The Sametime Blog
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  whitepaper ibm collaboration video polycom sametime 2,750 Visits
I've been somewhat remiss in publicizing a new whitepaper written by IBM Lotus Award-winner Polycom, in collaboration with IBM and UCStrategies. "Video is key in location liberation for small and medium businesses" is a new whitepaper designed to help SMBs understand the value of video to expand their collaborative environments and improve their business productivity.
Polycom has several other useful information on their Partners website for IBM, including a solution overview and brief, demos and more. You can learn more by visiting http://www.polycom.com/partners/strategic_global_alliances/ibm.html .
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A email@example.com Tags:  cloud smart news techie mobile ucoms india ibm-sametime searchunifiedcommunicatio... collaboration 2,193 Visits
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 greatest benefit.
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.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  ucc business ucaas ucoms collaboration social-business fisma uc social cloud 2,272 Visits
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.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A email@example.com Tags:  content gartner portals booth collaboration event 1,633 Visits
Join IBM at the upcoming Gartner PCC Conference, March 28-30 in Los Angeles. If you're at the event, stop by the Exceptional Work Experience demonstration in IBM Booth (#5), or attend sessions featuring IBM clients. Visit the Gartner PCC site here for more information.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  it-vendors collaboration report soapbox 1,536 Visits
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.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A email@example.com Tags:  ucoms communications collaboration ibm lotusphere lotus unified ibm-software 1,523 Visits
Make sure to mark these dates on your calendar: Jan 30 to Feb. 3, 2011. That is when IBM will be holding
Save the date!
Marlon Machado 100000PEST firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  uc2 collaboration-agenda collaboration uc 1,397 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.
Marlon Machado 100000PEST email@example.com Tags:  sametime uc2 ucc collaboration uc 2,416 Visits
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".
Marlon Machado 100000PEST firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  sametime banking collaboration 1,214 Visits
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.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A email@example.com Tags:  video documentary virtual sametime-3d sametime collaboration tv services 1,848 Visits
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!
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  collaboration services virtual sametime cnn sametime-3d cnn.com 1,311 Visits
It's nice to see we're still getting coverage for the Sametime Virtual Collaboration Services (a.k.a. Sametime 3D). A November 9 article on CNN.com, "Going to the virtual office in Second Life", specifically mentioned our offering by name:
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.