Sametime meetings – simple but effective

I had an interesting discussion about Sametime earlier this week after I told someone I had been doing trainings all week to users about the new Sametime Meetings options they get with Sametime Standard. The other person didn’t think much of Sametime but asking through it turned out he really didn’t know what it had to offer either.

I really like the ease that Sametime Meetings has. It’s a very basic interface, which is great with users who have no clue (the less buttons, the less they can screw up) but it also has some very strong and nice features that I really love:

1. The option to have participants record the meeting themselves. This saves a lot on large data files having to be shared later on as well as stress for the presenter about having to think about it.

2. The option to set specific types of entries in the side chat. This way input gets categorized as you go and you can filter what types of updates you want to see by selecting the view options and selecting the appropriate filter. By getting questions being asked through the “Questions” option and setting the filter to show ‘questions only’ a presenter can easily keep track of what questions are being asked and by whom and address them without being distracted by other chatting or note taking going on.

3. Which brings me to the next feature: the option to mark an item in the discussion list as a “starred item” to draw attention to it or as an “answered” question. Both the participant as well as presenter have the ability to do this by simply clicking the icon in front of the entry and changing it to the appropriate option. This allows for easy management of still open issues and questions as well as categorizing.

4. Which then can be used to create a meeting report through the option “Room tools” – “Meeting report”. This one I especially love as it is an instant and easy way to get a quick overview of everything that went on during the meeting. The meeting report lists:

  • the room details (url / owner / name)
  • all participants with the times they were logged in
  • all communication going on in the Discussion side window by type so already categorized into “Meeting minutes”, “actions”, etc.
  • any polls with their results
  • the displayed content (documents & screen shares)
  • any recordings made by any of the participants.

So all in all I really like the Sametime Standard meeting options. The above are just a few, there are more, like the polling option but these really set it apart for me.

And it can be used both on-premises as well as in the cloud. The new meeting functionality is fully enabled on the IBM Smartcloud environment and can be tried there for free for 60 days. After that a stand alone web meetings account will cost you $5 a month and allows you to set up meetings that can host up to 200 participants. Similar options on either GoTo meeting or WebEx will cost you 10 times as much at least. Ok granted, you will get some additional features with those services that Sametime doesn’t offer but the question is: do you really need those or will they just confuse your users?

I think Sametime really is a great option for a lot of us there and definitely worth a look!

Microsoft buying Yammer: big steps forward or stifling a promising hatchling?

Some interesting discussions going on this week about Social Business, Yammer being bought by Microsoft one of them. Until now I really haven’t given my opinion on it even though I was asked about it by several people as I have been blogging a few times about Yammer before and have been specifically looking at it for it’s possibilities of extending Sharepoint, one of the platforms on which we actively sell services and solutions. But not just about the Yammer/Microsoft move but also in respect to what this could mean to IBM Connection. IBM’s social platform that has been a major focus for me professionally over the last few years.

To be honest, I had to mull this one over a bit before I could answer but here it goes, my 2 cents worth on it…


First steps

First of all, I think Microsoft did a really wise move buying Yammer. I think someone in Redmond finally realized that just calling Sharepoint a collaborative ‘social’ platform doesn’t make it one and that they really had to take some bold moves to catch up as others like Jive and IBM were miles ahead there in the social business arena.


Secondly I think Yammer can benefit from this as well. As I said before I believe Yammer has one of the best social conversation streams in the Social Business arena right now and their way of bottom up adoption is innovative and effective in getting new users, but their collaboration options (file sharing, activities, communities) just aren’t mature yet and on that end it was missing out and in need of some serious investment.

So combining Microsoft’s capital and Sharepoint’s collaborative content management with Yammers  capabilities in getting the social conversations going, I think, could benefit both. Especially as this is already being done. Integrating Yammer in Sharepoint isn’t something new, it is already there. This move will only embed Yammer into Sharepoint even more.

Competitive position

So what does this mean to IBM Connections and to Microsoft’s competitive position on the Social market?

To be honest, I don’t know. It all depends on Microsoft’s next moves:

  • Will they take Yammer as is and just make the already existing integration stronger? Yammer right now is a cloud based product. Will that appeal to customers who deliberately chose for on-premises installs?
  • Will they incorporate the Yammer data into Sharepoint? A big downdraft I see with the existing Yammer/Sharepoint integration is the fact that the conversation is separated from the content. The document, file or workflow being in Sharepoint and the ‘conversation’ and social content about that document, file or workflow being in an externally hosted social environment. Maintaining integrity and consistency of data with a model like that over time and during the contents lifespan can be a big challenge.
  • And lastly…. Will Microsoft allow Yammer to fully incorporate into Sharepoint allowing the social knowledge Yammer has to embed itself into the more document oriented current Sharepoint environment or will it remain a little new playfriend on the sideline? From the communications right now it seems Microsoft is keeping Yammer as a separate entity within it’s portfolio and not blending but integrating it into the other product streams, not bad from an innovation stand point but not beneficial to Sharepoint either which is in desperate need of some ‘social understanding’ influx.
Leading by example, building from experience

So what does all this mean to IBM Connection? Well, for now little I think. Of course, Microsoft will use this to strengthen its position on the social market and give some footing to it’s claims of being a social platform provider. Rightly so, it is taking steps. But to really leverage Social Business I think it needs to do more. It needs to start thinking as a social business.

And that is exactly where I see IBM’s strength coming through. IBM Connections wasn’t created as a platform to fill a gap for a new hype, it was designed from personal experience in becoming a social business, living an ideal and experiencing it’s challenges and pitfalls as IBM itself was becoming a social business. It was build on experience and is focused on getting people to leverage their strengths to grow as an organization by collaboration and participation. To say it bluntly: It’s not just about starting a conversation, it’s about getting that conversation to turn into collaboration and therefore to start generating revenue.

Taking it forward

Yammer was well on its way to build a truly collaborative social environment over the last year and a half or so. So if this move from Microsoft is going to succeed depends, in my eyes, solely on how much of this Microsoft really gets. Personally I hope Microsoft will recognize it and use the knowledge and social strengths of Yammer to, for lack of a better word, “infect” it’s organization and Sharepoint development with the social bug. Or, better yet, build out Yammer to eventually overtake Sharepoint (I know a bold thing to say!). The market for social business is booming and the combination of Sharepoint’s market with Yammers social aptitude has enough potential to grow into a major player. But I also think Microsoft still has a few steps to take before they truly ‘get it’.

After all, social isn’t just a tool to be bought, it’s a mindset and requires a major culture shift, and on those IBM can still teach Microsoft a lesson or two I think.



Social Connections & James Joyce

Just booked my tickets to go to Social Connections III in Dublin on June 22nd. Really looking forward to it as I was not able to attend the previous Social Connections events held in Cardiff and London.

One of the major things I’m looking forward to is being there where it’s all happening, the IBM Development Labs in Dublin, the mothership for IBM Connections and hearing from others using, developing and working with IBM Connections!

Social Connections Banner

Now going to Dublin in June is nice for more then just the user group. As I lately (thanks to a quirky twitter conversation with Steve McDonagh (@DominoyesMaybe) got into reading some James Joyce. The advise I got from him and others when starting this endeavor was to ‘read out loud‘ to grasp the meaning of some of the pretty complex words & sentence structures used.

So I am….


Each night, just before falling asleep I read (out loud) a couple of pages in my best Dutch-imitating-an-Irish-accent English of ‘A portrait of the artist as a young man‘. Yeah, I know, weird hobby, but reading it out loud does absolutely help in better understanding the meanings of some of the complex words and sentences used, and besides, it can be kind of comical hearing my own bad attempts at imitating that lovely accent! So after reading about Dublin I can’t wait to see the city in real life. Too bad I’m just a week late for Bloomsday

"IBM 5in5" five predictions for the next five years

IBM regularly comes out with predictions about the future of Tech. Not always accurate, most often very futuristic. On the Building a Smarter Planet Blog 5 of those were publicized today. I can’t help thinking that some are a bit too optimistic but then I was one of those that 3 years ago thought that ‘Social’ would never become a Business thing….. Now how wrong was I on that one!

to get an idea of the ideas check them out via the below links. Curious to see how accurate they turn out to be in 5 years time!

Best in Breed

We might have already known it but now the rest of the world seems to catch up too. IBM Connections was awarded the V3 “Best Business Social Media Product” 2011. 

for now just a category in a long list of awards but I’m sure this category is gaining importance fast and can’t wait to see how the new and improved IBM Connections (of which little sneak peeks were released over the last few weeks) is going to do. I’m sure it’s a definite leader on a market that seems to gain momentum really fast!

For the full list of awards & winners go here

IBM Social Business social media residency

You know that Redbook Residency I wrote about a couple of weeks ago…..?

Well I got accepted! So for the next three weeks I will be in frantic mode to get everything arranged, book flights, reschedule appointments, rearrange work and concentrate on Social Business. Fantastically exciting times! Will of course keep everyone posted about it through this blog, Facebook & Twitter.

But in the mean time don’t hesitate to point me to relevant topics and information to take along for this residency. It’s called the IBM Social Business social media residencyso what better way to start than to involve my Social network!

IBM redbook site


Hot trending topic around the Lotus community on twitter tonight: #StuffIMBersSay. All kinds of things IBM people have said that are silly, funny or simply plain absurd. Good fun and definitely worth reading! It was started by two IBM’ers as a joke apparently but spread around the world in hours, reaching thousands of IBM’ers, business partners and customers.

Humor is the best way to communicate, Social Media is the perfect platform. That was definitely proven tonight!

Small selection of those tweets below. Spotting a trend here….There is a lot of web and phone conferences going on!

@DelphineRB:  Do you mean 3pm ET or GMT or EST or CET ? #stuffibmersay

@kate_motzer: “Someone is breathing heavy into the phone – can you please go on mute?” #stuffIBMerssay

@seralewis: Did anyone hear the recording start? #stuffIBMerssay

@FlemChrist: I swear that guy writing the Dilbert cartoon works here. #stuffibmerssay

@creckling: sorry i’m late, i was looking for a hotspot. #stuffIBMerssay

@ragtag: “Larry? Larry? I think we lost Larry” #stuffIBMerssay

@Chappers5: Can everyone on the call press *6* please as there is a dog barking in the background #stuffibmerssay

@wesmorgan1: Working as designed. #stuffibmerssay

@tpeisel: I can do that @2 …i’m only doublebooked then #stuffibmerssay

@FemkeGoedhart: “Let me just mute my cat for a moment” #stuffibmerssay

@HP_Dalen: Will you action these deliverables? #stuffibmerssay

@linny2777: well – we have beaten that horse dead #stuffibmerssay

@wesmorgan1: We’ll do a 360 postmortem on that… #stuffibmerssay

@mmoyer: We’ll start as soon as the speakers join the call. #stuffibmerssay

@mmoyer: Who’s on the call but not in the meeting? #stuffibmerssay

@blm849: Let’s put that in the parking lot and then circle back at the end of the call #stuffibmerssay 

@lina_farr: Can’t do that right now, I’m in a sea of red! Ping you when I’m free… #stuffibmerssay

ps. Seeing a perfect opportunity here for IBM to use it’s new Analytic tools to analyze this social phenomena!