Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thank You CNNMoney

I'd like to send a very big THANK YOU to CNNMoney for featuring ProtonMedia as one of the "12 Entrepreneurs Reinventing Health Care".

We are very proud of our work in Health Care (and many other fields). If you missed it you can read the article here.

Thanks again CNNMoney!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

ProtonMedia featured in SmartCEO Magazine.

I would like to thank SmartCEO for featuring me in a recent article.

We spoke about the challenges of starting a business, specifically the topic of raising capital.

It was a great experience speaking with SmartCEO and I can't wait to do it again!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thank You Microsoft

We would like to thank the folks at Microsoft for publishing a case study about the use of ProtoSphere Lync Edition, at PPD.

PPD is experiencing some very positive results from using ProtoSphere. Give it a read, it is full of some very interesting metrics.

Also a big thank you to PPD for taking part in this case study. It it very insightful.

A Double Dose of ProtoSphere 2.0 Feature Peeks

We are so excited that ProtoSphere 2.0 is right around the corner. I love creating these feature peeks because it allows me to share all of the cool new features in ProtoSphere with all of you.

This time I'm doubling up on peeks! So be sure to check out both videos.

The first one shows the new capabilities we're providing to moderators within the environment:

And for those of you who need customized spaces, we're now offering a way to "Build Your Own World":

Keep a look out... more feature peeks are on the way!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanks to AlwaysOn for naming us to their top 100 list

I would like to send a very big "Thank You" to AlwaysOn for including ProtonMedia in their Venture Summit Mid-Atlantic 100 Top Private Companies listing. We are certainly proud to win this award!

The awards were given to organizations that are challenging established players and creating new solutions that will help change the way we do business.

ProtonMedia has been working to change the way organizations meet, collaborate and learn. A good percentage of the knowledge workers in our economy, who benefit from this kind of environment, are located here in the Mid-Atlantic region. It's great to see the venture community, and the number of start ups from this area, move the market and achieve this kind of recognition.

To view the entire list of the AlwaysOn Venture Summit Mid-Atlantic 100 Top Private Companies here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

ProtoSphere 2.0 Feature Peek – Lync Integrated Conversations

We all use instant messaging – no surprise there. The challenge for many virtual environments is how to bridge the gap between the messaging that takes place in the virtual environment, with the messaging that takes place outside of it. We think we’ve come up with a good solution for this problem, utilizing our deeper integration with Microsoft Lync.

In this video I show off the new capabilities of ProtoSphere 2.0, where people not only have that ability to communicate with each other beyond the confines of the virtual environment, but are also able to quickly and easily escalate their conversations into full collaborations within the environment.

Check it out below.

Be sure to let me know what you think by leaving comment!

Monday, November 14, 2011

ProtoSphere 2.0 Feature Peek - New User Interface

I can't tell you how excited I am to announce that ProtoSphere 2 is right around the corner. There are so many new features in this product and I can't wait to share all of them with you.

Since ProtoSphere 2 has so many new functions, I'm going to do a series of peeks over the next couple of weeks.

This first feature peek focuses on our enhanced user interface for ProtoSphere 2. You will get to see all of the ehancements that we made to the toolbars, menus, people lists, 3D window and the new ProtoSphere action bar.

I don't want to spoil everything click the picture and see ProtoSphere 2 in action.

As always, take care, and I'll see you in world.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Collaboration Takes Many Forms

I ran across this article about Bell Labs today and it was very interesting. Bell Labs is a very forward thinking organization and they are looking at the value of persistence and serendipity in remote work.

ProtonMedia has discussed both of these topics a number of times and noted that persistence and serendipity are only possible when you move your idea of collaboration away from time-bound events and start thinking about the value of always-on virtual spaces. These limitless virtual spaces connect people over both distance and time.

I may be slightly jaded, but I believe that this can be done more effectively in collaboration software like ProtoSphere, but it is interesting how one might solve the same challenge with a Telepresence Robot. Check out the Bell Labs blog and read what they are saying by clicking here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Congratulations to our friends at PPD for being Named Best Contract Research Organization and Honored for Best Technological Development in Clinical Trials.

If you missed it, this came over the wire late last week:

WILMINGTON, N.C., Nov 04, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Pharmaceutical Product Development, Inc. today announced it has been named the best contract research organization by Scrip Intelligence, which also has honored PPD for deploying the best technological development in clinical trials.

Scrip presented both awards to PPD at the seventh annual Scrip Awards ceremony on November 3 in London. PPD was recognized for its expertise and innovation in helping clients develop life-changing medical treatments. The judging panel called PPD "a great organization -- open for new approaches, even more for driving new technologies."

"At PPD, we share our clients' passion for delivering new therapies to help people live healthier lives," said Raymond Hill, chief executive officer of PPD. "These awards pay testament to the hard work, dedication and inspiration that our employees deliver every day to provide exceptional client service. We are committed to delivering consistent high quality, innovative ideas and forward-focused technologies that help our clients achieve their vision."

Launched in 1985 as a one-person consulting firm, today PPD is one of the world's leading contract research organizations. PPD has worked with 49 of the top 50 pharmaceutical companies to speed the delivery of life-changing therapies to people in need.

Scrip also recognized PPD's innovative technology solution, created in collaboration with Microsoft Corp., that improves the efficiency of managing Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) programs mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Designed to improve patient safety, REMS programs help ensure the safe distribution and administration of certain marketed drugs.

The PPD REMS solution is a first-of-its-kind technology platform that integrates, manages and tracks all REMS resources, data and information. It is based on the Microsoft Amalga Unified Intelligence System, a data aggregation platform that gives healthcare professionals access to the information they need when they need it, and Microsoft HealthVault, a personal health application platform that lets consumers gather, store and share health information online.

"PPD's technology focus is to deliver solutions that provide meaningful advances for our clients," said Mike Wilkinson, executive vice president and chief information officer of PPD. "Our REMS solution builds on PPD's extensive strategic, scientific, operational and regulatory capabilities in designing and implementing comprehensive REMS and risk management programs."

The Scrip Awards acknowledge achievements across a broad range of areas in the pharmaceutical industry. Attracting hundreds of industry professionals from the world's leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, the awards have become a distinct mark of superior achievement. Pharmaceutical, biotech and contract research organizations compete for awards in 15 categories, which are decided by an expert panel of judges.

Scrip's recognition is the most recent in a series of awards PPD has received this year. PPD earned the number one spot among contract research organizations in the 2011 CenterWatch global site survey. PPD also was named to the 2011 InformationWeek 500, an annual list of the most innovative users of business technology in the United States. In addition, PPD and ProtonMedia won a Microsoft 2011 Life Sciences Innovation Award for PPD(R) 3D, a virtual, collaborative environment improving the cost-effectiveness, speed and quality of training for clinical research associates.

About PPD
PPD is a leading global contract research organization providing drug discovery, development and lifecycle management services. Our clients and partners include pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, academic and government organizations. With offices in 44 countries and more than 11,000 professionals worldwide, PPD applies innovative technologies, therapeutic expertise and a commitment to quality to help clients and partners accelerate the delivery of safe and effective therapeutics and maximize the returns on their R&D investments. For more information, visit

Except for historical information, all of the statements, expectations and assumptions, including statements, expectations and assumptions about PPD in relation to the Scrip Awards, contained in this news release are forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Although PPD attempts to be accurate in making these forward-looking statements, it is possible that future circumstances might differ from the assumptions on which such statements are based and could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements. Other important factors which could cause future results to differ materially include the following: overall global economic conditions; economic conditions, research and development spending, and outsourcing trends in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and government-sponsored research sectors; consolidation in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries; competition in the outsourcing industry; PPD's ability to win new business; loss, delay or modification of large contracts; higher-than-expected cancellation rates; the rate of conversion of backlog into revenue; actual operating performance; fluctuations in currency exchange rates; the ability to attract, integrate and retain key personnel; risks associated with and dependence on strategic relationships; risks associated with acquisitions and investments, such as impairments and integration, including PPD's investment in Celtic Therapeutics; rapid technological advances that make our services less competitive; risks associated with fixed price contracts and cost overruns; compliance with drug development regulations; changes in the regulation of the drug development process; international economic and political risks; risks that we may increase, reduce or discontinue our annual dividend policy; and the ability to control SG&A spending. These and other PPD risk factors are set forth in more detail from time to time in our SEC filings, copies of which are available free of charge upon request from PPD's investor relations department. PPD assumes no obligation and expressly disclaims any duty to update these forward-looking statements in the future, except as required by applicable law. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing PPD's estimates or views as of any date subsequent to the date hereof.
SOURCE: Pharmaceutical Product Development, Inc.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Microsoft & ProtonMedia Hosting Innovation Event

As the Life Sciences industry looks to reinvent itself in the wake of slowing industry growth and other macroeconomic stresses, the move to transform fixed costs to variable costs has become common place. It's a great strategy - but how do you execute on that strategy?

The clinical trial is one of the most important and complex areas where we see this trend emerging. The pain point is so acute, and the stakes so high, that we are encouraged to see this component of the Life Sciences industry leading the way in fostering innovation, specifically the Virtual Clinical Trial.

A number of our partners have expressed that the Virtual Clinical Trial is one of the hottest topics in the industry today, and that was reinforced at this year's Partnership in Clinical Trials event. At that show, the buzz was focused almost solely on Virtual Clinical Trials. Also at that show, ProtonMedia announced a strategic relationship with one of the leaders in the CRO space - PPD.

In addition to PPD, we have also been participating in the Pan-Asian Clinical Trials Association (PACRA) with some very positive results. And finally, Microsoft is providing a great set of solutions to support this industry change.

Join us, for an in-person event, at the Microsoft Technology Center in Malvern, PA to discuss and explore these trends. The session is titled, "Innovation in Clinical Trials" and will be held on December 7 from 10am-12pm EST. with lunch immediately following.

The session will feature several life sciences executives, including:

- Les Jordan, CTO - Microsoft Life Sciences
- Mike Wilkinson, CIO - PPD
- Steven Bukvic, Executive Director - Merck MPI
- Lisa Clune, CEO - Kaplan EduNeering
- Sam Batterman, Technology Strategist - Microsoft Life Sciences
- Ron Burns, CEO - ProtonMedia

Seating is limited! Register online now - Click here!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why learning departments should 'collaborate like crazy'

Writer Rama Ramaswami recently penned an article for Campus Technology about four ways to make the most out of virtual environments. Her points are worth a look, and one in particular deserves some more exploration. She recommended to "collaborate like crazy."

You're probably all too familiar with the budget cuts that have sliced through learning and training departments at life sciences companies in recent years. But as I've talked about before, learning is not a black hole that you throw money down. It's a crucial vehicle for transferring knowledge among organizational teams to drive innovation and execution.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Life sciences PLM needs to start earlier, go longer, and be more collaborative

PharmaVOICE's October cover story is worth a read for anyone in life sciences, especially if you're involved in product life cycle management (PLM). The story, "A Changing Market Environment Requires New PLM Strategies," drills into some of the latest thinking and analysis about PLM strategy and coping with the ongoing challenges of pipeline maintenance.

Writer Robin Robinson featured insight from five industry sources, including Rob Bazemore, President of Janssen Biotech; Chris Bogan, CEO of Best Practices; Andrew Hunter, Senior Manager of Kalypso; Mike Rea, CEO of IDEA Pharma; and yours truly.

Friday, September 30, 2011

New benchmark report compares 33 virtual environments

You might be surprised to learn that there are 33 virtual environments out there. The fact that there are shows this is a vibrant and competitive market, with technologies that can have many possible use cases.

But how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? Well one researcher who's done that is Sami Ahma-aho from the Business, Innovation, Technology (BIT) Research Centre at Aalto University in Finland.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

TMCnet says ProtonMedia is 'shaking things up with innovative collaborative tools'

Not long after TMCnet's editors posted the interview between its founder, Rich Tehrani, and myself, TMCnet contributor Mae Kowalke penned an article about ProtonMedia's approach to collaborative learning and training.

She pulled out some of the points from my interview with Rich that struck her, writing that we're "shaking things up with innovative collaborative tools to help make meetings and corporate trainings more productive and more fun."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Talking with TMCnet's Rich Tehrani about the virtual room for the conference call

I got the opportunity to meet Rich Tehrani last week at TMC's ITEXPO West 2011. Rich is one of the biggest pioneers, evangelists, and influencers in the IP communications industry. He founded TMC (Technology Marketing Corporation), which grew into TMCnet and the ITEXPO. Rich also owns the registered trademark for the term "Internet telephony."

At the ITEXPO, Rich and I got to talking about ProtonMedia's approach to using VoIP in ProtoSphere. Rich thought to interview me as part of TMCnet's coverage of the show. Here we are, talking about how ProtoSphere is the virtual room for the conference call, the role Microsoft Lync plays in our product road map, and my vision for ProtoSphere being used in the enterprise.

ProtoSphere 1.5.4 is here in a Flash

ProtoSphere 1.5.4 is now out for general release. The major new functions we've added are video and Flash-content support, as well as Mac support. So companies can now train in ProtoSphere using videos, Flash-based courseware, and other interactive learning modules.

We've been teeing you up for the new features with the feature peek videos we've been rolling out on our blog. Now when you give our ProtoSphere trial demo a whirl, you'll be able to experience them all in living color.

For all the details on what's new in ProtoSphere 1.5.4., read over the press release we issued announcing it. Next time you fire up ProtoSphere, test out the new features and let us know what you think!

New ProtoSphere v.1.5.4 Now Supports Video and Flash Content

Five new features extend ProtoSphere’s lead as the virtual collaboration environment for learning and training

LANSDALE, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ProtonMedia today released ProtoSphere Standard Edition v.1.5.4 with new video and Flash content support. Now large enterprises can train in ProtoSphere using videos, Flash-based courseware, and other interactive learning modules. In total, ProtoSphere v.1.5.4 includes five new features to help companies streamline their learning and training activities, accelerate knowledge transfer, and improve knowledge retention. They include:

Video conferencing: 2 years later, same results

I follow the video conferencing industry closely, so when I saw the headline "Why Video Conferencing Sucks" in my news reader, I had to click over. What I found was an opinion piece by TechNewsWorld columnist Rob Enderle.

He wrote about how video conferencing is still failing to meet business users' expectations in this heavily saturated market -- not only from a technology and cost perspective, but also a human perspective.

"The big problem that no one seems to want to address is that we generally don't like conversing for long looking someone else in the eye," Rob writes. This, he says, is a major reason "why people generally need to be forced to use these systems."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Polycom's Steve Pattison is our newest Executive Advisory Board member

Polycom's Steve Pattison
One of the things we strive for in the composition of our Executive Advisory Board is industry diversity. Even though we're the only virtual collaboration environment built on the Microsoft stack, we haven't looked for board members who live just in the Microsoft ecosystem.

Rather, our focus has been on unified communications and life sciences. We've sought out executives with a broad array of experiences and customer inputs, including IBM's Cindy Skirvin, Microsoft’s Sam Batterman and now, Polycom's Steve Pattison.

Steve is the newest member of our board, and will be helping to counsel and guide our management team on a range of business initiatives, including industry partnerships, business development, and corporate strategy.

So if you take a look at the composition of our board now, you'll see leaders in business analytics and innovation, life sciences technologies, networking, and UC. The result is one of the reasons why the unified communications and collaboration experience in ProtoSphere is so outstanding.

We announced Steve's joining in a press release today, which has more details on his background and how he'll be supporting us.

Welcome aboard, Steve!

Polycom’s Steve Pattison Joins ProtonMedia’s Executive Advisory Board

Pattison will advise ProtonMedia’s leaders on the company’s business development and strategic direction of its ProtoSphere technology

LANSDALE, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ProtonMedia, the developer of the ProtoSphere virtual collaboration environment, today announced that Steve Pattison has joined the company’s Executive Advisory Board. Pattison is the Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for Polycom.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Texas bound next week for ITEXPO West 2011

The unofficial start of fall means the show and event circuit is kicking into high gear. My September is filling up with conferences and meetings here in PA and around the country.

And a new one I'll be hitting next week is ITEXPO West 2011 in Austin, Texas.

If you're not familiar with ITEXPO West, it's one of the largest and longest-running communications and technology conferences in the U.S.

Thousands of attendees come every year to learn about and discuss the latest trends, issues, and technologies in telecom, wireless, mobile, and unified communications.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Great list of virtual training best practices

There are a number of things you can do to increase attendance and encourage engagement among participants when you hold a virtual training event or other activity in a virtual environment. I recently found a great list of virtual training best practices from writer Robin Heyden that I wanted to share here with you.

She posted 11 tips for successful virtual training on Hypergrid Business. It was great to see that much of her advice falls in line with the recommendations we give our customers (which I let her know in the comments on the article).

After reading Robin's tips, I thought of some of the resources we supply our customers with when they start using ProtoSphere for virtual training and other activities.

One set of recommendations came to mind as particularly useful for those conducting virtual training events. I thought I'd share it here to keep the knowledge flowing.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Life sciences executives, are you seeing this trend in your organization?

We've seen a common thread running through our conversations with life sciences executives over the past 90 days, and I wanted to blog about it to see if you are experiencing or observing the same thing. I'm thinking this could be an emerging trend that we as an industry need to be paying attention to.

Our team has continued to hear life sciences executives talk about how they are planning to shut down parts of their physical campuses, and set up virtual workplaces and remote working programs.

Executives have told us the primary reason driving their creation of virtual workplaces is their need to shrink their cost centers. Training facilities, for instance, are one of the largest cost centers we hear life sciences executives talk about.

Friday, August 26, 2011

How the Virtual Diabetes Institute keeps continuing medical education costs low and engagement high

Completing continuing medical education coursework has become increasingly challenging over the past several years, primarily due to escalating program and travel costs, and already massive time pressures on physicians. Yet the need to improve disease treatment through engaging educational activities and professional competency standards has not gone away.

One of the goals of SciMed's new Virtual Diabetes Institute is to address this issue for physicians caring for patients with Type 2 diabetes. I recently talked to writer Miriam Pia about this, and she penned an article for Hypergrid Business covering how the Virtual Diabetes Institute supports more engaging and interactive training at lower cost for these physicians.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

6 rules for productive digital collaboration

It's no secret -- workplace etiquette rules have changed over the past 20 years. Digital communications have made it easy to shoot out short messages of mass information without the need for handshakes and hellos.

So how can virtual workers still be courteous without the formalities?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Continuing medical education goes virtual with launch of Virtual Diabetes Institute

Clinic Room for exams
Clinic room for exams in the Virtual Diabetes Institute
I promised you details on SciMed's new Virtual Diabetes Institute, and here they are. We've been working for the past several months with medical education provider SciMed to create this innovative learning environment in ProtoSphere. The initiative is supported by an independent educational grant from Merck.

The Virtual Diabetes Institute is one of the first applications of virtual environment technology in continuing medical education. It is used by physicians caring for Type 2 diabetes patients. Physicians can participate in CME-certified activities in a more realistic, engaging, and collaborative way to help them better treat patients.

I see the Virtual Diabetes Institute as significantly raising the bar on CME, and by extension, the treatment of patients with Type 2 diabetes.

I'll let our press release take it from here with the full story. Read on for more details on how we designed and created the Virtual Diabetes Institute, how physicians are now using it for their continued training and learning, and SciMed's future plans and outlook for the Virtual Diabetes Institute in life sciences.

SciMed Unveils Industry-First Virtual Diabetes Institute in ProtonMedia’s ProtoSphere

Virtual collaboration environment brings continuing medical education to life

LANSDALE, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Virtual collaboration has come to continuing medical education (CME) with the launch of the Virtual Diabetes Institute, an innovative learning environment created in ProtonMedia’s ProtoSphere and developed with SciMed, a leading provider of continuing medical education for physicians. The Virtual Diabetes Institute gives primary-care physicians a more realistic, engaging, and collaborative way to participate in CME-certified activities designed to improve the management of patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Doors are open! Tour life sciences' first Virtual Diabetes Institute.

I have some great news to share with you today. We've been working with medical education provider SciMed over the past several months on a major project to hit life sciences and continuing medical education (CME). It's been a labor of love, and our teams are excited to pull the curtains off and share our innovation with you!

We've created the industry's first Virtual Diabetes Institute. It's an innovative learning environment made in ProtoSphere. It gives primary-care physicians a more realistic, engaging, and collaborative way to participate in CME-certified activities for improving the management of patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The case for the virtual workplace

One of the most common questions we are asked by prospects, media, and bloggers is, why 3-D? Why use a 3-D virtual collaboration environment over 2-D conferencing tools for meeting, training, and other activities?

Meetings and Conventions' Michael Shapiro recently lobbed the question at me, and the short of my answer was, because that's how we learn.

I told him how the 3-D aspect of ProtoSphere supports how our brains think and visualize data. This capability is ideal for life sciences teams that need to analyze and discuss molecules under development, for example.

Telepresence or virtual collaboration environments: Will the real immersive experience please stand up?

One of the most interesting results we've seen in our clients' use of ProtoSphere is what I call the "social lubricant" phenomenon. A number of our customers have found that junior and mid-level employees are more comfortable striking up a conversation with senior managers and executives in ProtoSphere than they are in the real world.

They ask questions they might not have the courage to ask in person, and can interact with managers and executives they don't have easy access to due to their remote work locations and travel and appointment schedules.

When I talked to Processor's Jean Thilmany recently about this, she highlighted my point in an article the other week. However, the focus of her article was on business benefits of telepresence technology, and how some industry experts say it can provide a "high-end immersive experience."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Microsoft's 2011 Life Sciences Innovation Award? I accept!

Better late than never with this video! Here's footage of Michael Naimoli, Managing Director of Life Sciences for Microsoft, announcing PPD and ProtonMedia as winners of Microsoft's 2011 Life Sciences Innovation Award at the DIA conference in June. Heather Schultz, Senior Director of Global Learning and Performance for PPD, and yours truly are accepting the honors.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's up to you and I to help America reclaim its innovation edge

Innovation has always been fundamental to the success of any organization. But as our country remains mired in an economic slump -- one that could worsen should the federal government fail to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2 -- innovation is taking on increased importance.

While no analysts are saying America is losing its innovation edge, it's clear that the gap between America and rest of the world is narrowing fast. Take China for instance. For us to remain competitive, we need to accelerate innovation beyond what the country has been able to organically sustain.

As a recent NPR article makes clear, some economists believe innovation of new technology is crucial to creating new jobs and boosting our economy, which grew at an annualized rate of only about 2 percent during the first half of the year.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein was quoted in the article as saying, "Without innovation, not only would you be stuck at 2 percent -- we might be lucky to get 2 percent growth."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Who won our "Infinite Reality" book giveaway?

Our "Infinite Reality" giveaway is closed and the entries are in. We've put all the names in a proverbial hat and drawn two winners.

They are ...


Friday, July 15, 2011

eCliniqua notes how ProtoSphere is humanizing collaboration in life sciences for clinical teams

One of the interesting people I met at DIA 2011 was Ann Neuer, a writer in the clinical trials industry. We chatted about collaboration and learning in the clinical space.

I filled her in on some new things we're seeing in life sciences, and why organizations have been using ProtoSphere to achieve that human-to-human interaction when holding conferences, meetings, and other events virtually.

Last day to enter to win "Infinite Reality" -- the new book predicting the future of virtual technology on society

It's reminder time folks! You have until 5 p.m. ET today to enter to win one of two copies of "Infinite Reality," the new book by Jim Blascovich, Ph.D., and Jeremy Bailenson, Ph.D.

"Infinite Reality" is one of the most exhilarating books you'll read about how our brain behaves in digital worlds, and how virtual reality technology is transforming our future society.

The implications of virtual reality extend further than many of us realize, and the authors take you on a mind-bending journey predicting many surprising but highly plausible applications of virtual reality technology. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in the future of how we live and work.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Introducing the virtual office for the virtual office

You surely heard Microsoft launched Office 365, the company's new Office suite in the cloud. It includes Office Web Apps (online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote), Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online.

The experience of using Office 365 is as rich as if you were running the apps on your native desktop, but without the associated costs and support challenges. Microsoft has done a great job of bringing the desktop to the Web.

As you probably are aware, ProtoSphere Lync Edition utilizes Microsoft's Unified Communications infrastructure, and integrates with Microsoft Lync Server 2010, Microsoft SharePoint, The Microsoft Office Suite, and Microsoft Active Directory. In fact, it's the only virtual environment built on the Microsoft stack.

One of the things that our customers appreciate is that we've worked to keep ProtoSphere current with Microsoft's latest innovations. This goes back to our embrace of technologies such as SharePoint and Lync. Our integration initiatives have also extended to important partners that we find in our customers' ecosystem, such as Kaplan EduNeering.

And so in keeping with that tradition, we have added Office 365 support to ProtoSphere Lync Edition. But we're not adding this support just for technology's sake. As a cloud technology, Office 365 is an ideal match for ProtoSphere customers.

The combination will create something that is almost like an M.C. Escher print: what I call the virtual office for the virtual office. It's not just a clever headline. It speaks to exactly what we'll be delivering -- a place where you can work virtually not only with local content, but now with online content as well. We issued a press release with the news, which I thought I'd share here if you'd like some more details on our forthcoming Office 365 support. Any questions? My door is always open.

ProtonMedia to Support Microsoft Office 365

ProtoSphere Lync Edition to support Office 365 and associated online functionality

LANSDALE, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ProtonMedia, a Silver Unified Communications Microsoft partner, today announced its ProtoSphere Lync Edition application will support Microsoft Office 365. This will provide users the benefits of Microsoft’s Lync high-quality VoIP and Office 365 platform through ProtoSphere’s engaging virtual collaboration environment. Office 365 is Microsoft’s next generation in cloud productivity that joins Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online in an always-up-to-date cloud service.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ProtoSphere Standard Edition Feature Peek: Add YouTube and other Web-hosted videos to Presentation Boards

A few weeks ago, I showed you an upcoming ProtoSphere Standard Edition feature that will let you upload and play videos on Presentation Boards.

In addition to uploading video files from your computer, you'll also be able to bring videos into ProtoSphere via a URL path, such as from YouTube. This gives you greater flexibility in what Flash content you can use in ProtoSphere, and how you can bring it in.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Win the book from the researchers who revealed your brain in a virtual collaboration environment

Our blogging crew recently interviewed Jim Blascovich, Ph.D., about what happens in our brains when we're interacting in a virtual collaboration environment.

We've posted the podcast and transcript from our interview with Dr. Blascovich, where we delved into some profound psychological and sociological implications of working and training in virtual environments. But if you want to go on an even bigger mind-bender, I've got the goods.

We're going to give away two copies of Dr. Blascovich's new book, "Infinite Reality," which he co-authored with Jeremy Bailenson, Ph.D. Their book explores the science of virtual reality -- the good, bad, and ugly of what the virtual revolution has in store for us as business professionals and a society as a whole.

It's a great book, and a must-read for anyone who follows virtual technology. It'll get you thinking about how far we've come with virtual technology, and more important, how far we can go with it, especially in terms of how we interact, learn, and experience everyday life and what it means to be human.

So how can you win your copy? Here's how to enter.

Philadelphia Business Journal features our latest financing

Just a note of thanks to Philadelphia Business Journal's Peter Key for reporting on ProtonMedia's recent $4.5 million financing. Thanks much!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cisco's Cius tablet off life sciences' radar

You might have caught Cisco's announcement last week that it will be shipping its new Cius tablet on July 31. Cisco has also introduced AppHQ, its Android app store for Cius.

Network World's Jim Duffy has been following the story, and recently asked me what my opinion is of the Cius and its acceptance in the enterprise marketplace. He included some of my thoughts in his latest article on the news.

During our interview, we got to talking about the Cius in the life sciences industry. From where I sit, the Cius is not on the radar of life sciences executives. All of my conversations relating to tablets are squarely focused on iPad pilots in 2011-2012 and rollouts in 2012-2013.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Remote working: Employees' needs not being met

Telecommuting and virtual offices are becoming more pervasive across enterprises, but it's presenting a trade-off. "... while workers want autonomy and flexibility, they also want social connection," writes Jessica Stillman in a recent GigaOM article.

We're seeing this among enterprises too. One of the common challenges executives are grappling with is how to overcome the sense of isolation employees can get when working remotely.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Going around the horn with thanks to the Microsoft in Health blog, BNET, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Technically Philly

Last week was a big news week for us, with our $4.5 million financing announcement and our Microsoft's 2011 Life Sciences Innovation award win. Several reporters and bloggers featured us in their coverage, in addition to TechCrunch, which I blogged about earlier. Here are several other mentions that crossed my desk. I wanted to give a shout-out to all the folks who thought to report on us. Thanks to all!
  • Michael Naimoli, Worldwide Managing Director, Microsoft Life Sciences, blogged about our winning the company's 2011 Life Sciences Innovation award with PPD on the Microsoft in Health blog.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Five qualities of successful virtual teams

When I started working with ProtonMedia back in 2003, we were a completely virtual company focused on building e-learning solutions. Our fledgling start-up had about five employees, all of whom worked from our homes until we moved three years later into the office building we're in now.

The communication and collaboration tools we used created the fabric that held us together. E-mail and phone were big. So was instant messaging. It was probably the main way we communicated with one another on a daily basis. We even used an open source VoIP tool that became popular with our developers.

We faced many of the common challenges that most virtual teams grapple with. We had to learn to communicate well virtually, and trust one another without being in our physical presences. We needed the self-discipline to avoid getting distracted by the kids or Xbox consoles.

I think it took a mental shift among those of us who hadn't worked virtually before. But once we were settled into our routine, it was like second nature.

I was brought back to this after reading a new study by Brandman University researchers Charles Bullock, JD, LLM and Jennifer Tucker Klein, Ph.D., "Virtual Work Environments in the Post-Recession Era." It looked at trends in virtual teaming among large and Fortune 500 companies.

It's no surprise that 40 percent of respondents said that at least 40 percent of their employees work on virtual teams. But what I found most interesting was how these companies measured a successful virtual team.

Many of the qualities they deem important reflect our early ProtonMedia team. And through the years of working virtually, I have learned just how essential these qualities are. So I thought it useful to share some lessons I've learned about building and running a successful virtual team.

Hire the guy from Vermont. Hire the guy from Vermont, Montana, Canada, wherever. Geographical location is a moot point when it comes to building a virtual team. The Brandman study found that 50 percent of the companies surveyed thought the most important aspect of working in virtual teams was that it allowed them to hire the best talent. We learned that early on with one of the most skilled Flash developers ProtonMedia has had. He lived in Vermont and had no intentions of moving to Pennsylvania, where CEO Ron Burns was located. But since we had the ability to support virtual teaming, we hired him full time.

TechCrunch reports on ProtonMedia's $4.5 million financing

Leena Rao reported on our $4.5 million Series B financing on TechCrunch this week. Thanks for sharing our news, Leena.

Our team is back today from DIA 2011, and we hope to have some feedback and reactions on how the show went soon!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We add another Microsoft Life Sciences Innovation Award to our shelf

So I promised to share the goings-on here at DIA 2011, and here's an exciting update for you. Microsoft gave ProtonMedia and PPD its 2011 Life Sciences Innovation Award. This is the second time we've won the award. We took one home last year with Merck for the virtual poster session we developed together in ProtoSphere.

This year, Microsoft recognized PPD's use of ProtoSphere to create a virtual clinical trial training environment. Michael Naimoli, Managing Director of Life Sciences for Microsoft, announced the winners at last night's Life Sciences reception here at the DIA show, and it was indeed an honor to accept the award for the second year running!

We issued a press release today announcing the news, so I will turn your attention to that for more details on the award and project we did with PPD to win it. Thanks to the Microsoft folks for recognizing us!

PPD and ProtonMedia Win 2011 Microsoft Life Sciences Innovation Award

Microsoft recognizes ProtonMedia for the second consecutive year for its innovation in life sciences with its ProtoSphere virtual collaboration technology

DIA 2011

LANSDALE, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Microsoft Corp. has named PPD, Inc. (Nasdaq: PPDI) and ProtonMedia winners of a Microsoft 2011 Life Sciences Innovation Award, recognizing their innovative use of ProtonMedia’s ProtoSphere in creating PPD® 3D. The virtual, collaborative environment improves the cost-effectiveness, speed and quality of clinical trial training for life sciences organizations developing new medicines for people in need.

Monday, June 20, 2011

ProtonMedia raises $4.5 million in Series B financing

The past few months have felt like a whirlwind. And today I'm pleased to share with you some exciting news. We've completed a $4.5 million financing round led by Kaplan Ventures.

We announced the news in a press release today, which tells you more about what we'll be using the funding for, as well what it means for our partnership with Kaplan EduNeering and the work we're doing together in life sciences compliance training.

We completed a $2.5 million Series A financing two years ago, which now brings total investment in the company to $7 million.

ProtonMedia Raises $4.5 Million in Series B Financing Led by Kaplan Ventures

Kaplan EduNeering concurrently forms strategic reseller partnership with ProtonMedia

LANSDALE, Pa.--BUSINESS WIRE--ProtonMedia today announced the successful completion of a $4.5 million Series B venture financing led by Kaplan Ventures. ProtonMedia will use the funds to extend its leadership position within life sciences by further integrating its ProtoSphere virtual collaboration environment with ComplianceWire®, Kaplan EduNeering's validated cloud-based learning management system.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Virtual clinical trial efforts catching on, reports Outsourcing-Pharma

You might have heard about Pfizer's plans to conduct a virtual clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of the company’s Detrol LA product. The company will gather patient data through mobile phone and Web-based technologies, rather than clinic visits.

Pfizer's effort continues to signal a shift in the life sciences industry as it strives to conduct clinical trials more efficiently and cost effectively, writes Nick Taylor in an article on Outsourcing-Pharma this week.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More collaborative life sciences technologies to see at DIA 2011 in Chicago

We're Chicago-bound in a few days for the Drug Information Association (DIA) 2011 Annual Meeting, which runs June 19-23. I told you last week that Microsoft has asked us to showcase ProtoSphere and its integration with Lync at its booth, #1111.

In addition, we'll also be demonstrating our integrated compliance training solution with Kaplan EduNeering at the company’s booth, #224. So if you're planning on attending, you'll be able to see two important communication and collaboration technologies that have come to life sciences in the past seven months.

We formally announced the news in a press release today, so I will turn your eyes to that for more details on what we have in store at DIA 2011.

ProtonMedia to Showcase Collaborative Life Sciences Technologies at Microsoft Booth at DIA 2011

ProtonMedia to demonstrate how life sciences companies can use Microsoft Lync and ProtoSphere together for next-generation virtual communications and collaboration

DIA 2011

LANSDALE, Pa. -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- ProtonMedia today announced it will showcase its ProtoSphere application and integration with Microsoft Lync at Microsoft booth #1111 at the Drug Information Association (DIA) 2011 Annual Meeting. Attendees will see how ProtoSphere uses Lync as the heart of its communications features, giving the application the most scalable VoIP of any virtual collaboration environment. ProtonMedia will also be demonstrating its integrated compliance training solution with Kaplan EduNeering at the company's booth, #224, at the show. DIA 2011 takes place June 19-23 in Chicago.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

Your brain in a virtual collaboration environment, the transcript

We recently posted our podcast interview with Jim Blascovich, Ph.D., Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Co-Director of the Research Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

But if you prefer reading over listening, you're in luck because we've got the transcript for you today. Give it a look-see to learn Dr. Blascovich's latest findings about interacting in virtual environments.

You'll also get a peek inside his new book, "Infinite Reality," which he wrote with Jeremy Bailenson, Ph.D., Founding Director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab and Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University.

Janelle: Greetings, everyone. I'm Janelle Kozyra, your host for a ProtonMedia podcast. Today I am joined by Jim Blascovich, who is a Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Co-Director of the Research Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior at the University of California in Santa Barbara.

He is also the co-author of “Infinite Reality,” which he wrote with Jeremy Bailenson, and right now Jim is on sabbatical at Stanford. Welcome to our podcast, Jim. Good to have you with us.

Jim: Thank you. Good to be here.

Janelle: So let's give our listeners a little bit of a background on you and what you study as a psychologist.

PhillyBurbs finds ProtoSphere engaging

There's a lot of things to like about Crissa Shoemaker DeBree's recent coverage of ProtoSphere on PhillyBurbs. But frankly, we can't get over the awesome photo of Ron.

Thanks for featuring us!

The case for and against video conferencing

You gotta love Google Alerts. In my e-mail the other week was a juicy little tidbit that caught my eyes.

John Bartlett, a blogger for Unified Communications Strategies, recently hosted a podcast with his fellow bloggers to discuss use cases for video conferencing in business. They examined where video adds value, as well as where it does not in several spaces, including health care, human resources, mobile, and virtual conferencing.

I found it interesting, and I think you will too, because if you're reading this blog, you probably follow the UC space. Several insightful examples where brought to light by the panelists, which included Pam Avila, Art Rosenberg, Blair Pleasant, Don Van Doren, Michael Finneran, and Dave Michels.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

TMCnet covers the benefits of virtual collaboration

I'm not the only one talking about the benefits of working in a virtual collaboration environment. Beecher Tuttle recently posted an article on TMCnet discussing how companies are using collaborative software to lower operation costs, improve productivity, and increase employee engagement.

One thing I pointed out in the comment I left on his article was that using software to collaborate doesn’t have to be through a "a myriad of mediums," as he wrote. Some technologies -- cough, cough, ProtoSphere. Ahem -- can combine these tools into one immersive collaboration environment.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Microsoft booth to showcase collaborative life sciences technologies at DIA 2011 in Chicago

Here's exciting news for anyone interested in creating more effective teams. Microsoft has asked us to showcase ProtoSphere and its integration with Lync at its booth at the Drug Information Association (DIA) 2011 Annual Meeting.

ProtoSphere uses Lync as the heart of its communications features, giving our application the best-sounding and most scalable VoIP of any virtual collaboration environment.

About 8,000 life sciences professionals are expected to gather in Chicago in June for DIA 2011. One of reasons the DIA Annual Meeting attracts levels of attendees that rival a rock concert is because it's one of few, if not the only conference every year where life sciences professionals can be steeped in the latest innovations in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, clinical research, regulatory compliance, IT, and professional development all in one place.

Monday, May 23, 2011

This is your brain in a virtual collaboration environment

Jim Blascovich, Ph.D.
About a year ago, we posted an article titled "This is your brain on PowerPoint." It's consistently been one of our most popular posts since then. The point was to articulate the challenges of communicating 3-D information using 2-D methods.

We also talk a lot about the benefits of training, learning, and holding meetings and other events in virtual environments. Some of our customers have documented how they've been able to improve knowledge transfer and knowledge retention, for instance.

But what's really behind those numbers? Well, we went to Jim Blascovich, Ph.D., to find out. Here's what he had to tell us about what our brains are like in a virtual collaboration environment.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Microsoft snatches human-powered network from Cisco in Skype acquisition

Microsoft's acquisition of Skype comes at a noteworthy time. Last week, amid the breaking news and coverage about the deal, another major technology story took a new turn. It was headlined by Cisco.

The company announced that it plans to continue its massive restructuring, shut down underperforming business units, and cut $1 billion in expenses by fiscal 2012. That also might include laying off up to 4,000 employees, potentially the biggest layoff in the company's history.

This comes on the heels of Cisco folding its Flip video camera business in April as part of its restructuring of its consumer unit. It's a change that holds new significance now that Microsoft has acquired Skype.

In my opinion, the Microsoft-Skype deal has moved the center of the human-powered network to Redmond. Microsoft has taken Cisco's position in the market in one fell $8.5 billion swoop.

Think about it. Microsoft has historically been the data and document titan. Skype adds voice and video to its offerings, and Lync will be the connector that brings it the enterprise. Taken together, Microsoft has created the human-powered network that Cisco never was.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

PPD tells the Philadelphia Business Journal why training in ProtoSphere rivals that in the real world

You might have heard that ProtonMedia is working with PPD to jointly develop a new virtual clinical trial training technology. It will combine ProtoSphere with PPD® Adaptive Solutions, the company's suite of data and information technology solutions, to help life sciences organizations improve the cost effectiveness, speed, and quality of clinical trial training.

PPD has also begun using ProtoSphere to hold virtual meetings and training sessions with employees from around the globe. Stacy Weil, PPD's Executive Director of Global Performance Optimization, recently talked to Philadelphia Business Journal reporter Peter Key about why her company decided to use ProtoSphere and results she's seeing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Philadelphia Business Journal has a great photo of a guitar ...

... along with some guy who probably likes playing it ... I think his name is Ron or something?

Yep, it's me.

The editors of Philadelphia Business Journal featured me in their CEO File last week. It was a humbling experience to answer all of the editors' questions. It made me learn some things about myself that even I didn't realize!

You know, when I was growing up, the dream amongst my music buds and me was to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. Well, I haven't made Rolling Stone, but I did get into the PBJ!

Thanks to the PBJ editors for the opportunity. Appreciate it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today we announced our partnership with Sify Software Limited

A few weeks ago I gave you a sneak peek into our new partnership with Sify Software Limited, one of the largest managed enterprise and consumer Internet services companies in India. Today we formally announced our agreement on the wire.

We'll be working together to meld ProtoSphere with Sify’s learning and instructional design and systems integration services. The result will be a virtual environment that life sciences companies can use to improve knowledge sharing, increase knowledge retention, and boost employee performance.

Here's our press release with more details on how we'll be working together and what it means for life sciences companies.

ProtonMedia and Sify Sign Technology and Services Agreement

Partnership to deliver next-gen virtual learning and training solutions to global life sciences companies

LANSDALE, Pa.--(BUSINESSWIRE)--ProtonMedia and Sify Software Limited today announced a new technology and services agreement that will bring collaborative learning and training solutions to global life sciences companies and other such global organizations worldwide. Under the terms of the agreement, e-Learning Customers will now be able to meld ProtonMedia's virtual collaboration environment called ProtoSphere, with Sify's learning and instructional design and systems integration services to create a secure and virtual environment that will that help improve knowledge sharing, increase knowledge retention, and boost employee performance.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why I'm seeing double at ProtonMedia

When you work at ProtonMedia, you pretty much always see things in 3-D. It's the nature of the beast when you make a 3-D virtual environment. But ever since we moved to our new offices earlier this month, I've also been seeing double.

No, I don't need to go to the eye doctor. I'm just getting used to our new digs -- which are twice the size of our old offices.

It's great having all of this new space. As we've told you already on the blog, our relocation helps us support our expanding workforce -- including our newly created Solutions & Support team -- and our growing technology and services lineup, such as our forthcoming Mac version. We're planning to release it this summer.

We formally announced these changes in a press release today, which I've pasted here. We'll keep you in the loop on other developments as they happen.

ProtonMedia Doubles in Size -- Literally

Company relocates to larger offices and expands team to keep pace with growing adoption of its ProtoSphere virtual collaboration technology

LANSDALE, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In response to high demand for the company’s ProtoSphere technology, ProtonMedia has relocated to new offices that are twice the size of its previous location to accommodate a rapidly expanding workforce, and service and technology lineup. ProtonMedia has been investing in personnel, partners, and technologies (such as a new Mac version) to give customers more resources and to uphold its high standard for customer care and support.

Learn how to make better compliance decisions at the Kaplan EduNeering 2011 Knowledge Summit

If you're in the field of compliance and regulation, make sure you add this conference to your schedule: Kaplan EduNeering’s 2011 Knowledge Summit. It shakes down May 12 to 13 in Alexandria, Va.

The theme of this year's conference is Driving Organizational Behavior: Decisions, Mistakes, and Learning. Kaplan EduNeering has put together a great lineup of speakers, breakout sessions, and other activities for attendees to learn how they can make better compliance decisions, how to avoid costly compliance mistakes, and what drives good organizational behavior.

Speakers include
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