Monday, January 30, 2012

Lotusphere 2012

Several colleagues and I attended this year's IBM\Lotus Software Conference. As always, the sessions were intense and very future-oriented. Some key themes they emphasized this year:

Social Business is the way of the future

The pace of business is speeding up substantially (you have 60 seconds to engage your customer -- that's all!) and being productive is increasingly harder these days. According to IBM, forward-thinking organizations are 57% more likely to allow their people to use social & collaborative tools to be more engaged and productive to meet future challenges. Social Business ties information, processes and resources together using collaborative tools to streamline the way people do business. Gone are monthly business trips, on-call pagers, and emailed tasks. Instead, we now see video rich teleconferences, cellphone text messages, and activity driven action items.

At this year’s conference IBM offered some good solutions -- browser based collaborative tools, social analytics, and applications -- that boost user communities to become more productive and social. Not merely allowing, but empowering people to be dynamic in how they retrieve, interact with, and convey information is crucial to making Social Business work. We saw real examples of how IBM technologies were delivering Social Business solutions for various organizations (Bayer, Polycom, Premier Healthcare, GAD, TD Bank) all over the world. Watch a 60-second snapshot of the hottest Opening General Session announcements. "Social" is the new business model. "Social" means engaged, transparent, and nimble. This feeds really well into the work the Bank Group is doing on the Millennium Development Goals, and even addresses our Innovative Knowledge Sharing and Transparency initiatives. Along with "Collaboration" and "Community," expect "Social Business" to be a hot new buzzphrase!

Activity Streams (IBM Connections) bring everything together

Lotus long ago transformed Notes into more than just email -- it's effectively a "collaboration platform" that WBG people use all day, every day. Since it acquired Lotus Notes, IBM repeatedly tried to insert new "Social" features in Notes, but has increasingly focused on a bigger collaboration tool: IBM Connections. In this broader web-based platform, "Communities" could correspond to formal WBG Networks but also less formal shareholder networks -- and "Activity Streams" shows you the important updates from relevant data sources you select, such as internal/external Communities, Social Analytics, Activities, Bookmarks, Profiles, Sharepoint, File system, Group Calendars, Wikis, Blogs, Forums, Microblogging (status updates) etc.. Email is only one source in many! It's a bit hard to describe in black and white, so click here to see what an IBM Connections homepage looks like. This, or something like it, may become your personal work dashboard some day.

Unified Communications

It's not enough to pull all the computer pieces together -- in a Social Business, meaningful communication and collaboration also come from phone calls, Instant Messages, videocalls, and videoconferences -- IBM Sametime Unified Telephony (SUT) endeavors to unify the experience. We agree with IBM that people want to have one client that gives us everying -- presence/chat/voice/video -- on our computers as well as on our choice of mobile device. At WBG, we are already in step, as we have ICP providing our Unified Communications strategy and solutions, so this was slightly less relevant to us.

The Cloud

There was a lot of emphasis on IBM's cloud service, which was rebranded from LotusLive to IBM SmartCloud for Social Business (or "SmartCloud"). 80% of the Fortune 500 use one or more IBM cloud computing capabilities. They offer their full suite of collaboration products (including email) and you can get a free 60-day trial if you are interested.

Mobility gets you there

68% of the population accesses social sites via cellphone and 36% have made purchases from cellphone. iPhone/iPad popularity and Android's rapid consumption of market share means we -- and IBM -- can't focus solely on BlackBerry anymore. IBM is working to bring the best of "Social Business" to all of the major devices however they can -- either by developing their own client or by feeding a native-to-the-device client. "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) initiatives in organizations like ours are driving this. We got some good XPages tips and some ideas for Sametime on iPhone and Android!

Oh, and I needn't have worried about lacking gadgets -- I took my Christmas Present (iPad 2) and fit right in!

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