Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Live Blogging from Mike Rhodin Town Hall


OK.  I suppose it doesn't really count as "live" blogging when I'm not posting it until 11 hours later, but that aside, here are the notes I took during Mike Rhodin's talk today at an internal "town hall" session he held here in IBM's Research Triangle Park facility for what was primarily a software development (and some marketing) audience.  And actually, these are really the notes I took primarily on the Sametime-related portions of his talk on the overall "Workplace, Portal and Collaboration" portfolio and vision - it sounds very similar to other blog postings I've read of the overview Ken Bisconti gave at the Collaboration University event the other week, and also covered many of the same points in the Sametime Launch event/webcast.

Selected notes from Mike Rhodin Town Hall:

When IBM polled CEOs and CIOs, we found that collaboration is a top of mind issue for them.  Who you collaborate with and how you collaborate is now a make or break item, when changes in competition and market happen overnight.

The theme behind IBM's "What Makes you Special" campaign:  Nowadays, just about everything you can do can be copied and made by anyone else.  What can you do to innovate and stay ahead of everyone - what makes you special? What are the things that continue to make you innovative and keep you bringing innovative solutions to market?

We think the idea of innovation is all about collaboration.  We've connected everyone together.  Think about how you work today, what you came in and did this morning.  What are the first things you did this morning - probably log onto Notes and bring up your buddy list.  Or maybe not in that order.  For me, it's primarily the buddy list.  I use e-mail today the way I used [interoffice] mail when I started 20 years ago - maybe I check it once a day or so.  IM is my primary business tool.

What's your primary mode of communication?  (Polled the audience of 200-300 people)

  • e-Mail?  [I only saw 1 or 2 hands go up]
  • Phone? [About the same]
  • Sametime?  [Almost whole room]

We're on the cusp of what would call next wave of real-time communication, around unified communication systems.  Where voice, video, data come together as a platform to allow people to communicate in new ways.  It's about building a new class of applications and building a new class of user tools that lets organizations become more productive.

On Community Centric Collaboration:
There's a generation coming up where these tools - MySpace, Facebook, YouTube - are central to how they live.  A friend's daughter left for college, and knew the majority of students before her first day on campus.  People we're hiring think this way.  When we give them an e-mail client, they think "e-mail is for my grandfather."  It's not how they think, not how they work.  We're creating a set of tools for the next generation of workers.

More on Sametime 7.5:

Completely open programming model so it's very easy for people to build add-ons to the client.  

Best example of community-driven development process.  Started posting code internally and created forums early in year and let anyone who wanted to try to participate in the process. Had 20,000 volunteers participating in helping us develop.  I read forums just about every night.  Was fascinated by sense of community formed around product.  It was people helping people.  People in China helping people in Japan.  People in Japan helping people in Germany.  Sense of community became so strong that when product shipped, we had 20k advocates in organization.  Our other next-generation products are being developed the same way.  Getting great feedback.  Getting end user feedback on the product along the way.  A lot of feedback that came in forums ended up in the product.

Started with mode with IM everywhere, then presence became thing.  Started extending to pervasive devices.  Next phase started to shift towards opening up to platform.  So chat not the application, but just one of applications that plugs into platform.  

Intranets are being connected to external networks.  Public gateway that will connect public IM networks to Sametime, through managed basis with policy control and audio controls.  This decision to connect intranet to extranet mirrors decision made 10 years ago to connect corporate intranets to the extranet.  We saw an explosion in new application types when that connection occurred, and I'm predicting that will see explosion of application types as well.  We'll start seeing new classes of applications around location-based services, things like emergency response systems, where real-time can be a life-saving criticality.