Enterprise Instant Messaging using Sametime in IBM Lotus Notes 8.5

6 min read

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Sametime is fantastic for corporations—both large and small. Many times we walk the corridors checking to see if someone is in their office. Now with Sametime we can see if they are online, offline, or unavailable; we can even have Sametime alert us when someone logs on or becomes available. Many corporations are encouraging their employees to work from home. This is where Sametime comes in handy—it allows us to communicate as though we were in the office and we can save our chats if important business decisions were discussed during a chat. It is also great for corporations that have branches or outlets in different regions. Being able to get quick responses to questions is important to businesses, and Sametime facilitates instant communication.

What is Sametime

Sametime gives us the ability to chat or send an instant message to others in a secure manner. Have you ever sent an e-mail and then wondered when the person will be able to respond? Do you get too many e-mails? Does listening to voicemail drive you nuts? If your question to all these questions is yes, then Sametime is the answer. Sametime allows us to first check if the person is available online, this is called presence awareness. Then if the person is available, we can start a chat with that person to see if he/she responds. Many people might say, why not just give them a call? Well, without Sametime you can’t tell if the person is available—they could be in a meeting or they could be on the phone, plus there may be a cost to the call. So, being able to chat with a person using Sametime will typically give us instant results. Some other great features of Sametime are:

  • It allows us to chat with two or more people at the same time, referred to as multi-way chat.
  • There is an out of the box integration supported with e-mail and productivity applications such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft SharePoint, and IBM Lotus Notes.
  • It has the ability to add or show rich text, timestamps, perform a spell check, and use emoticons in a chat session.
  • Sametime also has the ability to search for contacts and display their details.
  • It saves chat history so that one has a record of the conversation if required.
  • Sametime helps manage our contact list by being able to sort, show short names, or show online contacts only.

Sametime is included when we purchase Lotus Notes; however, some companies extend their license to include extra functionality. The following are the features of the standard and advanced versions, but be aware that there are more versions available. The license that is included with Lotus Notes is referred to as “Limited Use”.

Standard version:

  • Built-in VoIP and point-to-point video
  • Ability to transfer files via Sametime, and create, capture, and send screenshots
  • Location awareness that automatically determines whether one is working from home or the office, and others can see this in their business card
  • Contact information that can show photos and details of contacts when we float over their name
  • Managed interoperability with supported public IM networks such as AOL
  • The ability to conduct web conferencing, allowing us to start online meetings and share presentations
  • Integration with supported audio, video, and telephony systems

Advanced version:

  • The ability to search for experts and answers, even when one doesn’t know who to ask
  • The ability to capture and reuse shared knowledge, reducing the burden on subject matter experts and on our help desk
  • Provides a forum for teams to share information in real time
  • Helps in speed communication by instantly sharing our screen with our co-workers for document review or clarifications

In a company, Sametime might only have the ability to see the online status of people (presence awareness) and the ability to chat. For others, they may be able to chat and conduct online meetings. If one has the advanced version, then he/she may be able to use Sametime in a much more feature-rich way. In this article, we will focus on presence awareness and chat capabilities. To learn more about the standard, advanced, and other versions of Sametime, please visit the Lotus website at http://www.ibm.com/sametime

The following is what the Sametime panel looks like when opened in sidebar:

The Sametime panel has many options available that we will discuss throughout this article. To see menu options, click the menu icon to the right of Sametime Contacts as shown in the following screenshot. We can also view the menu by selecting Tools | Sametime from the Notes’ client menu.

If we cannot see the Sametime panel in the sidebar, we also have the option to select View|Right Sidebar Panels|Sametime Contacts, and click Sametime Contacts.

Many people like to leave the Day-At-A-Glance open in their sidebar, so that we can see our Sametime contacts’ select the menu option and then Open in New Window.
This will float the Sametime contacts for easy access.

How to use Sametime

We will now explore how to use Sametime including chatting, presence awareness, and setting preferences. However, before we can use Sametime, we must fist log in by providing our username and password—this is part of the security that Sametime offers. This authenticates us with our organization and then chat transcripts are encrypted, which means no one else can read or access them.

There are two ways we can log in:

  • Clicking the Log In option on the Sametime panel if available.

  • Selecting the Sametime icon and then select Log In from the menu. When we log in, our current status will default to available; however, there are other status options available for us to select from.

Now that we are logged in, we will be able to see the availability of others.

Understanding availability status

Availability status icons appear next to people’s names in Sametime, in our sidebar, inbox, contacts, and any Lotus Notes applications that have been Sametime enabled.

The following screenshot shows the Sametime contacts in the sidebar:

These icons indicate who is online, who are available to chat, and so on.

Others in our company can also see our current status, so the first thing we will look at is how to change our status. We will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Click , situated in the top left-hand corner of the Sametime sidebar panel.
  2. Select status from the available choices; current selected status is
    I am Available.

  3. Each status has a particular icon; the following table describes each icon:

We can set Sametime to change your status automatically, which is a good option, by completing the following steps:

  1. Select File | Preferences | Sametime | Auto-Status Changes.
  2. Check the situation in which we want our availability status to change.
  3. An excellent option is Meetings scheduled in my calendar; our status will automatically be changed when we are in meetings.

  4. Next, select preferred choices for Keyboard and mouse inactivity.

  5. Click Apply and then OK.

Now that we know how to work with the different statuses, we should learn how to add contacts.


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