In case you missed the tweeting a few weeks ago, you should know that a new cloud offering for Unified Communications was launched by IBM (it's us) on April 16th. Under the name "IBM SmartCloud Unified Communications Dedicated", this offering delivers a complete communications suite from a private cloud. This solution is built on enterprise-grade software components, such as: feature rich telephony, instant messaging and presence from IBM Sametime and Sametime Unified Telephony, unified messaging from IBM, video integration, and more... A wide variety of communication devices can be made available with softphones, deskphones, and of course, support for smartphones and tablets.
This offering is designed to facilitate the transition to cloud-based telephony, and provides support for flexible deployment models (IBM data centers, or managed on customer premises). This offering is the result of an extended partnership between IBM Collaboration Services (Sametime software) and IBM Global Technology Services (ex: networking and managed services), aimed at delivering a best-of-breed and complete UC solution.
For more information, here is the official IBM announcement (www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/cgi-bin/ssialias?htmlfid=897/ENUS613-002&infotype=AN&subtype=CA). You can expect more news around this new offering over the next few months.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me, or anyone in the Sametime product management team.
Info-Tech Research Group just published its UC Vendor Landscape report, which ranks UC vendors and UC products based on various criteria. Their rankings go from Emerging Player to Market Pillar to Innovator to Champion. That's where we are:
We're sharing the honor with Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft and Siemens. Congratulations to them. Congratulations are in order as well to our partners Interactive Intelligence and ShoreTel for making the Innovator quadrant.
I got this nice little PNG from the Lotusphere 2012 team that says "I'm a Speaker":
I think it's pretty cool and I'm already using it as part of my email
signature. It's great that the Lotusphere team decided to do this for
next year. They're also collecting Social Business stories, which I also think it's pretty cool. You may want to check it out here.
My session, ID213 - What's New in IBM Sametime is scheduled for Tuesday, January 17 at 3:30 PM. Feel free to drop by if you're attending the conference. But before you do that, please make sure to attend John Delpizzo's session, INV209 - Strategy and Roadmap for IBM Sametime, on Monday, January 16 at 5:00 PM. It'll give you the necessary context you'll need to make sense of what I'm going to talk about. We'll publish a full list of all the Sametime-related sessions on this blog once we get the final list. Stay tuned.
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.
Interested in implementing unified communications, but concerned about cost and deployment resources? A cloud-based unified communications strategy could dramatically lower your infrastructure and other fixed asset costs, while offering a flexible deployment model. Leverage the power of the cloud to collaborate! On August 30 at 12noon Eastern US time, please join speakers from IBM, and IBM Business Partner Meetrix, to learn about UC as a Service (UCaaS), powered by IBM Sametime. Register here for free access today. Speakers to be confirmed shortly.
#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.
#ibmsocialbiz As many of you know, we've been working with Interactive Intelligence in integrating their CIC contact center suite with Sametime. The integration allows contact center agents to tap into expertise beyond their immediate reach.
The expertise location pattern is critical to improving customer satisfaction, up-selling and cross-selling, and to keeping customer-facing business processes moving. That's exactly what the CIC-Sametime integration does. Our friends at InIn produced this nice video illustrating how the integration works. Take a look:
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.
#ucoms #socbiz This week, several IT industry blogs reported on the increased focus around unified communications as organizations embrace social computing in the workplace. In the first, IT Business Edge discusses in "Social Networking and Unified Communications: Catalysts for Change", the impact of unified communications on social business and cloud computing:
What Barlow is driving at is that it won’t be too long before all of these technologies combine to fundamentally change the way we all work.
The barriers to enterprise social software adoption are far more cultural than technical. Internal social networking tools make for great demos, but unified communications (UC) pros often struggle to define what problem enterprise social software is trying to solve.
Whether an organization is starting a new Unified Communications (UC) project or they have already deployed some UC capability, a Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) based infrastructure can significantly drive down costs and provide greater flexibility for the future. This white paper, authored by IBM Research and GTS experts, examines the impact a SIP-based architecture can have on all aspects of the business - the infrastructure, applications and process layers of the organization. The paper explores the business and technical implications of this transformation from a services perspective and describes how a structured approach is necessary for organizations to extract the full value of the new SIP technology.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.