Friday, April 30, 2010

Bio-IT World gives Merck its Best Practice Award for virtual poster session held in ProtoSphere

Virtual 3-D model of Merck's Bio-IT World award
The kudos continues to roll in around Merck's use of ProtoSphere to produce a virtual poster session.

It's earned recognition from the editors of Bio-IT World, who just gave Merck its Best Practice Award in the Editors' Choice Award category. Congratulations to the Merck team!

One of our friends from Merck was in our offices yesterday and he brought the award with him. We snapped a photo, and our design team had a little fun rendering the award into a virtual 3-D model in ProtoSphere. So no, it's really not bigger than Dom ... it's just enlarged to show detail? Hey, I did say virtual reality. ;)

Bio-IT World’s Best Practices Awards recognize organizations for their outstanding innovations and excellence in the use of technologies, practices, and novel business strategies that will advance drug discovery, development, biomedical research, and clinical trials.

This year’s Bio-IT World Best Practices Awards attracted a record 74 entrants, including a range of large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic institutions, and niche service providers.

You can read more about the awards and winners by flipping over to Bio-IT World's coverage online. The project was also detailed in a recent Nature Chemistry article. And as regular readers know, we bought a small supply of them, which we're providing free of charge. However, we're just about out. There are a few left if you want one. Just hit our website to fill out the request form.

Congrats again to Merck!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The art of being simplistic and the science of using the right tool to explain the impossible

My friend Sam Batterman, Business Intelligence Evangelist, Pharmaceutical/Life Science at Microsoft, offered to do a guest blog post on a topic that's near and dear to our heart: Keeping it simple.

Thanks, Sam, for putting this together. Read on to see what he has to say. Have a comment? Leave it for Sam below.



A few days ago, The New York Times ran a column in which the generals managing the war on terror condemned PowerPoint as a tool perhaps more dangerous than the insurgents killing service men. As a student of Business Intelligence, and a presenter for more than a decade, I have some opinions about this.

First, Microsoft is not blameless. PowerPoint is a huge part of the American and, indeed, the planet's business landscape. It isn't going away, no matter how many NASA officials and generals prohibit its use.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This is your brain on PowerPoint

Take a look at this image published in The New York Times yesterday. It's an actual PowerPoint slide created by the U.S. Army for Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. It shows the American military strategy in Afghanistan.

I'm no military leader, but even if I was, I still don't think I could make heads or tails of what the heck the strategy is based on that big blob of spaghetti on the screen. To call it overwhelming is an understatement.

But think about this for a moment: That PowerPoint image could also be your global supply chain. Or your network of TV broadcasters and correspondents. Or the flight patterns over Europe after the eruption of the Icelandic volcano. Or any one of a number of complex business systems.

This PowerPoint image doesn't work at any of those levels. Why? Because it's a 2-D depiction, and we don't think in 2-D. We think in 3-D. We work in 3-D. We live in 3-D. And it's time we start communicating and collaborating in 3-D.

Many of our business communication and collaboration models have been stuck in what I'll call "flatland" for generations. If you're sharing information with PowerPoint, that's flatland. If you're learning through an e-Learning course, that's flatland. If you're meeting using an online conferencing service, that's flatland.

These flat modes have no depth; they can't be used to solve complex multi-dimensional problems. The Pentagon is finding that out the hard way as it tries to map a very complicated problem -- our Afghan military strategy -- on a PowerPoint graphic.

This isn't isolated to the U.S. military. It's an issue we see in our businesses every day. We see it with pharmaceutical companies, for example, and their complex research and sales force processes. We see it with any data or process that is complex or difficult to understand.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Gartner names ProtonMedia a "Cool Vendor" and other recent buzz

I have to admit, when I see buzz about ProtonMedia in the news, I get a buzz -- especially when it's about something as exciting as Gartner naming us a "Cool Vendor in the High-Performance Workplace." Several media points have taken note of the news, including Hypergrid Business,


Technically Philly,


and our perennial buddy and one of our biggest boosters, Dr. Karl Kapp.


While I'm on the subject of media coverage, The Philadelphia Inquirer featured news of Greg Pelton joining our Executive Advisory Board -- also an exciting development for me and the company!


Thanks to all for featuring ProtonMedia. With media and bloggers continuing to follow and be energized by news coming out of our shop, we must be on to something. You can bet more is to come! :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pretty version of the LIFE SCIENCES 2010 transcript

I know, I know, it took us longer to create the PDF of the transcript from our LIFE SCIENCES 2010 event than it has taken us to create a 3-D virtual environment in ProtoSphere ... but here it is at long last!!! This transcript officially caps off our coverage of the event. Feel free to download, read, save, and share it.


It's packed with a lot of great information about improving knowledge transfer, speeding collaborative decision-making, and creating high-performance workplaces in life sciences. You'll get thoughts from moderator Erica Driver, ThinkBalm industry analyst, plus all the panelists, which included:

* Thomas Kaney, M.B.A., M.H.A., M.S.; Change Management Lead, Mandala Partners International (formerly Sr. VP, Human Resources and Strategic Planning, GlaxoSmithKline)

* Melanie W. Kittrell, Ph.D.; Executive Director, Global Customer Strategy and Channels, Knowledge Management and Innovation, Merck

* Dr. Tony O'Driscoll, Professor of the Practice, Duke University Fuqua School of Business, and co-author of the new book, “Learning in 3D

* Sam Batterman, Business Intelligence Evangelist, Pharmaceutical/Life Science, Microsoft (formerly U.S. Sales Force project leader for CRM/SFA at Merck)

* And me

For all of our coverage of the event, including the video, podcast, photos, and more, hit our LS2010 label.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

3-D Internet: Present or future?

Did you hear the recent prediction from Sean Koehl, a technology evangelist at Intel? He said that the 3-D Internet will arrive in five to 10 years. Sharon Gaudin covered it on ComputerWorld the other week.

She quoted Sean: "'The Internet may never go fully 3-D, but making 3-D environments broadly accessible is probably capable within five years.'"

I don't want to disagree with Sean, but from where I sit, the 3-D Internet is here today. As I said in my comment on the article, companies -- like ProtonMedia -- have been helping organizations do business in 3-D over the Internet for several years.

We've been helping companies transform their businesses into high-performance workplaces and accelerate collaborative decision-making using technologies including Internet protocols and VoIP.

I think if you take a look at our case studies, you'd agree. These aren't futuristic fantasies. They are real-world business cases that show the 3-D Internet isn't five years off. It's here and now.

Let's not confuse strategic collaboration with tactical collaboration

CLARIFICATION: Collaboration has multiple dimensions
I have Google Alerts set for a slew of terms. And like most people who lead lives of quiet desperation out of their inbox, these e-mails often just become clutter and immediately end up in the deleted items folder. I barely have time to scan the headlines in one e-mail alert.

But this one caught my eye the other day. It was an Inc. magazine article titled "The Best Collaboration Tools" by Max Chafkin.

I was expecting to read about a roundup of tools that measurably improved the productivity of teams, and that help teams quickly come to a consensus on decisions. From where I sit on the "entrepreneurial throne" (j/k, it's really just your average desk chair from Staples), that is what collaboration is all about.

But when I opened the article, I was surprised to find that Max listed Dropbox, Basecamp, Yammer, Gmail, and Google Docs.

Now I like and use some of these things just as much as the next guy. But I thought "best collaboration tools" is a pretty strong term for describing them. They're more like the "best free small business document and content sharing tools online."

I noted this in a comment on the article. Certainly having several people work on a document is technically collaboration, but that is the tactical definition of collaboration. To me collaboration is a strategic imperative, especially for fast-moving entrepreneurial companies that need to make decisions quickly.

They are at a disadvantage, from a resource perspective, compared to their much larger competitors. They need to find ways to lever technology to their advantage in contrast to the slower-moving competitors saddled with big corporate IT departments and policies that require certain approvals and other obstacles.

It would be interesting to see Inc. follow up on this, and go beyond just interesting and cool document and content sharing technology -- which is pretty much what Max covered here -- into things that actually help teams work more efficiently and effectively together.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gartner names ProtonMedia “Cool Vendor in the High-Performance Workplace”

Another milestone for ProtonMedia
Whoever said geeks aren't cool was dead wrong. Kinda' reminds me of the Bill Gates quote, "Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one."

Well, I have to tell you, one organization that's nice to nerds is Gartner. Its annual "Cool Vendor" reports are proof, because every company included is geeky and nerdy. (What did you expect? Gartner is the world’s top information technology research and advisory company.)

So there you have it folks, geeks are cool. And now ProtonMedia is officially one cool, geeky vendor. That's because Gartner anointed us one of its "Cool Vendors in the High-Performance Workplace" for 2010. It published its report last Thursday.

It's another high-five milestone for the company and ProtoSphere, and I'm honored Gartner included us in the report. It's no small feat to survive its stringent research process, so we must be doing something right!! Thanks again to Gartner for its time, consideration, and recognition.

If you're a Gartner subscriber, you can access the full report on its website, which includes its methodology and analysis of its research. You can also read the press release we issued this morning.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Welcome Greg Pelton, ProtonMedia's newest Executive Advisory Board member

Greg Pelton
The brain power on our advisory team here at ProtonMedia continues to grow. Pretty soon we're going to crack the genetic code.

The newest member to join us is Greg Pelton, Director of Engineering at Cisco. Greg will sit on our Executive Advisory Board, working with me and the rest of the management team on ProtoSphere’s 3-D collaboration capabilities and enterprise network scalability.

Greg has worked on the front-end research and development of several telecommunications technologies over his career, including IP telephony, IP routing over satellites, IPTV, wireless, mobile networking, home networking, and Cisco TelePresence. We're thrilled to have him with us -- so much so we had to put out a press release about it.

If you're interested in reading more about Greg and how he'll be contributing to the team, pull up our press release. Welcome, Greg!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Virtual reality better than actual reality?

A meeting in ProtoSphere
If you've ever had the good fortune to travel to some of the most awe-inspiring locations in the world, for instance, the Eiffel Tower, you'd probably say that looking at pictures of the tower is nothing like being there, and experiencing its majesty, history, and vibe.

The same goes for any experience, really. Listening to a Billy Idol CD is totally different than seeing him live. Meeting a business contact over the phone is nothing like meeting them in person, where you can make eye contact and shake hands.

We've always thought that nothing compares to being there. Nothing is better than the real thing. Nothing is better than actual reality. Right?

Wrong. What if we can make something better than being there? What if we can add functionality that doesn't exist in real life, but that makes the overall experience more valuable?

3-D virtual worlds are bringing this notion to light, and challenging the long-held assumption that nothing is better than being there.

Of course this depends on how you define better. Some physical things just can't be duplicated in a virtual world. But there are ways 3-D virtual reality can be better than actual reality. For instance, it can cost you less to visit the Eiffel Tower in a 3-D world because you'll save on flights, a hotel, and meals. It can be better for the environment, because it saves fuel.

A good enterprise example is the project we did with BP, in which the company held its Global Graduate Forum in ProtoSphere, instead of at a physical venue.

Our 3-D virtual world allowed its graduates to travel to uninhabitable territories at the far corners of the earth; interact and communicate with peers, corporate executives, scientists, politicians, and government officials alike; and make collaborative business decisions. BP determined it saved $3.7 million in travel and other logistical costs.

When the event wrapped up, Joe Little, BP's Chief Technology Officer who headed up the project, said, "We took our annual graduate conference, an event that had always occurred in the real world, and found we could run the entire thing and achieve better outcomes without having to physically meet one another."

If that's not testament to virtual reality being better than actual reality, I don't know what is. It really gets you thinking about the possibilities for 3-D virtual technology. It's been primarily used in gaming and entertainment, but it's also making clear inroads into the enterprise, helping companies become high-performance workplaces and speed collaborative decision-making.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Get a FREE reprint of Nature Chemistry's coverage of Merck's ProtoSphere use

A few weeks ago we told you about how Nature Chemistry covered Merck's use of ProtoSphere in its March issue. The publication is offering it for an $18 download.

If you're about to download the article, hold your horses!! We just bought a batch of reprints, and are doling them out on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you'd like one, visit our Web site and fill out the short form. We'll send one along to the e-mail address you provide.

We've already given some away, so please, act ASAP if you want one. We have a limited number of reprints available, so the sooner you request a copy, the better your chance of getting one.

If you miss out on the freebie copy, you'll still be able to get the article. But you'll have to fork over the 18 bucks. Request one today and it can be on us!

Hope everyone finds the article insightful. If you have questions about something you read, feel free to contact us. We're happy to chat.

ShareFEST Conference 2010 photos from the floor

Thought I'd share some photos we snapped while we were at the ShareFEST Conference in Philadelphia last week. These are also posted to our Flickr page. Enjoy!

Milling about the show floor

Meeting and greeting. Can you tell it was a sunny day?

Back from ShareFEST with coverage, videos, reactions, and takeaways

The weekend has given me a chance to mull over the ShareFEST conference. I think the show went well for us. I'm excited about the new connections we made and thought-provoking conversations we had while we were there.

I'm writing a more detailed post about how ShareFEST went, and things I observed from my interactions with attendees and other speakers. I'll be posting that soon, so check back for that.

We normally like to bring back a boatload of videos from the conferences we go to. But this time around we had a limited number of passes, so unfortunately our usual blogging crew couldn't accompany us. (Sorry guys!!)

That said, though, I did manage to interview a few folks and record my conversations with the camera on my iPhone. We'll have those for you as soon as I figure out how to share them. :P I'm sure Steve Jobs made it very simple. Just gotta do it.

Meanwhile, click over to this Bamboo Nation article to hear how my presentation went. Writer John Anderson summed up my presentation about Merck's use of ProtoSphere, and highlighted some of the key metrics that Merck measured after their event.

By the way, if you think the photo of me is fuzzy, it's not your eyes or your computer screen. Either the cameraman had a shaky hand, or I was moving around a lot -- probably the latter because I always get excited talking about ProtoSphere. :-)

Also, if you weren't able to get to ShareFEST this year, I recommend you plan to attend for next year. The event was sold out. At some points during the day, it was wall-to-wall people. By our estimation, there were about 300 professionals from life sciences in attendance. There were a lot of great presentations from companies with leading-edge innovations. Definitely a keeper for us!

Friday, April 9, 2010

From ShareFEST: Catching up with Microsoft's Mike Gannotti

Yesterday was a great day. As you probably know, I'm at the ShareFEST Conference in Center City Philadelphia, networking with life sciences professionals and demonstrating how ProtoSphere can help them speed collaborative decision-making around all phases of their product life cycle by getting more out of their SharePoint investment.

One person I had the pleasure of chatting with was Mike Gannotti, Principle Technology Specialist at Microsoft, and the company's chief SharePoint evangelist in life sciences. He sat in on my presentation yesterday morning about Merck's use of ProtoSphere to conduct the industry's first virtual poster session. I also demonstrated ProtoSphere's SharePoint functionality and how users can bring documents into their virtual environment using the Media Carousel.

My presentation went great, and it made Mike's Twitter stream. Here's what he had to say.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

ProtoSphere 1.5 Feature Peek: Zoom function on Presentation Boards

We've been getting a lot of great feedback from those of you who've downloaded our ProtoSphere 1.4 demo build. One of the most commonly requested features we're hearing is to add a zoom function to the Presentation Boards capability. Here's some evidence we're listening your requests.

Our engineers are taking your suggestions and running with them. They're already working on developing a zoom functionality, and I put together a feature peek video to show you how they're coming along. Remember, this is just a feature peek, so what it ends up as could be much different from what you see here. If we update it, we'll let you know!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

No child left offline: Help e-Learning for Kids bring education to all children worldwide

I had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with an old friend over dinner last week, Nick Van Dam. He's the Global Chief Learning Officer of Deloitte, and has done great work in the field of corporate learning and leadership development.

In addition to his day job, Nick has set up a great foundation to spread quality education around the globe, the e-Learning For Kids Foundation. It's a volunteer-based organization that offers about 200 free, interactive online courses for children ages 5-12 (or older depending on their command of the language and scholastic level).

We're working with Nick to set up an interview to talk more about e-Learning for Kids and education, so look for a podcast with him in one of our next posts. In the meantime, I wanted to tell you more about the foundation.

Most of the courses are in English, but about 20 are also available in Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Topics include math, science, language arts, computers, health, life skills, and the environment. Numbers-wise, e-Learning for Kids provided free education to 1.6 million children in 190 countries last year. It has an exciting vision to reach 20 million children by 2015.

BUT, this is only possible with support from corporations and individuals. Consider this stat: More than 100 million children do not attend primary school, according to UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund). Children are our future, and too many aren't receiving the education they need to realize their potential and continue the progress and innovation we're making as a society.

This can be changed if all children could gain access to high-quality education. ProtonMedia is a supporter of e-Learning For Kids, and I encourage you to join us.

See if you or the company you work with can step up and support this great foundation. There are several ways you can get involved, whether it be through volunteer work, partnerships, corporate sponsorship, personal donations, or anything to help raise awareness for the need to provide all our children with high-quality primary education.

I look at my own brood of four, and I can't imagine depriving them of an education. Your education helps determine your future, and every child should have access to an education so they can succeed in life. Any support you can provide e-Learning for Kids would make a difference, whether for one, or many children around the world. Thanks to everyone who reaches out!

Robert Half Technology CIO report finds upswing in technology upgrades

OFF THE SHELF: CIOs proceeding with tech upgrades
It's no surprise the recession has caused many CIOs to put new technology initiatives and upgrades on hold. But a new survey from Robert Half Technology finds that some of these projects are back on the front burner.

Thirty-seven percent of CIOs interviewed said they were moving forward with plans to deploy software and hardware upgrades that had been deferred due to the economy.

The survey revealed several other interesting findings about what types of projects are back on CIOs' radars, and why. Jack Germain covered the findings in an article on E-Commerce Times the other week, and analyzed their implications. It's worth a read.

Jack also used me as a source for his reporting. And as I told him in our conversation, while many companies have outsourced IT services during the recession, it's siloed their IT strategy. With IT investments starting to come back online, companies are naturally looking to centralize their IT tools and processes. Because let's face it, there's no better way to manage your IT strategy than to have it centralized in-house.

Companies' challenge now is to find a means to bring it all together. (Note: I will have some thoughts on this in future posts.)

Read Jack's article to see what suggestions he uncovered in his reporting.

ProtoSphere 1.4 Feature Peek: Media Carousels for collaborating on SharePoint documents

I created a new feature peek video describing how to configure the SharePoint Media Carousel within ProtoSphere. The Media Carousel lets you bring documents from SharePoint into ProtoSphere, where teams can edit and collaborate on them. Give the video a view to see it in action.



By the way, this might look familiar to you if you happened to be at the Defense GameTech Users' Conference last week. ThinkBalm's Sam and Erica Driver talked about ProtoSphere's Media Carousels in their presentation on immersive environments.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Collaboration Advantages of 3-D Virtual Immersive Environments, by Karl Kapp

You might have noticed the button on the side of our blog where you can download a new white paper by Karl Kapp. His piece, Collaboration Advantages of 3-D Virtual Immersive Environments, discusses global industry's increasing focus on collaboration.

He details the elements of successful collaboration, and how 3-D virtual immersive environments (VIEs) can help organizations share content, generate ideas, and solve problems across geographically dispersed teams. Karl's white paper covers the bases regarding the benefits of virtual immersive environments, and it's well-worth a read.

Also, feel free to share the white paper with others. But please, if you could, share the download link, rather than forwarding the white paper itself around. As you might already realize, we're trying to collect the e-mail addresses of those interested in this subject matter, so we can better understand the market for immersive environments and what's driving interest.

So without further ado, enjoy Karl's white paper!

KAPPTURED: Karl Kapp covers the benefits of VIEs
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