Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Beyond the buddy list

One of the sessions we delivered at the Sametime Launch event last month – the one I personally delivered – was titled “Beyond the Buddy List.”  As you can probably guess, it focused on the value both of integrating Sametime into your e-mail, portal, or other applications, as well as the value of integrating applications into Sametime, made much easier now with the new plugin model.  

In the days leading up to the session, I was struck by a similarity between where many companies are today in their deployment of these collaborative tools, and where the deployment of PCs was when I first entered the workforce after college in the early ‘90s.  I thought I’d share the story (a true story) that I told to open that session:

As I think about what we showed in the keynote – how the role of instant messaging and Web conferencing is changing, I can’t help but think about my second line manger in my first job out of college.  

At the time I was working down the road from here a little bit, in the back-office operations area of what at the time was one of the top 5 banks in the world.  My boss’s boss was Liz – a great department head, who at the time was a few years from retirement.

I joined just as we were rolling out PCs to the department.  This would be about 15 years ago, and to remind everyone of where things stood in general at the time, my department – again, in one of the top 5 banks in the world - went out and requested bids and individually bought 6 PCs.  But anyway, back to Liz.  

When we bought PCs for the dept, Liz of course needed one of those six PCs (if other people were going to have them, then she figured she should, as well).  And so we set up a PC in her office for her.  

On the credenza.  

Behind her.  

Back there somewhere.

And there it sat, except for a few times a day, when Doreen, Liz’s assistant, would go in and print out Liz’s e-mail for her.  Liz would then hand-write replies to the e-mail and give them back to Doreen to type up and send out for her.

Now, that PC was still helpful. It still changed the way Liz worked, how she was able to connect with colleagues, and the speed that she could communicate with them – via e-mail instead of interoffice mail and certainly faster than trying to get them on the phone.  But picture how different that is than if she had that PC on her desk, that she was actually using!

And while it might be extreme, this is what came to mind when I thought about what happens when you limit your view of your IM or Web conferencing solution to something that just sits on your PC desktop.  

By itself.  

Parked behind your e-mail, behind PowerPoint, behind your browser, and behind all the other dozens of windows and applications you might have open at any given time..

Now, let’s look at what happens when you bring Sametime forward from that virtual credenza “onto your desk.”


I closed out the session talking about Liz, as well:

And so I thought I’d end like we began – with Liz.  I’m very proud to say that eventually Liz did start checking and replying to her own e-mail, and she did move her PC onto her desk.