Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wipro Innovation = Redundancy?

Today's last expedition led me to te Wipro Innovation Isle (I guess it they'd love to abbreviate it to Wii - but that one's already taken in SL). For people working in the IT Services a well known name as it is one of India's giants when it comes to IT services.

"Wipro Tech is an information technology service company established in India in 1980. It is the global IT services arm of Wipro Limited (in operation since 1945, incorporated 1946). It is headquartered in Bangalore and is the third largest IT services company in India. It has more than 79,832 employees as of December 2007, including its business process outsourcing (BPO) arm which it acquired in 2002. Wipro Technologies has over 300 customers across U.S., Europe and Japan including 50 of the Fortune 500 companies." (Wikipedia)

Near the end of 2007 there were speculations of Wipro Technologies considering to take over Capgemini and thus Sogeti as well, but in the end it was a no show. The corporate website puts focus on 'applied innovation';

"At Wipro we have fine-tuned the science of viewing innovation through the lens of practicality to design unique solutions for end customers. Applied Innovation is the ability to infuse newer ideas and newer ways of doing things into all parts of the organization, and improve business outcomes, often without major disruptive change. It is a 360-degree business approach covering process, delivery, business and technology Innovations that help Wipro to work
collaboratively with clients for cost take-outs, speed to market and new business opportunities."

It is this theme that is the starting point for the Wipro presence in Second Life, which looks to be in the first stage of the experiment. It is a 3 sim cluster, of which only one is fully build, one only holding an expo stand and an empty sim.

Applied Innovation is the ability to infuse newer ideas and newer ways of doing things into all parts of the organization, and I can well imagine this applies to their Second Life expedition as well. I do believe we have to bring Virtual Worlds (newer ways) beyond the average marketing department (i.e. into all parts of the organization). The question remains how to do this.

Let's see if Wipro can bring the answer. The sim is filled with an assorted array of buildings, with two larger builds standing out. The first of these is the 'Learning Center' and is shaped a little like the Sydney Opera (not really, buyt you can see which building I'm referring to).

Please reread the lines on the triple sim: "One build, one half build, one empty." This is pretty much the case with the Learning Center as well. It holds two auditoria, and right outside there's an amphitheater. Also, at the second level it has several empty officerooms.

Further onto the campus we see various buildings, like a 'Client Engagement' building, a library and a datacenter each filled with several workstations / cubicles.

Finally I arrived at the second large building, a four storey square concrete office block which looked a little cramped when I walked into the hall and up the staircase. It made me wonder how much of the build is actually shaped like their real life offices... This building is labelled 'Offshore Development Center' and that is what interests me, what would bring innovation to the virtual workspace.

I was a little disappointed though when there were more rooms with workstations, and more and more. But no show. One of the great benefits I see for Virtual Worlds is what they potentially can do for the offshoring industry, as offshoring projects often require a lot of attention; extra management, extra communication, extra code checking etcetera and in the virtual workspace where you can collaborate while both in offshore and rightshore location would greatly aid this process.

Yet I'm fully aware of the limitations Second Life has in this regard. There's no real integration with development suites or management tools. Then there's always the issue of security. I can't really blame Wipro for not finding the solution for Second Life, but I had hoped for more info, more ideas.

The last redundancy in the sim was when I moved from the cantine inside the ODC to 'the Glacier', a cafe on the campus.

As for the build itself, I find it of average quality. It is a melee of textures (a lot of default SL texturing) and styles. As I said, I'm under the impression that part of it is based upon real life buildings, so maybe they had to work with what they had. Otherwise, I'd say the triple auditorium, the cramped staircases etcetera don't really utilise the 3D-ness of a virtual environment.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Wipro%20Innovation%20Isle/109/225/23

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Big Blue starts to Jam

Blue Note is one of the well known Jazz labels in the world. Now it's Big Blue that starts to Jam. Last week I received an email by IBM's Rick Reesen with an update on Jazz, Open Sim and lots of other stuff. I never got round to blogging it , but as IBM's "Power Up" has been hitting the blogoshpere in the past days I'm going out of sync.

The most blogged IBM event was the launch of "Power Up - the Game" which basically is a game about powering up, i.e. energy.

Power up is an educational world, named Helios (Greek for Sun - no competition intented probably) for teens with a focus on energy and climate Al-Gorish hypes. Teens can explore and work in this virtual plant to save the us all from disaster.

A more interesting release though was the opening of Jazz which basically is a software development project, which was publically announced at January 14:

ARMONK, NY - 14 Jan 2008: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today unveiled new software and research innovations aimed at improving the way employees across an organization collaborate in a globally integrated enterprise.

The challenges of globalization are forcing companies to become more nimble, using an increasingly geographically-dispersed and virtual workforce to remain competitive. In the world of software development, this means 24x7 collaboration with specialized teams around the globe to pick up where another left off. IBM is also examining
how virtual worlds can help software development teams break down the barriers caused by globalization.

IBM is announcing it is opening up its development platform based on Web 2.0 technologies for developers to collaborate and contribute to software under development at www.Jazz.net. Jazz.net is an open, commercial community designed to help companies globally and transparently collaborate on the development of Jazz-based technology.

More on Jazz (such as a promo) can be found in Second Life on IBM's codestation.

IBM's involvement in the Metaverse:

Somehow I keep running into IBM-ers working with virtual worlds in some way or the other. It doesn't matter if it's a Sogeti event or a VW Seminar or Symposium, but they're always there... and they're evangelising the metaverse. Some have asked me if I know what their budget is. Somewhere I picked up a figure of 100 million USD, but no doubt it's huge.

The IBM SL community holds about 6.000 members, which is impressive. What I've learned though is that only a few of these are paid to explore the metaverse and that the vast majority consists of enthusiasts which contribute in their spare time, which puts it all into perspective. For companies like mine (Sogeti) or Capgemini, most of the virtual world attention and development is still a spare time excercise of enthusiasts trying to figure out ways for their employers to coin in, or find meaningfull use of metaverses. Taking in the total population of IBM worldwide, one might even say that Sogeti's community in Second Life is even bigger (percentage wise) with over 90 members in a total of 3.000 employees in the Netherlands. Alas we don't have full time funding as ABN Amro has had over the past year.


One last thing that is nagging me about the email I received is the mention of the UgoTrade blog as a reference. I've been reading Tish's blog over the past year with great pleasure as she really writes good indepth stories on technology in Virtual Worlds. But when companies like IBM start to use it as a base of reference for their work in VW's I'm getting a wee bit hesitant.

Tish, please don't turn into a corporate blogger....

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sogeti Kicks Off in Second Life

Earlier this evening I was present at the Sogeti Netherlands Kick Off party 2008 in the Heineken Music Hall. Over 2000 colleagues filled the hall to the max.

This years' kick off was titled Sogeti 2.0 and the keywords 'innovation' and 'participation'. Sogeti Netherlands is one of the leading IT companies in the Netherlands, so off course we used lots of web 2.0 stuff in the presentations. First of all, Sogeti CEO Jeroen Versteeg started the kick off from Second Life.

Contrary to previous years the CEO speech was not prepared in advance but was user generated as colleagues were asked not to turn off their phones but instead sms their topics for the keynote which generated the tagcloud below:

Menno van Doorn and Sander Duivestein of the Sogeti VINT research institute lifeblogged the event at the Vint.Sogeti blog (in Dutch) and a group of 32 Young Professionals who are currently at the Ohio University Without Boundaries (who also have a very strong SL presence) were plugged in through webstream and Second Life.

One of the fact-parts of the show was the financial and performance speech. We've had a great year and Sogeti Netherlands has grown 18% in 2007, outperforming every other Sogeti and Capgemini SA groupmembers by miles.

Right after closing the show, CEO Jeroen Versteeg took some time to chat with the Young Professionals in Second Life.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More Forecasting on 2008

In my previous post I already did some forecasting on 2008 and 2009 in terms of where the NVE industry is going. Today, Virtual World News (the guys from the VW Conferences) released a survey on the trends for 2008. In this survey some 45 industry leaders participated.

For a good overview of the contents of the 36 page whitepaper visit Fleeep's blog. My general observation is that each of the respondents is very positive about the developments of the industry. 2008 will see explosion this, massive growth that and so on. Since the majority of the respondents are either from MDC's (Metaverse Development Company) or from MSP's (Metaverse Service Provider) this positive view can be expected. I'm not sure it's fully safe to base your investment plan on their opinion.

The Questions

The questionairre is simple, it's not a long list to pick and choose, but 5 open questions which makes it possible for all of us (not among the 45 chosen) to ponder them ourselves. The questions are:

  1. What are your top 3 trend predictions for 2008?

  2. What business goals have you set for 2008?

  3. What challenges do you expect 2008 to bring for the virtual worlds industry?

  4. A number of new platforms are launching in 2008. What are the biggest impacts this will have on the industry?

  5. How will the above changes affect your specific segment of the industry in 2008?

The Answers

  1. What are your top 3 trend predictions for 2008?
    At this moment I don't have a clear top 3, I see a number of scenario's and trends emeriging this quarter though, here they are:
  • In 2008 we're going to be disappointed in Virtual Worlds. As I've pointed out a few times in the past weeks on this blog the current setup is it's Dozens of Them (which by the initials DOT is probably heading for another dot-world crash). What I mean by this is that we've seen about a hundred big companies immerse in Second Life, all with pretty much the same content: Information stands, auditorium and some entertainment stuff. While these are created with great skills by the MDC's it's pretty much the same stuff over again. Right now, most of these virtual enterprises are Marketing & Communication department babies and they're going to be disappointed as they don't bring USP's and ROI's. From this angle we have to differentiate between type of immersion, like:
    - mere presence
    - branding
    - crowdsourcing
    - engagement
    and forget about Business Development.
  • As a result of this disappointment, more MDC's will have to cut down capacity like ESC, or bring in different expertise. 2008 will see a slight shift from the current MDC's to more traditional IT companies like Sogeti or Capgemini who have longterm relations with their clients and a proper supply of Business Analysts who know their clients core business and have the ability to translate that core business to IT and VW solutions.
  • The former means that 2008 will focus on integration, creating API's and mashups, providing data-mining tools etcetera.
  • From a social point of view there will be disappointment in Virtual Worlds as well, mainly produced by lag and hardware power. 2008 will be a good year for NVidia, Intel, AMD and other hardware producers as both the Gameverse and the Metaverse will require a boost in sheer graphical and processor power. Another fundamental part of this new univerese will be the availability of bandwith as worlds like Second Life use streaming technology and are producing over 8 Gbps in data traffic. It will be up to Internet2 / Lamdarail to put their 100 Gbps network into full production (which will probably be beyond 2008) to service this bandwidth need.
  • The Metaverse in general will concentrate in general on the Extraverse, the branded or themed worlds. Since we do not have the ability (in most cases) to translate our core processes into virtual representations, the NVE industry will still be an instrument in marketing media in 2008.
  • As far as extraverses go, they will get more and more aimed at specific groups, for instance girl worlds like Barbieworld and GoSupermodel will grow rapidly. 4th quarter 2008 might see it's first VW specifically aimed at 50+ agegroups in beta.
  • The majority of funding will be coming from governemental organisations exploring virtual worlds in serieous gaming ventures.
  • Social Worlds will lean heavily on the gameverse to find the key to upgrading registered users to active users. This will mean that more and more storylines will be implemented in the Metaverse and offer new handles for interactive media (convergence with television a.o.)
  • Another challenge for Social Worlds will be the mashup with social networking sites like linked-in, Facebook and the likes. This also brings in the all important question of Identity Management (and in its wake interoperability and portability).
  • On the part of Second Life we will see improvement in stability as Aric Linden's QA team will be finalising their tests on the new Windlight client in January, making it the most stable release Linden Lab has ever produced. Havok 4 will be implemented somewhere mid 2008 as physics engine.
  • Aside from taxlaws and other governmental regulations the industry will gain some significance for retirment funding and insurance companies as more and more people will earn their living in virtual environments.
  • A huge issue will be the "What if I die" scenario: What happens to my second life and my virtual assets when I'm no longer there. When I'm gone, who owns my identity, will there be successionrights?

Okay, past bedtime now, the other questions will have to wait.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sogeti Netherlands SL savvy

Dutch IT provider Sogeti Netherlands, part of the Sogeti SAS Group is getting a little press attention on Second Life.

Virtual Education

Dutch blog Second Life Blogo, the respected IT magazine Automatiserings Gids and E-Learning.nl report that Sogeti will have 25% of its regular techcourses in Second Life by the end of 2007

Metaverse Evangelist

Sogeti Netherlands' presence hasn't escaped the attention of big sister Capgemini as it takes a prominent spot in the VW Gazette, an internal circulation on Virtual Worlds. Here's a little quote from the introduction:

"In this edition I am very pleased to have a contribution from Johan Vermij, the Second Life evangelist from Sogeti Nederlands, giving a background to their work to date and plans for the future."

Thanks Tim, now I've got some explaining to do!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Capgemini recruitment center

A little while ago Aleister Kronos reported that the French are recruiting in Second Life. A firm called TMPNEO is recruiting for several IT corps and other large companies. To this end they've set up the TMP3 island on which they've build various recruitment halls. One of these is Capgemini.
Now, Aleister's been trying to push SL to Cap for some time now, so he's probably mighty pleased they're in with an official 'open to public' statement than Sogeti who have been flying under the radar for months now.

Well, Capgemini and Sogeti are sistercorporations, but I didn't know we had the same taste. The furniture inside the recruitment hall is exactly the same as what I've bought for a rapidly prototyped Auditorium, build by Scope Cleaver.

Anyway, if you speak French and want to get an IT job, here's the SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/TMP3/128/128/0

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sogeti vs. Cap Gemini

Healty competition is not alien to both IT companies which are sister-corps. Sogeti is Cap's red, warm, passionate label. So no battle, not even competition here, but the MindBlizzard blog will possibly see little change next week.

I'll be enjoying a very welcomed short holiday break next week, somewhere without newspapers, without IM's, blogs, feeds and podcasts and without virtual worlds. To feed the hungry, Aleister Kronoss, a cap geminite and quality blogger, will try to keep posting some interesting stuff here.

Aleister, have fun ;)

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Logica, Cap and all the other IT's

Worldwide IT companies such as Sogeti, Cap Gemini and Logica CMG are slow to establish real presence in Second Life.
Sogeti Netherlands is the first to enter SL, but mainly uses the island as an internal playground. No customer orientation yet.

Cap Gemini has several plans that appear to be dead end streets due to lack of management commitment. Logica CMG is fortunate to have a creative builder who started the Logica SIM by private intiative. Well, creativity to a certain extent of course, the regular elements of auditorium, playground and infocorner are there, no surprising new features.

Pictures kindly provided by Sir Aleister Kronos

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