Today and tomorrow I will be in Stamford at the IBM event. So far this morning I've sat in on a "meet the experts" session on Workplace & Real-Time Collaboration and am currently sitting in a session on Customer Intimacy (Information Server).
The RTC session was helpful (seeing some of the prototype application examples). The demo that intrigued me the most was the one where Sametime 7.5 using the Eclipse plug-in model can display data from a web service. Imagine seeing someone's presence and transitioning to an IM conversation and then being able to bring real data views into the conversation ... sales forecasts, pipeline data, customer issues that are outside their service levels, the options are pretty expansive. Think of role-based presence and associating this to relevant web services that display workflow tasks - also something possible with this type of plug-in model. If I log in as a certain role, a Sametime plug-in could display views into my task queue. Suddenly the synergies between identity, role and presence move the discussion beyond the buddy list and simple chat.
While this capability is not supported for web conferencing, I've got to believe that this will be the natural evolution. That makes conferencing beyond slide sharing - groups can "conference" and then use a web services plug-in to pipe various data or other views into the session and people can constructively interact and brainstorm around the source information rather than "death by PowerPoint". The idea of conferencing around "smart objects" that dynamically pipe information into the session has a lot of potential to add real business relevance to online meetings. For now, person-to-person IM and group chat support this web service style of integration but extending it to the web conferencing experience would be quite valuable.