IBM Adds Interactive Flair to SameTime

Big Blue's SameTime wants to be more collaborative, adding persistent chat and intelligent call routing.

Orlando, Fla.-IBM this year will add new layers to its Lotus SameTime instant messaging and Web conferencing suite in an effort to improve the way people work together, company officials announced, jan. 22, at Lotusphere here.

Lotus Sametime Advanced will include persistent chat, allowing users in a workgroup or department to conduct a continuous discussion. Knowledge workers can start a chat session and let other workers make changes to documents when this software is delivered in the first half of 2008.

The key differentiator is that users in Advanced sessions don't necessarily have to know everyone in a particular discussion, said Bruce Morse, vice president of unified communications and collaboration at IBM, during a press briefing. For example, participating employees can poll experts in the community for answers and rate the quality of the response.

The idea behind Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony is to make SameTime "smarter" with intelligent call routing to any computer and handheld device. Users will also be able to set rules on how to treat calls according to status when the software becomes available in the second half of the year.

For example, while traditional instant messaging allows users to leave "away" messages, Unified Telephony allows users to set SameTime to route calls to a mobile device when people are away from their desktop. Or, Morse said, users can set rules that send pop-up notices to workers notifying them of an important call they need to take.

IBM officials also demonstrated the integration of SameTime in IBM's Metaverse virtual reality application. IBM officials were able to place calls from a PC to contact someone in the Metaverse, where some IBMers hold virtual meetings.