ThinkBalm Data Garden tour for our friends in Asia-Pacific region

We are pleased to announce our public tour schedule for the next few weeks for the ThinkBalm Data Garden on ThinkBalm Island in the virtual world of Second Life. Think of this tour as a next-generation webinar where you’ll learn about our findings and analysis from the ThinkBalm Immersive Internet Business Value Study, Q2 2009, which was published on May 26, 2009. The core question we set out to answer in this research was, “What is the business value of using immersive technologies in the workplace?” We’ll take you on a tour through a memorable, interactive data visualization experience.

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ThinkBalm Data Garden public tour schedule for June

All times listed below are Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), which is the same as Second Life time (SLT). Here is a link to the Time Zone Converter Web site, should you need it. Admission to the tour is first-come, first served so it’s a good idea to arrive a little early.

  • Wednesday, June 10th from 8:00-9:00AM PDT (in the past)
  • Wednesday, June 17th from 8:00-9:00AM PDT (in the past)
  • Wednesday, June 24th from 8:00-9:00AM PDT (in the past)
  • Just added: Monday, June 29th from 6:00-7:00PM PDT — scheduled especially for our friends in the Asia-Pacific region of the world. Above is a link to the Time Zone Converter Web site.

Please join us!

The ThinkBalm Innovation Community is expanding to LinkedIn

Since its launch in August of 2008, the ThinkBalm Innovation Community has evolved into a mix between a social network, a collaborative laboratory, and a guild. The mission of this community, which currently has more than 280 members, is to propel work-related adoption of the Immersive Internet forward. With the ThinkBalm Innovation Community, ThinkBalm industry analysts Erica Driver and Sam Driver are fostering a productive, marketing-free zone where professionals can collaborate and communicate about the Immersive Internet, sharing experiences, collaborating on experiments, and identifying best practices that advance work-related adoption of immersive technologies.

Professional networking is a hugely important aspect of life in the community and lately we’ve fielded lots of requests to create a LinkedIn group for the community to make it easier for people to get and stay connected. The people have spoken, and a ThinkBalm Innovation Community LinkedIn group is now live. It is available from the groups search function at LinkedIn, and we’ll be sending out invitations to current ThinkBalm Innovation Community members. We encourage anyone with an interest in work-related use of immersive technology to request membership in the group.

Here are links to some ThinkBalm articles and reports that reflect ThinkBalm Innovation Community activity:

Join us for public tour of ThinkBalm Data Garden

We are pleased to announce a public tour of the ThinkBalm Data Garden on ThinkBalm Island in Second Life on Monday, June 8th from 11:00AM-noon EDT, which is 8:00-9:00AM PDT and Second Life time. Here is a link to the Time Zone Converter Web site, should you need it. Think of Monday’s tour as a next-generation webinar. Via an interactive data visualization experience, ThinkBalm analysts Erica Driver and Sam Driver will share with visitors the findings and analysis from the ThinkBalm Immersive Internet Business Value Study, Q2 2009, which we published on May 26, 2009. We think we’ll have room for about 20 guests, so please arrive early

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ThinkBalm Data Garden is live!

ThinkBalm has launched a new experiment on ThinkBalm Island in Second Life. The ThinkBalm Data Garden is a data visualization experience built around the ThinkBalm Immersive Internet Business Value Study, Q2 2009, which we published on May 26, 2009. The ThinkBalm Data Garden was designed as a proof of concept for the next-generation “webinar.” Creation of the data displays was a collaborative effort between the two of us and several members of the ThinkBalm Innovation Community, including Jeff Lowe and Jonas Karlsson. Please come visit!

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ThinkBalm Innovation Community leaderboard is in 3D

One of the elements of the InnovationSpigit(tm) software that ThinkBalm uses to run the ThinkBalm Innovation Community is a leaderboard. The leaderboard displays the leading ideas, prediction markets, and community members (see Figure 1). Because the ThinkBalm Innovation Community is all about immersive environments, we recently hired OpenSim guru Chris Hart, CTO of ReactionGrid, to bring three of the most important elements of the leaderboard into 3D (see Figure 2). Our 3D leaderboard displays the top ranked ideas, the users with the highest reputation score, and the most popular posts. The leaderboard, which updates hourly, is on display on the ThinkBalm region on ReactionGrid. Come check it out!

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ThinkBalm publishes business value study

Today ThinkBalm published a ground-breaking new research report: “ThinkBalm Immersive Internet Business Value Study, Q2 2009.”  The core question we set out to answer is, “What is the business value of using immersive technologies for work?” We surveyed 66 highly-qualified Immersive Internet practitioners and conducted 15 in-depth interviews. This research report contains our findings and analysis. To view or download a PDF version of this 36-page report, click the image below.

Click this image to view or download a PDF of this report.

Key findings from the study:

  • More than 40% of those surveyed (26 of 66) saw a positive total economic benefit from investments in immersive technologies in 2008 and 1Q 2009. More than 50% of respondents (34 of 65) expect to obtain a positive total economic benefit in 2009. The number of respondents who expect to obtain economic benefit of $25,000 USD or more in 2009 is more than double the number who indicated they achieved this level for 2008 / 1Q 2009.
  • Nearly 30% of survey respondents (19 of 66) said their organization recouped their investment in immersive technologies in less than nine months, once their project(s) launched. Almost 30% of respondents (19 of 66) said their organization did not recoup their investment.  Another 38% (25 of 66) said they didn’t know if their organizations had recouped their investment. This is not an unexpected finding because many Immersive Internet initiatives in 2008 and 1Q 2009 were experiments or pilots.
  • One third of respondents (22 of 66) said their project data shows success. Another 61% of respondents (40 of 66) said the project “feels like” a success, for a total of 94% of respondents.
  • Over a third of those surveyed (23 of 64) said their organization will definitely expand investment in immersive technology in 2009 and 2010, and another 38% (24 of 64) indicated that they might expand their investment.
  • The top motivations for investment in immersive technology in 2008 /1Q 2009 were enabling people in disparate locations to spend time together, increased innovation, and cost savings or avoidance.
  • Early implementers are choosing the simplest use cases first. The most common were learning and training (80%, or 53 of 66 respondents focused on this use case) and meetings (76%, or 50 of 66 respondents). Some intend to take on more complex use cases in 2010 or 2011.
  • Immersive technology won out over a variety of alternatives primarily due to low cost and the increased engagement it delivers. The leading alternatives were Web conferencing and in-person meetings, followed by phone calls. Nearly 60% of respondents (38 of 66) indicated that immersive technology was less expensive than alternatives, and 11% (7 of 66) reported that it was more expensive.
  • Work-related use of the Immersive Internet is in the early adopter phase. Before it can pass into the early majority phase, practitioners and the technology vendors who serve them must “cross the chasm.” The most common barriers to adoption are target users having inadequate hardware, corporate security restrictions, and getting users interested in the technology.

ThinkBalm publishes special issue of Storytelling Series for Virtual Journalism Summit

Historically, journalists would go to a location and take notes about the scene or event or would interview people with relevant information, perhaps writing with a pencil in a ringed notebook. They would then return to the office to write the story. Nowadays, journalists use computers to write and mobile devices to collect and evaluate information. They have access to a wide range of tools to help them, including Google search, Wikipedia, email, blogs, wikis, and social networking tools. How will the Immersive Internet change all this? How will today’s journalist move on to take advantage of the next generation of technology and tools?

ThinkBalm principal Erica Driver is delivering a presentation on Monday, April 6th at the Virtual Journalism Summit, being held by The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in partnership with the McCormick Foundation. The event examines the growing popularity and influence of virtual worlds in the context of journalism. To prepare the presentation for this event, we convened 17 members of the ThinkBalm Innovation Community and conducted a 3D brainstorming session. Our objective was to generate and record as many relevant, insightful ideas as possible in an hour’s time. We brainstormed five questions for 10 minutes each, ranging from, “How comfortable are journalists with using the Immersive Internet?” to “How can journalists use the Immersive Internet to differentiate from competitors who don’t?” The two main findings from the brainstorming session were:

  • The Immersive Internet presents multiple barriers to adoption for journalists
  • The Immersive Internet will change the face of journalism

With the help of eleven ThinkBalm Innovation Community members – Cherisa Burk, Christopher Bishop, Christopher Simpson, Claus Nehmzow, Donald Schwartz, Ehsan Ehsani, Jan Herder, Leslie Ehle, Rita J. King, Robin Harper, and Steve Baxter – today ThinkBalm published the fourth issue in the Immersive Internet Storytelling Series, titled “Gathering Insights via 3D Brainstorming: ThinkBalm Innovation Community Looks at Future of Journalism.” The objective of this issue of the ThinkBalm Immersive Internet Storytelling Series is to paint a picture of the future of journalism, as affected by the Immersive Internet, while using the insight-gathering process as a vehicle for demonstrating how work will change. This report is both a take on the future of virtual journalism from the perspective of Immersive Internet advocates, implementers, and explorers, and a discussion about how 3D brainstorming can aid in support of development of ideas and presentation content. For a PDF of the report click this link or click the image of the report’s cover above.

Let the data collection begin!

[Update: This survey is now closed.]

We are pleased to announce that the online survey for the ThinkBalm Enterprise Immersive Internet Business Value Study is now up on the Web.  This groundbreaking research study is conducted by ThinkBalm and sponsored by Altadyn, Forterra Systems, Linden Lab, ProtonMedia, Qwaq, and Tandem Learning. ThinkBalm will write a report containing our findings and conclusions, to be published in mid-May 2009. The report will be freely available on www.thinkbalm.com as well as on the Web sites of some of our sponsors.

The focus of the ThinkBalm Enterprise Immersive Internet Business Value Study is work-related use of virtual worlds and campuses, immersive learning environments, and 3D business applications. The core question we are trying to answer is, “What is the business value of using immersive technologies for work?” This study has two research components: an anonymous online survey and in-depth interviews conducted via phone or in-world. We are talking to enterprise Immersive Internet advocates, implementers, and explorers.

You may qualify to participate in this research study if you:

  • Used immersive technologies for work in 2008 or the first quarter of 2009
  • Have insight into the business value this technology has delivered to your organization (if any)
  • Do not work in sales, marketing, product development, or customer support for a technology provider that offers immersive technology solutions

If you meet these criteria and are willing to give us 15 minutes of your time, please click this link or the image to the right to take the anonymous online survey. Also, if you have done a return on investment (ROI) analysis on the use of immersive technologies in your organization, we invite you to contact us at thinkbalm.com to set up an in-depth interview. The interviews will add additional color and insight to the data we collect via the online survey.

ThinkBalm announces kickoff of enterprise Immersive Internet business value study

Calling all immersive technology advocates, experimenters and implementers!

ThinkBalm is pleased to announce the first-ever industry study on the business value of the emerging Immersive Internet technology sector. Our focus for this study is the business value of work-related use of virtual worlds and campuses, immersive learning environments, and 3D business applications. This research study is being conducted by ThinkBalm and is sponsored by Altadyn, Forterra Systems, Linden Lab, ProtonMedia, Qwaq, and Tandem Learning.

The research approach for the ThinkBalm enterprise Immersive Internet business value study is two-fold:

  • An anonymous online survey. We are collecting data about early implementations of immersive technology in the workplace. We are investigating what drives investment, how early adopters see immersive technology as different from existing alternatives, hurdles organizations face when attempting to bring this technology into the workplace, and the business value organizations have obtained from using immersive technology. Here is info about survey qualifications and a link to the online survey.
  • In-depth interviews. We are interviewing early adopters to gain a deeper understanding of how and why organizations choose immersive technology over other technologies, how they measure success, the hurdles they face, and their approach to developing a return on investment (ROI) model for the investment. ThinkBalm is sensitive to privacy of information and can limit disclosure to meet interview participants’ requirements. Interview participants will have an opportunity to review and fact-check the section of the report that results from their interview prior to the report’s publication.

People who work in sales, marketing, product development, or customer support for technology providers that offer immersive technology solutions for the enterprise do not qualify to participate in the survey or interviews.

We are now scheduling interviews!

  • Who: We are interviewing individuals who have had personal experience with an immersive technology pilot or deployment for work in 2008 or 1Q 2009 and have insight into the business value this technology has delivered.
  • What: ThinkBalm industry analyst interviews with adopters of immersive technology in the workplace
  • Why: First-ever in-depth research study on business value of using the Immersive Internet for work. Interviews will add color to data collected via online survey.
  • How: Phone or in-world interviews, 30-60 minutes in length. These interviews will complement the anonymous online survey.
  • When: We are scheduling interviews for the month of April, 2009. The anonymous survey will also be fielded in April. The report will be published in mid-May. The report will be freely available from ThinkBalm’s Web site as well as the Web sites of some of the study’s sponsors.

ThinkBalm Storytelling Series Issue #3: How To Give New Users A Good First Experience

One of the most significant barriers to adoption of the Immersive Internet at work is a steep learning curve exacerbated by what is all too often a often a poor first-time experience. Many peoples’ early forays into virtual

Click this image to read or download the report in PDF format.

Click this image to read or download the report in PDF format.

worlds and other immersive environments are tainted by technology and user experience issues. No matter which platform an organization uses, a newcomer training program is required. Training is the key to the success of a newcomer’s early experiences in immersive environments.

Members of the ThinkBalm Innovation Community have been putting our heads together to illuminate challenges and identify solutions to enterprise Immersive Internet problems since the community was launched in August of 2008. We discuss. We experiment. And on January, 9th, 2009, fourteen community members got together for a 90-minute role-playing session to 1) focus on what the newcomer experience is like and how to improve it, and 2) document our collective expertise.

We held the session in an immersive environment that was unfamiliar to most participants: Qwaq Forums, a business-oriented immersive platform for document and process collaboration.  ThinkBalm principals Erica Driver and Sam Driver and ThinkBalm Innovation Community member Cherisa Burk, a technologist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, were already familiar with Qwaq Forums and played the role of “tour guides” (trainers). The tour guides were tasked with giving the rest of the participants, who played the role of newcomers (sometimes called newbies), the best introductory experience possible.

With the help of nine ThinkBalm Innovation Community members who attended this role-playing session — Cherisa Burk, Christopher Bishop, Darius Clarke,  Ehsan Ehsani, Gina Schreck, John Kinsella, Julie Fogg, Leslie Pagel, and Ron Teitelbaum — we wrote ThinkBalm’s third issue in the Immersive Internet Storytelling Series, titled “How To Give New Users A Good First Experience.” For a PDF of the report click this link or click the image of the article’s cover above.