In the article "Chat-enabling your Web site using SameTime" , I introduced how to quickly give a web site chat capabilities using Lotus' Sametime. You may be asking why anyone would even consider doing such a thing. The answer of course, is that it depends on the needs of your organization, and, even more importantly, on the needs of your customers.
We typically look at Intranets, Extranets and Web sites. Intranets facilitate information sharing inside the organization, Extranets allow sharing of information with customers and partners on a secured, password protected site, while Web sites are publicly available sites on the World Wide Web.
We don't see these as three separate environments at the company I work for (Convergens.dk), but rather as one information-sharing environment with different levels of access and control for various users. Today, most organizations do have three different environments -- and often running on different technologies -- but given time, these will merge into one.
What does chat-enabling a site allow you to do? It makes it possible for a site user to see whether a person is online and available, and it allows the user to initiate immediate communication. Any name mentioned in the site could be chat- and awareness-enabled. It is my experience is that content and use of Sametime lies somewhere between a telephone call, SMS and e-mail.
The threshold for initiating a chat is lower than for any of those forms, it has a low bandwidth (higher than SMS, but definitely lower than e-mail), and the form is usually casual. So Sametime-enabling a site lets you offer the following to the site user:
- An invitation to communicate.
- A medium for a brief exchange of information.
I would suggest looking at your Intranet and Extranet first when considering chat-enabling your information-sharing environments. Organizations that have a limited public interest could also consider chat-enabling their public Web sites. I base this on a number of assumptions:
Of course these considerations are based on a very broad, generalized view on organizations. Different organizations have different needs. You need to consider the implications, such as whether you want this kind of service limited to your regular customers or available to others. Think of it as a way to be supportive of your Web-site users.
About the author
Jens Bruntt has been a developer and infrastructure advisor for Notes and Domino projects since 1994 and is an R6 Principal Developer working as project manager or consultant depending on the project's size and requirements. He has a Masters degree in Library- and Information Science. Jens works at Convergens.dk as a senior consultant, primarily architecting Domino Browser based Internet, Intranet and Extranet sites. He is also a SearchDomino.com site expert.