Real-time Collaboration in Complex, Cross-organizational Operations

With many thousands of users dispersed around the globe, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) faced numerous difficult challenges meeting the increased demand to communicate and share information in real-time across organizational and geographical boundaries, such as bringing teams together to respond rapidly to crises, efficiently managing routine operational logistics, and mitigating the risk that a decision taken in one functional area will have negative repercussions in another functional area.

IBM Lotus Sametime, Extended and Secured by Instant Technologies

The DoD turned to IBM for a solution that would enable DoD personnel to find and communicate with other DoD personnel across boundaries of time and space.IBM responded with e-CollabCenter.com, a real-time collaboration managed service built on IBM Lotus Sametime.

“IBM provided the collaboration platform, with all the inherent features and benefits of real-time communication and presence awareness,” says James Stroud, Chief Technology Officer for IBM Public Sector Human Capital Management: Portals and Collaboration Solutions.  “But DoD also required persistent chat capabilities and IM archiving for end-user retrieval and organization-wide auditing.”

For these latter requirements, IBM turned to the enterprise IM experts at Instant Technologies.

Instant IMtegrity Archives + Instant Team Sessions

Instant IMtegrity Archives addressed DoD’s requirements for IM archiving, search, and discovery.  All Sametime conversations are automatically logged and indexed so DoD can track what was discussed, when it was discussed, and how long the discussion lasted (including inline usage of images and emoticons).

End users can easily retrieve their own prior chats, and administrators can search and discover IM chats archive-wide in a central admin console.

Simple searches can be conducted by date or by person, or advanced searches can be conducted with Boolean operations, within time frames, or over a set conversation length.  At the same time, archive confidentiality and integrity are protected with secure Access Control Lists.

Instant Team Sessions addressed DoD’s requirements for managed, multi-user ‘places’ in which cross-organizational teams can securely collaborate on specific topics in the atmosphere of an open forum where both the chat room and the content—conversations, documents, files, bookmarks—persist over time.

DoD now has hundreds of persistent chat rooms.Access is controlled and password protected, and all conversations are encrypted, time synchronized, and logged.  In addition, configurable contextual alerts automatically update chat room members whenever content of specific interest is discussed or posted.

The Results:  Faster, Better Decisions and Increased Efficiency

“The US Navy was already using solutions from Instant Technologies,” says Mr Stroud, “so that made it very easy for us to justify including them in e-CollabCenter.com.  Initial integration was a snap, and the products have kept pace with the evolution of IBM’s technology.  For example, Instant Team Sessions now have a Sametime Connect plug-in that we are leveraging with great effect.”

With e-CollabCenter.com, any DoD organization can transform the way it operates by instantly and securely placing key personnel in direct contact with other personnel—both ad-hoc and with cross-organizational team members.

“We at IBM have the highest regard for our business partners’ ingenuity and commitment to adding value to our products,” continues Mr Stroud.  “By working in partnership with Instant Technologies, we were able to exceed DoD’s performance expectations and functional requirements.”