Mobile communication and Web technologies have paved the way for mobile multimedia collaborative services that allows people, team and organisation to collaborate in dynamic, flexible and efficient manner. Indeed, it should be possible to establish and terminate collaborative services with any partner anytime at anywhere on any network and any device. While severe requirements are imposed on collaborative services, their development and deployment should be simple and less time-consuming. The design, implementation, deployment and operation of collaborative services meet challenging issues that need to be resolved. The chapter starts with a study of collaboration and the different collaboration forms. An overview of existing collaborative services will be given. A generic model of mobile collaborative services is explained together with the basic collaborative services. A service oriented architecture platform supporting mobile multimedia collaborative services is described. To illustrate the development of mobile multimedia collaborative service, an example is given.
Organizations constantly search for innovative applications and services to improve their business processes and to enrich the collaborative work environments of their distributed and mobile knowledge workers. It is increasingly becoming apparent that a limiting factor in the support of more flexible work practices offered by systems today lies in their inherent assumptions about (a) technical infrastructures in place (hardware, software, and communication networks), and (b) about interaction patterns of the users involved in the processes.
Emerging new ways of flexible and mobile teamwork on one hand and dynamic and highly agile (virtual business) communities on the other hand require new technical as well as organizational support, which current technologies and infrastructures do not cater for sufficiently.
Pervasiveness of collaboration services is an important means in such a context, to support new business models and encourage new ways of working. A service is a set of related functions that can be programmatically invoked from the Internet. Recent developments show a strong move towards increasingly mobile nimble and virtual project teams. Whereas traditional organizational structures relied on teams of collaborators dedicated to a specific project for a long period (Classic Teams, see Figure 1), many organizations increasingly rely on nimble teams, formed from members of possibly different branches or companies, assigned to perform short-lived tasks in an ad-hoc manner (sometimes called ad hoc teams). For team members, tasks may be small parts of their overall work activities. Such nimble collaboration styles change many of the traditional assumptions about teamwork: collaborators do not report to the same manager, they do not reside in the same location, and they do not work during the same time. As a consequence, the emerging new styles of distributed and mobile collaboration often across organizational boundaries are fostering new interaction patterns of working. Interaction patterns consist of information related to synchronous and asynchronous communication on the one hand and the coordination aspects on the other hand. So far, we have identified the following (not orthogonal) team forms:
Emerging forms of mobile teams
Key Terms in this Chapter
Personalisation: The adaptation of services to fit the needs and preferences of a user or a group of users.
Web Service: A self-contained, modular application that can be described, published, located and invoked over a network (IBM, 2001 AU9: The in-text citation "IBM, 2001" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).
Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA): In SOA, applications are built on basic components called services. A service in SOA is an exposed piece of functionality with three properties: (1) The interface contract to the service is platform-independent. (2) The service can be dynamically located and invoked. (3) The service is self-contained. That is, the service maintains its own state ( Hashimi, 2003 ).
Collaborative Service: A collaborative service is a service that supports cooperative work among people by providing shared access to common resources.
Mobile Service: A mobile service is a service that is accessible at any time and place.
IP Telephony: Realisation of phone calls over the Internet infrastructure, using the Internet protocol (IP) on the network layer, where the most common protocols include H.323 and session initiation protocol (SIP).
Service: A service is an abstract resource that represents a capability of performing tasks that form a coherent functionality from the point of view of provider entities and requester entities. To be used, a service must be realized by a concrete provider agent.
Groupware System: A groupware system is software realising one or several collaborative services.