Archive for the ‘This Changes Everything’ Category
|IBM employees in Second Life at a break-out session after a keynote address.
I’m not sure if this post is about SecondLife, Innovation, Co-Creation or all of the above. Read on and you can decide. This past Summer, IBM conducted the latest in it’s series of “Innovation Jams“. The “Jam”was conducted online over the course of 72 hours. During that time, every IBM employee was invited to join in a candid, broad-ranging exploration of enterprise-wide issues, challenges and opportunities. IBMers were asked to post ideas on specific issues and topics, build upon the ideas of others and rate the ideas that had the greatest potential to transform their company. Everyone — from the CEO to a college intern fresh off campus — had a say in the matter, and this time, they invited customers to participate.
IBM pledged to invest $100 million on the best ideas to come out of the Jam. One of the four markets explored was called “Going Places” and it focused on topics such as travel, transportation, and virtual experiences. I participated in the discussion and being fascinated with Secondlife, I spent most of my time in this area of the forum. The discussion around virtual worlds and SecondLife in particular was enthusiastic and there were apparently enough good ideas to convince IBM to put 10% of the kitty into developing a presence in SecondLife.
Reuters has a story up about IBM’s continued push into Second Life and other virtual worlds: IBM accelerates push into 3D virtual worlds
IBM has embraced Second Life to an extent unmatched by any other major company — it has more than 230 employees spending time in-world, and it owns some half-dozen islands. Some are open to the public, but most are private, with restricted access for the public. In the Reuters article, Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Palmisano (photo & Second Life avatar to the right) talks about these efforts:
“Big Blue has already established the biggest Second Life presence of any Fortune 500 company. It is also looking to build a 3D intranet where its clients will be able to discuss sensitive business information.”
According to the article, he will be meeting with “in-world” employees on one of IBM’s private Second Life islands on November 14th after a real world town hall meeting with 7,000 employees in China.
So far in Second Life, IBM has set up a simulation of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, using data that tracks the position of the ball to re-enact points several seconds after they happen. It has also held virtual events such as an IBM alumni reunion.
IBM has it’s very own “multiverse evangelists”. IBM created these visionary positions within the company to go out and preach the virtues of virtual worlds to their customers and to the world(s). These evangelists recently detailed IBM’s Second Life activities in another Reuter’s article: IBM eyes move into Second Life ‘v-business’
Seeing how they practically coined the word “e-commerce”, you have to think they are serious about this emerging v-business. Sam Palmisano is quoted in the article as saying,
“We always ask the question, ‘if you knew 20 years ago what you know about the Web today, what would you do differently?’” Sandy Kearney, IBM’s director of emerging 3-D Internet and virtual business, told Reuters in a Second Life interview.
“The Web took decades. This will likely take half that time.”
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Vice President, Technical Strategy and Innovation, IBM Corporation wrote about IBM’s efforts in virtual space in his blog with:
In his blog article, Irving Wladawsky-Berger writes,
“About two years ago, a study conducted by the IBM Academy of Technology concluded that technologies and capabilities from the gaming world would have a very strong impact on all aspects of IT, and made a number of recommendations for follow-on activities, which we have proceeded to implement.”
Irving goes into great detail in his blog about how IBM is entering virtual space, and what they are finding out about doing business in virtual space. It’s well worth the read!
The one thing that has always defined IBM is that they are pretty good at being the middleman, the broker between disparate systems. If you are an IT Director, and you have a mix of hardware and software systems, IBM can come in and help you to get it all working and talking together. There’s a very revealing quote in the latest Reuters article on 3D virtual worlds, and I truly think this exposes the (virtual) space where IBM wants to dominate:
“A spokesman for IBM said its goals go far beyond Second Life, although it currently has its largest virtual world presence there, and that the company eventually wants to see all multiverses integrated into a seamless whole.”
That seems to be the core strategy with IBM and v-business, to be the glue for all of the virtual worlds that may emerge. We will never have a single all encompassing virtual world controlled by a single corporation, it’s just not going to happen, and it’s never happened in the past with any other technology. Do you think that maybe a few IBM employees have a copy of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash on their office bookshelves. Can you say “Metaverse”? Hardware is dead; look at the sell off of IBM’s flagship ThinkPad division to China. This is the future direction for IBM, and an extension of what they already do very well.
Irving closes out his blog entry with this observation:
“So, here we are in 2006, once more facing a set of fledgling technologies and capabilities — massively multiplayer online games and virtual worlds – that are already being used by many millions out there. Once more we have the very strong feeling that this will have a huge impact on business, society and our personal lives, although none of us can quite predict what that impact will be. It will be fascinating to see where this ride takes us in the future.”
Credit where credit is due: Parts of this post were taken from a fellow WordPress blogger here: http://pacificrimx.wordpress.com/2006/11/11/ibm-cool/
While most of the tech bloggers were going gaga last week over Apple’s announcement of new iPod devices and wondering when the iPhone is going to debut, a few guys with much more insight than me were writing about the real stories behind the “iTV” headline.
I highly recommend both of these outstanding posts.
Carl Howe over at Blackfriars’ Marketing writes a great commentary predicting Apple’s entry in the flat panel TV market. Lots of big boxers like Home Depot and Office Depot are announcing their entry into this rapidly growing market, following robust profit reports from Circuit City and Best Buy. While the success of these Johnnies-come-lately is dubious, Howe makes a great case for Apple’s winning in the TV business.
Apple has design icon Jonathan Ive (among many other great designers), one of the best and most powerful brands in the world, incredible differentiation, and is repeatedly ranked number one for product support. It has a chain of 161 stores that generate 67% of the revenue of Best Buy with 10% of the floor space. And most importantly, Apple sells experiences, not low-priced hardware. They’ll offer two or three choices to avoid the tyranny of too much — and amaze everyone again by making more profits on fewer products.
- Leverages 4 key competencies (customer inertia , the power of “the culture to influence”, large software development capability, & technical leadership),
- Will lead to success, and
- Will simultaneously confuses competitors and the analysts.
The result, Martellaro predicts, is that Apple has a strong chance of owning the game in home video entertainment.
Today, the home entertainment industry is confusing. Customers muddle through. Some dare to ask questions; some just plug it all in and hope things work. Issues linger: Is my 1080i HDTV already obsolete? What is HDCP, HDMI, de-interlacing, scaling, 802.11n? Should I go with cable or satellite? Will Blu-ray finally win? No one company has stood up, with courage, and said: “We have a vision. This is how to do it. Follow us.”
Now, Apple is starting to provide that leadership in home theater. They’re defining an architecture, putting the product pieces into place, and developing leading edge products.
But most importantly, Apple is inserting this orchestrated scheme of pre-planned and well defined technology into a massive technology consumption machine fueled by the consensus thinking on the Internet. If it sucks, it’s history. If it’s cool, it’ll be embraced, and any company that tries to force the issue against this massive thinking machine will fail.
The platform dubbed “iTV” will be revolutionary. Apple has demonstrated the ability to bring simplicity to complicated things and they appear to be poised to do it again for home theater. What’s more, iTV will bring video iChat and the internet to the living room. When they introduce a flat panel display, you can bet it will have an “iSight” camera built into the top bezel just as their computers do now. iChat, along with inevitable higher bandwidth connections could revolutionize home-based communications and the “internet from the sofa” will certainly bring increased impulse buying online, including of course, movies and more from Apple’s iTunes store.
Phillips has always been an innovator in lighting and displays. Now they bring that innovative approach to the lowly T-shirt with their Lumalive light emiting textiles. Phillips is currently targeting promotional companies, “looking for new, high-impact media.” Hopefully, the technology will remain costly enough to keep it out of the mainstream novelty T-shirt channel as the visual noise could be overwhelming.
While the textile innovation is interesting, I think the bigger story is that Phillips has discovered YouTube as a great medium for sharing their innovation work. I had heard about this technology, but it wasn’t until I saw the video that I had an appreciation for what it could do. Have half a million people opted in to learn about your company’s innovations?
Here’s the link to the YouTube LumaLive video.
Here’s a link to more Phillips YouTube demonstrations.
The BBC is reporting that Universal Music, the world’s largest music company, has agreed to back a new venture that will allow consumers to download songs for free and instead rely on advertising for its revenues.
Available from a new music site called SpiralFrog, the deal will allow users in the USA and Canada to listen to Universal’s music, which Reuters’ news site reveals is paid for by targeted advertising, but no details of possible community or playlist sharing features of the SpiralFrog service.
The clueless, digital music business has been going through lots of growing pains over the last few years, but in the end, moving from closed, proprietery models, controlled by the supplier, to a free and open system where the consumer is in control is inevitable. As with virtually everthing these days, the power has shifted to the consumer. Digital piracy continues to flourish, despite high profile prosecutions from the RIAA, and the Russian music site AllofMP3.com continues to operate providing anything you want, DRM-free, at a fraction of iTunes costs.
As Ryan Block over at Engadget said in his blog,
“It’s a step in the right direction, but what do you think the odds are that Universal is still going to require DRM even on free downloads? Now, DRM-free costless downloads with ads, that’s fine, but when is someone just going to offer what we really want: straight up DRM-free media downloads? We’re willing to freaking pay for it, you know? And we’re sure a lot of other people out there are willing to, as well.”
The iTunes model was a great innovation, bringing simplicity and legitimacy to the digital music business; however, the restrictions it imposes are not what the customer wants and, in the end, the customer always wins!
Just saw this story on Engadget, that says Sony, Matsushita, Sharp, Toshiba, and Hitachi have joined forces to create a standard for Internet-connected televisions. The alliance has come together under the TV Portal Service Corp banner which is apparently as stealth organization. Sony and Matsushita look to be the major players in the new consortium, with a 35% share each. Engadget says that the Internet TVs will be Linux-based and will be operated just with a remote control instead of a keyboard. Despite the lack of details, it appears that things are progressing pretty quickly, with the first Internet TVs expected to go on sale as early as next year, and with sales projected to reach 10 to 20 million units by the year 2011. All of this is in Japan only, of course — hope you didn’t get your hopes up too much….
Sprint Nextel Corp will use WiMax technology to build a broadband wireless network in the United States. Sprint will work with Motorola and Samsung according to the announcement (webcast and news release), as well as with chipmaker Intel. The network will be built from 2007 to 2009.
At Monday’s press conference, Sprint said it will invest $1 billion in 2007 and $1.5-$2 billion, in 2008 (not including investments by its partners). The Sprint Nextel 4G mobility network will use the company’s extensive 2.5GHz spectrum holdings, which cover 85 percent of the households in the top 100 U.S. markets.
Implementation of this network will introduce some significant competition markets that are currently dominated by Cable (ISP, Video). Look’s like cable’s free ride may be over.
Many more details on this story at dailywireless.org
Not only is innovation a hot topic, it is a survival requirement for most 21st century companies. Traditionally, companies have innovated by sending out market researchers to discover “unmet needs” among their customers. These researchers report back. The company decides which ideas to develop and hands them over to project-development teams. Studies suggest that about three-quarters of such projects fail. The company I work for is employing this approach in its innovation efforts.
I stumbled upon this outstanding article from the Economist (March, 2006) which presents several cases where companies have taken a new approach to innovation. Instead of taking the temperature of a representative sample of customers and designing projects around those insights, these firms invite their customers to participate directly in the innovation process.
Eric Von Hippel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is about to publish a book, “Democratising Innovation” (MIT Press) says, “Such innovation has a “much higher rate of success”.
This seems like a natural progression to me, given the rise of the “Generation C” and “Customer Made” trends. Businesses are starting to realize that their customers are ready and willing to help them design a better product/service/experience and they are willing to do it for free. All we have to do is ask them.
The Economist article is here.