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UC Friday: IBM UC&C - Up in the Wild Blue Yonder!
By Marty Parker, UniComm Consulting and UCStrategies.com It's been a great year for Unified Communications! For a recap of the UC themes for 2007, take a look the VoiceCon UC eWeekly, Issue 47. You will see forward UC progress from all directions. One player, that deserves some special note is IBM - Big Blue. Historically, most would think of Lotus Notes as IBM's stake in the communications game. But, whoa, a whole new IBM portfolio has emerged this year, with more to come in 2008.
By Marty Parker, UniComm Consulting and UCStrategies.com It's been a great year for Unified Communications! For a recap of the UC themes for 2007, take a look the VoiceCon UC eWeekly, Issue 47. You will see forward UC progress from all directions. One player, that deserves some special note is IBM - Big Blue. Historically, most would think of Lotus Notes as IBM's stake in the communications game. But, whoa, a whole new IBM portfolio has emerged this year, with more to come in 2008.Lotus Sametime is one of the two major pillars for IBM in Unified Communication and Collaboration, or UC2, as they like to call it. Sametime delivers value both personal productivity UC (value at the individual level) and as a structural element for business process improvement UC (value at the enterprise value chain level). It can be used in the pure Instant Messaging and presence mode, with click to (voice) call or document share as needed. It can also be used as a plug-in element to almost any application, with a toolbar element and the appropriate developer tools to insert and "skin" the Sametime functions for process optimization. And, of course, Sametime Mobile empowers a range of mobile devices. With significant (perhaps even leading) market share in IM, Sametime is a force to be noticed, understood and used, where appropriate.
WebSphere and Eclipse form the other major pillar. The open-source Eclipse development environment has rich communications tools and is adopted across a wide ecosystem of ISVs, VARs, and IBM Partners. WebSphere provides the engine and software elements to create almost any communications enabled job portal your enterprise might require.
In a recent analyst recap, IBM highlighted three things, from my perspective:
1. The three-tier structure of the Lotus Sametime suite: * Sametime Entry with IM, Presence, and integration to Microsoft Office * Sametime Standard adding Video and VoIP chat, PBX integration, web conferencing, IM federation, file transfer, screen capture, mobile clients, and open programming model. * Sametime Advanced with persistent chat, collaboration tools, and location services.
2. Their two-level strategy for voice communications. * PBX integration, as a bona fide partner with almost all major PBX providers. * The new Lotus Sametime Unyte product, announced at VoiceCon San Francisco in August 2007 and due out in mid-2008, to provide "unified telephony" right on the Sametime platform. Similar to Microsoft's Office Communications Server 2007 in telephony functions, Unyte will offer customers the option of desktops without a PBX extension, where appropriate.
3. An impressive list of customers and supporting UC (OK, UC2) case studies. * A major EMEA bank used Sametime to improve their move to Cisco IP Telephony. By putting Sametime on Teller terminals and allowing IM search by role rather than name, the failed phone calls (while trying to find "someone to help") was slashed and costs were cut by about 4 million euros per annum. * Colgate Palmolive improved their customer focus group and product validation model by inviting their customers into the Sametime environment with IP Telephony and collaboration tools, achieving better feedback as well as a faster time to market.
Meanwhile, in 2007, IBM also licensed elements of the Siemens OpenScape software stack for use within Sametime Unified Telephony and purchased WebDialogs as the foundation for a new web conferencing service known as Lotus Sametime Unyte. It seems as though IBM's communication functions will only be better in 2008.
All of the above is ably supported by both IBM Global Services and a network of VAR Partners, which is important since "communications integrated to optimize business processes" (the UCStrategies.com definition) requires capable systems integration.
Beyond all this UC2 action, IBM is progressing in the collaborative workspace category, with their IBM Lotus Quickr product, and has introduced IBM Social Networks for Business (giving me some hope of social networks with a results-oriented purpose that goes beyond the voluntary resume server modality which I'm now experiencing).
I think you get the drift. IBM is not sitting on the sidelines in Unified Communications. Rather they are flying into the wild Blue future.
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