A Primer on the Trend Towards Video-enabled Business Processes

“One-third of online consumers in the US regularly watch user-generated videos on sites like YouTube“ – Forrester, Sept, 2010 (link)

“178 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in August for an average of 14.3 hours per viewer“ – comScore, Sept, 2010 (Link )

“70% of global online consumers watch online video. More than half of global online consumers watch online video in the workplace.” – Nielsen, Aug 2010 Link

When you think of it, kids growing up today are used to creating, uploading, and watching videos online. It is part of their daily activity.  It is how they interact with their friends.  It is how they get the information they need. If my kids are having a particular problem understanding a subject at school, they just enter a search into YouTube and they get the information they need. If they want to learn how to play a favorite song on the piano, they can find that on YouTube as well. If you want to find out how to change the faucet on one of your sinks in your house, you can find that too.

Sametime video_chat_composite Online video is becoming a natural part of our learning and collaborative processes as consumers.  Increasingly, consumers are relying on videos as a way to learn about companies and it’s products and services prior to making a purchase decision.  And consumers are beginning to expect to find videos online to help them with post-purchase support questions

So I believe its only a matter of time before employees expect videos to be a part of every business website, every business process. When the teenager of today enters the business workforce, they will expect videos to be embedded in all business applications as part of the learning and collaborative process.

I stared at IBM long before the Internet was around.  We learned and collaborated in a different way.  I could simply walk down the hall or across the building to reach a colleague live and in person, and collaborate on an intimate level. But in today’s virtual workplace, such interactions are harder, if not impossible, to come by, if they happen at all. And yet the need for such face-to- face exchanges hasn’t gone away; if anything, it’s greater than ever.

Technology is available today that allows us to collaborate face to face even though we are thousands of miles away from each other. Many companies have already implemented videoconferencing for executive briefing centers and have learned that this form of collaboration is a powerful way to communicate and can strengthen existing relationships. The ability to view colleagues, both inside and outside the enterprise, and see their reactions to important discussions is invaluable, particularly for situations involving selling, negotiation and starting up a new team. 

Video is increasingly important as tool in business processes, particularly in situations where visual information is critical to a discussion.  Processes like marketing, support, and training could all benefit from the use of videos.  In fact, I expect that over the next 10-20 years, the use of videos will impact most business processes, causing need for new roles, responsibilities, and education. IT leaders will need to understand the impact on the infrastructure and will need to have an overall video strategy that is aligned to business objectives.

Sametime Meetings_Rich_18Nov09 I expect 2011 to bring increased focus on integrating video into the matrix of different communication types within an organization in order to provide a seamless communication system across multiple networks, applications and devices.  In 2011, innovative business and IT leaders will have pilots and projects underway to understand how to make the best use of videos within the enterprise.

Of course I don’t expect this trend to be one that reaches mass adoption overnight in 2011, but I do expect to hear of some leading edge companies that are starting to embrace video and embed video collaboration into it’s processes and infrastructure.  These leading edge companies will provide the case studies that help convince other companies to do the same.

The rest of this post provides you with additional background on this trend, some additional marketplace quotes, and a list of websites and resources.

Drivers

  • High cost of travel
  • Remote employees
  • Customers want video, and often engage more readily with video content than written content

Inhibitors/Challenges

  • Video production is often seen as expensive (but it does not have to be)
  • Bandwidth

Implications

  • Videos will impact most business processes, causing need for new roles, responsibilities, and education.
  • What are the video applications that are driving strategic change?
  • IT leaders need to understand impact on the infrastructure
  • What impact will pervasive video and connectivity have on customers?
  • Need to have an overall video strategy that is aligned to business objectives

Quotes from the Marketplace:

“Mobile Video: is already used by 11% of global online consumers: penetration is highest in Asia-Pacific and among consumers in their late 20s“ – Nielsen, Aug 2010 Link

“User-generated content gives Web site visitors a voice and a presence, while giving organizations more opportunities to interact and communicate with their visitors. Smart companies align with users by allowing them to upload home-grown videos related to communications campaigns or products promotion.” – Frost (link)

“Top video-enabled organizations are able to shift the focus from supporting video to aligning video with accelerated business processes such as improved product development, accelerated talent acquisition, and revenue-enhanced sales opportunities.” – Hyoun Park, Aberdeen Link

“Technology that lets employees collaborate face-to-face without actually being face-to face can facilitate virtual collaboration easily and very cost-effectively. PC-based video conferencing software is that technology..” – Frost & Sullivan Link

 For More Information

Here are some sites where you will find links to other learning resources like white papers, demos, customer briefs, and videos.

Voice / Video Convergence Delivers Value

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IBM: Transforming your voice, video and collaboration infrastructure

Additional www.ibm.com Links

Here are some additional sites where you will find links to other learning resources like white papers, demos, customer briefs, and videos

A Primer on the Consumer Market for Household Robots

Slide2 This primer on Personal Robots is meant to be a quick introduction of the trend towards personal robotics – a trend that will have a significant impact on our lives in this and future centuries.  I’ve previously authored primers on other emerging trend and technology topics…for those check out my category “Primers”.

Little by little we are all starting to share more of our space with robots as prices drop and new innovative technology makes its way into new robotic products that are designed to make our lives easier, more fun, and safer.  Yes, adoption of personal robots is beginning to ramp up.  My house now has two Roombas (one upstairs, one downstairs).  While I still like to use a traditional vacuum as I know the carpets get cleaner, my wife and kids love the Roombas as they can turn it on, leave the room, and let it do its job while they do other things.  Both my parents and my in-laws also have Roombas and they absolutely love them.

Market Environment 

The concept of a machine that performs tasks normally done by humans has captured the imagination of people throughout the ages.  The term robot describes a machine that performs programmed tasks normally performed by humans, while robotics refers to the design, construction, and use of robots.  A robot does not need to be in human form, nor does it need to be controlled remotely. 

The toy market is where allot of the action is at these days.  Robotic technology is increasingly being embedded into all sorts of toys from dinosaurs to plush toys.  Entertainment robots have expanded in capability and fallen in price as well.  There are robotic toys for entertainment, such as the Pleo, the Prime-8 Gorilla, and the Lego Mindstorms line of toys robotic companions.  

However, there is a significant personal robot market waiting to be developed beyond just toys and entertainment…a wider range of task robots are already on the market like Paro the harbor seal, that comfort the elderly.   Household robots that perform chores, provide entertainment and monitor home security have become increasingly prevalent over the last few years.  Personal Robots are being used for tasks like vacuuming.  There are also robotic lawn mowers, duct cleaners, surveillance systems, and alarm clocks. 

I found the following video that provides an overview of some of the latest consumer robot enhancements.  While I found the video a little dry and the focus is more on entertainment robots, it does gives you a feel for what is new in 2010.

Market Opportunity

As evidence that there is a market for consumer and household robots beyond just toys, the iRobot Corp published a press release in January 2010 that indicated it has sold more than 5 million Roombas (home robot vacuums) worldwide since 2002.  As I mentioned above, I have two of those Roombas in my house alone.

Projections about the overall market opportunity for personal robots range dramatically.  According to a 2009 report by ABI Research, by the year 2015 personal robot sales in the U.S. will exceed $5B.  The report, Personal Robotics 2009: Task, Security & Surveillance/Telepresence, Entertainment and Education Robot, and Robotic Components Markets Through 2015  found that the personal robotics market will quadruple from 2009-2015, when worldwide shipments will be valued at $5.26 billion.  ABI defines personal robots as those robots that perform tasks for consumers that usually have something to do with security, a simple household chore, entertainment, or education.  ABI’s report singles out North America as the largest market for personal robots right now, followed by Japan (where the culture embraces robots) and the rest of AP. 

Market Drivers / Inhibitors

The growth in the market for personal and household robots will be driven by a number of factors.

  • Toys/Entertainment:  The toy/entertainment mass market, with its lower price point, will continue to grow and is the place where many companies experimenting in robotic technology will have success in the short term.
  • The 4 D's:  Consumers will be interested in buying robots that can help them do any task that has one of the ‘4D’ components – Dirty, Dangerous, Dull, and/or Difficult. 
  • Better technology:  Improvements in hardware, software, and design allow for enhanced robot applications.
  • Reduced prices:  Personal robots prices will continue to drop as 1) component prices drop and 2) demand for robots increases
  • Skills shortages:  As skill shortages happen, robots can assist and even boost productivity.

Inhibitors to rapid growth include cost justification, the current economic environment, limited performance, and fear, uncertainty, and doubt factors related to the use of robots. 

Technology

Major developments in microelectronics, (sensors/actuators), analytics software, and computer technology have led to significant advances in robotics.  The underlying technology in a robot contains some of all of the following components.

  • A physical device capable of interacting with its environment.  This would include sensors on or around the device that are able to sense the environment and give useful feedback to the device.
  • Systems that process sensory input in the context of the device's current situation and instruct the device to perform actions in response to the situation.  This would include operating systems and application software. 
  • Services for robots are similar to other emerging application areas (consulting, implementation, and maintenance), but the services are customized for specific application areas (security, cleaning, healthcare, etc.).

Advances in military and commercial robots continue to trickle down to the consumer personal robot market.  As the
market for innovative components grows (e.g., laser rangefinders in the
military and automotive industry), we’ll see continued advancement of robotic applications
in the consumer market.

Anticipated Developments

The main personal robot market segments that have thrived in recent years are toy/entertainment robots and vacuum cleaner robots.  I expect these segments to continue to continue to grow and thrive in the coming years.  Overtime, I expect to see more robots designed for the elderly and dependents to make their way to the market.  And I also expect to see more home security robots coming to the market.

The excitement surrounding the consumer robot market is in what lies ahead in terms of innovations.  We should expect innovations that enable increased precision, better controls, lower costs, and improved technology.  Not only will new robots have more computing power, but they will have improved knowledge based systems, speech recognition, wireless capabilities and improved power (fuel cells).  All these enhancements will greatly enhance robot use.

Other anticipated developments include:

  • Telepresence applications making their way to personal robots, allowing remote users to interact with the robot’s environment.
  • Future personal robots will be able to interact with their owners, express basic emotions, and help make decisions.
  • Advanced software in the area of analytics and artificial intelligence will result in improved robot decision making capabilities
  • Advancements in machine to machine communications will lead to robot networks, multi-robot systems, and remote/distributed robotics.
  • Long term, as nanotechnology enhancements come to market, we will see a new breed of Mini, Micro, and Nanobots

There should be no doubt in our minds that the future looks bright for personal robots.  They will have a significant impact on the lifestyles of our future generations.  Personal robots will improve our productivity by taking care of everyday chores.  They will improve our safety.  They will help us make better decisions. 

Eventually personal robots will become our constant companions.  Along the way, future generations will have to resolve a whole set of new issues relating to personal robots, including security/privacy issues, robot rights, robot/human ethics, and social/cultural issues.

Companies to Watch

There are hundreds of companies that manufacture robots and robot components.  Many of these companies are focused on the commercial or military robotic industry.  Some large consumer-oriented electronic companies like Honda, and Electrolux are attempting to address the consumer robot market.  However, most robot companies are small businesses and start ups.   Here’s a list of various companies focused on the consumer market.

Cleaning Robots

Lawnmowers

  • Belgium Robotic Systems – Robotic Lawnmower
  • Husqvarna – Sells a line of robotic lawnmowers
  • Precise Path –  Has introduced the RG3 Robotic Greens Mower for golf courses.  Long term plans includes a fleet of robotic vehicles designed to tackle for every aspect of golf course conditioning and maintenance.
  • Zucchetti – sells a robotic lawnmower called the Robotica

Companionship / Entertainment

  • Bossa Nova Robotics – Is focusing on innovative robotic toys, like the Prime-8 gorilla and the Penbo Penguin
  • GeckoSystems – Based in Atlanta, GA, it sells the CareBot™ line of Mobile Service Robots for the elderly care market
  • Hitachi’s EMIEW2 – Is a prototype mobile service robot with that can conduct basic services.
  • Mistubishi’s Wakamaru – A robot designed to provide companionship to elderly and disabled people. 
  • NEC’s PaPero – is a prototype entertainment/companionship robot designed to interact with humans.
  • AIST’s Paro – This robot looks like a seal and has been designed to provide animal therapy to patients and the elderly.
  • robosoft – Based in France, the company has introduced its Kompaï robot for home elderly use.
  • Toyota – Has a research arm focused on developing future robot systems titled Toyota Partner Robots designed to interact with humans and perform basic services.
  • Yujin Robotics’ iRobi –  iRobi is an entertainment/companionship robot that will interact with humans and perform basic task.

Security 

  • Fujitsu’s enon – a prototype service robot designed to perform various tasks, including security, surveillance, guidance/assistance, and transporting items.
  • Rotundus – Sells the GroundBot security robot, a remote-controlled sphere with embedded camera that can move silently inside and outside a building
  • Spykee Spy Robot – A remote controlled security robot packed with features, including camera, microphone, VOIP phone, flashlight, sound effects, and mp3 reader.
  • WowWee Group Ltd – Hong Kong based company offers the Rovio Wi-Fi Enabled Robotic WebCam, a household security robot 

Components/Solutions/Research

  • Anybots Inc. – Telepresence solutions for robots
  • Barrett Technology, Inc. -  Core technology includes improving flexibility in robotic arms and hands
  • CoroWare, Inc -  Expertise in personal telepresence and mobile robotics
  • dRobotics – Online retail store providing a wide variety of robot components and solutions.
  • General Vision Inc – Develops and sells image recognition systems (e.g. the CogniMem neural network chip) that can be applied to robots
  • Gostai – Is focused on developing and applying artificial intelligence capabilities and software platforms to robots.
  • Hitec RCD – Distributor of component parts for robots
  • Honda’s Asimo – Honda has a long history of researching robots, with a focus on Asimo and related humanoid technology.
  • Karto Robotics – Is developing software that can provide high accuracy navigation, mapping, and exploration functionality across a broad range of mobile robot platforms.
  • KumoTek LLC – Based near Dallas, Texas, KumoTek is a robotics design and manufacturing company focusing on consumer and service robots
  • MobileRobots Inc – Designs and manufactures autonomous mobile robotic systems, including the Motivity guidance and control technology.
  • OLogic Inc – A design company focusing on the design and packaging of internal components (sensor, processor, and mobility) and devices for robotics.
  • RoadNarrows Robotics – A Colorado company developing open-interface hardware and software robotic solutions.  Focuses on research and education markets.
  • Readybot – Based in Silicon Valley, this company is focusing on developing an easy-to-use, modular, off-the-shelf, robotic work platform.  One of their target markets is robots for the elderly. 
  • Speecys Corporation – Based in Tokyo, the stated main focus of Speecys is to develop a humanoid robot and the surrounding system that enable the robot to download content via the Internet so that it can provide entertainment and perform various tasks.
  • Surveyor Corporation – A California based developer of small robots, robot controllers, and other robot components for research and education.
  • White Box Robotics – Sells the 914 PC-BOT platform to researchers, academics, and developers. It is a mobile robot with an embedded PC complete with inputs for keyboard, monitor and mouse
  • Willow Garage – Is a team of experts in robot design, control, perception, and machine learning that develop hardware and open source software for personal robotic applications.

For More Information

Well, that’s it…a basic introduction into the emerging world of personal robots.  I think we can only attempt to imagine what the world of robots will be like in 100 years from now.  There is no doubt in my mind that the impact will be significant. 

I hope you enjoyed this primer into personal robots.  For primers into other emerging trend and technology topics…for those check out my category “Primers”.

Verizon: Top Ten Business Technology Trends For 2010

verizon-logo-470x3101 Verizon (www.verizonbusiness.com)  recently published its annual list of 10 business technology trends that it says will help companies grow their business in 2010.  While the list highlights the markets that Verizon plays in, the technologies are certainly ones that we should be watching.

Here’s a summary of Verizon Business’ list of 10 hot trends that will help move business forward in 2010 (my summary of the trend in italics):

  1. Enterprise Social Networking.   Social networking integrated into enterprise unified communications and collaboration strategies.  
  2. Aiming for the ‘Clouds’.  Cloud computing adoption continues, making IT more efficient and businesses more agile.
  3. 360 Security.  A trend towards applying security wherever data happens to be at the moment 
  4. Mobilizing the Workforce:  From Telework to Telepresence.  Companies to accelerate deployment of mobile apps to help spur productivity and innovation.
  5. Borderless Business.  Extending enterprise services and apps to employees, customers, suppliers and partners.
  6. High IQ Networks Fueling a Smart Economy.   Trend towards smarter networks will allow companies to allocate resources where and when needed.
  7. The Focus Will Be on Green.   The green trend continues to and will increasingly impact the way consumers and businesses make decisions.
  8. Seeing Is Believing.  Video is increasingly being used as a business tool to conduct meetings and deliver real-time content.
  9. More Wireless Apps, Especially Machine to Machine.   Wireless apps enable machines to communicate with each other and make “smart” decisions without human intervention. 
  10. 20/20 Vision.  Verizon ends with a very generic trend that says businesses will make better decisions in 2010 that will fuel their future growth.

For the full report, including video, audio podcasts and other related online resources, visit: http://www.verizonbusiness.com/go/2010_trends

For Verizon’s 2009 top trends list, check out my blog post Verizon: 2009 Top 10 Tech Trends

Forrester’s Top 15 Technology Trends For Enterprise Architects To Watch

Forrester_logo

Last month, Forrester published a report The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch that listed 15 technologies with the greatest potential for business impact over the next three years.   The report was presented on a November 4 conference call by two Forrester VPs, Alex Cullen and Gene Leganza. 

Forrester opened up the presentation by discussing the reasons why companies need to monitor new and changing technologies.  Simply said, IT organizations need to understand how changes in technology will impact IT and business operations, both short-term and long-term.

To come up with the list of 15 technologies, Forrester used three criteria during the selection process.

  • Impact on the Business and/or IT Operating Model
  • Newness of the Technology, which translates into lack of understanding/experience
  • Complexity of the Technology, which can minimize ability to leverage the technology or can translate into risk of failure

Forrester grouped the list of 15 into five major themes.  Here is the list of 15 below.

Theme No. 1: Social Computing In And Around The Enterprise.  The social computing trend will have a huge impact on business…as it is having in our personal lives

    1. Collaboration platforms become people-centric
    2. Customer community platforms integrate with business apps
    3. Tele-presence gains widespread use

Theme No. 2: Process-Centric Data And Intelligence.  This theme emphasizes the shift from batch analytics to real-time business analytics.

    1. Business Intelligence goes real-time
    2. Master data management matures
    3. Data quality services become real-time

Theme No. 3: Restructured IT Service Platforms.  This theme is about providing greater scalability and flexibility while reducing support costs.

    1. Sass Will be ubiquitous for packaged apps
    2. Cloud-based platforms become standard infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service
    3. Client virtualization is ubiquitous

Theme No. 4: Agile And Fit-To-Purpose Applications.  This theme signals that improving a firm's application flexibility is getting easier for EAs

    1. Business rules processing moves to the mainstream
    2. BPM will be the Web-2.0-enabled
    3. Policy-based SOA becomes predominant
    4. Security will be data-and content-based

Theme No. 5: Mobile As The New Desktop.   During the next three years, mobile computing will expand dramatically as a business platform.

    1. Apps and business processes go mobile
    2. Mobile networks and devices gain more power

The list above (especially the themes) really hit home with me.  I like the list and plan on using this list as input into my 2010 Trends report I'll be delivering in January.

For more information, you can

Primer on Unified Communications

What do we expect in 2009 for UC? A merged market between UC and collaboration, even more trial activity, business executives getting more involved with UC selections and deployments, IT managers continuing to demand interoperability based on standards, and UC managed service adoption. All these elements support growth to a $2.8 billion market by the end of 2009 — even amid economic uncertainty.Forrester , Jan 2009

Many organizations are starting to see the potential value of Unified Communications both to their staff and to their business processes.  Investing in UC can lead to reduced operational expenses.  I’m expecting that 2009 will bring increased focus on integrating the matrix of different communication types within an organization in order to provide a seamless communication system across multiple networks, applications and devices.

Enterprises will increasingly realize that they have multiple products and vendors performing the same communications functions, and that this redundancy creates additional expense (both for licenses, operations), makes it more difficult for users to learn, and increases the complexity of integration.  Vendors should realize the potential for convergence of these markets and work to accelerate the trend.

According to Gartner, during the next five years, the number of different communications vendors companies may be reduced by at least 50%.  Gartner says this change is driven by increases in the capability of application servers and the general shift of communication applications to common off-the-shelf servers and operating systems.  As this occurs, formerly distinct markets, each with distinct vendors, converge, resulting in massive consolidation in the communications industry.

Internally, most large enterprises have separate organizations managing the discrete communications tasks are generally separate today.  For example, the telephony department is separate from the storage networking team, which is separate from the data network team, which operates independently of the e-mail team, and the list goes on.  While the technologies, products and even vendors converge, users must work hard to converge their management teams and, more importantly, their business processes.

Drivers

  • Value of traditional desk phone and desktop PC is diminishing
  • Economic uncertainty as companies look to cut cost, e.g., in travel
  • Cost reductions programs
  • Integrate communication functions directly with business applications.
  • Trend towards convergence of digital content, IP as a common communication protocol, and machine-to-machine communications.

Inhibitors

  • Some technologies (e.g. presence) are not fully understood.  Products are still at an early stage and lack functionality.
  • Best practices are not well-defined: e.g., interaction with other technologies such as SaaS and cloud computing, conflicting standards.
  • Lack of coordination with legacy communication infrastructures
  • Many enterprises have struggled to internally support voice over IP (VoIP). The additional technical challenges of UC will only compound the support problem.
  • Soft ROI difficult in challenging economy

Observations:

Enterprises will look to integrate the matrix of different installed communication types in order to provide a seamless communication system across multiple networks, applications and devices.   Integrating communications and collaboration in a rich, multimedia experience — one that can include unified telephony, voice, video, instant messaging, Web conferencing, e-mail, voice mail, and business processes and applications — enables a whole new way for people, teams and communities to find experts and make faster, better decisions.

Recommendations:

  • Continue researching this important trend and understand its impact on each client’s business processes.
  • Build careful, detailed plans for when each category of communications function is replaced or converged, coupling this step with the prior completion of appropriate administration team convergence.

For More Information:

A Primer on Telepresence

With the economy the shape it is in right now, companies will be looking for an edge in cutting costs.  Watch for more companies to implement telepresence and video collaboration solutions in the effort to reduce corporate travel, improve global operations, and drive remote workforce productivity.

Video technologies and organizational capabilities have improved in the corporate environment.  As a result, companies are finally able to realize strong business benefits to support efforts in business uses as varied as reducing the corporate environmental footprint, promoting globalized workforce collaboration, accelerating complex product development initiatives, and aiding remote talent acquisition.

Telepresence Overview:  Telepresence – a kind of video conference providing the sensation that all participants are actually in the same room – is set for explosive growth.  TelePresence delivers real-time, face-to-face interactions between people and places in their work and personal lives using advanced visual, audio, and collaboration technologies.  These technologies transmit life-size, high-definition images and spatial discrete audio.  Telepresence delivers video that makes it easier than ever to discern facial expressions for those crucial business discussions and negotiations across the "virtual table." The telepresence illusion is so real that many execs forget the person they’re talking to is not really in the same room.  See a video of how this looks.

Opportunity: According to recent research by ABI, the whole market, which includes telepresence equipment, network services and managed services, is forecast to grow from a 2007 level of not quite $126 million to nearly $2.5 billion in 2013.  Telepresence solutions can cost in the neighborhood of $300,000, but many telepresence operations are handled as managed services.  And less expensive “executive” systems designed for one or two people mean that telepresence technology is now migrating down to middle managers, expanding the market.

Driving Forces:

  • The high cost of travel (in money, wasted time, and carbon emissions).
  • Increased need for a remote workforce to participate in time-sensitive collaboration sessions.
  • Demands of worldwide outsourcing
  • Improved and lower cost technologies for video, audio and collaboration

Inhibitors: Videoconferencing has traditionally been a difficult technology to implement in the enterprise, with problems: latency, jitter, poor video equipment, insufficient concern over the videoconferencing environment, lack of business purpose, organizational commitment, and comfort with using this technology.

Segmentation: According to a report by IDC (Worldwide Telepresence 2008–2012 Forecast and Analysis), there are three primary markets for telepresence solutions:

  • CEO and senior executive travel reduction (whether corporate jet or commercial airline travel),
  • Teamwork, and
  • Room rentals for companies unable to afford their own rooms.

Vendor Landscape: According to ABI Research, (see their vendor matrix – registration required) the top five telepresence vendors to watch are:

  1. Cisco Systems – Cisco is positioned very well to participate in the future telepresence market and they are pushing their solutions at this website.
  2. Tandberg – http://www.tandberg.com/totaltelepresence/
  3. Teliris – http://www.teliris.com/
  4. Polycom Incorporated:  http://www.polycom.com/usa/en/products/telepresence_video/telepresence_solutions/index.html
  5. Digital Video Enterprises:  http://www.dvetelepresence.com/

Future Vision: It is easy to imagine a future where we use video conferencing as easy as we use instant messaging today.  The adoption will move from simple employee to employee webcam video calls to social networking and collaborative solutions that connect not only employees to one another, but CEOs to CEOs.  Future business applications will be video conference enabled, allowing businesses to collaborate seamlessly with their vendors, partners, and customers.

Future Challenges: Looking forward to the future, the biggest obstacle facing the mass adoption of telepresence is interoperability.  Although telepresence vendors have begun to broach the issue of interoperability, the market is far from allowing complete federation across all systems to allow for room-to-room calling.  Vendors are pushing forward very slowly interoperability, saying that standards, modularity, and interoperability are at odds with the art and science behind creating telepresence experiences and the potential for continued innovation in this space.  So at least for awhile, interoperability will take a back seat to innovation.

Hungry For more information?

14 Emerging Technologies on My Radar

Here's some technologies that will impact us in the future that I am keeping my eye on.  Some of these are around today but just haven’t hit prime time, others are in the works. 

  1. Internet 3.0    The web will transform into a personal agent that basically tells us what we want to to know and when we want to know it.  Important enabling technologies will be wireless technology, sensors, location and semantic technologies. 
  2. Enterprise Social Networks:  We are already seeing the impact of social networks on our personal lives, but they are just starting to make inroads into enterprises.  Social networking technology will have profound impacts on management systems within enterprises.  Corporations will turn to new innovative business models based off of crowdsourcing, social network analysis, prediction markets and user ratings. 
  3. Virtual Worlds:    There is no doubt that virtual worlds need to get easier before they become more mainstream.  It has to be integrated with social software platforms and instant messaging.  Ease of use, visible presence, unified communications and personalization will make virtual worlds a reality. 
  4. Nanotechnology….Already having an impact in a number of industries, nanotechnology will enable unprecedented levels of control with incredibly small parts…having all sorts of implications for future materials, hardware components, and devices.
  5. User Interfaces:   We are so used to using the mouse and the keyboard as an input device.  I think we are in the early stages of totally new ways to interact with our electronic devices.  The short term focus will be on touch technologies.  After that, I expect advancements in gesture computing and speech technology.  Regarding display technology, I'll be looking for new displays that will offer 3D, be flexible and project over large areas. 
  6. 3D printers:  3D printers will provide a way for businesses to rapidly prototype potential products.  The technique involves "printing" three-dimensional objects with plaster or resin.  Some are even predicting a mass market for 3D printers for consumers.
  7. Robots:  Robots will increasingly make their way into the business and consumer markets.  The Roomba vacuum robot we have in our house does a great job.  Expect robots to be increasingly used for applications like military operations, lifting and rescue operations, security, healthcare delivery, human companionship and other mundane chores. 
  8. Mobile Applications & Services.   There can be no question that mobile devices are important to the future of business.  The gold rush is on to develop enterprise-based mobile applications, services and cloud infrastructures, both public and private.   I expect a flood of new application services designed specifically for the business mobile user, including those incorporating location awareness, video, and social technologies.  In the future, your mobile device will contain your profile information and will mediate relationships across social networks, commercial transactions, security clearances, and any device with embedded intelligence.
  9. Human augmentation:   Technology is increasingly playing an important part in healthcare.  My eyesight is just great thanks to that Lasik surgery I had 9 years ago.   On the horizon are advancements in implants, brain interfaces, genetic selection and nerve to prosthesis applications.  If you saw the movie IronMan last year, you have an idea of where all this is heading. 
  10. Telepresence/Video Conferencing.   Telepresence and 3D video conferencing capability will eventually be common for enterprises, having a huge impact on corporate travel, workforce collaboration and productivity.  It will allow enterprises to form closer relationships with clients, partners, and clients.
  11. Quantum Computing….Perhaps a little further out than a 15 year planning horizon, quantum computing will allow computers to perform calculations in seconds versus the hours it takes today.
  12. Embedded Intelligence…Embedded intelligence will enable an increasing amount of communication with mobile devices, appliances, store shelves, vehicles, bridges, buildings, people, animals, and even plants.  Embedded technologies and solutions will allow enterprises to create a true sense and respond framework.  By extracting useful events and insights from this data, organizations can quickly respond to new opportunities and / or threats. 
  13. Cloud Computing… The rise of data-intensive applications, virtualization, and mobile and networking technologies is driving adoption of cloud computing.  As sensors proliferate and the world becomes 'smarter', more computing power will be needed to keep up with all the transactions.
  14. Cleantech… There is a growing focus on products and services that improve the efficiency of assets while reducing energy usage, waste, or pollution.  There are a number of emerging technologies in this area, including water management, solar energy, wind energy, biofuel green buildings, green IT, intelligent transportation systems, smart grid, and fuel cells.

There's more than just fourteen on my radar list, but these come to front of mind right now.