My colleague Louis Richardson over at the Collaboration Soapbox Blog just posted a great entry, Beware brood parasites in your company. Although he wrote it specifically within the context of social software, it applies equally well to the world of unified communications. Many companies have experienced very similar frustrations with their (non-IBM) unified communications deployments. So it bears repeating: make sure the solution fits your business, and not the other way around.
The Sametime Blog
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Webcast replay available: Leverage the Sametime platform to build Communications Enabled Applications
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On November 10, the Lotus User Group hosted a Webcast by Marlon Machado, Product Manager Sametime Platform and Solutions at IBM Lotus. The Webcast was titled "Optimize Your Business Apps with Communications and Collaboration Services”. For those of you who could not make it, the session was recorded and is now available online for limited time, free to LotusUserGroup.org members. You can watch it on the LotusUserGroup.org site here.
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My session at Lotusphere 2011, AD307 - Application Development with the IBM Lotus Sametime SDK: From Java to Web 2.0 will cover the various ways in which a developer can leverage the Sametime platform to build applications. The idea behind the session is to position the different programming models available within the Sametime SDK in the service of implementing applications for communication-enabled business processes.
The reason to do this is to convey the following message to the Sametime development community: if you want to make money selling applications based on the Sametime platform please focus on integrating Sametime features into line-of-business applications; think of building solutions that will help knowledge workers minimize human latency by enhancing collaboration and task workers eliminate human latency from the business processes they execute on every day. I know a Solitaire plug-in would be nice and cute but chances are no customer will want to buy it.
In order to illustrate this I will go over the integration we did with Ion Objects. I've known the folks at Ion for many years. We invited them to attend UC Summit 2010 back in April to introduce them to the world of unified communications. They understood UC is something they needed to embrace and they did so wholeheartedly. Since then, we've been working together to build one of the most innovative integration patterns I've ever seen.
Ion Objects bases its products in the Ion framework, a Web 2.0 application development runtime that uses the Web browser as its IDE. Developing on the Ion framework is as simple as dragging and dropping objects (Ion objects) on the Web browser. Well, the integration with Sametime is so cool that Sametime is now an Ion object that can be dropped into an Ion application and, when you run the application, the whole thing just works. The integration is based on the Sametime Proxy toolkit and it's designed to produce both, cloud-based, and on-premises applications.
That's all I'm going to say about this. If you want to see more--specifically an actual communication-enabled contracts management application Ion is selling to a high-profile customer in the media and entertainment industry, feel free to attend session AD307. Make sure to check the Lotusphere 2011 agenda for details regarding time and place. See you there.
In an interview with Enterprise Communications Europe for an article entitled Integrating UC with Social Software, Blair Pleasant, one of my favorite analysts, talks about the evolution of presence from "I'm here" into what I would call a rich realm of contextual information powered by an aggregation of UC and social media features. I happen to think she's absolutely right in her assessment.
I've always said IBM's approach to UC is better than what our competitors offer. We understand UC as the connective tissue that enables collaboration and it's nice to see that people are starting to notice. According to Blair, when it comes to integrating UC and social software, IBM "...has a head start over most of its competitors..." and goes on to say that, for customers, "The real bang for the buck will come from integrating IBM's social software capabilities with its UC and collaboration offerings, notably Sametime," and points out that the basic integration points are available today.
After several iterations, the industry has concluded that social media is probably the most efficient way to connect people so they can collaborate. In the past, collaboration was about tools and workplaces (no pun intended) and hubs to bring people together; it was about defining the context and bringing people into it effectively forcing them to collaborate following predefined patterns. Social software, on the other hand, does not define the collaboration context. Instead, it seeds context through multi-modal channels and lets people decide how they want to collaborate.
This is the way people interact with each other in the real world, where presence means more than "I'm available @ Office". It's efficient, it's dynamic and it's flexible. No wonder it's been so successful: it wasn't built thinking of the enterprise in the first place!
Blair actually describes it very nicely when she says that today “We have a greater variety of channels and networks through which we can announce our whereabouts, activities and thoughts; Twitter tweets and Facebook status updates are the social equivalent to business users’ presence information. We can initiate communication based on context, even without direct contact information. We’ll approach business acquaintances through LinkedIn, for example, while a social situation is Facebook’s territory.” I could not agree more.
I've also said many times that presence "is" and we only switch from one status to another, including being offline. When I thought about this definition I wasn't really sure of the meaning of the word "is"--no pun intended, again--in this context. I can say now that when I say "presence is..." it means many things: a rich realm of contextual information powered by an aggregation of UC and social media features.
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It's not too late to take advantage of the Lotusphere 2011 Early Bird Special! And as if your boss needed even more convincing to send you to Orlando Jan 30 to Feb 3, this little video might help.