The Sametime Blog
I've been working with a lot of people from Denmark lately and I must say it's been quite a rewarding experience. I don't know whether it has to do with the fact that Denmark is one of the happiest places on Earth (it was number one last year) and that state of mind gets to you when you talk to Danish people over Sametime Unified Telephony (it only happens over SUT and TCSPI adapters, by the way) or because we're lucky enough to be working with great business partners hailing from the land of Mr. Andersen.
Convergens A/S is one of those partners. I've been working with them in building a reference for Collaboration Agenda to highlight their CitizenCasePortal, an integrated solution for municipal case workers that features Sametime, WebSphere Portal, Domino and Notes.
Convergens built the solution for a municipality in Denmark to help case workers improve accuracy and delivery of the various services the municipality offers its citizens.
The main selling point of the solution is to, first, present a unified picture of a citizen's case history along with access to the case workers that participated in building that history and, secondly, to give ready access to those case workers in real time.
The solution pattern proves, once again, that communication is only useful in-context. This is a line-of-business application used by task workers that has improved case processing time in about 90% when compared to the time it took a case worker to gather all the information and build case histories from scratch--every time.
The solution has been in production for about two months now and it's already proving to be one of the smartest decisions the customer has ever made, according to their CIO. I could not agree more.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  partners business-partner-tuesdays uc videos 1 Comment 1,688 Visits
As I mentioned in a previous post, we've been working with AwesomeBobcatVideos to include Unified Communications videos in her ongoing series of short videos that cover Enterprise Collaboration as well as other topics.
The third video that I worked with her on as part of this series was just recently posted. Here I talk briefly about why Business Partners are so important to the IBM strategy for unified communications and collaboration. Take a look at the video on YouTube here.
Today my friend Art Rosenberg wrote an interesting post titled "Short Messaging Service (SMS) winning the mobility battle?" on the UC Strategies blog that, when you see the numbers, really puts things in perspective when it comes to considering the effectiveness of SMS as a communication tool. As it usually happens, the success of SMS stems from its simplicity: it's low-bandwidth, it doesn't require specialized equipment and it just works. Because of its simplicity, SMS can be used as a communication channel but also as an interface to applications in CEBP scenarios. To me, this is where its true potential resides.
In case you didn't know, there's a way to interact with mobile phones via SMS from Sametime. Our friends at Red Oxygen, a company based in Austin, Texas, have developed the functionality that allows a Sametime user to send and receive SMS from a mobile phone into Sametime and vice versa. Red Oxygen provides the functionality as a cloud service and, to a Sametime user, it looks as if he or she were chatting with another Sametime user when, in reality, he or she would be chatting with a bot that does the brokering between the Sametime community server and the mobile phone. This is what it looks like:
Pretty cool, huh? Never mind the Flintstones.
Marlon Machado 100000PEST email@example.com Tags:  strategy web-browser expeditor cloud cebp 1,715 Visits
Today instead of giving you something to make you smile (or just roll your eyes) I would like to, instead, ask you, dear readers, a couple of questions.
I'm interested in your opinion because, first of all, I'm very curious about the make-up of the readership of this blog and I hope your feedback will give me a better idea of who actually reads this stuff. Secondly, because I think these are fair questions to ask.
The only thing I can promise you to do with your feedback is to internalize it and use it to enrich the awareness I rely on to nurture my decision making. If you feel so inclined as to indulging me with your feedback please feel free to comment on this post.
The first question I'd like to ask is: What's your take on the direction we're setting for the Sametime platform vis-a-vis CEBP? If you recall, our take on CEBP basically says that CEBP is about collaboration facilitated and empowered by unified communications. Moreover, we're saying that, to be effective, CEBP must be intimately linked to business process management (BPM). We call the whole thing BPM + UC² = CEBP and the BPM world looks at it as "Social BPM" (see this post for more on the philosophical underpinnings of this rationale).
My second question is: Do you see things such as CEBP and Cloud being delivered exclusively through the Web browser? The reason I'm asking is because we're seeing the Web browser as the easiest way to implement many of the CEBP scenarios we're working on. We're working with the WebSphere Portal team in building templates for industry use cases in banking, retail and insurance and a few work streams we're pursuing with the IBM BPM team and a few select business partners are also centered around Web browser interfaces. I'm also noticing the emergence of an unwritten assumption that everything coming from the Cloud must be delivered through the Web browser.
I don't think this should be the case because not all applications are suited for the browser--especially in situations involving task workers. I happen to believe the idea of heterogeneous mashups--the kinds of applications you build using Lotus Expeditor and, by extension, the Sametime Connect client--is also a viable proposition for both, CEBP and Cloud alongside the Web browser particularly for task workers.
I'm looking forward to hearing your opinion about these two issues.
Have a good weekend, everyone.
I've been a fan of Seth Godin since I read is book Permission Marketing, long before I joined the Sametime team. It reinforced for me the power of digital marketing to forge new relationships between vendors and customers. He continues to enlighten and challenge all of us, lately via Seth's Blog. A recent entry, Goodbye to the Office, challenges why we need offices in the first place.
He then goes on to enumerate the 7 reasons most companies and workers still think that way. Whether he realizes it or not, I believe his entire thesis is possible because of unified communications and collaboration: tools that are forcing us to fundamentally rethink how we work together, organize ourselves as corporations, work-life balance, and more.
1. That's where the machines are.
As Seth mentioned, if you have a laptop, you have your office. Now, of course the assumption is you're a knowledge worker, and that you have access to a full complement of collaboration tools on your laptop, including VoIP, and a (decent) Wi-Fi connection. But what if you're not a knowledge worker, manager, or executive? The majority of workers are still physically tied to their work locations: construction workers, manufacturing assembly-line workers, nurses, medical technicians, Department of Motor Vehicles reps, pharmacist, truck driver, and so on. Those workers don't use laptops or desktops on a day-to-day basis: they're tied to a specific application appliances or mobile devices -- process control equipment, desktops running SAP or accounting software, UPS scanner, etc. These workers still need to collaborate, now more than ever if your enterprise hopes to keep up with an accelerating world. As we write about often on The SametimeBlog, the promise of UC has to move beyond just rich UC clients on laptops to all sorts of devices and applications (web or cloud-based, packaged, etc.). Communications enabled business processes can bring the promise of UC to the vast majority of workers, not just people like me and most of this (limited) audience.
2. That's where the items I need to work are.
This is more true than ever, as all our data and applications are digitized and surfaced via web-enabled or virtual applications. But see #1 for the caveat: what about the 70%+ workers who are still physically tied to processes and locations? More and more (as Marlon Machado posted here a while), it's less and less about you going to work, and more and more about work coming to you.
3. The boss needs to keep tabs on my productivity.
This is one place where technology has leaped ahead of culture. Rich presence -- including online status (online, offline), geographic location, availability status ("do not disturb", "in a meeting", "at lunch"), telephony status (on the phone), connection device (mobile device, laptop), etc. -- allows you to abstract "work" from "physical location", while paradoxically INCREASING your availability. The challenge isn't the technology per se, it's culture: management still thinks in terms of assembly line ("how can Joe produce my widgets if they're not on the assembly line?") rather than outcomes, which results in that perceived need for visual control. IBM has been an early and avid adopter of remote working, which has given us plenty of time to slowly shift our culture from one of "facetime" to "availability"; as long as I make myself available within the requirements of my particular role, my management chain can focus on what's really important: am I achieving my objectives in a timely manner, whether or not I'm in the "office" from 9-5.
And this is where the second "Collaboration" of IBM's Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC2) approach comes in: integration of social networking tools (not just community tools in Sametime Advanced, but blogs, wikis, rich profiles, online communities and networks, sharing, tagging, etc.) moves UC beyond the immediate availability to capturing those interactions, sharing them and thus growing the enterprise's knowledge base, and even measuring (via social analytics) productivity in new, novel ways.
UC is forcing corporate cultures to rethink measurement, performance evaluation, and social boundaries. Or, put differently, for companies to successfully deploy and use UC, cultural adaptation and business process alignment are critical.
4. There are important meetings to go to.
Clearly, with UC, meetings can happen whether or not you're in the office. The recent business disruptions caused by the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull were a perfect example of meetings still going on, via e-meetings, chat and video, despite all the ash. One of UC's primary and most measurable value propositions to customers is saving travel cost, time, and reducing environmental impacts through enhanced virtual meetings that are (almost) as good as being there. Now, UC (or generally-available bandwidth or device power) isn't at the point where it can completely replace face-to-face meetings; human communication is only partially verbal (and if you're hearing impared, not verbal at all), so additional advances in video, 3D (not just Sametime 3D, but moving towards "Fahrenheit 451"-ish holographics) and even virtual touch and smell...well, maybe the last two are entering creepy territory, but you get the picture.
5. It's a source of energy; 6. The people I collaborate with all day; 7. I need someplace to go.
Clearly we're still social animals; we can't all work in isolation (we certainly don't want to end up as Isaac Asimov's Solarians...) As I alluded to in #4 above, UC2 is a great technology enabler, allowing us to draw social energy from wherever we happen to be. As Seth said, we don't just draw energy from our office co-workers. And if our work and collaboration networks extend far beyond immediate reporting structures to work with co-workers in Bangalore, customers in Bratislava, Business Partners in Dalian, investors in San Francisco, while simultaneously running into dear friends in the cafe on the Seine we happen to be working from today, UC2 can only help us draw energy simultaneously from physically immediate and virtual, ever-widening circles.
We still, though, have a way to go before we can provide virtual environments that enable the full richness of human communication. And that includes the natural outcomes of extroverted, social behavior: surreptitious/unplanned encounters and non-verbal communication just for starters. Hence the continued need for local socialization.
A lot to think about on a cool San Francisco midnight. What do you think? Would very much like to hear your thoughts.
About a week ago I wrote a post on this blog in which I asked our readers two questions:
I asked that any responses to these two questions be posted in the form of comments on the corresponding post. So far, I see 58 people have seen the post but no comments have been recorded.
If you have an opinion but would rather not comment on this blog please feel free to send me email. My email address is my first-name initial (m) followed by my last name (machado)--no space in between--at "us" dot "ibm" dot "com".
I'm really interested in your opinion and any feedback on the subject will be greatly appreciated.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  announcement 8.5.1 ucoms sametime availability #ucoms 2,764 Visits
IBM Lotus Sametime 8.5.1 is here! Lotus Sametime 8.5.1 extends the capabilities of Sametime 8.5 to additional desktop operating systems and mobile device operating systems, providing comprehensive support for all of the most popular desktop and mobile device operating systems. Following are the Lotus Sametime 8.5.1 additions:
Lotus Sametime 8.5.1 also provides server support for the most recent release of Lotus Domino (8.5.1), with plans to provide support for the next version shortly after it is released. In addition, Lotus Sametime 8.5.1 support for Linux on IBM System z will be available approximately 60 days after electronic availability on the other platforms. You can read the complete announcement letter here.
In addition to the release of Sametime 8.5.1, we're also announcing the general availability of Sametime Unified Telephony. First made available in June 2009, IBM Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony 8.5.1 provides a unified user experience through a single Sametime Connect client, including managing telephone calls, routing calls to various devices, setting call handling rules, and telephony presence. With Sametime Unified Telephony 8.5.1, you can activate these capabilities without a separate download, making it easier to deploy and use. You can read the complete announcement letter here.
John Del Pizzo 270001QBN7 email@example.com Tags:  sametime-unified-telephon... sametime_8.5 sametime-8.5 1,820 Visits
On Tuesday, IBM announced that Sametime 8.5.1 would be generally available (GA) for customers and partners to install today. Unfortunately, we identified an issue during the build process and have opted to delay the GA release by up to two weeks.
We understand that some Sametime customers will be impacted by this delay and apologize for the inconvenience but IBM takes product quality very seriously. We will use the SametimeBlog to provide updates if anything changes. If you have any questions, by all means don't hesitate to contact one of us here on the blog, or your IBM Sales Representative.
Marlon Machado 100000PEST firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  uc2 collaboration-agenda collaboration uc 1,811 Visits
UC² is about more than voice; more than UC. It's far more valuable than adding voice to everything and it's far more profound than debating whether to phase out their PBXs. It's more than selling people phones and telephony hardware and it's certainly more than selling them Windows licenses. Our competitors offer UC. We offer UC². There, I said it.
Having that out of the way, let me tell you why I'm starting this post with a rant.
I just came across a nice example of what I've been saying since I got here:
InformationWeek has just published an article about SPACE (Smart Place to Accelerate Community of Excellence) at Berlitz International. SPACE is a solution based on Sametime, Lotus Connections, WebSphere Portal Server and Tivoli Identity Manager that Berlitz is deploying to serve over 10,000 employees across 550 language centers in 70 countries. The solution is being used to communicate, to collaborate, to find expertise, to capture and share knowledge; all that.
I know it sounds like copy-and-paste from our marketing material but it's actually true. This is our message to the world.
If you're interested in reading the article you can find it here.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A email@example.com Tags:  ucoms survey wainhouse business ucc uc research 1,914 Visits
Just a quick reminder to our Sametime audience. As we blogged about a month ago, our friends over at Wainhouse Research are still soliciting responses to their 2010 Unified Communications and Collaboration End User Survey. Your responses will help develop a clearer understanding of the unified communications marketplace. This survey should take 5 - 8 minutes to complete! And as an added bonus for your time, Wainhouse will select ten respondents to win a $50 Amazon.com gift certificate. Hurry: the survey closes July 30!