InsideLotus - Lotus, Portal and Social Collaborative Software
Matching: research X
There is no question that enhanced user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) is spreading throughout all applications. As Chris pointed out, IBM research is all over this. I am very impressed with the level of enhanced UI and UX in many products. Other then just impressive visualization, I have not found a useful purpose for many of these visualizations. Tonight that all changed as I tried to find a synonym for the word "activity". In my normal google search, I can across Visual Thesaurus. This cool new website/application take the thinkmap approach to visualization to help correlate words.
This website allows the user to have an interactive experience whether you are trying to find the definition, synonym, or even pronunciation. You can try the application for free before prompted for purchase. While I was on the website, I found what I needed in 2 minutes. However, I enjoyed the UX so much I keep re-launching the website for about 20 minutes playing around.
Here are some notes I took during Irene Greif's Lotusphere talk. I haven't been to one of these, although I have wanted to, in the past. After talking about how we use IBM Research in our products, i.e. in Notes 8 features, I felt I had to go. That, and it was happening right next door to where we finished our repeat of the Designing Lotus Notes talk.
I wouldn't say these are well-formed yet, but wanted to get the info out there...
I'm sitting in the talk given by Irene Greif giving an overview of what's going on in IBM Research. Matt Mckeon is doing a demo of a new site called Many Eyes, which takes data visualization to a whole new level. It allows users to take a data set (say, U.S. Budget data, in his example), create a visualization of it, then publish it for comments and socialization. Anyone can upload data to the site and share it. Other users can comment on the data, blog-style, or use your visualization for a start to their own explorations. It's very cool and available now at Many Eyes. I love this stuff.
Another visualization of data that Irene showed was the Baby Name Visualizer, which provides a history of the popularity of baby names.
Irene is asking whether games can be fit for business? The baby name data and Many Eyes have elicited game-like behavior with serious data. She is talking about why people participate in digital communities - for biz value - to get some job done, buy/sell goods. and the social value - i.e. social function, it's fun, compelling experience, stickiness thru goal-based structure of games, and a sense of belonging to a community.
Irene is making several connections to World of Warcraft, which is making John Head, sitting in front of me, nod his head in approval. (He is feeling very validated right about now!) For example, send a team into a game, like WoW to accomplish a goal, which will strengthen the team. While the game may not be fit for business, the result is - increased communication and bonding amongst the team members, for instance.
All in all a great session - now, I must visit the Innovation Lab before Thurs!
Swan Hotel Ballroom 6
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!!