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

image

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

HorizonWatching: Top IT Technology Trends For 2011

I’ve developed my list of top Information Technology Trends for 2011 to add to the trend lists that are being published at this time of year.  I came up with 11 trends this year on the list, rather than the customary ten. 

Slide2 The list below should not be a surprise to you all that much as most of the trends have been on my radar (and probably yours) for a number of years already.  Some of them are more mature in their adoption and development than others.  However, those that made my list are the trends that I feel will have the most impact on IT departments in 2011. 

For each of the trends, I’ve provided a short discussion of trend and what developments I expect in 2011.  I also provide you with links to sites where you can explore the trend topic in more detail.  All the text makes for a long post, but I like sharing more information rather than less.   With that in mind, here are the top IT technologies trends to watch in 2011.

 

1.  Private Clouds

The cloud computing ‘buzz’ has been going on now for 3 years.  Public clouds have been a major part of the discussion and experimentation.  However, more companies have begun adopting approaches to private clouds in parts of their businesses.  Many CIOs and business leaders are concerned with having their data residing outside their firewall.   In 2011 I expect to see mid and large-sized businesses to increase their experimentation and implementation of private clouds as the promise of the cloud delivery model is one that is just too good to pass up.  There’s also a growing interest in private ‘community clouds’ hosted for a group of organizations who trust each other.  The largest hurdles to cloud computing continue to be a lack of cloud standards and concerns regarding security, availability and performance.

For more information

 

2. Virtualization

Virtualized infrastructures are becoming popular not only for cost savings, but because they can enable quick changes to business models, operating structures and the way that business processes are enabled.  In addition, a highly virtualized infrastructure is a prerequisite for private clouds so CIOs will continue to focus on virtualization.    Over the last 3-4 years we’ve seen server virtualization really take off as a trend and now it is almost standard technology in the data center.  While security concerns remain a hurdle to deployment, we’ll continue to see a focus on virtualization across the entire infrastructure in 2011. 

For more information

 

3. Social Business

Social collaboration is changing the way business is being conducted.  Over the next 10-15 years, social computing capability will becomes part of every business function within the company.  Social capabilities will become embedded in every single website, computing device for every participant in every single business transaction.  All participants involved in a company’s business processes and transactions will have the ability to share content, comment on content, rate/vote on content, and collaborate in an open and sharing environment.  In addition, all this social activity will generate data that will be mined and analyzed in both batch and in real-time.  The insights generated will be a critical input into all business processes, including research, product development, marketing, sales, technical support, and even business processes like accounting, procurement, and legal.  Since social will eventually be embedded in every business process and transaction workflow, social computing capability will need to be a critical part of every business application.  As a result, I expect entire business application suites will be rewritten to make use of social collaboration features.

For more information

 

4. Mobile Computing 

5 years ago, mobile meant something entirely different than it does today, thanks to the introduction of the smartphone, the Iphone, Google’s introduction of Android, and just this past year, the iPad.   Mobile computing and the ecosystem that surrounds it is a major growth industry.  As smartphone adoption grows and the application infrastructure becomes more sophisticated, mobile will expand beyond messaging, and make mobile email, mobile websites and mobile applications viable channels in which to conduct business.  Enabling technologies will be new devices, faster networks, new location-aware technology, and improved mobile applications.  Some key mobile trends to watch in 2011 include Location Based Services, Mobile Apps, Mobile Gaming, Event-Based Mobile Marketing, and Augmented Reality.

  • Prediction that Smartphone Sales To Beat PC Sales By 2011 (see this)
  • Mobile Web usage more than doubling YoY (see this)

For more information

 

5. Storage Trends

The huge growth of videos, pictures, audio, social media and other unstructured data is taxing the storage systems of many data centers.   The cost of storage for most enterprises remains a high component of the overall cost of a datacenter, even though the cost of storage per gigabyte continues to drop.  In addition other trends are impacting storage, including Cloud computing, virtualization, energy costs, economics and performance.  In 2011, watch for increased adoption of storage technologies like data deduplication, flash, solid state disks and automating volume-level tiering.

For more information

 

6.  Advanced Business Analytics

While information overload was once a barrier to good decision making, today’s technology and analytics expertise make it a real benefit. The explosion of data that is taxing storage systems is also driving the requirement for advanced business analytics.  Business leaders are yearning for deeper knowledge and insights on all aspects of their business and they know that the information they need is available within all the data flowing through the company IT systems.  Advanced analytics solutions can help business leaders adopt a proactive versus reactive strategy, enabling them to predict future behaviors and events before they occur.   Insights generated can help business leaders optimize individual business decisions, processes and entire business models, as well as manage risk and fraud, with the goal of improving the development and delivery of products and services. In 2011 look for advancements in streaming technologies, mathematical algorithms and predictive modeling as applied to business analytic solutions. 

For more information

 

7. The Personalized Web

Thanks to the explosion of social media, how users are influenced, consume information, and make purchasing decisions has been altered forever.  Users are increasingly expecting company websites, products, and services to be tailored to their individual preferences, past experiences, and what they happen to be doing at this very moment.  This puts the demand on business and IT leaders to create a personalized and engaging experience for end-users across all channels, both online and offline.  In 2011, I expect business to focus on advanced solutions that can delivering a more personalized experience to end users.   These solutions will be designed to mine the customer’s profile, buying behavior, browsing behavior and other insights obtained through marketing analytics in order to deliver a more customized and personalized online experience.  Look for further improvements in technologies such as marketing analytics and predictive algorithms that can automatically deliver highly relevant, contextually aware, personalized content and recommendations to customers via both online and offline channels.

For more information

 

8. Video-enabled Business Processes

Video content continues to make its way into all business processes.  This trend will continue over the next 5-10 years.  It makes my list this year as it is crossing over from both a security tool and a marketing (e.g. YouTube) tool, into a tool that can be applied across business processes to improve the way businesses communicate, collaborate, and educate all stakeholders.  Visual communication can actively promote teamwork and accelerate problem-solving processes leading to better business decisions.  In 2011, I expect forward looking business leaders and business process reengineering consultants will begin to use video to transform key business processes in order to create competitive advantage, lower costs, and to reduce environmental impact, particularly by avoiding the need for travel.  IT departments need to start preparing now to be able to handle future video requirements.

For more information

 

9. Service Oriented Architecture

In 2011 (as in recent years), I expect continued focus on aligning information technology efforts with business objectives and SOA will be a big part of those discussions.  SOA has been around for years, so it is not a new concept at all.   What’s new is that 1) business processes are in need of reengineering as a result of the social, mobile, and video trends discussed above and 2) a service orientation is a prerequisite for private clouds.  This doesn't mean that a mature SOA must already exist before an enterprise can venture into the cloud, but rather that architecture strategies that involve cloud must have a service orientation.  A service orientation gives businesses the ability and flexibility to realign operations as business goals evolve from year to year.   This ability can mean a competitive edge in terms of time to market for products and services, responsiveness to customers, and customer satisfaction.  So in 2011, I expect to see increased interest in SOA policy governance tools, repositories, and business rules engines all driven by the need of businesses to become more agile and prepare themselves for private clouds.

For more information

 

10. Sustainability and IT

Government and Business leaders alike are looking across their operations, to the products and solutions they sell, to the way they manage supplier relationships in order to understand how to better protect Mother Earth. The sustainability trend is a big one and technology can play a big part in helping to eliminate wasted energy, wasted space, and wasted natural resources/materials.  New technologies are available that can help organizations become more energy efficient, implement new ways to source, manufacture and distribute goods and services in a more sustainable manner, and enable safe and renewable sources of energy. In 2011, I expect companies and governments to develop strategies to incorporate sustainability information technology solutions that include the capability to analyze data and synthesize information in a variety of forms required by different departments within an organization.

For more information

 

11.  Risk Management

Organizations are facing an ever evolving and increasingly sophisticated threat environment.  Adding to the complexity is the fact that organizations are installing new computing capabilities such as cloud computing, mobile computing, and social computing that are making applications  interconnected than ever before.  These new technologies are also introducing new risks that are compromising critical infrastructures, privacy and identity, requiring organizations to rethink how they deal with compliance, risk management and data protection. Business and IT leaders are realizing that they need to build security and risk management capability into the initial design of their infrastructure and their applications, rather than add them on as an afterthought.  In 2011, I expect organizations will increase their focus on employ technology solutions to help them manage risk and provide a more secure environment for business operations.

For more information:

 

So there you go, that is my list of the top IT related technology trends that I believe will have an impact on IT departments in 2011.  CIOs and their IT departments should be well aware of these trends and have plans to implement the enabling technologies that make up these trends.   I’m developing a slide deck version of this post and will be posting it to the HorizonWatching account at SlideShare http://www.slideshare.net/HorizonWatching  sometime in early January. 

Top Ten Digital Marketing Trends For 2011

If you are in the marketing profession, I think you’ll agree that our profession is experiencing some major disruption.

Top Ten Digital Marketing Trends for 2011 - HorizonWatching The traditional marketing theory and methods I learned at Kellogg Graduate School of Management back in the mid-90’s are still very valid.  Half the battle is still doing the all important work of market segmentation, targeting, and positioning. I still refer to my 7th edition of Phil Kotler’s textbook Marketing Management from time to time (although that book is now in it’s 12th edition!)

However, back in 1995, we had no clue just how much the Internet would impact marketing over the next 15 years.  And the impact has been very significant. The Internet has turned into a game changer for marketing. 

Leading edge marketing professionals understand that they need to learn how to leverage all the new digital marketing capabilities.  It is a great opportunity to build brand value, increase revenues, and cut down on marketing expenses.

So with that in mind, lets take a look at the top trends in online / digital marketing for 2011. 

  1. Marketing Budgets Will Continue to Shift Towards Online.  Customers and prospects are increasingly going online early in the buying cycle to gather information, form relationships, and make decisions about how they will buy.  As a result, marketing leaders must move marketing mix budgets to mirror where the customers and prospects are – online.  Online channels can reach a very targeted audience, are lower cost, and are becoming more measurable.  As a result we should expect the continued decline in the use of traditional media.  This cannibalization of traditional media will bring about new marketing channels, professions, and processes as well as a decline in overall advertising budgets.  Traditional agencies and publishers must transform their businesses to include digital marketing capabilities.
  2. Social Media Marketing Is Maturing.  Those in the marketing profession can sense that we are in the middle of an important transition to the use of social media for marketing purposes.  While the past few years many marketers have been experimenting with social media tactics, in 2011, leading marketing teams will be executing social tactics that are fully integrated into the overall marketing strategy. An overall social media marketing process will emerge that has firms following a never ending cycle of 1)Research, 2) Plan, 3)  Engage and 4) Measure.  Simultaneously, a new set of marketing capabilities are emerging, including Social Listening Research, Influencer Marketing, Community Marketing, and Social Gaming.  These new capabilities will require new marketing marketing professional Career Paths and Education tailored to the new social media marketing realities. 
  3. Mobile Marketing Set To Take Off.  In conjunction with the Social Media Marketing trend described above, the interest in mobile marketing has exploded, driven by the tremendous success of and media buzz around Apple’s iPhone, Google’s introduction of Android, and Apple’s introduction of the iPad.  As smartphone adoption grows, mobile marketing will expand beyond mobile messaging, and make mobile email, mobile websites and mobile applications viable channels in which to conduct marketing.  The combination of new devices, faster networks and new location-aware technology, will fuel this steady march toward greater significance.  Some key mobile marketing trends to watch in 2011 include Location Based Services, Mobile Apps, Mobile Gaming, Event-Based Mobile Marketing, and Augmented Reality.
  4. Personalized Marketing Customizes Messages To Individual.  Expect more personalization capability to be embedded in websites in 2011.  Regular visitors to a web site will see a page based on all the information collected from previous visits.  Marketers will present personalized sites to these customers by organizing information and prioritizing it based on the individual's liking.  Products and services offered on those pages will be pre-configured. “Anonymous” visitors to websites will get customized messages based on referring URL, search terms, geo-location and other insights.  Personalized marketing will be extended beyond the website to other digital channels, including social media marketing, mobile marketing, and email marketing.
  5. Social Video As A Marketing Tool Gains Momentum.  Video is an incredible way to connect with people online.  Until the Internet, the only way to get your video message to a mass audience was to pay for a TV commercial.  Today, social media sites and video go hand in hand. Distributing video via your social networks is a powerful way to imprint your images into the memory of your customers and prospects.  Video strengthens the relationships you have with existing customers and it helps prospects get to know you better.  So in 2011, there will be a focus among digital marketing professionals to understand how to make the best use of Video Marketing within Social Media Marketing Strategies and Programs.
  6. Search Engine Optimization Gets More Complex.  Customers naturally use search engines as their primary vehicle to find information on products and services.  But its not a one search engine game anymore as Google’s been joined by Bing in the US market and there are important local players like China’s Baidu and Russia’s Yandex.  On top of that, social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are increasingly becoming an important source for searching.  Add to that search engine innovation, mobile search, and geo-location search and the job of the marketing professional to ensure their brand is on the first page of search results gets so much more complex.
  7. Marketing Analytics Helps Make Sense Of All The Noise.  The explosion of social conversations across the many online channels is providing marketers with a never ending stream of incoming data.  The challenge for marketing professionals is to turn all that data into insights and then develop strategies/actions based on those insights.  Marketing analytics applications can help, but they need to get better at integrating data from all sources (web, search, video, mobile, and social conversations).  Analytic applications will also need to get smarter and more predictive about customer buying preferences based on all that data.   In 2011, I expect to see a focus on the development of advanced analytic capabilities that can identify, analyze and describe patterns within all the information “noise”, giving marketing professionals important predictive insights they can use for making better decisions.
  8. Real Time Web Assistance Connects Buyer With Experts.  Online customers and consumers are some of the most impatient and demanding around.  They expect answers from your online support group right away.  Live chat services allow operators to interact with online customers and respond to their questions quickly, helping you convert web queries into customers and site traffic into transactions.  In 2011 watch for leading edge companies to combine the use of Twitter customer service accounts and the real-time chat services to provide ways of connecting product / service experts with customers in real-time in order to solve customer business issues.
  9. Online Privacy Concerns Continue.  Privacy issues continue to be an important trend for marketing professionals to be out in front of as government regulators have threatened to legislate solutions if the industry does not take action by itself.  Creating a secure online transactional environment is absolutely critical to a maintaining trust in customer relationships.  All it takes is one significant privacy issue to negatively impact a brand.  Privacy concerns from customers have forced brands like Facebook and Google to continually adjust their business models.  As enterprise marketing gets more social and mobile, privacy issues must be dealt with very carefully. 
  10. Digital Marketing Optimization Emerges As A Priority.  The past few years we have seen new ‘islands’ of marketing capabilities emerge within the marketing profession.  We are moving beyond Web 2.0 with all sorts of new channels and capabilities including mobile (messaging, websites, apps), rich media (video, podcasting, gaming), social media (blogs, microblogging, social networks, user generated content), and more.  The state of digital marketing is such that these ‘islands’ are not well integrated into an overall cohesive strategy.  In 2011 expect to see a focus from marketing leaders to focus on optimizing and integrating these separate initiatives into an overall umbrella digital marketing strategy.

So these are the online and digital marketing trends I’ll be watching closely in 2011.  A look through the above list tells you that there is so happening in online marketing.  As it is in almost every industry, Internet technology is totally changing the rules.   

Gartner’s 2011 Top Ten Strategic Technologies

Gartner Ten Strategic 2011 Gartner recently held their Symposium/ITxpo, October 17-21, in Orlando.  At that conference, Gartner released their annual list of top 10 Strategic Technologies and trends for 2011 in a presentation delivered by Gartner VPs David Cearley and Carl Claunch

Gartner defines a strategic technology as one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years.  Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.  

The summary below provides the list of the ten technologies along with my summary observations about Gartner’s take on technology trend.  The first five on the 2011 list is familiar from last year's list. 

  • Cloud Computing. This trend continues to mature along both private and public delivery models.  In 2011 expect more vendors to focus on providing private services or technologies to create private implementations to address concerns with security and control.
  • Next-Generation Analytics.  Gartner says the next focus for analytics is to combine real-time predictive functionality with collaborative applications.   Future analytics capabilities will bring business intelligence to a much broader set of users and therefore impact a broader set of business processes.
  • Social Communications and Collaboration.  An outgrowth of the ‘Web 2.0’ trend, this technology area includes the use of social software for internal communication and collaboration, customer-facing websites, and public social networking.
  • Mobile Applications and Media Tablets.  This emerging technology will significantly impact both consumer and enterprise computing.  Gartner points out that the launch of the Apple iPad will drive IT departments to evaluate when, where and how tablets should be used in a business context.
  • Storage class memory.   Gartner says that flash memory, becoming popular in consumer devices, will make its way into the enterprise storage hierarchy in servers and client computers.  There are key advantages for IT (space, heat, performance and ruggedness).  Expect this technology to have a significant impact on many analytical and transactional applications.

New to the Gartner list for 2011 are the following 5 technologies.

  • Social Analysis:   Gartner says that social analytics, an intersection of “Next Generation Analytics” and “Social Communications and Collaboration”, is an important emerging trend.   A key development to watch out for will be the ability to harvest intelligence from mobile applications and context aware computing. 
  • Context-Aware Computing:  Systems will increasingly anticipate the user's needs (based on their things like environment and historical behavior patterns), then proactively provide the most appropriate and customized content, product or service.
  • Video:  Gartner says it is time for businesses to develop strategies and goals for using video technologies within business processes.  Video can add new capabilities to business processes and workflow.
  • Fabric-Based Infrastructure and Computing:   Gartner says systems will become more flexible and modular as they evolve to support the dynamic needs of public and private cloud computing.
  • Ubiquitous Computing:   The explosion of sensors, chips, and other low cost computing devices is resulting in smarter objects.   Businesses and IT leaders will need to learn how to incorporate these ever increasing large number of computing devices and their data they provide into business processes and decision making systems.

For more on Gartner's list of 10 strategic technologies

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

Friday Gadget: The Recon Scout Rescue Miniature, Mobile Reconnaissance Device

Here’s a simple looking device with a wireless-transmitting camera that can go where people can’t…or where it is safe to go.

TheRecon Scout Recon Scout® Rescue is a miniature, mobile reconnaissance device that will add greater safety and speed to search and rescue and hazmat operations. According to the company, using it requires no special training, making it a great for firefighters, disaster responders, and public safety professionals.

For example, a firefighter using would just pull the activation pin and throw the device through a doorway or over a wall, or drop it down a vertical shaft using a tether.   Then by using a joystick on a handheld control, the firefighter can then direct the device to move through.   Equipped with an infrared optical system that automatically turns on when the ambient light is low, the Rescue can see in complete darkness and can transmit video up to 100 feet indoors and 300 feet outdoors.  Additional accessories allow it to transmit video to an incident command post that can be located up to 1,000 feet away.

The performance characteristics of the Recon Scout Rescue make it ideally suited to this task:

  • The Recon Scout Rescue is just seven inches long and weighs just one pound, making it extremely easy to carry and throw.
  • Deploying the Rescue takes less than 15 seconds and requires no special training.
  • The device is equipped with sophisticated infrared optical systems that can see in complete darkness and automatically turn on when the ambient light is low.
  • The Rescue transmits clear, crisp video through walls and debris up to 100 feet to a handheld Operator Control Unit (OCU) or up to 1,000 feet to a Command Monitoring Station.
  • The device can withstand throws of 120 feet and it can be tossed through windows or doors, over walls, or down a flight of stairs.
  • It can also be dropped down a vertical shaft or into a void using a provided tether.

I am thinking future version of these devices can be fitted with all types of sensors to measure things like temperature, air quality, water quality, etc.

Check out more on the website http://www.recon-scout.com

New IBM Commercials Highlight Smarter Planet Issues

imageIBM has just launched five new TV commercials in conjunction with the US Open tennis tournament. 

The TV commercials support IBM’s strategic Smarter Planet campaign, so there is a little selling going on in the videos.  However, these are important emerging trends, so here you go.

  • Cloud – Message:  Workstations used to be tied to a mainframe. Now they're conversing with a cloud.
  • Secure Collaboration -  Message:  The choice between being open and being secure isn't a choice anymore. Collaboration is the key to business on a smarter planet, but you need to make sure your business is protected.
  • Oil -  Message:   Energy is one of the world's most vital resources.  How we extract, use and preserve this resource is vital to our future.
  • Water -  Message:  Water is something we all take for granted, but there is a limited amount in the world. Smarter water management is necessary to ensure our farms, factories and businesses continue to have access to safe, high quality water.
  • Public Safety – Message:  Cities all over the world are getting smarter.  By collecting, analyzing and sharing data, your city can be safer, too.

I really like the creative look and feel of these commercials.  I understand there was a bunch of research that went into them.   While I believe the commercials will appeal to the public at large, they are obviously designed to target the IT audience, line of business leaders and CXOs. 

For more on IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative, check out http://www.ibm.com/ibm/ideasfromibm/us/smartplanet/index.shtml

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?

CIO: 10 Websites That Will Matter in 2009

My last post, ReadWrite Web: Top 10 Semantic Web Products of 2008, provided 10 websites that were on the leading edge of web services.

Another article from CIO.com titled 10 Websites That Will Matter in 2009 also caught my eye.   I am always interested in articles like this as they almost always have a few new websites that I have never heard of before, but are pushing the envelope of Web 2.0 and web services.  This article did just that.

Take a look at this list of ten web sites.  They all have the potential to generate lots of buzz in 2009.  A few of them might become among your most favorite sites.

  1. TV.com:  TV.com (http://www.tv.com/). owned by CBS, has been relaunched with full-length programs (movies and prime-time TV shows).  In addition you can find promo clips, cast profiles, interviews, and discussions.  The big question in 2009 is will tv.com mount a big enough challenge to Hulu?  Right now Hulu (owned in part by NBC) has momentum and video quality on their side.  

  2. Qik:  Qik (http://www.qik.com/) provides a platform where you can easily stream and share live video from your mobile or cell phone cameral.  You can even set it up to send the video straight to YouTube, your blog, or to your page on Facebook.
  3. Boxee:  Boxee (http://www.boxee.tv/) is designed to collect video from all over the web (Hulu, YouTube, CNN.com, and many others) and put it in a very neat and easy-to-use interface that you can access via a PC or on your TV.  Currently available only on Apple / Linux machines, the company says it is working on a Windows version.
  4. Blackberry Application Storefront:  Research in Motion (RIM), learning a lesson from the Iphone playbook, is opening up a store for independently developed BlackBerry apps, called the BlackBerry Application Storefront.  This page is not open, but you can check for it at  BlackBerry signup page on the Storefront
  5. Loopt:   Finding friends and  then things to do with those friends has never been easier.  Loopt (http://www.loopt.com/) shows you a map, and your position on it, and also the positions of your mobile friends who are in the vicinity.  Then Loopt detects businesses in the area and makes suggestions based on your interests or specific queries ("beer, pizza, bowling"). 
  6. Blip.fm:  Blip.fm (http://www.blip.fm/)  really is like Twitter for music.  A social networking place for people who enjoy music.  What you see at the site is a scrolling list of people's song choices with their short comments about them.  These are called Blips. You can listen to the "blipped" songs as they come up, or skip up and down the list to songs you like. And that is just the start of all the fun you can have on this site.
  7. Power.com:  Power.com (http://www.power.com/) operates on the premise that many of us now belong to several social networking sites and that it is a hassle to log in and post to each site separately.  Power.com lets you log in once, then view (and post to) any of a long list of social networking sites that you sync the service up with–all from one place.  One thing to watch in 2009 is their stormy relationship with Facebook.
  8. Tweetag:  Designed to feed off the Twitter buzz, Tweetag (http://www.tweetag.com/) is a sort of search engine for "tweets." It allows you to look for trends in what is being publicly discussed on Twitter, and, more importantly, find discussions of things that matter to you.
  9. Hi5:  Hi5 (http://www.hi5.com/) is the third largest social network in the world, with 40 percent of the members coming from Spanish-speaking countries.  It has been growing rapidly and has some great features not found on other sites.
  10. Tripit:  Tripit (http://www.tripit.com/) wants to be your travel assistant.   Tripit aggregates all of your travel reservation details and based on those details, automatically pulls in key information for you like maps, local attractions, dinner reservations, and weather reports, and wraps it up in an easy-to-use master itinerary.

I've seen Tripit hyped before, so that sounds like a winner.  If you have not checked out Hulu (mentioned above in the tv.com entry, you should check that one out. 

I think in 2009 and 2010 we will see a ton of new sites like these that launch new and exciting services.  Can't wait to see them…

You can read the full article at titled 10 Websites That Will Matter in 2009.