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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Project: Unified Activity Management

Primary Researchers: Paul Moody, Bob Stachel

Contact: daniel_gruen@us.ibm.com

A Collaborative User Experience Project:

The goal of the Unified Activity Management (UAM) project is to recast collaboration technologies in terms of the meaningful business activities in which people are engaged, both to support the work of each individual person and team and -- more significantly -- the enterprise. This includes both formal elements such as workflows and structured documents, as well as informal collaboration such as chats and emails that is so critical to getting the work done.

Most people think of the work they do in terms of what they need to accomplish, for example, submitting an expense report, writing an article for a newsletter, or responding to an RFP (request for proposal). However, these activities rarely match the tools people use exactly, so that currently the components of an activity are spread across many tools and applications on our computers. The relevant information is in email, chats, presentations, documents, workflows, databases, calendars, and more. For the individual working on an activity, this means looking in lots of places. But the cost to the company is high too; often valuable information about an activity can slip through the cracks. For example, imagine that one sales team has a dramatically better track record than the other teams. The key to their success might lie buried in an email that casually suggests salespeople bring along a particular presentation when they visit a client for the first time. If the company had that information, they could disseminate it to all the sales teams. And by tying it to other instances of the sales activity, they could be sure people would have the information when they could use it.

Our work on the UAM project is being done in conjunction with IBM researchers in Almaden. It combines design, development, and the study of a functional prototype deployed to support a particular business activity type. This year's work will provide a demonstration and evaluation of the value Activity-Centered Computing brings to individuals and the organization. The project builds on our prior work around Activity Explorer and Reinventing Email, and through CUE's connections to the Activity-Centered Computing product team is providing new features and technologies for IBM Software.