The Sametime Blog
Marlon Machado 100000PEST firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  sametime uc2 ucc collaboration uc 3,840 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 email@example.com Tags:  sametime sametime-proxy websphere-portal banking 2 Comments 2,594 Visits
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.
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.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  integration sametime quickr 1,831 Visits
A new technical article from IBM detailing how to troubleshoot Lotus Quickr and Lotus Sametime integrations. Over at the Quickr Blog, here.
Marlon Machado 100000PEST email@example.com Tags:  regulatory-compliance business-partner-tuesdays sametime facetime business-partner 2 Comments 3,724 Visits
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.
Marlon Machado 100000PEST firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  business-partner sametime call-center business-partner-tuesdays 1,907 Visits
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.
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.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A email@example.com Tags:  customer reference celina sametime insurance video uc2 uc 2,045 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.
Here's the 2nd video in the series. This one talks about how IBM is helping insurance companies, specifically Celina Insurance, streamline operations and save money with unified communications. Take a look at the video on YouTube here.
John Del Pizzo 270001QBN7 firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  apple iphone sametime 1 Comment 3,202 Visits
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!
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A email@example.com Tags:  business-partner-tuesdays telephony sametime unified dialogic 1,658 Visits
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.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  event e2.0 enterprise-2.0 sametime tradeshow ibm demos lotus #ucoms #e20 2,408 Visits
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:
Marlon Machado 100000PEST email@example.com Tags:  business-partner-tuesdays permessa sametime 1,285 Visits
It's nice to see products evolving to become richer and to provide more value. Permessa Corp.'s IM Control for Lotus Sametime is one of those products that grows and adapts based on customer needs and, as a result, becomes more valuable with each new version.
IM Control for Lotus Sametime is a solution for compliance and policy. It's also a monitoring tool for Sametime that features four modules:
- IM Investigator for statistical reporting,
- IM Monitor for health and availability--includes a plug-in for Sametime Connect and Lotus Notes,
- IM Archiver for archiving (duh...) and
- IM Enforcement for disclaimers, ethical firewall and content inspection.
Total Oli Trading, SA, a Permessa customer based in Switzerland is using IM Control for Lotus Sametime today. If you're interested in reading about their experience you can find their case study here.
It is with mixed emotions that I'm announcing that today is Bruce Morse's last day with IBM. After 32 years, he's decided that it's time to pursue other challenges and adventures in life. Most of you know that Bruce has led our Unified Communications & Collaboration segment for the past 4 years. But in his 3 decades with IBM he also
The entire UC2 team wishes him all the best and his leadership will be missed.
As for Sametime, the rest of the team remains intact and our focus unchanged. I had hoped to be able to announce Bruce's successor at the same time as his retirement, but that is still in the works. I'll let you know as soon as I am able.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  announcement 8.5.1 ucoms sametime availability #ucoms 2,957 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.
Jacques Pavlenyi 1000002W2A email@example.com Tags:  sametime business-partner-tuesdays communities 3 Comments 3,264 Visits
This week's Business Partner Tuesday is a day late, but if you saw our earlier post today, you'de know why :-)
Would you like to connect instantly with other members of the Lotus Community? Perhaps your favorite blogger? A presenter you saw at Lotusphere? A Lotus Business Partner? Or even an IBMer? Well the people running BleedYellow.com are helping make this a reality. Here's an easy how-to guide to set yourself up. I've already done it, so you can now connect with me via Sametime (say hi!).
BleedYellow is a public Lotus Connections site, run by IBM Business Partner Lotus911 (now GROUP). So the first thing you need to do, is go there and register. (the Register link is at the bottom left corner, as shown below):
Once you have an ID and PW on BleedYellow, you next go into your Lotus Sametime client, and add an additional community, allowing you to connect to both your company's Sametime server to chat with your coworkers, and the BleedYellow Sametime server to chat with people from all over the world (but you already knew that Sametime client can connect to multiple communities, didn't you...)
- Choose File - Manage Server Communities from the top menu.
- Click Add New Server Community
- On the Log In Tab, add the username that you registered at BleedYellow.com, and your password. * Note: Some people have told me that they use the email address they registered on BleedYellow with, not their username.
On the Server tab, enter im.bleedyellow.com as the Host Server, and 1533 as the Server community port.
Then click OK at the bottom. Now the last thing you have to do is add a group so you can see the people to chat with. Click on the New icon, and choose New Group:
Select Search for a public group (1), select the bleedyellow community (2), search for the group yellowbleeders, select it (4), and click OK.
A Special thanks to Alan Leposky for the screenshots and Bilal Jaffery for the instructions.