Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Key to the Magic Quadrant of Social Software

A few posts back I did a quick comparison on Microsoft MOSS 2007 and IBM Lotus Connectins to see which one is best suited for Enterprise 2.0, for Corporate Social Networking. One of the criteria we've developed in our TeamPark approach at Sogeti is that the software needs to be S.O.C.I.A.L.

In this comparison I also showed the Gartner graph on Social Software;

In their review, Dogear Nation rightly pointed out that for instance Yammer, Facebook, Twitter and so on are missing. So where have the Garter researches been?

However, the graph also shows that none of the currently available platforms moves into the socalled 'Magic Quadrant';

The Gartner Magic Quadrant is a proprietary research tool developed by Gartner inc., a US based research and advisory firm. It is designed to provide an unbiased qualitative analysis of a “markets’ direction, maturity, and participants

Time to work magic

In the upper left quadrant we see both Microsoft and IBM named "challengers" with a great capacity to execute (read established corporate penetration), in the lower right quadrant we see a number of "visionaries" like Atlassian, Jive and Socialtext. The majority however falls into the lower left quadrant of "niche players" and no solution has made it to the magic quadrant yet.

What does it take to get into the magic quadrant? In blunt translation of the Gartner graph it should be Microsoft buying Atlassian for instance to combine 'completeness of vision' with 'the power to execute'. But that is not the correct answer.

If we mix up Jive with IBM or Atlassian with Microsoft it does not create a winner, it will not be a magic quadrant recipe, because it will undoubtedly be a functional cocktail from a technical point of view, not from a social point of view. It will result in a (probably very good) platform which offers everything you would want, but in the end won't work.

The 'ppp' Protocol

What does it take to get into that magic quadrant? Basically this is an identity management based issue. In my opinion we use the web in three ways:

  1. Private
  2. Personal
  3. Professional

Probably we should rename 'www' to 'ppp' ;) .You could argue the terminology though, it could just as well be personal, social and professional. However, I think theseare the three domains to which we use the internet and with the current cloudcomputing trends this will create a new paradigm for identity management (IdM) and this will be the key in stepping inside the magic quadrant.

In the 'old days' we had our home pc to facilitate our 'private need', meaning we used it to store our documents, photos and accessed the internet to find information for our hobbies. We also had a corporate pc on which we stored our work related documents. And in the Web 2.0 age we started to use the internet for social interaction.

Nowadays, more and more is shifting towards webbased functionality. We use Google Docs for our documents, share our photo's on Picasa, Webshots, Flickr, Paintbucket or wherever. We started blogging, and we started Tweeting...

Each of these three domains is becoming more and more webbased and it confuses us, it frustrates us. We're constantly putting up content on a variety of sites, distributing our lives through various media to various audiences and we often find the content should move beyond the boundaries of just one domain and we end up duplicating the same information to another blog or wiki.

IdM Divergence is Key

The current trends on aggregation, the creation of lifestreams is convergence; pulling the content of various media into one single lifestream distributed to all our contact. Regarding the three domains however, we want - no, NEED - divergence; one single point of entry and the option to distribute it to different audiences, across the boundaries set by these domains. One of the functional prerequisites is the ability to organically group contacts (there are more ;)) regardless of the domain they are confined to.

This is, what in my opinion, will make it impossible for each of the platforms mentioned in the Gartner graph to truly claim the Magic Quadrant. Each of these solutions focus on one particular domain; social / personal or professional. The Magic Quadrant platform needs support all three domains in one coherent mashup of these multiple online identities we have fostered with ample mechanisms to guard our privacy, with the appropriate tools to include and exclude people to see certain types of information. It needs to be able to discern who is allowed to see which part of a certain domain

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

VWN kicks off VW Innovation Award

Through: Virtual World News

There has been a huge amount of innovation in virtual worlds over the past year. To acknowledge that fact, we at Virtual Worlds Management are kicking off a new awards program to recognize top innovators at the Virtual Worlds Expo in Los Angeles on September 3-4, 2008.

"Innovators" is a broad term, though. To help us finalize both the concept of the awards and pick the winners, we've tapped experts from throughout the industry without ties to any one product: I (this is Joey Seiler, Editor, Virtual Worlds News) will be chairing the Virtual Worlds Innovation Awards, but I'm excited to have plenty of help with the heavy lifting from Christian Renaud (CEO, Technology Intelligence Group), Erica Driver (Co-Founder and Principal, ThinkBalm), Nic Mitham (Managing Director, K Zero), Steve Prentice (VP and Fellow, Gartner), and Robert Bloomfield (Founder and Host, Metanomics; Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Director of the Business Simulation Laboratory, Cornell's Johnson School). I know several of them are soliciting advice from the audiences of their respective blogs and shows. I'll welcome any insight as well. Feel free to shoot me an email or a leave a suggestion in the comments.

We will announce the Virtual Worlds Innovation Award winners at the Virtual Worlds Expo on Wednesday evening, 5:00 to 6:00pm, Wednesday, September 3, 2008, on the stage in the expo hall. The reception kicks off with free beer for attendees, celebration, and a good time for everyone.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Reviews on Hypecycle Keynote

It's always nice to get quoted, or get good critics. Yesterday I stubled upon two articles on a presentation I did back in February this year. It was at the Virtual Worlds convention at the Hogeschool van Utrecht, where I held a presentation on how virtual worlds are subject to Gartners Hypecycle and how to navigate the hype.

First article is from a well established blog, TweePuntNul (2 dot 0) and reads:

Door middel van een analyse met de zogenaamde “hype cycle” werd Second Life als case besproken. Het blijkt dat Second Life nu in de Enlightment-fase zit, na een periode van teleurstelling. Een zeer uitgebreide analyse die in een korte tijd werd gegeven.

Aan deze twee keynotes zullen we aparte posts besteden, aangezien ze zeer de moeite waard zijn. Simpelweg omdat de rest van de keynotes voor ons oude koeien waren, en we denken dat deze ook voor de gemiddelde TPN-lezer zullen zijn.

In English it comes down to this:

VeeJay gave a very extensive analysis of virtual worlds in a very short
time. This keynote will get a dedicated blogpost instead of a summary as this
one was very interesting

The second one is from Rico DB blog on Marketing and Communications thought the presentation I gave was a very clarifying view of the future of VW's as it wrote :

Johan Vermij van Sogeti presenteerde een verhelderende visie op het voortbestaan van de Virtual Worlds.

The article (in Dutch) has a pretty good summary of the keynote I did.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Defining the Virtual World Industry - input needed

Last week Nick Wilson started to try and define the virtual worlds. It's a pretty hard job to try and categorise this stuff. Currently I'm writing a few chapters for a (Dutch) book on Web 2.0 and emerging trends and am faced with the same question. Could you help out in making some educated guesses?

Defining the worlds

Here's some of the definitions I'm using:

Web 3D seems the most applicable generic term, but there is no such thing as a universal format for Web 3D and it comes in various guises, some more and some less likely to be used as a business platform.

Terms which are most commonly used are Virtual Worlds, Metaverse and NVE’s (Networked Virtual Environments). Virtual Worlds are not 3D by definition, there are many 2D platforms which are also considered as virtual worlds.

A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment intended for its users to inhabit and interact via avatars. This habitation usually is represented in the form of two or three-dimensional graphical representations of humanoids (or other graphical or text-based avatars). Some, but not all, virtual worlds allow for multiple users.[1]

The term NVE was first used by Gartner in a quick study on Second Life, but residents of various virtual worlds prefer to call it the Metaverse, as coined by Neil Stephenson in his 1992 cyberpunk classic ‘Snowcrash’

Another section of web 3D consists of the socalled Paraverse, sometimes also dubbed mirror worlds, since this world is most akin to our own reality.

The Paraverse Parallel Universe is a virtual environment that is based on real
world data such as GIS and satelite information that is overlayed with 3
dimensional objects representing the objects in the real space. Examples of a
paraverse include Google Earth, Microsofts Virtual Earth, Nasa's World Wind and

A large and booming business in the web 3D environment are the online gaming worlds, the socalled MMORPG’s (massively multiplayer online role plaing games) such as World of Warcraft, Runescape etcetera.

Finally, there are all sorts of variations and hybrids such as:

  • Interverse A term used to describe a globally integrated NVE, accessible through a single common client and integrated by a common back plane.

  • Intraverse A term to describe the 3D equivalent of the intranet, a private or corporate NVE residing on an internal network and accessible to users within that network environment only.

  • Extraverse A term used for the 3D equivalent of the extranet which is privately or corporately owned and resides on a private network but accessible by one ore more organisation, but not by the general public.

    [1] Virtual Worlds definition by Wikipedia

    [2] Paraverse definition by Wikipedia

Sizing the worlds

Now it's time to get into numbers. A first excellent start by doing a raw headcount of registered users was done by Christian Renaud at the Virtual World Conference. Now let's see if we can split up some other things:

  1. Networked Virtual Environments can be split up 2 ways: Online Gaming and Social network worlds. How are they divided? 50-50%?

  2. They can also be divided by 2D and 3D, what's this pick 40-60%?

  3. How much of Online gaming worlds are 2D, is that 40%?

  4. How much of Social Network Sites are 2D, is that 50%?

  5. What is the division between Metaverse / Interverse, Intraverse, Extraverse and Paraverse?

    I'm using Extraverse as term for corporate sites, like themed sites, Laguna Beach etc.

  6. I'm also looking at our usage of the web. Like web 2.0 stuff we use it at three levels:

    1. Personal (like gaming)

    2. Social (like Second Life)

    3. Business (like Qwaq or dedicated training platforms)

      What's the spread for these in Virtual Worlds?

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hypecycle Management

It can't be missed. Second Life is getting a lot of bad press lately. I've commented on this, as well as other blogs that most old media and most companies don't really understand the world we live in, among which Gartner:

"Gartner analyst Steve Prentice made a pretty big blip on our radar when he predicted that 80% of internet users would have a virtual life by 2011 in April this year. He recently put a spanner in the works by warning companies away from Second Life. " (Metaversed)

When checking with the US content creators it's clear that US Based companies don't really get distracted by this news. Aimee Weber Studios, for instance, has a portfolio that's filled to max capacity. The Dutch buzz though is that several projects have come to a halt. Even finished builds remain closed for the moment.

Now the Dutch seem to have been in the grips of hypecycles for several years now, on a range of subjects. The nation is becoming governed by the whims of media. The point is that most companies don't really have a clue either to what they want from a virtual world like Second Life.

It still seems like many companies establish a presence in Second Life because everybody does so (that's no longer valid). It's like users: If you register for SL and have no idea what you want to do there, you're likely not to return. You're at a loss. Companies should have a goal in Second Life as well. Innovation, Exploration, Crowdsourcing, User Acceptance, Branding, Sponsoring whatever, just make up your mind and set some goals...

This would make entry independent of hypecycles. Draw your plan and act on it.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Gartner says 80% will use Virtual World in 2011

One of the potentially hyped quotes from the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2007 I mentioned in the blog 2 hours ago was a bold statement:

“By the end of 2011, 80 percent of active Internet users (and Fortune 500 enterprises) will have a ’second life,’ but not necessarily in Second Life,” the company said on Wednesday in a statement released during the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in San Francisco.

Let's hypothesize on that. Let's assume the economics for Second Life are a market average. There are now about 6 million Second Lifers, spending 1.5 million USD a day. According to Nielsen//NetRatings, there were about 330 million active Internet home users in March, 2007 (monitored in 10 countries).

330 Mi beats the current 6 Mi about 55 times, extrapolate that to the daily turnover and in 5 years we'll have a virtual market valued at 65 Mi. USD daily and an annual turnover of about 25 Billion dollars, not counting a rise in active internet users ;)

Let's assume Linden Labs will be the sole survivor. Now they're at 8 GB data traffic per second and 8,000 server. Let's do the math: In 2011 Linden Labs will have to deal with about 500 GB per second Data Traffic and 500.000 servers. I'd say.... Let's invest in ISP's and Serverfarms :)

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Virtual Traffic Jam

Second Life generates 7GB-8GB of traffic per second, and is currently supported by 8,000 servers. "When people see the broader architecture, they'll understand that's... it's Web-like. It's scalable," said Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2007.
I did run a hosting sideshow at one time in my life (am still running a webserver with the full-monty somewhere) and discspace isn't the issue, hosting prices are basically determined by datatraffic nowadays. A regular European ISP will charge you about 1 euro per GB of datatraffic. So 8 euro's per second, 1,680 per minute, 100K per hour and 1.2 Million dollar per day.... I think they're getting quantum discount ;)
Right now, just at the end of the maintenance window, the Traffic Jam is actually happening. There's a new client version (1.5) that's been massively downloaded. The Second Life site is virtually dead right now.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Forrester Research

Last week I came across a study on Second Life by Forrester. In my line of work, Gartner, Giarte and Forrester are usually taken very seriously. Usually they know it and adjust their pricings accordingly.

In this case the study was about 10 pages text (and 5 pages notes, titlepage and credits and more bla bla) for a mere $ 750 (US dollar that is, not Lindens). Fortunately my boss picked up the tab :)

If compared to the Gartner study Forrester sees much of the same risks involved in SL business, though they've done a bit more research on the background and the evolvement of virtual worlds. Since it's priced at about $ 80,- per page, I presume they'll have my hide if I get into too much detail of the paper.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gartner digs SL

"The grid is down while we bang on things..." says Linden while leaving me time to ponder the immersive world study by Garnter, one of the leading information and technology research and advisory firms headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut.

Gartner concludes that SL has pedagogical advantages in several subjects [Gartner, 22 March 2007/ID Number: G00147015] and has published an analysis of NVE's (Networked virtual environments) and states that there is a lot of potential. [Gartner 22 December 2006/ID Number: G00145046]. This study also names the top challenges for NVE's or immersive worlds (or whatever)
  • Technology
  • Implementation
  • Access
  • Governance
  • Productivity
  • Security and Privacy
Well, when Gartner says it, it's truth ;)

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