Set an alarm on your calendar for September 18, 2013. At 10:00 AM US EDT IBM will host Reinvent the Way Work Works with the Leading Social Platform. This is a very important virtual event for IBM's Social Business initiative and for the IBM Sametime product team.
Speakers include Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business; Alistair Rennie, General Manager, Social Business at IBM; Jeff Schick, Vice President, Social Business at IBM and Katrina Troughton, Vice President, ICS at IBM. The event also includes three breakout sessions I'm sure you will be very interested in attending.
Here's a couple of videos showcasing what IBM's software for social business can do.
First, here's Sandy Carter doing an overview of a few interesting case studies in government as part of the Social Business Coffee Break series:
Sandy talks about the Joint Emergency Operations Center serving the City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Texas, which is outfitted with IBM Sametime and UnifiedEdge's RadioConnect for Sametime to integrate real-time communications from over 40 agencies from the US Federal Government, the State of Texas and the local agencies from Tarrant County and the City of Fort Worth itself. This is one of the coolest projects we've ever been involved in and one that has brought a lot of attention to Sametime deployments in first-responder scenarios thanks to our partners from UnifiedEdge.
The second video showcases the awesome integration IBM's social business software, including Sametime, has with Polycom's REALPRESENCE platform. This is a very nice video that shows how it's done when it comes to integrating a real general-purpose platform like Sametime with Polycom's state-of-the-art technology.
It also shows how Sametime and Connections complement each other. You find the people you need using Connections and you reach out them using Sametime. I like to call this paradigm "Enable+Connect" as in enabling with Connections and connecting with Sametime:
Thank you Sandy, UnifiedEdge and Polycom. We couldn't have done it without you.
I think I've said many times here that we envision the next generation of Sametime to be heavily influenced by the tablet usability paradigm. We are spending lots of time studying what people do with tablets today, how the usability pattern will evolve in the near future and what new capabilities software programs will have to include in order to accommodate the transition from mouse-and-click to finger-and-gesture as the main interaction vehicle with the glass.
As part of that research I've gone tablet myself. I got me a very nice 10-inch tablet running Android 3.2 and I've been working on figuring out how it fits into my daily work routine. The first thing I did was install Sametime 8.5.2 IFR 1, Lotus Traveler and the Lotus Symphony Reader. I haven't installed Connections yet but I will soon.
So far, I have to say I am equipped to go on a business trip without my laptop. The tablet gives me pretty much what I need with the exception of authoring documents and presentations. Authoring content is still easier to do, for now, on a laptop running a legacy operating system. Applications such as Symphony and MS Office are definitely designed for the mouse-and-click paradigm and it's very hard to use them when all you have is your finger.
I think this is a point-in-time issue that will get resolved soon. I know Apple already has an office suite called iWorks that allows you to create content, including presentations, on your iPad. I know there are at least two other office suites for iOS that have good potential. For Android there's QuickOffice Pro and OfficeSuite Professional, both of which allow you to create and edit MS Office documents. I haven't found a product that handles ODF, though.
I'm not stressing about not finding an office suite that I can run locally on my tablet, though. Storage is limited on a tablet and I wouldn't want to crowd it with lots of files that I may only need sporadically. I like the fact that the tablet forces me to narrow my context and helps me focus on what I need to work on. Instead of carrying my 500-GB hard drive with me (I thought about that), I can focus on just taking what I need--as opposed to my entire digital life--with me. I can upload just the files I need (and nothing else) onto the tablet's SD card (I got a 16-GB Class 10 card) and go.
There are a few "mainstay" files I always need ("What's New in IBM Sametime", "The IBM Sametime and SUT Roadmap", etc.). These are files that I'm updating constantly and it wouldn't make sense to have outdated copies on my tablet's SD card. The solution lies in the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business (LotusLive) Connector for Lotus Symphony. Whenever I update one of those files, I upload the new version to my file repository. That way, if all I'm carrying with me is my tablet, I can just log into my IBM SmartCloud for Social Business account and get what I need.
This brings me to what may turn out to be the utilization paradigm that will make tablets stick: cloud.I have to confess that before getting this tablet I hadn't found a mission-critical reason to make daily use of my IBM SmartCloud for Social Business account (I didn't even remember my password!). Now I don't think I can rely on my tablet without it. The most interesting thing is that I don't need a VPN client to have access to it. In the future, once IBM Docs supports Android, having an office suite will be a non-issue.
At this point the experience has been positive. I can do most of my work from my tablet and I could take measures to minimize the impact of the things I cannot do. I could, for instance, upload the 12-or-so GB worth of files sitting in my hard drive's My Documents library to my tablet's SD card if I have to. I could install a VPN client on my tablet and get to all the internal sites I don't have access to just yet, or I could get me one of those RDP apps that would allow me to access my laptop from my tablet over the Internet--as long as IBM IT is OK with me doing that.
This experience is also giving me valuable insight into how Sametime will fit into this equation. The dynamics of "current context", i.e., what's in the foreground, will change and, with it, how we experience situational awareness. We'll have to rethink what the idea of "presence" means, what kind of information becomes pertinent at a given time and whether it merits to be shown, and how we enable real-time communication among users and devices. It's challenging and interesting.
The most important point of all this is that, for the first time, there's a lightweight computing platform with enough potential to replace traditional PCs. Based on what I saw there were more tablets than laptops at Lotusphere this year. That's very encouraging.
This doesn't mean I no longer have a need for a PC; at least not yet. The one thing I still need my laptop for is to play Battlefield 2142 Northern Strike when I travel. I just don't do Angry Birds. I can't; I won't!
Blair Pleasant writes on No Jitter (here) about how UC and Social Business have more in common than most people realize. She quotes Alistair Rennie on how "...three years from now we won't call this social business--it'll just be business." I happen to agree.
I've said many times that social interaction patterns are natural to us while linear interactions, the way we've worked with each other for years, are learned behavior.
In our natural environment (home) we use people-to-people interactions to communicate, collaborate and deal with each other. When we are at work, we use people-to-process and people-to-information interactions as the primary means of getting something done and we use people-to-people interactions when we need to. Social Business reverses this paradigm and makes people-to-people interactions the center of the universe, the way it should be.
#socbiz #ITEXPO FYI, folks. In case you're attending or in case you happen to be in the area, the ITEXPO West 2011 conference is coming to Austin. The conference will take place at the Austin Convention Center from September 13 to 15 and it promises to bring together lots of industry heavyweights as well as interesting newcomers. This year ITEXPO will feature keynotes from IBM (Mike McCarthy, VP of Cloud Computing Services as well as from Polycom and Siemens.
Mike Ross from 4PSA and Tim Wittbrod from Interactive Intelligence will join me in a discussion on one of my favorite topics: the role of unified communications in social work patterns--precisely what I've been blogging about in the last few weeks.
I submitted this topic to the conference back in April (I think). I wanted to discuss the fundamental differences between the natural way in which humans interact, a.k.a. people-to-people interactions and the artificial way in which we've forced ourselves to interact at work. The conference was nice enough to accept my abstract and they invited Mike and Tim to join in.
As you know, we work very closely with Interactive Intelligence and we've talked about people-centric business processes in the context of what we do together. The conference is placing our session under the Social CRM track, which could not be more appropriate. I have not met Tim and Mike but I'm sure this will be a productive and enlightening conversation.
Our session is scheduled for Tuesday, September 13 from 2:30 PM to 3:15 PM. You may also want to check out other sessions from IBM and from our business partners by visiting the conference program page.
This is my second posting on the role UC plays on the path to Social Business. In my previous post I discussed the roadmap to becoming a Social Business. The roadmap, as you may recall, has four steps: emphasize people-to-people interactions, retrofit existing people networks, help people extend their organizational reach and enable newly created people networks to function. Well, today I want to talk about the first step.
The first step towards becoming a Social Business involves seeding the behavior needed to make the transition from people-to-process and people-to-information to people-to-people interactions. Emphasizing people-to-people interactions is key to introducing social interaction patterns in environments where people don't always know each other. This is how we transplant the natural behavior humans exhibit in their own social groups into a work environment where they spend most of their time surrounded by perfect strangers.
Social interaction patterns are natural to us and they start with people. Under this paradigm, information and process are mere attributes. When we interact with friends and family we start with the person. When a child is hungry he will most likely yell out "Mom, I'm hungry. What's for dinner...!" He starts with the person (his mother), then provides status information (he communicates that he's hungry), and then requests data from the other person (he asks what his mother is preparing for dinner).
This type of interaction, a people-to-people interaction, is more efficient than finding out, first, who's cooking dinner, then letting that person know that one is hungry to verify that there's a match between an empty stomach and freshly-prepared food, and finally asking what that food actually is. At work, we've done this for years. We've been trained to think in terms of information and process first and then to consider who can provide the information or who can make something happen in the context of a business process. After a few trials we identify a go-to-person and that person becomes part of our immediate people network. Then we no longer base our interactions with that person on process or information. We call on them first and then ask for information. In other words, we gravitate to the type of interaction that comes natural to our species.
The technology we've used at work so far has not been flexible enough to facilitate people-to-people interactions. The consumer space, on the other hand, has built solutions to enable people-to-people interactions beyond the people networks we can build within our immediate surroundings. Now we can initiate people-to-people interactions with remote parties through various channels. Facebook, for instance, provides asynchronous channels for exchanging status information and it also provides real-time channels to exchange data as needed. Twitter allows broadcasting information to multiple parties in real time. These are social interaction patterns and most people already understand how the technology that enables those patterns work. In other words, the behavior is already there.
Since the behavior is there, all that's needed now is to enable it at work. All we need to do is help people exercise the same social interaction patterns they rely on to interact with friends and family with the people they work with. The goal is to infuse the enterprise with the same degree of efficiency social interaction patterns give us in our daily lives.
This is the first step of embracing change. It means letting people use the tools that let them interact with each other naturally. Ten years ago many companies regarded instant messaging as a toy and labeled it a distraction. Now I'm sure there are very few companies out there that have not embraced instant messaging. Most companies, I'm sure, would agree that they could not do business today without it. The same applies to people-to-people interactions and the technology that enables them.
So, what to do? As part of the need to embrace change, I say don't be afraid of letting people be people. Let your employees interact with each other as people. Let them exercise people-to-people interactions at work. Let them use Facebook, let them tweet, let them leverage instant messaging, email and the telephone to enrich their interactions with colleagues, customers and business partners. That's what emphasizing people-to-people interactions means.
In my next posting I will discuss what happens when the behavior has been seeded and internalized. Stay tuned.
I've seen lots of references about what it means to be a Social Business and why we should care. What has been absent--at least from what I've seen--is a simple list of steps on how to get there. So--funny thing--while preparing my session for IamLUG 2011, I decided to build a roadmap.
I took what I learned last year working with the Collaboration Agenda team, I took the principles behind the Social Business message and I came up with four easy steps to becoming a Social Business:
Emphasize people-to-people interactions,
Retrofit existing people networks,
Help people extend their organizational reach,
Enable the newly created people networks to function.
Based on, literally, hundreds of case studies and customer references I got to work on last year, I can tell you that these four steps can help a company of pretty much any mid-to-large size do two things: Embrace change, and leverage their existing investments to turn themselves into social businesses.
When I talked about this at IamLUG, I got unanimous agreement that these four steps make sense. None of this is out-of-the-world pie-in-the-sky thinking. What's involved in making each one of them happen is good-ole fashion common sense and enough focus to see things through.
Embracing change involves nothing more than acknowledging that your workforce is composes of three basic constituents: people over 50 (I call them "digital immigrants"), people in the 35-to-50 age range (I call us "first-generation digital citizens), and those born after 1980, whom I call "digital natives".
Each group structures their communication channels differently: email and phone for digital immigrants, email and IM for first-generation digital citizens and social media for digital natives, and the interaction patterns they execute to work and communicate are also different: linear patterns that emphasize people-to-information and people-to-process interactions for the first two groups, and people-to-people for the third.
So, as social interaction patterns make their way into the enterprise, it is imperative that we embrace them and take advantage of their efficiency (hence step 1 above). Linear interaction patterns encourage the creation of silos and tend to keep information within close-knit people networks (hence step 2). The key to embracing change resides in shifting behavior away from linear interaction patterns and towards social interaction patterns so people find ways to break away from their silos (step 3). Once that happens and information and ideas flow freely among broader, more diverse people networks, the net result is more business value (step 4).
Leveraging what you have is nothing more than getting more out of your existing technology investments and repurposing some of it to fulfill the new challenges posed by social interaction patterns. If you happen to have IBM technology that's easier to do than if you have closed products based on proprietary architectures. It's true, our stuff is hard to install and configure but that's what allows you to customize it, repurpose it and integrate it with other things. When you have proprietary products that only do one thing the alternative is rip-and-replace.
When your email system does only email it's hard to use it for anything else, isn't it? When email is just one of the many things it can do for you, it's nice to know you don't have to replace it with something else when you need messaging capabilities in addition to specific business functionality.
When you run a UC "platform" based on open standards is nice to know you can surface its capabilities in your business applications as needed. It's also comforting to know that you can extend it to satisfy new business requirements. When you have a UC "product" you're stuck with whatever it can give you at least until the vendor upgrades it and you have to get rid of it to install the new version.
In my next posting I'll dive deep into step 1. Stay tuned.
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.
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.
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):