Real-time Collaboration

Tech Target has a Q&A with David Marshak, who is with IBM Lotus Software as senior product manager for collaboration. Excerpts:

New models of collaboration, like activity-based computing, while supporting existing technologies like presence. A lot of current collaboration technologies have become highly commoditized. Like Web conferencing — unless you add tight integration with audio, there’s very little differentiation between the products that are out there.

Still, we can do a lot more with presence. Presence is not just for people but for objects and expertise. For instance, at IBM right now, if you have a question about collaboration, you don’t have to know who to ask. You can simply find out everyone who has expertise in the area who’s online at any given moment.

The next really big application is going to be mobile presence. But presence can be scary from a privacy perspective. For instance, two winters ago here in Massachusetts, the state’s snow plow drivers threatened to strike because they were told they were going to have GPS systems in their vehicles. But there are positives to GPS too. Parents are giving GPS cell phones to their kids, and their teenage kids love them. Why? Because it’s an alternative to them being called every hour.

My computer knows if I’ve been away from it because I’ve gone a certain amount of time without touching the keyboard. My Blackberry knows the last time I looked at it, and whether it’s in the holster so it can’t receive IM. Verizon knows whether I have the ring of my cell phone set to vibrate or be silent.

What we’re not sure yet is how people are going to use this presence information. In today’s world, all our messaging devices represent different personas to different people (i.e., phone, email, IM, etc.) who are trying to reach you in different ways. There are times we want to be available to one person and not another. In the old days, a secretary made that decision, to let people know if you were in or out. If it was your boss, you were available. If it was your wife, you were available. If it was someone else, maybe you weren’t available.

We need a learning system that does this with all our devices and lets them know who can interrupt us. If you and I are going into a meeting at 3 pm and you call me at 2:30, there should be a learning system that can recognize the urgency of your contacting me based not so much on who you are but on the fact that we’re going into a meeting.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.