addition to meeting with customers and business partners, Lotusphere
is also a great opportunity to meet with IT analysts, reporters and
bloggers, share with them what we're up to, and get their feedback,
since they have such a strong pulse on the marketplace. Our Analyst
Relations lead, Public Relations lead, along with our Unified
Communications leadership team met, with several analysts and
reporters throughout the week.
wanted to summarize some of the feedback we received, mainly to show
IBM's continued commitment to the Unified Communications and
real-time collaboration market.
up is a video interview with Zeus Kerravala from Yankee Group. He particularly liked
the themes of multi-modal UC and cost effectiveness that were in the
broader themes covered in Bruce Morse's Unified Communications
Keynote Monday afternoon. Zeus is also a regular contributor to the nojitter.com blog.
our analyst relations lead, also had the opportunity to interview Melanie Turek from Frost & Sullivan. Money quote:
think the most interesting new stuff right now revolves around the
Meetings [function in Sametime 8.5]. And I think that what we saw
especially how fast and easy it was."
Riggs from Current Analysis blogged extensively
about his thoughts from Lotusphere 2010 on nojitter.com. Money
Sametime client can of course provide the same click-to-call and
other telephony features. And with the release of SameTime Unified
Telephony last year, IBM can now deliver a soft phone that combines
instant messaging presence, telephony presence, and the ability to
initiate and receive calls in a multivendor PBX environment. So while
IBM has stayed out of the PBX business, it is quite capable of
delivering a UC-enriched soft phone that works with a variety of
Clive Longbottom from Quocirca was also in attendance. Money quote:
IBM is demonstrating is that no matter where an organisation is
starting from, it can move the communication and collaboration
platform forward to wherever the organisation feels it needs to go:
in-house, hybrid or pure-play cloud.
Osterman from Osterman Research was at Lotusphere as well, also
producing a lengthy blog entry.
is making major strides toward moving its offerings into the cloud.
IBM is also focusing heavily on mobility, demonstrating a number of
interesting mobility-based features and functions for Notes, Sametime
and other platforms.
Kelly from Wainhouse Research devoted a big section of the January 26 Wainhouse Research Bulletin
to his attendance at Lotusphere. And Henry Dewing from Forrester also wrote about the launch of the IBM Collaboration Agenda.
Twitterati were out in force as well, certainly aided by my extensive use of Tweetdeck on my iPhone, the @Sametime id, and lots of retweeting by @bilaljaffery
and others. What was nice, though, was some of the more “water
cooler” a-ha! Moments, such as this one from Stephane Rousseau:
#Lotusknows that I enjoyed #Lotusphere. Check my feedback here :
let us not forget the mainstream media. Sametime's press activities
at Lotusphere did generate articles in key technology and telephony
trade magazines including: NetworkWorld, Computerworld, ChannelWeb,
eWEEK, IDG, VON, V3 and TMCNet.
From our friends over at UCStrategies.com, a new article
from Blair Pleasant
on how IBM is integrating unified communications with social software. Several real customer examples are cited, with a nice quote or two, including:
IBM is not the only company to offer enterprise social software capabilities, or to integrate them with their UC capabilities but it has a head start over most of its competitors, which have only recently announced such capabilities.
If you are considering ways to improve asynchronous communications, teaming and sharing across your organization, you can see first hand that integration with Lotus social software, including Lotus Connections and Lotus Quickr.
The Chief Executive of Contact Center technology specialist Aspect had this interesting experience to share
about using Unified Communications (eating their own cooking, so to speak):
He said: “When we moved our business to UC,
we expected a period of adjustment, but we found that we simply had to
show staff how it worked, and the culture began changing virtually
We've been saying in Sametime for a while that "adoption drives
business value". Here's a real example in the real world. We would love to hear some of your examples of how UC adoption has led to transformation in your enterprises. What are
some of your examples?
From the geek chic comic writers of UserFriendly.org
, I share with you today's UC Friday Funnies. I think this is what conservative CIOs fear when they think of opening up their networks to video...
Technology Marketing Corporation
(TMC®) has named IBM Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony as a recipient of its 2009 Unified Communications Magazine
Product of the Year Award. "IBM has proven their dedication to quality and excellence while supporting the needs in the marketplace,” stated Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC. “We look forward to seeing continued advancement in technology solutions from IBM in the future.” A complete list of Product of the Year Award winners will be published in the March/April 2010 issue of Unified Communications magazine.
We are proud of the continuing momentum from our 2009 launch of Sametime Unified Telephony. This also comes on the heels of IBM winning both the 2009 Internet Telephony Product of the Year Award
and the 2009 TMC Unified Communications Excellence Award
our IBM Global Technology Services Converged Communications Services
for Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony. The combination of our
award-winning software, converged communications services
, hardware and industry expertise
uniquely position IBM as a vendor you can trust to provide you real business value with your unified communications, and indeed all collaboration, projects.
UCStrategies just published a brand new article that outlines a no-nonsense value proposition and a basic roadmap on how to partner with IBM in the new and exciting field of unified communications.
Before you go read it, though, let me say a few words about why partnering with us is better than partnering with the competition:
- Business partners are an integral part of the IBM software strategy. We thrive in making software platforms and, as such, we tend to keep our platforms on the neutral side of things. Because of that, we rely on business partners to provide the necessary specialization actual solutions require to be useful. In short, you'll be treated better here.
- We don't eat our partners for lunch. We either work closely with them and, in some cases, we bring them fully into the fold in a proper way.
- We don't suffer from the not-invented-here syndrome. When it comes to developing cool technology we fully understand we can't come up with every single bright idea ourselves. We actually appreciate the fact that our business partners are smart cookies and we're happy to work with them when they're nice enough to let us use what they develop.
I've learned these three maxims over the last twelve years that I've worked with business partners. I think it's still true and, honestly, that's one of the reasons I like working for IBM. In a world where there's not much of it left our relationship with business partners is still based on integrity and honesty. That means a lot to me personally.
I'm sure some people out there will disagree and say we have strayed from that principle more than once. Nevertheless, I can say I've never done it--the sizable community of business partners I've worked with over the years can attest to that--and I can also say I don't know any IBMers who have done it either.
Now, if you're curious, please go take a look at the article. You can find it here
Courtesy of my colleague Adam Gartenberg
, here's this week's Friday Funnies. Everything old is new again.
- The IBM presentations, including our keynote and focus sessions, should be posted to the site shortly. In the meantime, there's also a podcast you can listen in on.
- The entire event had a great, dare-I-say "intimate" feel, allowing vendors and channel partners to really connect 1-on-1 over a longer period than one normally has at the bigger trade shows, where everyone's also busy chasing deals. Here it was about creative business development and channel development discussions, which was a nice change of pace.
- It was also very enlightening to hear first hand from the traditional (and not-so-traditional) consultants and resellers who are struggling mightily with an industry under metamorphosis. Whether it's traditional end-point or hardware consultants finding they need to beef up their software and collaboration skills, to traditional collaboration software SIs needing to better understand telephony and VoIP networks and end-points, clearly they are facing a challenge and need the Vendors help to navigate these new waters.
- The Hospitality Suites was a great ending to Day 2. I was at the IBM one (of course, as I was also the host) and didn't get a chance to visit the other ones, which all looked as well-attended) and everyone was having great conversations. A little wine and beer certainly helped.
- Although June Gloom came a little early to La Jolla, the weather didn't disappoint for the most part, adding to the very pleasant surroundings of the Hotel and Spa (alas, no time for a spa treatment).
Oh, two small "good news" housekeeping items that should hopefully help us collaborate with you, our readers, a little more:
- I've linked The Sametime Blog to our @sametime twitter ID, meaning every time there's a new post, not only can you subscribe via RSS but you can also get updates via this new Twitterfeed link.
- I've also linked The Sametime Blog to our Facebook page in the same way, thanks to the NetworkedBlog app.
And in honor of last week's Summit, a little Trade Show humor for you, courtesy of the Trade Show Guru, Trade Show Zombies
. I find this amusing because at every trade show I see them, and particularly bad were the ones at Web 2.0 Expo this past week here in San Francisco. Luckily we kept them at bay at the UC Summit. Rule #1: Cardio!
Under the "better late than never" section: Bruce Morse, VP for Unified
Communications Software, had the opportunity to talk with Roger Green of
CIOZone about IBM, unified communications and collaboration, the
intersection with social collaboration, and other issues. The first
interview was from Enterprise 2.0 San Francisco back in November (Part 1
video linked here, Part 2 video linked here) while the second was at
Lotusphere 2010 in January (Part 1 video linked here, Part 2 video
linked here). Some key highlights:
"...from our point of view, communications and
collaboration, enterprise communications and collaboration is really
about connecting people together in the context of the work that they do
every day. It's really not about voice or about any particular
communication media. It's really about using all of those capabilities
along with things like social networking that allow you to connect the
best people together that have the expertise to be able to resolve
issues quickly, et cetera." - Bruce Morse
Here are the links to the specific videos:
Unified Communications: Interview with Bruce Morse at
VoiceCon/Enterprise 2.0 San Francisco 2009 (part
Communications: Interview with Bruce Morse at Lotusphere 2010 (part
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".
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.
For today's entry in the ongoing Business Partner Tuesday series, own own Marlon Machado guest posts on the Plantronics blog
. "On Old, New and Simple" is a neat discussion on user interfaces and why they're important. It also ties into today's Plantronics announcement of new plug-ins for Sametime
. We'd love to hear your comments, either there or here.
A day late, but still worth the wait. This is WHY
we need unified communications...
I'm happy to report that a new thought leadership piece based on a long, long, long paper based on deep, deep, deep research that yours truly undertook last year has finally been published.
The Value of UC² in the Banking Industry is finally available for public consumption (yay!) The final product is shorter than my original paper and the editing process rendered the writing more lively than anything this old geek can muster. I'm very pleased with it and I think you will too if you feel so inclined to read it. You can find it here
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