Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Are you confused about how Sametime relates to Connections?


A few days ago, Mike Gotta posted a blog entry about how he sees Unified Communications and Enterprise Social Networking coming together over time. For example, IM and Persistent Group Chat should merge with Social Messaging & Micro-blogging. He states that "The obvious opportunity for UC vendors is to augment Web 2.0 / Enterprise 2.0 by adding click-to-call, click-to-conference, presence awareness, etc." and I'm with him so far. But then he goes on to say that,


"IBM is trying to keep Sametime relevant in a traditional collaboration and UC market - Lotus Connections is IBM's social play. The Connections team is adding capabilities related to Activity Streams - so I expect some awkward positioning to come out of IBM as they balance two teams with different strategic goals."

Huh? I always thought the positioning of Sametime & Connections was pretty clear. Connections is IBM's social networking play and largely provides asynchronous communications and (for lack of a better term) knowledge management - blogs, forums, profiles, shared bookmarks, project management. Sametime is IBM's Unified Communications platform and is all about synchronous communications - rich presence (online status, availability, on-hook/off-hook status, geographic location), text chats, voice or video communications, online meetings, etc.

Perhaps, the trouble is Sametime Advanced? Advanced introduced the concept of communities to real-time collaboration. Communities let me reach out to experts on a given topic without knowing who they are. This really saves a lot of time by eliminating the need to exercise my network to find someone who knows something about what I needed to know 20 minutes ago. But this is still synchronous communication.

Moreover, these products are so tightly integrated that I'd argue IBM has augmented Enterprise Social networking "with click-to-call, click-to-conference, presence awareness, etc." From any Connections page you can see a user's rich presence - which is pulled from Sametime. Click-to-collaborate is no more than a right click away. Want more? You can replace the out-of-the-box Sametime business card with a Connections Profile business card, which includes quick access to a users Dogear'ed bookmarks, blogs, Profile details and Activities. You can add transcripts of text chats to a Connections Activity right from the Sametime client. And Sametime Advanced and Connections share the same community structure - so real-time or asynchronous - there's always a consistent set of communities with which to interact.

Both of these products will continue to evolve and grow into new areas and its certainly possible that the distinctions will get fuzzier over time. But for right now, I'm interested.... are any of you confused about how Connections and Sametime relate?