Ever since I happened upon an exhibit of Japanese post-war consumer design at Design Museum London back in 1992 (the miniature cars! the sleek juicers! the radios encased in melamine!), I've been somewhat enamoured with design. When you are (or like me, used to be) an engineer, it's too easy to put function over form. Great design doesn't put form over function, but instead marries the two seamlessly in order to solve real human problems in a way that feels natural.
In that vein, and continuing today's features of IBM Business Partners for unified communications, I wanted to shout out my congratulations to Plantronics for winning the Elite International Design competition for their Voyager PRO UC headset.
particular bluetooth headset is designed to work with IBM Sametime. And when combined with their recently updated IBM Lotus Award winning Plantronics Plug in for Sametime
, it offers additional Call control features to further improve the end user’s mobility and productivity on premise or in the Cloud.
In the words of our own Thierry Nicolle - EMEA’s IBM BUE’s experience on our new Voyager PRO UC:
Plantronics Bluetooth Headset is delivering the best Unified Communication Experience on Sametime I ever had. Not only this headset is extremely well designed and easy to use but is also providing unique capabilities in Sametime environment . For instance: the new ‘ Smart Sensor feature’ that ‘automatically‘ answers any inbound call when you place the headset on your head is a fantastic feature and the Plantronics Call control plug ability to ‘roam’ from your PC / desktop up to 33 feet (10 metres) away to multitask and remain ‘connected’ to [Sametime Unified Telephony] calls. [And] meetings with its multiple call handling features provides real freedom and extra productivity benefits. After trying this headset I simply cannot work without it…
Speaking from my own experience, it is a visually engaging piece of technology. And it really does enhance your mobility and productivity.
If you happen to use the headset, Plantronics is always looking for feedback; just blog your response at http://pltx1.com/on-the-record/
tweet to @Plantronics.
And for a full view of latest Plantronics UC Devices Bluetooth ,
Wireless, Corded and Speakerphone - all built for IBM Sametime - download the PDF here
I've discovered that keeping our Business Partner features to just Tuesdays wan't enough. So instead, we'll feature our Business Partners more throughout our weekly editorial calendar.
Today's IBM Business Partner Feature is about Lionbridge. On Wednesday, they announced the GeoFluent IM for IBM Sametime solution
. This solution will help IBM Sametime clients collaborate more effectively with non-English speaking colleagues, partners and customers:
“Today's dynamic workforce is increasingly globally dispersed, multigenerational and multicultural,” said Caleb Barlow, Director, Unified Communications and Collaboration, IBM. “As globally dispersed organizations move towards becoming social businesses, the challenge of resolving real-time barriers of language translation is critical. Today’s always available, socially-connected organizations need to communicate seamlessly with networks of partners, clients and suppliers, regardless of location, time-zone or language.”
We encourage you to join Lionbridge and IBM for a webinar
on August 23rd to learn more about increasing social communications across borders with multilingual unified communications. Please register for the webinar here
As a native English and French speaker, I have to say this is pretty cool. I've seen the real-time translations in action, and it makes cross-language real-time communication SO much easier. It won't replace professional translators for all use cases, but for the majority of day-to-day real-time translation work, it's a great solution to look into.
I'd like to invite those of you who will be at IamLUG 2011 in Saint Louis next week to stop by Room A on Tuesday at 3:30 PM. This year I'm going talk about how to help our customers make the transition from good-ol' fashioned collaboration into Social Business.
My session is titled Leveraging the IBM Exceptional Work Experience Suite on the Path to Social Business
. I'll talk about how we can help customers replace linear collaboration workflows, which is what we've been telling them to do for years (remember Workplace?) with the more natural social interaction patterns that we use in our daily lives as they make their way into the enterprise. The trick to making this transition successful resides in enabling those social interaction patterns from the start. Enablement in this case means giving the people involved the means to find, reach and collaborate with each other using both, real-time, and asynchronous communication channels. I'll talk about positioning unified communications as the connective tissue that makes capabilities such as communities, profiles and Wikis context vehicles for enabling social interaction patterns.
Feel free to stop by. We'll have about 75 minutes to talk about these things. It's going to be fun.
The Sametime Wiki has a new section dedicated to business partners. The section is called, quite appropriately, Business Partner Resources and it will feature content to address issues related to education, deployment, application development, and best-practice advice in general.
Todd Page has written the first article. The title is "Business Partner Enablement Roadmap for IBM Sametime" and it outlines what business partners need to do to acquire the necessary skills to become Sametime practitioners. This is just the first of many articles to come.
You can find this new section of the Wiki here
Underscoring the role of unified communications in a social business, in India, Smart Techie magazine published a Q&A with IBM's V. Venkataraman, "Unified Communications: Enabling the Next Gen Business Communication
" discussing how unified communications and social software can help geographically distributed teams collaborate.
Companies will go beyond the initial capabilities of IM—like
click-to-call and online presence—to deep integration with business
processes and line-of-business applications, where they can realize the
In a SearchUnifiedCommunications article about mobile collaboration apps in the cloud, "Cloud providers deliver mobile collaboration apps better than on-prem
", IBM's Caleb Barlow discusses IBM's on-premise and cloud strategy for its social software portfolio.
A 'generic' cloud will not meet [enterprises'] needs for compliance, security and back-end application integration," Barlow said. "IBM's current thinking is that private clouds may be the way to go, and we are running experiments in this area.
IBM today announced new cloud-based collaboration services to help U.S.
Federal government organizations reap the benefits of social computing. The new set of social collaboration services, including IBM Sametime, delivered on IBM's Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)-compliant Federal Community Cloud
, addresses the administration's drive to adopt a "cloud-first"
policy which is designed to help the government improve its overall IT efficiency and delivery of services to citizens. By having Sametime as part of a FISMA-compliant environment, IBM is able to provide a roadmap for unified communications as a service for those organizations looking for FISMA-compliant delivery.
Following up from our July 18 Business Partner session on Living Social with UC
, I modified our presentation a bit to make it a more general story on how unified communications can work together with Enterprise 2.0 capabilities to help your enterprise become a social business. The benefits of both together really are a 1+1 > 2 story. I would very much appreciate your feedback, as this is the first time I've personally posted a presentation to SlideShare.
IBM Business Partners: please join us on Monday, July 18 for our second in our Living Social webcast series. Presented by Sandy Carter, VP IBM Social Business and Collaboration Solutions
Sales and Evangelism, and Rick Schonbrun, Worldwide Business Unit
Executive for Unified Communications and Collaboration, discuss with IBM and your peers about why IBMers, IBM Business Partners, and our customers are
using the IBM Unified Communications and Collaboration platform to socially connect employees across the enterprise, regardless
of geographic location.
Why Attend? We all need to LIVE social. Your customers and prospects expect you to live as, and not just talk about becoming, a social business. Living social earns you credibility with your customers and opens more doors. It's simple: live social, and close more business.
To accomodate multiple time zones, we have two sessions you can attend (PartnerWorld membership and registration is required):
Blair Pleasant over at UC Strategies recently blogged about
a Focus.com IBM and Polycom webcast
on video communications in the enterprise. My personal experience has been similar to hers, specifically video collaboration can be both a positive reinforcement AND negative reinforcement of good collaboration behavior and outcomes. On the negative reinforcement side:
One of the strongest arguments in favor of video calls is that
participants are less likely to multitask and do other things while on
the call. If someone is looking right at you, you're probably not going
to be checking your email, playing Angry Birds, or eating your lunch.
And on the positive reinforcement side:
Communication is enhanced. Using video lets you see if someone is
confused, bored, or angry, so you can modify your message and
presentation. Interactions are more personal, which helps to enhance the
quality of relationships between the participants.
Negative reinforcement isn't a bad thing - social mores are just as often about "don't do so-and-so...it's bad manners" as they are about "do so-and-so, it's good manners". Video collaboration is no exception. Personally, I've experienced both the positive and negative reinforcement of good behavior both in work meetings from video meetings. At work we've been (of course!) using video inside a Sametime 8.5.2 meeting for regular weekly meetings, and our team's focus has increased significantly in those meetings. And I've also experienced it outside of work. My personal mobile device is an iPhone 4 and lately I've been using FaceTime to communicate with my spouse, who's recently been in New York while I've been back home in San Diego. The interactions we've had via video on mobile has been leaps and bounds more satisfying than a pure voice call, making the 3000 miles seem a lot less distant.
That personal experience is enlightening. It reminds me that even in business situations, we're still HUMAN. We still want -- need -- visual communication to establish trust and maintain deeper relationships (note that I'm omitting an important conversation on the special challenges faced by the vision-impaired). If Trust is the new currency, then video collaboration will surely be an increasingly important tool in the enterprise.
In response to a post today on TMC, "Did Social Just Make UC Irrelevant?
", I commented:
As I blogged about on NoJitter back in June ("The Future of UC is
Social" --> http://www.nojitter.com/blog/229900178?queryText=the+future+of+UC+is+social
), I disagree with the premise that it's either UC or social
collaboration, but not both. Enterprises for some time have been asking
to make UC part of a broader collaboration environment, including newer
collaboration capabilities such as blogs, wikis, forums and communities.
Users want a variety of tools to use, and more importantly, the ability
to pivot between various tools depending on the circumstances they're
in, and from the applications and environments they're working from,
whether business process applications, mobile device, e-mail client, web
application, etc. And many analysts have been seeing the same thing; I
believe Gartner just recently said by 2014 more than 20% of business
users will use social networks as their primary communication hubs, and
separately said that the distinction between UC and collaboration will
disappear altogether by 2013.
I also believe that, while many
recent UC startups and cloud offerings in the consumer space are
spurring innovation, the levels of security, policy management and other
administration features demanded by enterprises are going to stay out
of reach for many consumer-focused UC and collaboration vendors -- cloud
or on premises. Social collaboration, including voice and video,
generates a certain level of agida on the part of enterprise Legal, IT,
and Finance that has to be addressed by any serious vendor.
Microsoft and Cisco are by no means the only vendors integrating social
collaboration with unified communications. IBM has been doing this at
least since the launch of IBM Connections several years ago. Integration
with other IBM applications as well as with best-of-breed applications
and platforms through open standards-based APIs, has been the hallmark
of the IBM approach for some time.
What do you think? How fast do you think UC is merging with other collaboration tools? What are examples in your environments where this is -- or isn't -- happening?