There was an excellent article out this week in BusinessWeek on “The [Virtual] Global Office” that touched on many subjects discussed by the various writers on this blog. The article reinforces how a virtual workspace creates an environment for workers to engage with their global peer network using personalization, immersion and collaboration. This is powerful and something business is keen to explore. For example, the Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP) at Cisco is using Second Life as a meeting place for their globally dispersed team. The CSAP folks get together in this virtual environment regularly to ensure synergy with their program and to talk about the latest in technology such as WAAS and virtualization. The team is also leveraging the virtual environment for team building activities like global team photo days. This leads to a sense of belonging to something greater than ones self, to a sense of being part of something.Isolation is a killer for the remote worker. It is common for the remote worker to feel out of sync with the office worker. The sense of being left out of desicions because one is not part of the ‘water cooler’ conversations at the office is palpable for the remote worker. Virtual environments allow for the potentially disenfranchised worker to reengage and realize their contribution potential. There are many folks exploring this subject and I would like to quote directly from Peter Quirk’s excellent post about how virtual worlds address this:1) by making meetings more engaging than is possible through 2-D web conferencing solutions 2) by creating a sense of a workplace separate from the employee’s home environment, helping to focus the employee on the tasks at hand 3) by creating places for real-time collaboration with other employees 4) by creating a workplace that can be seen from afar, reducing the likelihood that the remote employees will be”out of sight, out of mind” 5) by creating places for remote workers and their office-bound colleagues to hang out with each other over lunch, after work, or after long meetings I would like to add one to that list:6) by allowing workers to personalize their appearance in the virtual environment to create a brand for oneself and allow for creative expressionI feel that personal expression and brand is something we all do on a day to day basis, without really thinking about it. Our clothing, hair styles, office accoutrements, etc. say much about who we are, and about our life styles and interests. (Walk past my cube and you can see that I am in to Star Wars, technology and the Muppets. Hmmm, once I apply that idea to my self it makes me wonder whether folks think I am just a big kid?) Participation in a virtual environment can allow remote workers to do much the same thing with their avatar. This enables the remote worker to have a sense of ownership and self when engaging with their peers in a virtual work space.The consensus is in and the conclusion is that virtual and real world will meld in the work place over the next 5-10 years so intrinsically that we will not think of them as separate. The lines of separation will be blurred to the point of making the separation between virtual and real world not relevant. I’ll toast to that!
People often ask me to explain why there are different Web design roles and how they fit in creating a Web experience: “Martin,” they say, “can I just go find an artist somewhere to redesign the experience on the business-to-business section of the Web sites that I just inherited?”
Unfortunately, usually not. For anything complex, you probably need to have more talent on board than just the proverbial ‘artist with purple hair.’ Creating a Web site or even a section of one is a lot like building a house, where you need an architect, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc. who come on board during the life of the project as needed.
The Cisco virtual environment team gets asked to mix reality with virtual all the time. We also get asked to make it easier to participate and view the events we hold in virtual environments. So (drum roll please 😉 this month we are trying an experiment using the Second Life Cable Network to syndicate our TechChat on sensor networks taking place at 1200 PDT on Tuesday, April 22nd. What does this mean? It means for all of you who can’t join us in Second Life at the Cisco Bandwidth Stage you will be able to come to this blog entry and watch the virtual event streaming live via an embedded web page feed. For those of you who missed this live you can view the archive of the event below now.
Please let us know what you think of this new format by submitting a comment to this blog entry. This new format is a direct result of your feedback to make accessing the events held in virtual environments easier for all interested parties. So you see we really do value your feedback and would appreciate more of it!
A couple of weeks after getting great reviews from the folks at Site IQ , The Cisco Support website made the Association of Support Professionals (ASP’s) Top Ten Support Sites again this year. We are honored and happy to see the value we are bringing to our user base being recognized by the industry professionals.
Jean Philippe Vasseur, a Distinguished Engineer with the NSSTG Systems and Technology Architecture team, has a passion-something he refers to as “The Internet of things.” The concept of a world where inanimate objects communicate with us and one another over the network via tiny intelligent object fascinates Vasseur.While sensor technology such as motion detecting lights have been around for quite some time now, not much has been done to enable your door to tell your light to turn on via a hand on the doorknob. Vasseur’s efforts could be a catalyst to change this, and rapidly so if he gets his wish. What does he see as an example of the proof of the power of sensor driven networks?“For example, you could have millions of sensors across any large city that could measure the air quality, pollution, and noise, connected together to improve the quality of life and save energy, and the number of examples involving Sensor Networks is endless (Connected home, Intelligent buildings, Smart Cities, …).” Vasseur explains. What does he see as a challenge to achieving this goal?“Right now, it’s a world of proprietary systems, and that’s one of the reasons it hasn’t taken off,” he says. “There are literally dozens of protocols coming from dozens of companies, and if you’re interested in applying sensor technology to a huge network, you’re going to face a number of interoperability challenges. Technology A won’t work with Technology B, and none of the technology will currently run over IP. This is why we truly believe in the use of IP for these networks.” To hear more about the ‘Internet of Things’ and ‘Sensor Networks’ come out to the Cisco Second Life Bandwidth Stage next Tuesday, 22 April 2008 at 1200 PDT to hear John Philippe discuss the idea of the Internet of Things and ask your questions of him during a presentation followed by an interactive Q&A.