Tag Archives: IBM

Social Media Case Study Updates

Some great new case studies added to the Social Media Case Study: The Hot List:

Kraft iFood assistant on the iPhone – one of the top 100 apps and consumers pay 99c for it…

Novartis – video compo on YouTube (Blog Council, not much info at present)

Dell, Monsanto, iContact, Sabre 4 very different approaches to internal comms and technology.

IBM – Corporate Culture and Social Media – why the culture is so important for success

Must look at how to organise these better!

Forrester: Instant Messaging and Virtual Worlds

A recent report from Forrester on Virtual Worlds asks  “Will Unified Communications Make Virtual Worlds Relevant To Business?” and provides a hedged answer of ‘Yes, But It Won’t Be Overnight‘. The backdrop to the report is a joint venture between IBM and Forterra Systems called Babel Bridge. Babel Bridge joins IBM’s unified communications in the form of their instant messager SameTime with Forterra’s 3D immersive world, OLIVE. Here’s how Forterra describe it:

The integrated solution from IBM and Forterra takes group collaboration productivity to a new level, incorporating not only voice, video, and media, but it adds the important element of a sense of presence and digital identity. (source)

Forrester examine this new solution by comparing it to the current status of 3D worlds and point to 3 key headaches for wider adoption:

  • There are few use cases that appeal to business.
  • The experience lacks key elements to make it immersive.
  • The technology is new and prone to failure.

They then argue that only with a ‘collision’ between the Virtual World and Unified Communications will these be overcome. 3DUC will offer:

  • A collaboration hub for the enterprise.
  • An environment for spontaneous collaboration.
  • A stable platform that conforms to IT department guidelines.
  • A “personal touch” to meetings between disparate groups.

For Forterra this delivers the holy grail of internal comms:

This integration builds stronger relationships, creates more engaging, memorable experiences, and enables faster problem solving and decision making, all while eliminating the need to travel.

Wow! But on whether it will do this though,  I’m not convinced. My reasons are this, why do it in 3D? I can see a fun element of the virtual world and creating a 3D workspace, but what is really gained here, what are the real and demonstrable business benefits beyond the novelty factor of pushing an avatar round a 3D world? The only area I’ve seen it work in well is virtual worlds surrounding conference and exhibitions where it achieves for the short while the event runs quite a satisfying level of customer engagement.

In a past life I watched a lot of European Union money ploughed into virtual world working environments (I even recall 3D tractor factories in the late 1990’s), but I could never see the point. It always struck me, and this was my actual experience too, that is was much harder work to traverse an avatar across a virtual than to click for a file or folder in good old 2D. And more to the point, all of Forrester’s points above can be achieved in ‘flat’ worlds such as Cisco WebEx Connect or Microsoft’s SharePoint. If one is having to do this everyday, then quick and easy, point and click, will always beat the extra work of moving an avatar about.

No doubt the technology will move forward, but while Forrester are excited by the possibility of full UC integration with 3D, they do urge caution and point out it’s not quite there yet. A key factor appears to be ‘immersion’, which makes me further wonder what full immersion might be like. Images of Total Recall come to mind and the P K Dick short story the film was taken from, We Can Remember it for you Wholesale. If it gets that immersive then one might ask, how will we know if we’re in the environment or not?

IBM's virtual desktop, minus Microsoft: will it float?

Following on from my musings yesterday on Forrester’s report on 2.0, it’s noteworthy that today sees a Wall Street Journal article that IBM have announced a whole new virtual desktop, which being  Linux+Notes, means no Microsoft products. Using a Microsoft free, Virtual Linux (et al) Desktop CNET notes, means cost savings of 50% – up to $800 per user. Their only qualm is that data will be stored centrally online, which strikes me as a bit of a red herring as I can’t see any serious corporate storing data without central back-ups.

What struck me here was the fact that this system means the Techs in central can also deploy collaboration software to their users. This package is a mix of Red Hat and Notes Domino and acording to IBM this brings a big plus:

Using Red Hat to host the Notes Domino platform provides the stability of Red Hat using a very strong collaboration suite that should meet any company’s needs. The suite can provide email, team rooms, document storage and very much more. Starting with version 8 it comes with Symphony, a free office suite built by IBM using the OpenOffice core code. 

Will it float? I think this depends on the richnness of the delivery. Central IT and Finance may see benefits in terms of cash and robustness, but can it deliver the sort of 2.0 experience that an increasingly social-media savvy employee base expects? Going on the last time I played with Domino, the answer would seem ‘No’, but that was one hell of a long time ago…