in-house, hybrid or pure-play cloud.
Osterman from Osterman Research was at Lotusphere as well, also
producing a lengthy blog entry.
is making major strides toward moving its offerings into the cloud.
IBM is also focusing heavily on mobility, demonstrating a number of
interesting mobility-based features and functions for Notes, Sametime
and other platforms.
let us not forget the mainstream media. Sametime's press activities
at Lotusphere did generate articles in key technology and telephony
trade magazines including: NetworkWorld, Computerworld, ChannelWeb,
eWEEK, IDG, VON, V3 and TMCNet.
Hot of the presses, some good news for those looking to use Domino 8.5.1 and Sametime 8.5 community server or 'classic' meetings server. IBM will now provide technical support to customers using this configuration. Here is the official technote with the official support statement.
We plan to continue testing Domino 8.5.1 configuration for inclusion in a maintenance release of Sametime 8.5, currently targeted for release in 1H 2010.
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!
finally have a free moment to catch up on sharing our Sametime
experience here at Lotusphere 2010. But rather than a laundry list
of recaps, I wanted to talk about story telling.
One of the most
wonderful aspects of meetings like Lotusphere is serendipity. One
such seredipitous moment came this morning when I had the pleasure of
sitting next to Jean-Francois Chenier, of “The Man Who Should Have Used Lotus Connections” fame, on the bus from the Port Orleans
hotel to the Dolphin. His videos, and our wide-ranging conversation
about Japan and Calgary and snow, have inspired me to find ways to
tell better stories. And not just any stories.
In IBM we're
awfully good at telling the “how” stories – I would say 90% of
the content here at Lotusphere is training, education,
implementation, etc. The two excellent videos (and more to come)
that John Del Pizzo produced are great examples of that too. But
those of us who are close to a topic often struggle with the “why”.
I'm not just referring to the business value of our Lotus portfolio,
though that's clearly a big part of the “why”. It's also the
more personal stories that make a direct connections between these incredible
technologies and improving our lives.
subconscious level, those of us who use Sametime every day –
indeed, the younger generation that uses Skype and Yahoo! and Google
Talk -- instinctually know the incredible value it brings to our
lives – the visually rich, instant communication with friends and
colleagues all over the world, and the flexibility it provides for
our work and personal lives. But how do we put ourselves in the
shoes of someone not so close to it as we are? To communicate that “why”
to the vast mass of people who may not be aware of Sametime or discount out-of-hand the business value of real-time communications?
So that's the
challenge that I, as the worldwide market segment manager for
Sametime, set for myself this year: to learn from a master like
Jean-Francois, to reading wonderful books like “Back of the Napkin”, to tell the “why” of Sametime. The product team
worked extremely hard in 2009 to improve Sametime: Sametime Unified Telephony; and Sametime 8.5 are sea-change improvements in unified communications and real-time collaboration software. My job this
year – and the help I need from you as business partners and
evangelists in your enterprises – is to now shift into that
wonderful story-telling mode. To get our prospects' eyes wide with wonder at
the possibilities Sametime can open up in our work, and personal –
I would love to
hear YOUR stories. What are your experiences, good and bad? How do you wish you COULD use Sametime? Whether through comments here, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or YouTube, WHY do you use Sametime?
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.
For those readers who are traveling to Lotusphere 2010, feel free to join our first ever Tweetup! It's co-hosted by our own Bilal Jaffery and Luis Benitez, of the Lotus Social Software Community (of which I'm a member). Have a safe trip and bring some comfortable clothing - looks like the weather is finally turning back to normal down there.
An update to our original post back on December 2: we are planning a wide range of activities at next week's Lotusphere 2010 for Sametime. Here's a handy-dandy 1-page JPG you can download and use to find us in the happy madness of it all.
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..
Just saw a very nice article from the folks over at ITJungle, reviewing the new Sametime 8.5. The hat trick:
Sametime developers will fly out of their seats when they learn about
the new support for representational state transfer, or REST-based Web
2.0 APIs. Put into standard English, the new REST-based API--in concert
with the new no-download browser-based client that's used throughout
version 8.5--will allows developers to use standard AJAX tools to embed
Sametime into Web applications and Web portals.
Today Gartner published their First Take on Sametime 8.5 and had some great things to say about our new capabilities. Unfortunately, we don't have the rights yet to publish the entire report here, check out gartner.com to purchase and read the details.
"In case you haven't noticed, IBM Lotus not only didn't go away, it's here with a vengeance. LotusLive.com claims 18 million users, the 8.5 release of Notes/Domino is a winner in storage savings, Lotus Connections beats other social software platforms on many dimensions, and Sametime's pushing the envelope on real-time collaboration at global scale."
Come join us, and our hosts, the LotusUserGroup.org, for a pre-Lotusphere 2010 live webcast reviewing Sametime 8.5's newest capabilities, and the real business value they provide. To learn more, visit the registration page is here. Registration is required, but membership to the LotusUserGroup is free!
If you've read the Sametime 8.5 Requirements, you may have noticed that Windows is the only platform listed under the Connect client. As much as it pains me to say this - especially as a long-time Mac user - we've had to hold the Mac & Linux clients. This is simply a point-in-time statement and we intend to release them both in 2010. In the meantime, if you need Mac support in order to deploy Sametime 8.5, please contact me. There is a beta (which I've been using for months) that we will make available in select situations. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the new zero-download browser client, demo'd here.
Now, to keep the lawyers AND the finance folks happy, I am required to add this disclaimer anytime I make statements about future releases:
"The information on the new product is intended to outline our general product direction and it should not be relied on in making a purchasing decision. The information on the new product is for informational purposes only and may not be incorporated into any contract. The information on the new product is not a commitment, promise, or legal obligation to deliver any material, code or functionality. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for our products remains at our sole discretion."
Known problems are documented in the form of individual technotes in the Support knowledge base at http://www.ibm.com/software/lotus/support. As problems are discovered and resolved, the IBM Support team updates the knowledge base. By searching the knowledge base, you can quickly find work-arounds or solutions to problems.
Thanks for all the positive feedback on the Sametime 8.5 Meetings demo! It seems I've tapped some latent demand. Yes, we will be making these available on IBM.com as soon we clear the posting requirements. In the meantime, IBM'ers can download them from our internal Connections site (see my Files area). When the rest of them are done, we'll bundle them up and post a collection publicly.
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.
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.
On behalf of the entire Sametime team, I am pleased to announce that Sametime 8.5 will be available for download on December 22nd. Happy Holidays!
IBM Lotus Sametime 8.5
represents the next generation of unified communications and collaboration
software. As you can see, we've packed in quite a bit into this release:
A new online meeting experience that is integrated into the IBM Lotus Sametime Connect
client. Join a meeting with a single click. Easily invite others by dragging
their names from the contact list. Accept meeting invitations with a single
click. Upload meeting materials via simple drag and drop.
New zero-download, browser-based chat and meeting clients that extend
the desktop experience to wherever the user is working.
A new standards-based audio and video infrastructure that enables more seamless interoperability
with third party audio and video conferencing systems.
New audio and video codecs that provide higher quality native voice and
video services for a more compelling collaborative experience out-of-the-box.
New Web 2.0 APIs that let developers embed Sametime capabilities into Web sites
and applications so users switch context less.
A new, browser-based Apple iPhone chat client, support for the Blackberry
Storm, and an improved mobile client for Microsoft® Windows® Mobile devices.
New social views that make it easier to find the people you collaborate
with the most.
Deeper integration with Microsoft and Lotus products
A new System Console that centralizes infrastructure configuration, deployment,
management, and policy management for all Sametime services.
We'll be exploring all of these capabilities in the new year... but Sametime 8.5 is really about simplicity. Simplicity promotes adoption and adoption creates return on investment. Ask yourself these questions: How often do you loose the first ten minutes of a meeting providing instructions on how to log into the web conference? Have you invested in video conferencing systems that sit unused because no one knows they're there or how to use them? Do you want to deliver unified communications services into the applications your employees already use? Do you have a mix of communication and collaboration systems that are difficult to use, isolated and underutilized? If so, Sametime 8.5's unified user experience and open integration can help make UC simple for users, leverage those existing investments and drive real business value.
As we approach the end of the year, I receive many recommendation requests for tools that can help manage Sametime license compliance. One such tool is the Permessa IM License Auditor.
"In a few quick steps, Permessa IM License Auditor produces fast,
accurate counts of the Lotus Sametime users across an entire enterprise
or for selected servers. You'll know true accurate license counts for
known users, active users and more. The report also displays counts by
client application and version number for detailed license tracking.
The result is that you can be ready for a license audit or true-up with
three simple steps."
As an added bonus, Permessa provides the Auditor under a "free 45-day license with unlimited renewals"... so it's essentially free. Try it and let us know how useful you find it.
I know I promised some photos from VoiceCon San Francisco 2009, but I've been traveling to Singapore and am just getting around to catching up on a few things before the US Thanksgiving holidays.
First of all a big thank you to the VoiceCon team, especially Fred Knight, who as always rolls out the red carpet for us. I have to say, from my vantage point in the IBM Booth staffing the Sametime demoes, the traffic was good and the quality of attendees even better than I would have hoped with the continuing slowness in the US and California economy.
And as you know, this was also the first time VoiceCon was co-located with Enterprise 2.0 San Francisco. It was a recognition that collaboration is spanning both real-time and social collaboration, and that Enterprises need to consider both within a broader collaboration agenda. IBM was a key sponsor for both events.
In addition to our usual booth, keynote and other speakers, one of the neat things we did this time was set up a "Sweet Tweets" bar at the IBM Booth. Visitors were encouraged to stop by, pick up some sweets, and then tweet (#sweettweets or #IBM and #voicecon) about the IBM booth. Behind the bar was a large display showing a real-time feed of the twitter stream. My favorites were the gummy bananas - almost like banana-flavored Peeps. Here's a picture from my iPhone: Here's a few more photos: It was pretty much impossible to maintain a healthy eating habit with all this delicious stuff around:
There was a lot of traffic not just for the sweets, though...
IBM sells its own virtual meeting tool, Sametime 3D, which allows
businesses to share ideas and collaborate in a 3D world, and the
company is currently testing a more advanced version of the product.
[IBM CTO, Northeast Europe] told CNN that he recently held a meeting with 12 technical leaders from
across Europe and Asia. While that would typically involve flying
everyone to a central location, he said the meeting was held using the
new Sametime 3D.
"Not only did we save travel time, but because the environment was so engaging, a lot more ideas came through," he said.
Not everyone of course will want a full virtual world environment for realtime collaboration, but it's good to know the option it there, and the business value tangible, for those situations that warrant a richer visual environment than traditional online meetings or rich text / audio / video chat. And it further shows the power of Sametime as a collaborative platform.
I almost forgot to report on my panel at VoiceCon but better late than never.
So, the two positions were more or less as follows:
Voxeo's environment allows you to create voice applications really quickly using scripting languages. The application mashes up data from one or more sources and it presents a voice interface to the user. Dan York showed a telephone-call interface for an application that gives you the weather for a given ZIP code and nothing else.
The Sametime platform provides a general-purpose environment that acts as the context for whatever data and voice you may want to mash up at a given time. I showed the Sametime Meetings client and Sametime Unified Telephony working in tandem to build an ad-hoc aggregation of data and voice from various sources. We provide APIs for you to extend the general-purpose environment to fit your needs. You may even include one of Voxeo's applications in it if you want to.
The reaction to the two approaches was positive. There was one person, however, who said to me he didn't "see it" as clearly as he did when Dan built the weather application on the fly. I explained the difference and even Dan agreed that the Sametime approach to building voice mashups is based on providing context first and that functionality is implemented as attributes while the Voxeo approach is based on building functionality first while leaving the context to the user.
There were analysts in the audience and, strangely, they left as soon as we were both done with our presentations. I found it strange that they didn't stay for the questions-and-answers bit of the session. Overall it was a good session, good interaction and a good audience. I would do it again any time.
In communication circles, collaboration is apparently the word of the day. But for IBM customers, collaboration has long been an integral part of their UC environment. If you'd like to understand how IBM Unified Communications and Collaboration Solutions can help your business, I invite you to visit the new IBM UC2 Website and download a copy of the white paper, "The Power of Unifying Communications and Collaboration." You'll also find useful demos, webcasts, podcasts, 3rd party analysis and the new UCC Business Value Builder, which helps you quantify the value of UC2.
If you're not familiar with Greenhouse, it's a live community where you can use Lotus Collaboration products for free. And now it features the first public beta of Sametime 8.5 Online Meetings. You've seen the tweets from members of the private beta... and now you can see what all the buzz is about!
"Sametime 8.5 Meetings are an entirely new way to collaborate with others online. They are incredibly easy to use. Fully integrated into the Connect client you already use for chat, they make it simple to join a meeting with a single click; invite others by dragging their names from the contact list; upload materials via drag and drop; even share your screen from the Macintosh operating system. Of course, not everyone can participate via a Sametime Connect client, so 8.5 includes a zero-download, firewall friendly browser client as well.
Sametime Meetings are different. Meeting rooms are reservationless and don't need to be scheduled. They can be instantly created and linked to calendar invitations from Lotus Notes and Microsoft Outlook. Sametime Meeting Rooms can also be persistent. You can use the same room over and over for regular meetings and keep frequently used materials on hand during the course of the project...."
Greenhouse will be updated with additional capabilities that are part of the 8.5 release over the next month or so. Come on over and tell us what you think!
Just got back from a hectic few days connecting with customers and partners, press and analysts in the Unified Communications market. Bruce Morse, IBM VP of Unified Communications and collaboration software delivered a keynote address. The IBM showfloor booth was very busy. We showcased Sametime 8.5 and Sametime Unified Telephony as well as the other Lotus collaborative products. A big hit at this show was the long line for the IBM candy store looking for a 'Sweet Tweet'. Here are few pictures from the show.
The IBM Support team is hosting a Webcast on Sametime Advanced installation, deployment and troubleshooting on November 12th at 10am Eastern.
"This Webcast presentation will consist of a brief overview of
installation, deployment, and troubleshooting of the Lotus Sametime
Advanced Server and its clients. Our goal is to explain and highlight
the details of the various steps of product installation, deployment,
and troubleshooting. The presentation will bring the attendee through a
basic introduction of Sametime Advanced, Sametime client requirements,
installation, and culminate with troubleshooting."
Sametime Advanced continues to be a hot seller, so there should be a lot of interest in this session.To learn more, visit this link.
The main reason I'm going to VoiceCon San Francisco is to be part of a panel titled Developing Voice Applications Using Mashups and SOA.
I'll be sharing the panel with the folks from Voxeo. We had this very discussion last March at VoiceCon Orlando. My argument for this is very simple: A mashup is an aggregation of data from different sources presented in a common context. A voice mashup is a mashup that aggregates voice as well as well as other type of data from various sources in a single context (we call this "a unified experience" in Sametimeland). I'm planning to show our implementation of this pattern on Sametime 8.5 Meetings and Sametime Unified Telephony. I'm also planning on discussing our new APIs and how they can be used for this purpose.
If you're attending VoiceCon and are interested in discussing this topic make sure to stop by on Wednesday, November 4 at 3:15 PM.
Not to long ago, we posted about a new offering from Lotus Education called the Sametime Multimedia Library. This library contains more than 240 short video clips that outline how to use Sametime 8.0.2. I also want to point out a free resource called the Media Gallery on the IBM Sametime Wiki. The Gallery contains "media resources including demonstrations, videos, tutorials, reference cards, and web seminars to help users get started with Lotus Sametime." Free or for fee, learning options abound for Sametime.
In the event that you just can't wait the weekend to see what IBM will be unveiling at VoiceCon / E2.0, UC Strategies has posted a podcast featuring Bruce Morse.
"Bruce Morse, Vice President of IBM’s Unified Communications Software Group, has a conversation with Jim Burton about what's new with IBM in the unified communications market and research that showed many are CEOs thinking about UC. They also discuss the key challenges customers face and the key capabilities an enterprise should be considering. Bruce talks about IBM’s role in the UC market as the industry goes through consolidation and a lot of M&A activity. He also shares what he will present during his keynote at VoiceCon on November 3rd in San Francisco."
Next week, IBM will have a significant presence at the VoiceCon / E2.0 event in San Francisco. To learn more about what we offer for unified communications and social networking, stop by both 609 in the exhibit hall.
We also invite you to attend any of many sessions where IBM'ers will be presenting:
Nov 2, 11-12, Pat Galvin, CTO IBM UC2 Software, CTO Roundtable on Next Generation Architectures
Nov 2, 3:15-4:15, Marisa Viveros, IBM VP Converged Communication Services, Managed & Hosted Offerings for UC
Nov 2, 3:14-4:15, David Marshak, Senior Product Manager, UC2 Software, Presence, Progress of Federation
Nov 3, 11:15-12:00. Bruce Morse, VP UC2 Software, Keynote
Nov 3, 11:15-12:00, Wim Hofland, Manager, Inspiration & Innovation, Sogeti, Case Studies in Enterprise Micro-Blogging
Nov 3, 2:00-3:00, Akiba Saeedi, Director UC2 Software, UC Leadership Roundtable
Nov 3, 2:00-5:00, David Marshak, Comparing UC Options and Vendors
Nov 3, 4:15-5:00, Akiba Saeedi, Future of Social Messaging in the Enterprise
Nov 3, 4:15-5:00, Jeff Schick and Wim Hofland, Customer Perspective on IBM Enterprise Social Software
Nov 4, 8:00-10:00, Robert Ingram, Senior Product Manager, UC2 Software, Integrating Mobility with UC
Nov 4, 10:15-11:00, Jeff Schick, VP IBM Social Software, Social Software, Creating Value Today and Opportunities Tomorrow
Nov 4, 1:00-1:45, Marisa Viveros, VoiceCon Summit: The Evolution of UC
Nov 4, 3:15-4:15, Marlon Machado, Product Manager Sametime Platform, Developing Voice Apps using Mashups ans SOA
If you've been having difficulty connecting to Google with the Sametime Gateway, please see this notice from IBM Support. Apparently, Google changed something in their underlying infrastructure and that broke the handshake sequence. A fix is available for Sametime Gateway 8.0.2 and the fix for 8.0.1 is being tested. You can learn more here.
Welcome to the new home of the Sametime Blog. This is the place to learn about Sametime, IBM's Unified Communication & Collaboration software platform. Our contributors include:
John Del Pizzo, Senior Offering Manager
Rob Ingram, Senior Product Manager
Marlon Machado, Product Manager, Sametime Platform and Solutions
Jacques Pavlenyi, Market Segment Manager
We'll point out capabilities of Sametime you may not be familiar with in our Quick Tip series, the latest in partner innovations, insightful news and analysis we see around the web and provide you with materials you can use to educate your colleagues on the benefits of unified communications. Come often and be sure to add us to your RSS reader. (If you're joining us from the old blog, don't forget to change your RSS Reader feed to the new ibm.com feed URL.)
And don't worry, the old Sametime Blog will be available for a few months as we transitions folks to this site.
Welcome to the soon-to-be-new home of The Sametime Blog. In the meantime, as we continue to transition to this new platform, the IBM Lotus Sametime product management team will continue to blog through the current The Sametime Blog. There will be plenty of notification leading up to the switchover, on both the current (old) blog and this (new) blog.