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GENBAND Integrates WebRTC into IBM Enterprise Social Platform

May 29, 2015

IBM is a company known for coming up with technological firsts and disruptive ideas that help reshape and advance entire industries. One of its relatively newer areas of focus is enterprise social solutions, and especially social communication and messaging.

I had an opportunity to talk with IBM executives at GENBAND's Perspectives 15 event last week in Orlando to get the company's perspective on real-time communications (RTC) and how it fits into their world view.

"The future is in social solutions," said Fernando Salazar, IBM's Director of Product Management for Social Communications and IBM Docs. "Letting both customers and partners embed social functions in terms of processes or concrete applications they build. Sometimes you want to do rich communications in context."

IBM Connections is the company's enterprise social platform.

"People are doing their daily work, they're going to look at their news feeds, the files shared with them and use them as a jumping off point for doing their work," Salazar said. "If I'm looking at something in the newsfeed, maybe I need to have a video directly with [someone]. If I see her on line, I can just resolve that issue in a quick conversation rather than in a back and forth messaging in an asynchronous way."

via Shutterstock

Kandy RTC solutions can easily integrate into IBM Connections, IBM's enterprise social platform due to the open interfaces from both platforms. 
The "downstream value," said Brent Wolfe, IBM Business Development for Enterprise Social Solutions, “is when organizations start to create platforms of social interactions.”

"Organizations need more permeability today," Salazar stated. " They need to work with partners all the time, they need to work with customers all the time. Rather than having entirely different mechanisms, why not have one mechanism to internal and external needs?"
Mobile is a key part of the enterprise solution.

"The need to have mobile access is driving solutions to make them very concrete, Salazar said. "IBM wants to exploit mobile devices for more and more specific purposes. I may do work with a laptop if I'm at a fixed location. If I'm on the move, time is short and I may need to do one specific thing. I'm going to be more task-focused. "

The combination of social, mobile, and specific tasks came to light in work with an Asia-based airline. The airline was looking for a quick and easy way to enable flight crew members to trade off assignments among themselves. The system in place was far from the button "Reschedule my flight" and "Who is available" method everyone wanted.

Flight crews could informally swap assignments among themselves via instant messaging services, but those changes didn't automatically get written into the airline's record systems to formally change and keep track of assignments. The challenge was to bring together existing informal flight swap social network tools with corporate systems to make employees and management equally satisfied.

Simplification of fundamental tasks, such as using APIs to add RTC to existing platforms, is a giant disruption, one that can be a big challenge. Advances such as being able to get a data base up and running in the cloud with a small team rather than having to hire 100 people are extremely disruptive.

For example, in 1996, IBM put Olympic results on line for the first time. It required "literally hundreds of people for a few data driven changes," said Salazar. "We built a whole division. Now, you can do the same task in a thousandth of the time."

"Small vendors can disrupt an enterprise strategy," Wolfe added. "Sometimes they start to set the agenda based on speed and scale.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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