Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Innovation Through Collaboration in the Manufacturing & Life Sciences Industries


Over at onwindows.com, author Sean Dudley re-posted an article earlier this week on how Microsoft and its partners are helping companies improve real time enterprise collaboration in an effort to boost innovation.

He quotes the August issue of Prime magazine, where Egbert Schröer, worldwide managing director of process manufacturing and resources at Microsoft, talks about how "collaboration can be used as part of the innovation process within companies." Schröer goes on to talk about examples of social computing and how companies are continuing to invest in new collaboration technologies to help advance their workforce and find new ways of harnessing the best and brightest ideas.

The article also mentions the role that virtual worlds are playing, with the example given by Andrea McGonigle, managing director of Life Sciences at Microsoft, on the work that we've done with PPD. In the article she comments, "I think virtual worlds will continue to make collaboration advances and really enhance the experience at another level. These spaces will be powered by the cloud that will allow people to access them anywhere, anytime, and scale up and down quickly."

You can head over to onwindows.com to read the full article and download the rest of the August issue.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sneak Peek at the New Look of ProtoSphere - Part 2


In this second video of our ongoing series of sneak peeks at the next version of ProtoSphere, I wanted to show the ability to import custom 3D art assets into the virtual environment. The new game engine, combined with the platform's real time abilities to see and experience content together, is going to make it very easy for customers to bring in their own 3D content into ProtoSphere. While looking over the shoulder of Jim Seaver, our Art Director, we see him demonstrating that process with some medical devices...


Friday, August 22, 2014

User Adoption Strategies - Six Actions to Consider for a Successful ProtoSphere Rollout


Virtual collaboration tools have become commonplace within the the enterprise market and widespread adoption of these platforms are already in place. But 3D virtual worlds designed for business are still something that many customers have to create a compelling enough business case for, and even once that's done, there's still the question of how to implement a user adoption strategy.

We understand that it's not just enough to provide our customers with an innovative and immersive 3D user experience in ProtoSphere, but to make sure that we also give you the right tools to get your community of users in there and using it on a regular basis. Whether your sales trainers are going to be delivering content to learners, or your project managers are hosting their Six Sigma process improvement meetings, user adoption starts with early planning; identifying product champions, partnering with marketing/communications, making sure there is executive sponsorship - these are all aspects of a rock solid technology adoption strategy.

I've documented below an initial recommended approach for our customers looking to deploy ProtoSphere within their organization. Of course, these are just suggestions... but implementing even small portions of each of them can have a significant impact on the success of your rollout.

1. Secure Executive Sponsorship
Organizations with executives who actively communicate the value and benefit of ProtoSphere are more likely to be successful with their rollout. These individuals lead by example and provide a top-down incentive that lends credibility to your deployment effort. Deliberate outreach to leaders of various business units is one way of securing this type of sponsorship – consider giving them in-person demonstrations so that can see the value propositions first-hand.

2. Form a Deployment and Support Team
Overall success of a ProtoSphere deployment can be measured by the presence of a dedicated team of individuals.  These are people who can assist with project management, IT representation, help desk support, training delivery, and perhaps most importantly, marketing communications.

3. Outline Specific Success Criteria and Goals
Here you will focus on enabling users for certain tasks and defining a core set of specific business cases, such as conducting a training session, or facilitating a large event or meeting. Keeping your objectives simple and achievable will yield the best results and build confidence in the new technology. Success metrics should include factors such as user satisfaction, technology reliability, and speed of adoption.

4. Conduct a Pilot
Planned pilots can help provide new users with early access to ProtoSphere and serve to give a perspective on how people will actually use the technology. Pilots may also uncover potential use cases that were not originally considered or thought of. Successful pilots may also serve as the foundation for stories that 2nd wave adopters find value in.

5. Drive Awareness With an Internal Marketing Campaign 
One of the most important aspects of a successful ProtoSphere rollout is to create a marketing strategy that helps to inform and enlighten your audience. This may include any number and combination of techniques such as:

• Emailing out announcements of the availability of the technology
• Sharing exemplary stories
• Hosting Lunch & Learns
• Setting up a ProtoSphere intranet page with resources such as user guides, best practices, tips and tricks
• Developing video vignettes of real life scenarios

A good campaign will also employ the use of Product Champions – people who are already enthusiastic early adopters and have agreed to provide informal training and support to others in your organization. These people may be called upon to do quick demonstrations, participate in events and seminars, or provide video testimonials.

6. Implement a Training Program
The successful adoption of any technology weighs heavily on users’ ability to understand how to use it. Training can be delivered in any number of formats including user guides and help documents, how-to videos, and in-world sessions. Delivered learning content may sometimes be tailored to the individual and use case, but should always be followed up with actual use of the technology.

One method employed by some customers is to have all users attend a 30 minute briefing/training in-world before attendance at a scheduled activity.  This time can be used to sort out installation issues, provide basic skills and etiquette, and familiarize users with the experience (personalize  avatars, etc.).

Six actions to take for a successful user adoption


Monday, August 11, 2014

Five Ways to Increase Learner Engagement


One of the biggest hurdles we all have as trainers when delivering virtual instructor led training is how to keep our learners engaged. It's all too easy to be distracted by our in-boxes, phone calls, and IMs while on the receiving end of a training session when we're seated behind a laptop screen. As instructors, it's our responsibility not only to deliver content, but to make sure that knowledge is retained. And what better way to increase knowledge retention than to increase engagement levels...

Here are 5 things you can try in your next training session to help your learners become more engaged.

Ask your learners for a summation

Did you just spend the past 15 minutes discussing a particular topic? Instead of you summarizing that topic before moving on, ask if someone from the audience can summarize it for you. In some ways this can facilitate peer teaching and can be even more impactful in longer training engagements where you've just come back from a break... Ask an individual to summarize or recap what was discussed before the break.

Survey your audience with an actionable response

Using the tools that are available to you in the platform you're delivering the training in, pause for a moment and ask for feedback: 'Raise your hand if you agree with me that...' or 'Type Yes into the messaging area if you have encountered this in the past...' or 'Click the green response button if you think such and such'.

Keep people on their toes and randomly ask for feedback

Are you asking a question or trying to get some input from the class? Instead of generally asking your audience, ask someone specifically. Most all of the learning platforms out there today have the ability to display the names of your learners present with you. Use that to your advantage and call on people directly. Referring to people by their name will also help keep your training engagement a bit less formal.

Try a Viewpoint Round

Assuming this activity is appropriate for a given a topic, provide each learner with an opportunity to spend 2-3 minutes to express their perspective on that topic, while the rest of the class listens. You can use this method of participation to get a range of viewpoints, but don't force the entire roster to do this - let folks pass their turn if they choose to.

Allow for a rabbit hole every once in a while

As trainers we're taught to keep our learners on topic as much as possible. But telling stories can sometimes be just as memorable. The next time someone asks a question that might not be 'on topic', don't be so quick to dismiss it. Allow for that conversation to take place and see where it goes... You might be surprised to see how relevant it really is.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

'Lync Has a 3D Virtual Environment Secret Weapon' Article from Aragon Research


Jim Lundy, founder and CEO of Aragon Research, is a well respected analyst who has covered the collaboration industry for quite a number of years. He has written about and advised on all aspects of the space, including 3D, so we were delighted when he blogged about us earlier this month on his site.

Here's a snippet from the post:

ProtonMedia has evolved over the years with more enterprise deployments featuring its flagship offering Protosphere. Ron Burns, the Founder and CEO, is still at the helm of ProtonMedia. His move to partner with Microsoft Lync is timely and it will help both ProtonMedia and Microsoft.
3D Virtual Environments have lots of use cases, particularly in the Enterprise. Microsoft has not made a big deal out of this, but as enterprises seek to justify continuing investment in Lync, ProtonMedia could be a difference maker.
We see the demand for 3D Virtual Environments going up, partially due to the fact that we see Facebook, Google, and Microsoft starting to promote the concept, even though others, such as IBM, were involved with this concept early. For now, Microsoft gets special treatment from ProtonMedia. We expect to see more integrations as enterprises start to realize that collaboration can be interactive and engaging.

You can read the entire article over at the Aragon Research blog.
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