Friday, January 30, 2015

Frost & Sullivan Analysis of the Global Web Conferencing Market Released this Week

New research was released earlier this week from Frost & Sullivan showing the growth and expansion of the Global Web Conferencing Market.

As ProtonMedia's own customer feedback would corroborate, the research findings show that “vanilla” web conferencing solutions are inadequate and organizations are recognizing the need to deploy more comprehensive productivity tools, especially when it comes to using those tools to deliver engaging learning content.

The analysis that resonated most with us was this comment by Frost & Sullivan Unified Communications & Collaboration Industry Director Roopam Jain. He said, "The convergence of synchronous and asynchronous tools is leading to the emergence of all-in-one virtual workspaces that offer always-on messaging, instant voice, video, Web multipoint meetings, and content sharing in a team-centric space. Built on the premise of the continuity of collaboration even after the meeting has concluded, these virtual workspaces are expected to become a central repository for contacts, meetings, and content, making collaboration solutions stickier."

Throw in some avatars and if that's not a better description of ProtoSphere, I don't know what is. ;-)

You can read more about the analysis here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Save the Date for the 2nd Annual Red & White Ball

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) of Eastern Pennsylvania is hosting its 2nd Annual Red & White Ball on Saturday, March 21, 2015 at the Westin Hotel Philadelphia. The Red & White Ball is a festive, elegant black-tie gala that will feature an incredible silent auction, entertainment by EBE’s LOVE and is expected to attract 500 attendees from the Eastern Pennsylvania region. Funds raised will be used towards their mission to cure blood cancers and improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

ProtonMedia is proud to help sponsor the event and is inviting all of its local customers and contacts to consider attending.

You can learn more about the event and purchase tickets directly from the website:

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Eastern PA Chapter

Thursday, December 18, 2014

An Afternoon Exploring a Career in 3D Design

Earlier this month we had the privilege of hosting 17-year-old Josh Vickery through a community-based job sampling at our corporate offices in Lansdale, PA.

Vickery, a student at Commonwealth Connections Academy cyber school, met with myself and members of our art team, Jim Seaver and Sara Christy, to discuss a career in 3D game design and development. We spent some time showing him what it's like to be a 3D artist/designer and gave him an opportunity to get a hands on experience with ProtoSphere.

The afternoon was part of a career exploration program run by All About Abilities, a company which serves youth with special needs throughout Bucks County, PA.

Vickery, who is autistic, wants to be a game developer. He’s built one game so far, his own version of Pong, and wants to enter the workforce in a career of his interest.

Mike Kelly, who runs All About Abilities, said the job exploration program is about "fighting the stereotype that those with special needs should be bagging groceries or sorting utensils." An advocate for individuals with special needs, Kelly believes they can do so much more.

We here at ProtonMedia all want to wish Josh the best of luck.

Joshua Vickery (2nd from right) at the ProtonMedia offices

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Microsoft Rebrands Lync as Skype for Business

Microsoft made some headlines yesterday by taking the covers off of a somewhat anticipated move that was started a few years ago when they first acquired Skype. Microsft Lync will now come to be known as Skype for Business.

The new versions of the Skype for Business client, Skype for Business on-premises server and Skype for Business online service that is part of Office 365 will become available in the first half of 2015.

Microsoft is bringing together the best of Skype and Lync without losing any of the features, security and manageability that customers care about. In fact, API elements built into the platform that allow developers like ourselves to build apps and additional functionality on top of Skype for Business are remaining in tact. 

Microsoft is predicting that the familiar user experience that hundreds of millions of Skype users engage with every month will bolster the further adoption of unified communications within the enterprise market. 

According to some photos appearing on their blog post, along with the rebranding of the name, Microsoft is changing the user interface elements of the older Lync client software so that it looks more like Skype. Although pretty, this won't really affect ProtoSphere 4.0 users next year, as our new version will be relying on the UC Web APIs that are completely under the hood.

The updated Lync client UI now has the look of Skype

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

ProtoSphere for Virtual Instructor Led Training

ProtoSphere for Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT)

When talking to people about our 3D virtual environment, we're often asked, "What are your other customers using it for?" This isn't a question you would normally get when for example you were providing a CRM platform. That has a very specific purpose and for the most part customers know exactly what they are looking for. That being said, it's an understandable question in our arena.  Even though massively multiplayer online (MMO) games and environments have been mainstream within the consumer space for quite some time, the idea around using them for business purposes has not been fully realized.

Many of our customers using ProtoSphere today are indeed “early adopters”.  We are seeing these organizations staying at the forefront of technology and they are truly improving their business processes.  Ultimately, 3D environments have become an addition to their arsenal of tools to help manage projects, streamline a process, or disseminate information. And although the use cases have varied over the years, by far, the most common use we see for our platform is with virtual instructor led training (VILT).

The training and learning needs of large organizations are varied.  The importance of bringing geographically dispersed subject matter experts together with remote learners is a hurdle that needs to be crossed. Sure, there are plenty of traditional web conferencing tools that are out there on the market today; things like WebEx, Adobe Connect, or even GoToMeeting all have their place and include variations that are specific to training needs. But what happens when you want to deliver training with more than just a PowerPoint? What happens when your training sessions are more than an hour long? Learners need ways to remain engaged, and trainers need methods and tools to keep them all motivated.  ProtoSphere has features like private voice zones, the ability to walk around persistent rooms, and multiple screens for interacting with content - all of which help trainers achieve this goal!!

Obviously, as the author of this article, and ProtonMedia's self-proclaimed evangelist for ProtoSphere, I'm a little biased - But I'm also a lifelong learner. I absolutely love to learn new things, especially from other people. As a learner, I want to remain engaged! I want to take a hands on approach, participate actively and learn in interactive ways.  I need the freedom to be able to do all of that in a safe environment. Our customers who are using ProtoSphere for their virtual instructor led training are taking advantage of technology that was born from the first-person shooters that originated in the early 90's. Technology that was inherently designed to grab your attention, make you focus on a task, and navigate your avatar through the interaction of a fantastical virtual world (and maybe kill some zombies, monsters, and other assorted bad guys along the way).

So are we building games for business? Well no, not really, but we are applying that same technology to a legitimate set of business needs and finding it successful, especially for training and learning.

In upcoming posts, I will go into a bit more detail on what some of these training engagements look like, the kinds of topics that are being discussed, and the techniques being employed in the virtual environment for those instructor led sessions.

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