IBM to Pump $1B into UCC Over 3 Years
=Future UCC Plans} Sametime, which IBM launched in 1998 as its core corporate instant messaging and Web and video conferencing client, forms the cornerstone of IBM's UCC strategy. IBM and virtual reality software maker Forterra Systems are programming a Sametime-based UCC solution, code-named Babel Bridge, that could allow U.S. intelligence agencies to use a common graphical collaboration system to communicate within a virtual world.Another IBM partner, VBrick Systems, is introducing the VBrick Lotus Sametime Video Plug-in, which streams live broadcasts and digital video content within the Sametime environment to users for collaboration.Bank of New York-Mellon, Celina Insurance, Colgate Palmolive, HSBC Bank, and Prudential UK all currently leverage Sametime to deliver telephony and audio and video conferencing, along with IM, group chat and Web conferencing to their employees. IBM plans to extend UCC capabilities beyond Sametime to Lotus Notes, Lotus Connections, Lotus Quickr, Lotus Symphony, IBM WebSphere Portal, Microsoft Outlook and Office, line of business applications and business processes. Company officials declined to detail future products, but Rhodin said IBM has made significant new investments in Sametime and its middleware platforms. The company also said it will facilitate UCC software and services from desktops and laptops to smart phones and other mobile gadgets and services from RIM, Apple, Sprint-Nextel and Symbian. IBM's UCC strategy comes with a nod toward the future. Company officials predicted that in five years UCC will play a major role as corporate employees continue to work out of their home offices, where click-to-call and other tools to enable business processes will be employed. Moreover, IBM expects open interoperability across business and public domains, with industry standards coalescing around UCC. To plan for this, more than 70 engineers from eight IBM Research labs around the world are currently cooking up several software projects that will leverage UCC. Their focus areas include social software, interactive visualization, virtual worlds and accessibility.