Interview with Irene Greif - Research
I missed this interview earlier, but was alerted to it via an internal newsletter from Collaborative User Research in Cambridge. The article offers an interesting perspective about Notes, Sametime, and future social networking efforts. For example, she says, "Lotus Notes was conceived from the beginning as an integrated collaborative environment - not just email." While we need to do email really well and we do, the differentiator for Notes is and always has been the ability to pull together and automate a wide variety of applications that require human interaction, whether it's a simple discussion db, a help desk, or an expense reporting processing application. You can build applications that work the way people work.
Instant messaging and web conferences are the next tools to get added to the mix, with Lotus first to market with business grade IM with Lotus Sametime. I remember where research did a study early on about "prairie dogging" - this is phenomenon I saw quite a bit in our cube farms in support, before Sametime existed. You had a question, you pop your head up over the cube and ask your neighbor. They pop their head up, or someone else overhears it and pops their head up to answer. I love that visual! (Prairie dogs live in the North American plains and you see them sitting on their hind legs, nose in the air, checking for predators.) Now that Sametime 7.5 is out, I expect to see a lot of innovation on this platform in 2007, from Lotus and third parties, for example - integrated workflow, as in this Lotus Award winner: Imixs GmbH; or from Instant Technologies, a way to queue instant messages to awaiting reps.
Ms. Greif also talks about where Activity Explorer came from, which can be seen as a natural extension of her original work in computer supported cooperative work. If you've ever designed an application to support some business process, you see that there's the process, the way it's written down, and the process that everyone follows in practice. One thing that systems haven't been good at capturing is all the collaboration that occurs while process tasks are being completed. This has been discussed before many times. Certainly, being able to capture ad hoc activity within a more formal process is a good thing because it lets the organization understand what patterns are being used in real life vs. the defined process. We've been using a new version of Activities internally for quite awhile and it is easier to manage some things that way, when you don't have a formal teamroom to collaborate in, or you are crossing organizational boundaries. If what you know is Activity Explorer as released in the Workplace Managed Client, wait until you see this new one at Lotusphere and within Notes 8 itself.
Research fuels social software innovation at IBM
IBM Collaborative User Research is the home for lots of good stuff!
I'll let you read the rest of the interview, which covers social networking and future innovations in the lab. One thing the research teams do really well is to connect their pure research to real business problems that people have -> and then connect those into new products or new features in products. You might not see it in products for a few years, but you can get a glimpse of the future by what they are studying now. See Remail for some Notes features you see today and coming in Notes 8.
Enjoy - Happy New Year!!