Collaboration Sphere

by Dave Michels

In There’s A Change Afoot, I wrote the unified communications conversation is changing from voice centric to collaboration centric. Usually I post things as a form a cheap therapy – it gets things of my mind and allows me to focus on important matters such as Seinfeld reruns. But this epiphany has been more stubborn. I keep seeing even more evidence.

The term should not be Unified Communications. It should be Effective Communications. In this IBM SameTime UC case study the accomplishment is a 40 percent reduction in calls. There are lots of ways to reduce calls, but the case study illustrates the difference between communications and effective communications. 

Skype has made a lot of news lately and now claims to represent 25% of international long distance minutes. That’s an impressive statistic, but being a cynic about statistics (and dam lies), I thought about the measure… “minutes” instead of “calls”. Most telecom stats are in calls. Why does Skype talk about minutes instead of calls? I am guessing it is because of effective communications. Skype users tend to call each other when they are available. I use Skype heavily and nearly always IM before I call – I am sure Skype’s actual call stats are relatively low and unimpressive. Traditional callers make more calls, but have less effective communication – AKA voice mail.

The UC wild card that is emerging is collaboration.

Getting people in different places to work together – inexpensively, reliably, securely is where the shit hits the fan. This is where communications become effective. Remote workers spend too much time doing stupid things – like revision marks in a Word document. It is much more effective to discuss and make changes in real time. Sharing documents, presence, whiteboards, sharing screens, and even video chats – basically the goodies that come in a collaboration suite is where the money is – both in terms of sales and productivity gains.

Next week is IBM’s Lotusphere. The more I learn about the product, the more power I see in its architecture. Personally, I know Exchange/Lync and GoogleApps pretty well, but don’t have much familiarity with Lotus/Notes/SameTime. It will be great to hear what companies are doing with it. Plus, I understand Lotusphere is a top notch event. Immediately after isITExpo East and the Cloud Communications Summit – fortunately both events are in Florida. Also at ITExpo is Jon Arnold’s SmartGrid Summit, Larry Lisser’s StartupCamp, and this year the folks will be running a track at ITExpo as well.