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Sunday, January 22, 2012

IBM's "Social Business" Needs To Be "UC-enabled"

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It’s all about branding new business communications technology in order to associate new products and, more importantly, new services in the marketplace. The trick is in the definitions of the brand and catching the interest of who in a business organization will be interested and responsible for new business communications capabilities. This is particularly tricky as both business processes and communications with people converge as software that all can exploit the Web as services.

The biggest target used to be telephony for real-time person-to-person contacts, but as more consumers started using screen-based endpoint devices, text messaging communications (email, IM, and mobile SMS) have rapidly become a practical alternative to real-time voice interfaces and connections. This shift was accelerated with the advent of multi-modal smartphones and tablets that not only make individual end users more accessible for both business and personal contacts, but also support “UC-enabled” applications to exploit voice or visual user interfaces.

Since Microsoft came in to the UC game at the desktop and mobile smartphones with its Lync software products, IBM has now jumped into the marketplace with a new brand, “Social Business,” that is intended to include US-enabled applications of all kinds. At their recent Lotusphere conference, IBM upgraded their older enterprise technologies to be part of their “Smart Cloud” and “Social Business” product and service offerings. In particular, they reinforced their role in consultative services to organizations that need help in identifying requirements and managing the migration to what I call “UC-enabled” applications.

One analyst who attended the Lotusphere conference was very impressed with the new directions of IBM, but never mentioned “UC” as part of his review (Bruce Guptill, Saugatuck research Alert). On the other hand, Irwin Lazar, from Nemertes, highlighted the need for “UC Management” in his No Jitter review of the Lotusphere conference. (See

“UC” is not going away but is being embedded under new labels for business communications. As mobile computer applications proliferate, they need the flexibility of UC for interoperability and, perhaps more importantly, the end user "experience" for multimedia User Interfaces. As far as I am concerned, “Social Business” is really another form of communications that has to become “UC-enabled!”