Engage is Over: Powering Up 3DTLC

OK,

The embargo on my blog posting is finally over ; ). I had not updated my blog since I announced that I would be MC for the upcoming 3D Training Learning and Collaboration (3DTLC) conference in Washington DC. There is good reason. For the past two months I have had the unique opportunity to speak with over 100 pioneers who are working to solve today’s pressing enterprise issues with the thoughtful application of emerging 3D technologies.

This exploratory journey has opened my eyes to the significant potential that 3D technologies offer to enterprises that need to reinvent themselves at a time where the world is flattening, connectivity is increasing, economic markets are contracting and the need for change is pressing.

I have thought long and hard about how to best distill and communicate the stories I have heard over the past eight weeks and today this inquiry has resolved itself into ten simple but important words: Explain, Leverage, Teach, Learn, Design, Explore, Improve, Connect, Extend and Convince.

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We will hear from over 40 speakers from a wider range of industries sharing their insights in the following sessions:

Day 1: Explain, Leverage, Teach, Learn, Design

    We will begin the conference with a panel of thought leaders who will EXPLAIN the trends driving enterprise adoption and application of 3D technologies.

    Then we will hear how BP has chosen to LEVERAGE Virtual Worlds as its enterprise game changing technology for 2009

    Next we will engage a panel of pioneering educators on how they are using 3D technologies to effectively and efficiently TEACH their courses.

    Then we will discuss how 3D technologies can help people LEARN complex concepts and procedures in a more effective, immersive and engaging way.

    Finally we will convene a group of experts to share the do’s and don’ts of the DESIGN of 3D Training and Learning environments.

Day 2: Explore, Improve, Connect, Extend, Convince

    We will begin day 2 with the Virtual World Roadmap team to EXPLORE the enterprise applications they see emerging over the next two years and the technology that will be required to enable them.

    Then we will hear how enterprise leaders are applying 3D technologies to IMPROVE the effectiveness and efficiency of their internal training, learning and collaboration processes.

    Next we will engage with a panel of pioneers on how they are using 3D technologies better CONNECT employees and stakeholders via virtual events, virtual team-rooms and building communities.

    Then we will engage with a panel of enterprise leaders who are applying 3D technologies to EXTEND the range and reach or their enterprises.

    Finally we will convene a group of internal enterprise champions to share their top-ten insights on how to CONVINCE the powers that be to adopt and apply 3D within the enterprise.

These 10 sessions come together into a program that – I hope – covers the watershed of what emerging 3D pioneers need to understand in order take swift transformative action within their own enterprises.

After reviewing this program overview, it is my sincere hope that it strikes a chord within you and compels you to join us in Washington.

In the spirit of collaborative co-creation please do not hesitate to reach out to me to let me know if there is a glaring gap in the program that you would like to see addressed of if speaker you believe absolutely needs to be on the program in one of these areas.

I look forward to hearing from you and even more to meeting you in person in DC.
Wishing you all the best in making 3D a reality within your enterprise!

Each day next week I will post how each session breaks down in terms of participants and the questions we will be delving into. So please come back and be sure to share your insights.

SEE YOU IN DC!

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Enterprise Virtual Worlds Get REAL (Really ; )

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It is very rare to get in on the ground-floor of an emerging industry. It is also somewhat frustrating to be in the thick of it for a few years writhing with impatience for the market to or the technology catch up. The dance between market and technology readiness stair steps its way through predictable peaks of inflated expectations and troughs of disillusionment on one side and eras of ferment followed by dominant design on the other.

My intuition tells me that 2009 is the year that the planets align for Virtual World Enterprise applications to head up the proverbial hockey stick. For years now I have been hearing Virtual World vendors complain that they do not have a legitimate home. At the Serious Games conferences they are marginalized my the more jazzy games. At Training Conferences they are pushed out of the limelight by Instructional Design Approaches and LMS vendors, and, until NOW, at the Virtual Worlds conferences it felt like Entertainment and Media was sucking up the bulk the oxygen. NOT ANYMORE ; )

On the client side (people who are hungry to implement Virtual World Technologies within their enterprises) I have heard an ongoing plea for TANGIBLE EXAMPLES of how Virtual World solutions have solved REAL Business Problems and delivered REAL Business Results.

ANNOUNCING THE FIRST DEDICATED ENTERPRISE VIRTUAL WORLD SHOW
Today I am pleased to announce that Chris Sherman has asked me to develop the program and MC the first Virtual World show dedicated specifically to the Enterprise.

I am incredibly excited about the opportunity we have here. I am hoping, like the inaugural VW show in NY, that this will be THE event that creates a critical mass of innovation and collaboration that finally catalyzes the widespread adoption of Virtual World technologies within the enterprise.

FROM EXPLORING THE POTENTIAL TO EXAMPLES OF THE PRACTICAL
Chris, Tonda and I have had a number of conversations about the positioning and tone of this show. At this conference, we are clearly seeking to move beyond discussing the potential of Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise and instead to be focused on sharing PRACTICAL EXAMPLES from early adopters in industry that have already applied Virtual Worlds successfully.

Gibson’s (or is it Brand’s) old saw that “The Future is Already Here, It is Just not Evenly Distributed” is quite appropriate. My goal over the next six weeks is to search high and low and in an out (it is 3D after all) for the most compelling examples of Enterprise Virtual World applications that will help build an evidence base to substantiate our hypotheses that Virtual Worlds will reshape industry and value chains in ways at least as profound as its one-dimensional cousin. We want to even out the distribution by bringing the best examples of virtual world enterprise applications so we can accelerate the path to the future.

Some Acid Test Questions for Vetting these Exemplary Stories Are:

    What was the business issue or opportunity you were faced with?
    What was your virtual world solution and how did it address that problem?
    Why was this virtual world solution chosen over other options? What differentiated it?
    How did you get sponsorship and funding to implement this virtual world solution?
    What virtual world platform did you choose to implement your solution?
    What were the key attributes of that platform that led to its selection?
    What were your biggest barriers to implementing the solution?
    How did you evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the solution?
    What results have you been able to demonstrate to date to legitimate the investment in the Virtual World Solution?
    What advice would you have for others considering implementing a virtual world solution within the enterprise?

A LITTLE TLC
In many ways the pattern of diffusion of 3Di has followed a similar path to Web 1.0. In the early days of the browser there was a lot of emphasis on B2C, then over time, and the collapse of irrational exhuberance of the dot.com era, companies retrenched and started leveraging browser technologies behind the firewall. Sound familiar?

Right now, after speaking with a number of folks close to the industry the wisdom of the crowd says that Virtual World technologies are most likely to be applied within the enterprise for Training, Learning and Collaboration. Consequently, our primary focus will be on these big three for the April show.

HELP
The success of this show hinges upon how compelling a case we can make that the time for Virtual Worlds TLC application for the enterprise is NOW via the power of example. So if you know of a wonderful TLC enterprise application, please submit to the call, or contact me directly.

Lets all work together to make this show the best it possibly can be.

The i-web Singularity Redux

Virtual Worlds III is in full swing up in New York and around the blogosphere. The big news is that IBM announces a development deal with Second Life to bring their platform to the enterprise. This is yet one more piece of the puzzle that falls into place for a vision for what I am calling the i-web singularity: A technological black hole at the apex of four technological vectors that is moving forward at an exponential pace and integrating across vectors at the same time.

I have noodled on this topic before, but this time I think the focus is getting sharper.

Vector 1: Flatland 2D Learning applications integrate with Knowledge sharing repositories. The outcome here is that truly NETWORKed Virtual Spaces emerge. These spaces will integrate Synchronous Sharing with Asynchronous Storage so there is finally a one stop shop for storage and sharing of content. Since MS owns Sharepoint and Live Meeting they could create a slam dunk in this arena. Cisco bought Webex for 3.2Billion dollars (Austin Powers comes to mind) recently so they must be looking for some kind of value-added play here too and I know that know that my students would love nothing more than more jumping back and between Illuminante to Vista (Blackboard) and Yahoo Groups to get their work done.

Vector 2: Web 2.0 meets Knoweldge Sharing Spaces. I won’t go over well trodden ground on how Blogs, Wikis and Social Media sites like Facebook and Myspace are revolutionizing real-time interactive KM concepts. However, the true transformation lever in the Web 2.0 revolution for me is is the one least discussed: Tagging/Folksonomy. Pretty much everyting created and stored in the Web 2.0 domain (people,profiles and content) is TAGGED. This means that contextually relevant knoweldeg through people or content is much more easily or even serendipitously encountered. More tagging means more knowledge accidents of both the people-to-people and people-to-information kind. In the attention economy, information is the currency, people are the transport mechanism and conversation is the transfer mechanism. The mash-up between real-time tagging and NETWORKed Virtual spaces will jack up knowledge accidents and drive the immediacy of access to key information and interaction with key people around a given task or activity. In this emerging virtually afforded, contextually relevant matchmaking world, knowledge discovery and expert encounters becomes like air, it just happens and people don’t give it a second thought.

Vector 3: The 212 degree point for for both Trend 1 and 2 is when the web enters the next dimension, literally. With the infusion of 3Di technology, it is only a matter of time before 3D Social Networking taking off. The 3Di space is a different kind of cottage industry. It is the first one I have encountered that is run on blogs. The time between idea and actualization is tending towards zero. Case in point, at Virtual Worlds II in Christian Renaud’s Keynote introduction Ruben Steiger predicted that one of the key Social Networking sites (Facebook or Myspace) would go 3D in 2008. Later that SAME AFTERNOON the Active Worlds booth was demoing a 3D Facebook page mash-up that someone had sent them. When you think about it it just plain makes sense. Look at MySpace. They will truly become MySPACE (and not MyPAGE as it is today) and actualize their brand promise by integrating 3D technology. It is just too obvious an outcome for it not to happen. This social movement will, in turn – like its more stripped down relative instant messaging – will then force corporate CIOs to develop enterprise grade 3D Facebook/Myspace mash-ups for their for corporate citizens. Forterra is already playing with integrating sametime into their platform and Proton Media already has enterprise grade 3D Myspace built into its archtecture. So from both the consumer, enterprise and vendor side of the equation we are seeing convergence here.

Vector 4: Last , but by no means least we see how Synchronous 2D learning platforms will enter the third dimension. As is the case with social media, it just plain makes sense that flatland distance learning systems like Webex, Adobe, Citrix and Illuminate will be pulled into the 3D realm, particularly given the activity in the other four vectors. Karl Kapp and I have written extensively on this and I have a summary of our notion of learning applicaitons escaping flatland here.

These four vectors are on a collision to creat the i-web: Immersive, Interactive, Immediate and Intuitive. When this world-wide, three-dimensional, avatar-mediated Cognosphere emerges we will truly reach a singularity: a point where technological progress reaches infinity as it relates to leveraging and enabling human capital.

The i-web will become a worldwide virtual platform that allows people to exercise their skills and abilities passion around endeavors that matter most to them (and get paid for it too). The i-web will be like e-bay for trading work rather than second-hand products. No one will work for the i-web. Instead the i-web will work for them. Providing i-web dwellers the opportunity to find both work and people to work with on endeavors that they share a passion around. e-Bay allowed people to sell their personal items in a world-wide yard sale, the i-web will allow people to sell their personal skills and abilities in much the same way.

Free agent nation – nay virtual planet – here we come! If you think the i-phone was cool, wait until the i-web consumes us (or our avatars).

Here is the 2minute 30 second romp through the model on YouTube:

Virtual World and Game Change Update

I have been out on vacation then down with some crazy bug and on top of that my notes has been crashed for two days. Choosing to be off-grid for vacation was fun. Not being able to be on-grid to deal with the deluge of mail due to me being off-grid is not.

e-mail truly is a killer app. It is killing the CIO because as technology gets wiz-bangier folks love to send around flash and ppts that weigh the digital equivalent of a ton and the digital highways that the CIO must fund are stressed to the max from all the heavy traffic. More importantly, e-mail is a killer applicaiton because it is killing us humans. OK, maybe not killing us, but certainly dramatically reducing our ability to focus for any reasonable length of time. e-mail is probably the biggest contributor to the fact the most of us have been reduced to having the attention span of a nat, or a ferrett on two cappucinos.

Anyway, on to other things. Virtual Worlds Day II was great. It focused more on the meat and potatoes side of the potential for this technology. Joe Miller of Second Life was kind enough to use one of my charts to describe the evolution of the web:

A lot of folks seemed to resonate with this chart although as I mentioned in an earlier post, many well known thinkers in this field like Henry Jenkins warn against continuum charts like this. You can read more about this from my previous post on entrepreneurial capitalism here. BTW, I got a nice surprise while on vacation….A note from none other than Joe Pine of “Experience Economy” fame where he said “I recently caught up with your post on Second Life and the Experience Economy — and, yes, the former is absolutely a platform for the latter! A platform I’m increasingly enamored with for its potential. I actually think it not just a platform but a new medium for experiences.”

OK, back to task – I did mention I have ADD Right?

Upon reflection of the two days at VW, I am seeing a similar meme to what happened in Web 1.0. Back then, the SIZZLE was all about Business to Consumer (B2C) which focused on Marketing/Branding/Advertising. Remeber the Sock Puppet from Pets.com and a ton of other similar ploys to establish presence and leverage brands with little or no back-end to crazy valuations? The STEAK was in the Business to Employee (B2E) space where companies leveraged the differentiating capabilities of this technology to enable self-service for employees allowing better access and usage to information and services by employees at dramatically lower costs. Finally the SPECIAL SAUCE for Web 1.0 (and the place where the biggest bucks were made) was in the Business to Business (B2B) space.

My colleague at IBM, Peter Finn came up with the terms Intraverse and Interverse to bring a 3D flavor to the 2D concepts of intranets and internets. Metaverse is reserved for Neal Stepenson. BTW Ruben Steiger of Millions of Us had a very funny story of how he met Neal and told him that they had created the Metaverse with SecondLife…Neal’s response…”cool.” That was it, nothing more.

Coming out of the VW conference, I think that MTV is bringing a lot of Sizzle to the B2C space. That being said, it is intersting to note that they are building their Laguna Beach, The Hills and Pimp My Ride destinations on the There Platfrorm and working with Game Designers to get the production/addiction quality where they want it to be and to have more control over the worlds. In a way, Secondlife is the ultimate B2C play as the consumer is the producer (or prosumer as Tapscott would like to say). Joe Miller reckons that residents contribute over a billion dollars worth of content creation a year to SL as things stand today. That is prosumption at its wildest!

On the Business to Employee side, players like Forterra and Proton Media provide industrial grade 3D worlds built to reside behind a company’s firewall and integrate with other enterprise apps which is a core requirment to deliver value in the B2E space. Finally, Multiverse’s notion of universal browser that allows folks who use their platform to connect worlds through that browser gives us the first notion of the Interverse and is well worth keeping track of.

So when it comest to 3Di there is Sizzle, there is Steak and there is Special Sauce. We need the sizzle to create the interest, we need the steak to show how real business to employee applications can be achieved via the application of 3D technology and we will ultimately (3-4 years out according to most panelists at VW) get the special sauce that allows all of this to connect in a seamless way.

Don’t know about you all, but I got my Fork and my Steak Knife and I am ready to chow down on the 3D future!

Virtual Worlds 2007 Data Dump from Day 1

WOW. All I can say, is that the last two days at this conference really opened my eyes to the possibilities for virtual worlds. I leave even MORE convinced of the potential for virtual worlds to change the real-world and being committed to finding a way to dedicating all my energy to contributing to making it happen.

Mark Wallace over at 3pointD is the most prolific blogger in this space. You can essentially see transcripts of all the panels there I gotta learn to type faster…I wonder if he has some kinda voice to text cos he does a masterful job.

Since it is now 1AM and I am going into the Game Change conference in Toronto tomorrow I can only do a data dump list for now. I will double-loop all this when I get some time on the plane tomorrow. But wanted to get raw ah-has out there tonight before I lost them.

Go to Mark’s page for more details, but here is what I had highlited as left-hand-column instances of brilliance in my experience of the conference:

Philip Rosedale Keynote:

    Second life is a playful place to make neat things.

    The thing that is cool about Second Life is not that it is 3D it is that it has other people in it and you can interact with them.

    When you go to Amazon to buy a book there are hundreds or even thousands of folks on that same page but you never know that. Virtual worlds are technology mediated experiences that include us in it!

MTV/Nickelodian KEYNOTE(Media Meets Virtual Worlds)

    The true potential is when linear content (i.e. programs on TV) meets user generated content. When watching TV becomes living TV.

    When individual and independent avatars can influence the story arcs for linear programming, audience consumption and engagement goes up.

    Our (Laguna Beach) audience lives in a world that is parallel to what they see on air, only they are the stars and they create their own experience.

    Media does not replace Media.

    In the new world of media it is about participation, personalization and customization. We have to move from passive consumtion to active engagement.

    In this new world the AUDIENCE IS THE CONTENT.

    We need to make the GLIDE PATH into vitual worlds a lot less onerous to increase adoption.

    NEOPETS: 11 Million monthly users, 150 million game plays per month

    NICKTROPOLIS: 2.4 Million users, 1.3 million rooms created 7.5 million visits, 50 million game plays, 21 Million items exchanged.

    Don’t sit this one out, join us and help us make it so!

PLATFORMS AND TECHNOLOGIES PANEL:

    Corey Bridges of Multiverse talked about the idea of a universal metaverse browser. This is first incling of the notion of intraverses where I can go from verse to verse (meta or intra). Their business model on the B2C side is cool…software is free and we take 10% of what you sell after that, but enterprise clients wanting to do B2E stuff will need another model to engage.

    Trilogy got in with There to do the Laguna Beach stuff. That is showing how the gaming capabilities of flow/addiction and slick visual rendering and some captivating elements of rendering are bleeding into the free for all UGC end of the spectrum that we find in SL.

    Entropia continues to be of interest with its hard wired real-economy dollars (PEDs). They are up to 600K users and the currency throughput has gone up from $150M to $360M in a year. John Bates brought up the notion of involvement marketing by showing a Video that an Entropia fan put together. There is more and more of this. Kinda like the meme of residents building stuff in world for Second Life tallies up to about $1.2B per year, here we have folks building commericals for the prodcut because they enjoy the experience so much and want others to grok it. Could not find the exaple John used, but there were plenty to choose from on You Tube. Here is one to give you a taste:

    Another issue the panel brought up was the notion of taxation and or regulation to stop laundering. Most panelists think that it is just a matter of time until government swoops down and slams VWs with taxation on casinos/gambling in VWs.

    One of the big dualities emerged in this panel and the meme propogated throughout the conference: User Generated Content on a fully open platform (SL) versus a heavily locked down platform where players are bound by narrative and rules and have little or creative liscence within world (WOW). This was further broked down into two types of platform: Blank Canvas (With No Vetting or Some Vetting) and Themed Worlds (with various graditions of allowing for UGC).

All in all I was blown away by what MTV is doing with their themed worlds. They are taking the aggregation of “couch potatos” and trying to turn them into “mouse potatos.” They went with There.com as a platform, but also leveraged Trilogy (game design folks) to make the world more nuanced and aligned with sensibilities of the demographic. The are now building highways between the themed worlds (Hills, Laguna and new Van Nuys build for Pimp My Ride).

Oh, by the way, 4 years from now the millions and millions of kids who have been living, learning, working and playing in this way will be walking thorough the hallowed halls of corporate America. What will we have that is as engaging and sticky as what MTV is doing to keep them passionate and engaged in endeavors that bring value to business and society? Time to get a move on folks!

Almost 2 AM gotta go to bed. I will do a dump on Day 2 tomorrow. My favorite was Future Panel and the Motorati story. But for now some shuteye. Carbon life forms need to recharge too you know ; )

Over and out from Toronto.