As we investigate virtual worlds for enterprise, we’re seeing that 3D technology takes Web 2.0 to another level in the way it supports synchronous interactions. Virtual world settings have a way of enhancing the collaborative experience by establishing a sense of cohesiveness, a feeling that you’re a part of a team rather than a lone participant on a remote call. Being in the same space, at the same time, in an immersive environment improves one’s sense of presence during an interaction that cannot be replicated in a 2D space.
According to former CEO of Linden Labs, Phillip Rosedale, there’s a sense of geographic place and personal presence in virtual worlds, even when users are miles or continents apart. In Second Life, as well as other Virtual World platforms you can see and interact the others in the form of their avatar character through voice chat, text chat, and even instant messaging. Rosedale points out that virtual worlds transform the way we collaborate and do business by providing a multi-tiered communication platform with dimensions that do not exist with e-mail, conference calls or other platforms.
Cisco, Intel, Sun, Microsoft, IBM and others are colonizing Virtual Worlds by holding global events, meetings and training sessions. In a recent Cisco VW pilot hosted by WW Sales Force Development Learning Technologies, Kevin Avery, Sales Operations and Business Development Manager, shared with participants how to use the Executive Engage and Discovery toolset to drive executive conversations.
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Jim Grundy, a Senior Network Engineer at Farmers Insurance in Grand Rapids, MI, notes that he bears a striking resemblance to our character “Wall,” an ace defender from The Realm adventure on Cisco.com. What do you think? (Jim is the one on the right, BTW.)P.S. Jim, you should definitely download the avatar, and wallpaper for your phone and laptop, from the Bonus Materials area.
Over the last 18 months, I’ve given a talk pretty regularly called “Design your web site from the bottom up.” The idea is that many people will arrive on a page deep within your site via a search engine of referring URL, and you need to choreograph those landing experiences so that visitors ultimately get to where they what they are looking for and engage with you.You can see examples of this kind of thinking throughout Cisco.com, where we include helpful “See Also” links, chat engagements, videos, whitepapers, and other resources to give the landing visitor a self-contained experience and also help with related content — even if they landed deep within the site and didn’t come in from the home page.Now, Lee Gomes writing in Forbes makes a further assertion that “[Google]‘s search engine could make Web site design and navigation obsolete.” I can appreciate the sentiment, but I think this may be going overboard. First of all, landing experiences have to be designed too, even if they’re deep within the site. For instance, if you land on this page about Public Telepresence, you are probably curious about some basic things like what Public Telepresence is, where you can host meetings, and how to get started. I guarantee you that somebody thought about these things and designed them into this page. What’s more, there’s a standard structure to this page that can get you to general information Telepresence; to information about Cisco (in case you are new to Cisco and thinking about doing business with us); to information about other products and solutions; and even back to the home page if you want to know more about the many things Cisco does. We know from experience and from examining our site metrics that many people who land deep in the site do indeed come to visit the home page, product gateway page, and other key pages to learn about Cisco and Cisco products. So, while it is true that increasingly you should think about designing those ‘bottom up experiences” — since that’s how people arrive at your site — it’s still important to think about the overall structure of your site and important interchange areas such as home pages, support gateways and product gateways.My advice? Keep designing both top down and bottom up and you’ll be just fine.
Remember the Cisco.com Product Gateway page we updated while back? This one below? We have just added something new that you can’t see: The new Product gateway page is “smart.” First, some of the content at the top is personalized based on your interests. Second, and just as interesting, the content on the page morphs depending on where you’re coming from on Cisco.com. For instance, suppose you are visiting Cisco’s Small Business area, shown below, and you click on the global navigation bar Products & Services link… Since you came from the Small Business area (shown above), you get a different view of the Products & Services page (shown below) that specifically features small business products at the top of the page (compare to the view of the product page at the top of this posting)… These featured products at the top of the page link back to specific product areas of Cisco.com that are tailored to small business. Web analyst Marty Gruhn at SiteIQ put together a short video demo of how this works. (Marty is a web site expert, not a CCIE, so forgive the pronunciation of 801.11n, but it’s a great video):
Says Marty: “From an industry perspective, there’s no doubt that Cisco.com is at the forefront of adaptive behaviors that promise to streamline and enhance the visitor’s experience… This example is just one smal step in what proimises to be a really interesting evolution.”Enjoy!P.S. Just in case you are curious, here is how the old page looked before the upgrade: