As part of IBM’s strategy in the Unified Communication and Collaboration (UC²) space, Lotus Sametime has been expanded into a whole family of products that cover all businesses UC² needs. Lotus Sametime Advanced is the latest addition to this family.
This article assumes a basic business understanding of instant messaging and Lotus Sametime. It is aimed at business leaders, IT managers, and Lotus Sametime administrators alike.
This article shows how Lotus Sametime Advanced fits into the Lotus Sametime product family and provides an overview of its functionality. It also takes a closer look at each of its features, showing how they can be leveraged to enhance real-time collaboration among coworkers and decision making in day-to-day business through real-life scenarios.
This section briefly presents the products available as part of the Lotus Sametime product family (other than Lotus Sametime Advanced), detailing their capabilities. For more detailed information on those products, see the Resources section of this article.
Figure 1. The Lotus Sametime product family
Lotus Sametime Entry provides a cost-effective solution to adopting enterprise instant messaging (IM). It allows your organization to benefit from the collaborative advantages of IM, without the risk associated with using a public, unencrypted IM service. Its features include presence-awareness, encrypted IM with n-way chats, and integration with Microsoft Office, IBM Lotus Notes 8.0, and Microsoft Outlook.
Building on top of Lotus Sametime Entry, Lotus Sametime Standard provides a complete collaborative solution with the following features (in addition to the features provided with Lotus Sametime Entry):
- Web conferencing
- Telephony integration, VoIP within the enterprise
- Mobile clients
- Support for integration with public IM services through the Lotus Sametime Gateway
NOTE: Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony has not been released at the time of publication of this article.
Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony is a planned offering that will provide a powerful solution to integrate telephony with the Lotus Sametime infrastructure for a truly unified experience.
The planned features of Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony are:
- Aggregated telephony and IM presence
- Initiation of telephone call or conference through software (click-to-call)
- Incoming call management
- Multiple PBX integration
Lotus Sametime Unyte is a hosted service providing easy-to-use Web conferencing. A Web browser allows you to set up and run a Web conference for multiple participants in minutes. The service is hosted, and no infrastructure is required to use it.
Building on Lotus Sametime Entry and Lotus Sametime Standard, Lotus Sametime Advanced brings your organization's collaborative capabilities to a new level by allowing the sharing of knowledge and information in real time.
A persistent chat is a managed, multiple-user chat whose content is persisted. Users who join the chat can see what has been said in the chat while they were away. They can search the whole chat transcript for specific information, and they can set alerts on a given chat to be notified when activity happens, even if they’re not currently in the chat.
Persistent chats can be accessed both through a Web interface, using nothing other than a browser, or through the Lotus Sametime Connect 8.0 client by installing the Lotus Sametime Advanced plug-in. In both cases, the interface is the same as the familiar user interface already provided by Lotus Sametime chats.
Additional features of persistent chats include the capability to attach frequently asked questions (FAQs) to a chat and to search existing FAQs.
Broadcast tools allow users belonging to a community (that is, a group of users sharing a common interest) to send real-time alerts (a short message), polls (a question with predefined answers), or questions (an open question) to this community, and to get a response immediately. Answers received can be converted to FAQs to be consulted later by other users.
Communities are managed centrally through a Web interface, and the real-time features are accessible in the Lotus Sametime Connect client through the Lotus Sametime Advanced plug-ins.
Instant Share lets you instantly share a running application, a region of your screen, or your entire screen with any of your Lotus Sametime contacts without any prerequisite setup or additional software installation.
Sharing your screen and lending control of it to any other user becomes as simple as starting a chat with that user.
Let's take a closer look at the Lotus Sametime Advanced features and examine how they can be effectively leveraged to enhance collaboration among coworkers, through real-life scenarios, and with detailed execution steps.
In this scenario, we see how customer support representatives and sales representatives can collaborate through persistent chat rooms, exchange information, and resolve their customer issues more quickly.
Kelly is a sales representative. Part of her job is to ensure that her current customers are supported efficiently through the company support service. Her role requires constant interaction with the support team. To ease collaboration, she created a chat room for each of her customers, where she and the support team can exchange information relative to the customer’s technical issues.
Bill is a customer support representative. His area of expertise is the low-level interactions of the product with the operating system. He is an active member of the chat room where server crash issues can be discussed.
Glenn is another customer support representative. We will see how Glenn leverages the persistent chat rooms created by his colleagues to resolve his customers’ problems.
Kelly creates and updates the chat room for her new customer
To facilitate communication regarding her new customer issues with the customer support team, Kelly creates a persistent chat room dedicated to this customer's technical issue. Here are the steps she follows to achieve this task:
- Log into the Web interface of Lotus Sametime Advanced.
- Navigate to the All Chat Rooms tab.
- Navigate to the folder in which you want to create the chat room.
- Click the New Chat Room button. The window shown in figure 2 displays.
- Select the Details tab, and then enter a name, an optional description, and an optional password.
- Select the People tab, and then assign members and managers to the team room and set its access control.
- Click Save to validate the chat room creation.
Kelly creates the chat room for her new customer in the Customers folder that she created for this purpose. She specifies that only members and managers of the chat room can join because she wants to keep the information in it private. She adds the members of the customer support team as members of the chat room, and she is set as manager by default as the creator of the chat room.
Figure 2. The New Chat Room window
After Kelly creates the persistent chat room for her customer, she updates it regularly with all relevant technical information. Tomorrow, after weeks of testing, this specific customer will roll out the customer relationship management (CRM) module of the software product sold by Kelly’s company. Kelly will be out of the office on this day, but she is confident that everything will work smoothly. She updates the chat room to include this information by following these steps:
- Log into the Web interface of Lotus Sametime Advanced.
- Navigate to the All Chat Rooms tab.
- Navigate to the folder containing the chat room.
- Click the Enter Chat Room link underneath its name.
- The chat room opens.
- Type any text that you want to add in the lower right rich-text area.
Kelly's new content is shown in figure 3.
Figure 3. The updated chat room
With this chat room created and updated, Kelly hopes to enhance communication and collaboration between her and the support team. She knows that the information entered here will be accessible by the customer support team at any time, as it is persistent.
Bill sets an alert on the “server crash” chat room
Bill is an experienced customer support representative. He knows that several chat rooms have been created to discuss problems relating to different technical areas (such as server crashes, database maintenance, migration, performance, and more).
His personal area of expertise is the interactions of the product with the operating system. He knows that those issues can surface in many areas of the product, but he cannot monitor all those chat rooms all the time. He decides to set alerts on them to be notified when certain words are added to the chat room. He follows these steps:
- In the Lotus Sametime client Chat Rooms view, right-click a chat room.
- In the drop-down menu that displays, select the Alert me when option.
- In the Chat Room Activity Alerts window shown in figure 4, select the box for the chat rooms on which you want to set an alert.
- Select the type of alert that you want to set (number of people active, number of unread lines, or specific keyword), and enter the corresponding parameter.
- Click OK.
Figure 4. The Chat Room Activity Alerts window
By setting an alert for the keyword “driver” on the various chat rooms related to technical areas (such as “server crash”), Bill knows he will be notified when those words are entered in the chat room, and he won’t have to spend his time monitoring them.
Glenn receives a call from the customer
Glenn receives a call from the customer: On a number of machines, the server is crashing repeatedly. Uptime is affected; this problem has a seriously negative effect on the customer business. All the information that the customer can provide to Glenn at this stage is that the crash seems to be coming from the video card driver.
Glenn knows that some sales representatives create chat rooms for their customers. He wonders if one exists for this customer, and if he could find information in it that could help him with this issue. While he is still on the phone with the customer, he does a quick search for the chat room by following these steps:
- Log into the Web interface of Lotus Sametime Advanced.
- Navigate to the Search tab shown in figure 5.
- Enter the text to search in the Search for field.
- Click the magnifier icon.
Figure 5. The Search tab
Glenn finds the chat room for this customer and the information that was entered by Kelly, in particular the details about the rollout of the CRM module. He also finds out that Kelly is the sales representative for this customer; unfortunately, her Lotus Sametime status shows that she is offline.
When Glenn asks the customer if the CRM module rollout might be linked with the issue, the customer tells him that weeks of testing did not uncover any problems.
At this stage, Glenn has very little information, and the customer is eager to get a solution. Glenn decides to log in to the server crash chat room and see if anybody can help him there. Once in the chat room, he asks, “Has anybody ever seen a server crash caused by the video card driver?”.
Instantaneously, an alert pops up on Bill’s computer, triggered by the word “driver” entered into the chat room. See figure 6. He joins the chat room and starts chatting with Glenn.
Figure 6. The alert on Bill’s desktop
Bill asks Glenn if the customer is using the CRM module. On Glenn’s positive answer, Bill informs him that he has seen crashes when the CRM module and old video driver are used. They were resolved by updating the driver.
Glenn gives this information to the customer. The customer later calls to tell Glenn that the crashes have stopped. The problem is solved.
By leveraging the chat rooms set up by his colleagues, Glenn resolved his customer issue. He also identified Kelly as this customer sales representative and Bill as an expert on low-level issues. These contacts will be useful to him in the future.
In this scenario, we see traders exchange real-time information about the market through a broadcast community relevant to them, helping them make quicker and better decisions.
Joe is the chief trader of the team in charge of commodity trading in a bank. Part of his job is to ensure that other traders are aware of the market change in this sector. To this end, he created a broadcast community that allows him to send announcements to other traders who joined the community.
Paul is an equity trader. He currently holds important positions in the car manufacturing sector. He is aware that this sector can be affected by changes in the price of commodities such as aluminum, and he knows that he must keep an eye on those prices. We show how joining the broadcast community created by Joe helps Paul in this task.
Joe creates the commodities broadcast community
To allow other traders to be kept up-to-date with important events regarding the commodity that might affect their sector of activity, Joe creates a broadcast community dedicated to commodities by following these steps:
- Log into the Web interface of Lotus Sametime Advanced.
- Navigate to the Broadcast Communities tab.
- Click the New Broadcast Community button.
- On the Details tab of the New Broadcast Community window, enter a community name, select a community type, and enter an optional description. See figure 7.
- On the People tab, assign the community managers and other roles depending on the type of community that you chose in the preceding step.
- Click Save to create the community.
Figure 7. The New Broadcast Community window
Joe creates a restricted publishers community because he wants only himself and other traders of the commodity trading desk to be able to publish on this broadcast community. Anybody can join the community to receive the announcements.
With this community, Joe can send a variety of real-time messages to other traders who decide to join the community.
Paul joins the commodities trading events broadcast community
Aware of his exposure to a change of price for some commodities, Paul decides to join the dedicated broadcast community that Joe created, as a potential source of information. He follows these steps:
- In the Lotus Sametime client Broadcast Community view, click the icon to manage communities.
- In the drop-down menu, select the Join Broadcast Communities option.
- In the Join Broadcast Communities window shown in figure 8, click Refresh List. You must do this to retrieve the latest communities.
- Select the communities that you want to join, and click Finish.
Figure 8. The Join Broadcast Communities window
Paul has now joined the commodity trading events broadcast community. He will receive any broadcast issued to the community.
Through one of his contacts, before anybody else, Joe learns of political unrest in a country producing an important part of the aluminum traded worldwide. He immediately sends an announcement through his broadcast community dedicated to commodity trading events. To achieve this, he follows these steps:
- In the Lotus Sametime client Broadcast Community view, right-click the name of the community to which you want to send an announcement.
- In the drop-down menu, select Announcement.
- In the Announcement window shown in figure 9, enter the text of the announcement and include an optional URL.
- Click Finish.
Figure 9. The Announcement window
Instantaneously, Paul receives the announcement on his desktop as shown in figure 10. He can take the appropriate actions to lighten his positions potentially affected by the possible surge in the price of aluminum.
Figure 10. The announcement displaying on Paul’s screen
Paul can also respond to the announcement by initiating a Lotus Sametime conversation with Joe to obtain more details about the issue. He can alternatively ask a general question of the community; for example, he could ask other traders what impact they believe that this event might have on his positions. As with the announcements sent by Joe, a window displays on the desktops of all the traders who joined this community, giving them the opportunity to respond. See figure 11.
Figure 11. Asking a question to the community
If the members of the broadcast community do respond to Paul's question, a Lotus Sametime chat session is initiated with the question sender, so they can discuss it in more detail if needed. See figure 12.
Figure 12. And receiving an answer
By leveraging Lotus Sametime Advanced broadcast tools, Paul is able to receive real-time information that is critical to his work and that allows him to make the right decision at the right time. He does not have to know who possesses the information he needs (Joe in this case); he only has to join the relevant community.
In this scenario, we see how a member of the internal support team takes advantage of the instant share feature of Lotus Sametime Advanced to help a colleague resolve a technical issue that prevented her from performing her work.
Joan is a member of the human resources (HR) team. While she is working on an important presentation to be given this afternoon, her computer crashes. She restarts the computer, but she soon realizes that she cannot open her presentation software any more. She logs a call with the internal support team.
Alan is the internal support staff member who receives her call. He quickly identifies the issue and suggests a number of corrective steps that Joan can apply. She is unable to do so, though. One of the menu items Alan asks her to choose is just not available. Alan suggests that he stop by to perform the steps on Joan’s computer. He won’t be able to do so before the afternoon, and that time is too late for Joan’s presentation. She proposes they use the Lotus Sametime Advanced Instant Share feature.
Joan shares her screen with Alan
To allow Alan to see why she cannot follow the steps he proposed, Joan wants to share her screen with him. Because she is also working on a confidential document, she does not want to share her whole screen with Alan, so she decides to share only the specific window that she is having trouble with. To do so, she follows these steps:
- In the Lotus Sametime client Contacts view, right-click the name of the person with whom you want to initiate the instant share session.
- In the drop-down menu, select the Instant Share option.
- In the submenu, select the appropriate sharing option (an application, the entire screen, or a region).
- Depending on the option chosen, perform any additional steps (for example, select the application to share).
- Wait for the Instant Share session to start.
Figure 13 shows the area of the screen that is shared.
Figure 13. Sharing a region of the screen – the shared area is orange-bordered
Joan lends control of her screen to Alan
Alan now understands the difficulty that Joan is experiencing. He proposes that she lend him control of the shared window to allow him to fix the issue. Joan agrees and transfers control of her computer to Alan. She follows these steps:
- In the Sharing Region window that displays in the top left corner of the screen as shown in figure 14, click the icon to allow another person to control your screen.
- Other people participating in the instant share session can now take control of the application, your whole screen, or the region that you are sharing, depending on the choice that you made earlier.
Figure 14. Lending control of your screen
Alan can now fix Joan’s problem on her computer. The confidential information on the other part of Joan’s screen is safe. By using the Lotus Sametime Advanced instant share feature, Alan was able to solve Joan’s problem in time for her to complete her presentation, without having to install any additional software.
Lotus Sametime has expanded into a product family to address all businesses and organization Unified Communication and Collaboration needs.
Lotus Sametime Advanced has specific features (persistent chat, broadcast tools, and instant share) that can be leveraged to extend the real-time capabilities of Lotus Sametime. It lets you share information and knowledge more easily and drive better and quicker decision making; in a word, it helps you collaborate efficiently.
Read the developerWorks Lotus article, "Integrating IBM Lotus Sametime with the IBM Lotus Connections REST service."
Refer to the Lotus Sametime technical content.
Refer to the developerWorks Lotus Sametime documentation page.
Refer to the IBM Lotus Sametime 8.0 Information Center.
Learn more about IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte.
Learn more about IBM Unified Communications and Collaboration.
Learn more about Lotus Application Development for Unified Communications and Collaboration.
Get products and technologies
Download the IBM Lotus Sametime Software Development Kit (SDK) from developerWorks Lotus.
Download the trial version of IBM Lotus Sametime.