The Friendly Skies in Frankfurt

Our work introducing The Greater IBM Connection to IBM’s European consulting partners at a two day event in Frankfurt has been very productive.

Many of our business colleagues seemed to quickly understand the value proposition of a social network that brought current and alumni

IBMers together for mutual business benefit: in short, IBM becomes both a more responsive organization, and being an IBMer becomes more than a matter of job status, but a professional and personal affiliation that has greater value.

After a day of demonstrating greaterIBM to our consulting colleagues, the group of 300 hopped on buses to an exciting evening event held at Lufthansa’s Flight Training facility.

Between wonderful food, drink, music and more of the business social networking that greaterIBM hopes to engender, our group was treated to virtual flights in a variety of state-of-the-art simulators for many models of commercial aircraft.

Meanwhile, we continued to describe the greaterIBM and get feedback and insights from the cream of our business service leaders on how the program can drive business and innovation opportunities.

During the course of the evening, groups of attendees were ushered onto the flight simulators and given a demonstration of how the multimillion-dollar mega-machines are used for safety training of pilots and crews.

As we prepare for the global greaterIBM program to take off, one lesson from our feedback in Frankfurt stands out…as IBMers, current and alumni, better understand how a social network for a large corporate ecosystem will operate, the more they seem to appreciate its potential.

We’ll continue the campaign in small exploratory events with current and former IBMers in Frankfurt, Vienna, London and Amsterdam.

Greater IBM in Frankfurt, Germany

IBMers Kevin Aires and Jack Mason are bringing the Greater IBM story to a meeting of senior IBM consultants in Frankfurt, Germany.
To accelerate the network’s growth as we prepare to become a live program, we’re showing our European colleagues the program’s portal, ibm.com presence, blog and virtual worlds frontier.

We’re also using a nifty little Bluetooth broadcasting widget to send a greaterIBM “electronic business card” to the phones and mobile devices of the 300 or so consultants milling about the two-day event.

During breaks in the main room presentations, we’re also discussing the Greater IBM Connection’s strategy, and comparing notes with our colleagues on opportunities for this network to support business goals in key current markets, such as Germany, as well as emerging ones like China, India and Brazil.

The heart of that strategy is to empower alumni IBMers to stay connected with current IBMers, as well as each other.

Such richer relationships promise to benefit all involved, and to transform what it means to be an “IBMer” into something bigger and better than just being a current employee.

Of course, enabling current and former IBMers to interact — online, through live events and even via the exciting new from of virtual worlds — is very much in line with the emerging principle that the greatest societal innovations are the product of rich collaborations, collective creation that is increasingly empowered by Web 2.0 trends and technologies.

Of course, the real power of greaterIBM will not be a matter of technology, but of empowering people with new abilities to connect with each other.

One learning from this immersion in IBM’s global business culture is that virtually all IBMers get the premise and promise of the business social network we’re preparing to soon make public.

Meanwhile, our pilot network is growing briskly, with more than 800 members. Current and former IBMers who would like to become part of this group of groundbreakers are welcome to join via this link:

http://www.greateribm.com

And Greater IBMers are equally welcome to share this invite link with alumni IBMers they think would want to join this network for collaborative innovation.

Innovation Intersections: Nanobiology, Social Networking, Virtual Worlds

Jack Mason, IBM Strategic Communications
What do nanotechnology, the Greater IBM alumni social network and virtual worlds have in common?

They are each, and all together, about innovation intersections…the convergences, mashups, cross-fertilizations and new collaborative configurations where truly new stuff develops.

At the Nanobiology Initiative conference a few weeks ago these parallax trends came into focus, and I wanted to examine the overlaps in the hopes of igniting some new
connections and possibilities with the differrent audiences that my epiphany might relate to….

Most people today operate in a complex Venn diagram of social and
professional circles. For example, my current swirl of work includes:

  • Helping IBM launch a business social network — The Greater IBM Connection — for current and former IBMers to collaborate
  • Working with a large new team inside IBM –The Virtual Universe Community — on the future of the “3D Internet”
  • Contributing to the mass collaboration that is e-health
    transformation, a major strategic front for big blue, through this blog
    and related efforts
  • Participating in the company’s efforts to lead on other Web 2.0 fronts

Not only do each of these streams have lots of of internal intersections and criss-crosses. But all of these elements are playing off or feeding each other.  Life seems to be more and more like the Web itself…defined by linkages and networks within networks like the
russian stacked doll called a matyroska (I just learned the proper name of that familiar object, via Yahoo Answers, btw).

For example, I would like to encourage an exchange on nanotechnology across the Greater  IBM network, since nanotech is one of  the most multidisciplinary and collaborative frontiers for deep societal innovation. Who’s with me?

Also, my immersion in the leading virtual world of Second Life has also made me aware of some of the ways that these 3D environments are advancing health care.  Not only is this strange new medium being used to help people with Asperger’s Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy, among others, it is also serving as a virtual meeting places for all kinds of
disease support groups, as well as a new medium for therapists to work with patients.
Just yesterday, I discovered that the Centers For Disease Control have launched a presence in Second Life. And there’s also an interesting new offshoot of the Serious Games initiative called Games for Health that is investigating how game-like environments can help in areas such as CPR or triage training and simulation.

Of course IBM is exploring how its role in the networking of healthcare and virtual worlds may come together.

On that front, I’m all ears on how you might imagine how nanotechnology, social networks, health care and synthetic digital environments may get mashed together to enable deep societal innovation.

First Blog Posting From Within SecondLife

If you’re reading this then my little experiment has worked! I am currently typing this entry, using my new blogging gadget whilst ‘sitting’ in the new virtual Greater IBM office in SecondLife (the online world where we held our recent virtual bloc party

We have had lots of great feedback from the event , and even made the New York Times! We hope to explore this medium further to see how we can help Greater IBMers to “Connect, Communicate and Collaborate”.

The message coming back from Greater IBMers has been “we want more virtual events”, so we’ll see what we can do…

Kevin Aires Project Manager The Greater IBM Connection

 
posted by Boris Frampton on Hursley using a blogHUD : [blogHUD permalink]

Greater IBM Virtual Bloc Party in SecondLife report with screenshots

It sounds like a great time was
had by all at last night’s Greater IBM virtual bloc party.  Bloggers are already on the case, with Andy
Piper
and Eric Mariacher beating me to it. You can also see Wayne Smith’s pictures on snapzilla.  Wayne was filming all through the event (note the video camera in the screenshot below) and is busily editing as we speak.

The meeting was set up in SecondLife on our new skyPOD on
Almaden island and on an international, operator-assisted conference call.  We had 43 attendees in
total or which 29 were guests, with the rest made up of helpers (thank you very
much!) from IBM’s Virtual Universe Community. We had guests to the skyPOD from as far away as Chile, Brazil and Afganistan.  Other countries represented included USA, Canada, UK, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany and Austria.

Guests were welcomed at SpacePort Alpha and Austin
islands for orientation, before they were teleported to Almaden island.  Jean Paul, Mayor of Almaden enabled this to be an exclusive event by limiting access to his island to party guests.  Once on Almaden, despite our best efforts to make directions to the skyPOD clear, some people got a little disorientated and went exploring other parts of the island before we herded them all back to
the teleport point and beamed them up to the Greater IBM skyPOD.

Our fears that the system might slow down due to the large numbers
of people using it thankfully proved unfounded.  This enabled me to take the entire group on a tour around the skyPOD together, which I was concerned may not be possible.

Our guests were shown Steven Harrion’s Amazon bookstore application, which demonstrates how users can order books from within SecondLife.

They also saw an
IBM share price ticker which pulls live stock price information from the internet.  During this tour I gave a demonstration of my “Do Not Disturb Sphere” (a tool I created for future use to ensure that IBMers giving client presentations in SecondLife are not disturbed by other passing SecondLife visitors).

As the sun went down, guests were invited to
take a look over Almaden island from the observation deck. They were then encouraged to practice the
skills needed for the following part of the meeting – using gestures,
sitting down, and standing at a microphone.

We moved through to the adjoining Seminar Hall, where Ian Hughes
(ePredator Potato) presented on IBM’s virtual world activities.  As part of his presentation he showered us
with tennis balls (Ian is a veteran member of IBM’s Wimbledon Tennis Tournament project team), and showed off his new
customised virtual Reebok training shoes to demonstrate how well known brands are experimenting in SecondLife.

Mathew Georghiou, CEO of Mediaspark took us through what his
company is doing in the MMOG education software space, and how worlds like
SecondLife may impact this market in the future.

Jack Mason of IBM Strategic communications, presented on what we are trying to achieve with
The Greater IBM Connection,

and then led us into a breakout session where each table discussed one of these
questions:

* What will make Greater IBM most valuable for IBM alumni?

* How can Core Connectors ignite network growth?

* How can IBM become an engine for collaborative innovation?

* What part can virtual worlds play in helping to build
Greater IBM?

 

A member of each table then reported back to the entire group,

before I formally ended the meeting and thanked everyone for coming.

Most people stayed on for a while to chat with other guests

Guests were each given a Greater IBM gift pack containing a branded T-shirt, cap and flag, all designed by Judge Hocho. I also presented guests with a Greater IBM
keyboard gadget which we had commissioned especially for this event.  These were very well received and one guest told me that he worked for Logitech on keyboard development, so he was particularly impressed!

Virtual Bloc Party Dress Rehearsal

IBMer, Jack Mason, IBM Strategic Communications & The Greater IBM Connection Executive Producer

Just got finished with a little walk ‘n  talkthrough on the Virtual Bloc Party  were throwing this Thursday.
What you see here is one of the discussion circles where breakout groups can tackle our three brainstorm topics. (See previous post on those questions)

The microphones in the background will also enable participants to ask questions (via our simulcast conference call) and help us keep track of avatars and the people behind them.

While the Virtual Bloc Party will be a bit experimental, I can tell you this….
the best thing about this effort is that so many of our colleagues in the Virtual Universe Community, the hotbed of activity that self-assembled across IBM this year, have chipped in in so many ways, just as they did for the 3D Jam last month.

For example, Judge Hocho (his  stogie-chompin’ avatar’s name, pictured here),has created some very nice giveaways for our guests.  And CopterPilot Sikorsky is looking into how we can capture and share our brainstorming and network-building soiree in some very clever new ways.  Fingers crossed on that front.

We have others who have volunteered to serve as moderators, stewards and party helpers, so on the social networking front within IBM, putting this event together has already built our bonds. A thousand thanks to everyone who is stepping up.

Biggest props go to Kevin Aires, Greater IBM’s new project manager (aka Boris Frampton in SL), who has done just an incredible job of assembling all the virtual, as well as actual, elements, of our metaverse workshop.

Some of the exhibits he’s assembled for show and tell in Greater IBM’s skyPOD hover-house include RSS  from Greater IBM’s external Web sources (courtesy of our Virtual Universe comrade, Hugo Dagleish) and an automatatic notecard dispenser.

If he can help the Greater IBM Connection itself become as innovative as our forthcoming virtual gathering, I’m very bullish on our prospects to create the world’s most delightful and useful business social network.

IBM’s 3D Jam in Second Life

[N.B. About 15 people from the Greater IBM Connection joined the 3D Jam, a virtual offshoot of IBM's recent InnovationJam. Based on the strong interest, Greater IBMers will be invited to meet and greet via the "metaverse" once or twice a month- Jack Mason, Greater IBM Executive Producer]

Chuck Hamilton, IBMer, Center For Advanced Learning (CAL) – Solutions Leader

 

On September 12, 2006 a small volunteer community thought we would try an experiment involving IBMers and a 3D virtual space which we felt looked and felt a lot like the next wave of web based collaboration. We called the event the ‘First Ever IBM 3D Jam’. Since many of us were already proposing similar applications as part of the first phase of the IBM InnovationJam, we decided to tie our 3D Jam event to the main Innovation Jam and see what happened.

We put out a simple and unfamiliar looking invite to about 40 people. We warned them that we were experimenting and that they might experience a few road bumps along the way. We asked people to sign up, develop a virtual 3D character (an avatar), and then attend a virtual meeting as their character in SecondLife.

 

The original 40 person invite yielded 388 positive responses, spreading virally in just four days. In the end, around 150 alternate personas from around the world managed to make the virtual meeting event. Some characters stumbled and hopped in, others flew in gracefully and landed near their seats. They came in all shapes and sizes, excited, (and some) frustrated, but all ready to participate.

Participants were spread across four virtual IBM islands (under development by various IBMers for over a year) distributed by an overwhelmed ‘greeter team’, transporting back and forth like space travelers, taking in the sites and events. Visitors listened to renowned experts like Larry Johnston from the New Media Consortium and IBM’s Jeanette Horan,
VP Business Process and Architecture Integration, speaking to the role of play in our work lives and how environments like these, were going to become increasingly more available to all of us.

Audio was simulcast across all IBM islands as people multitasked through various worlds.

After the introductory chat, people simply wandered around, chatted live, instant messaged, took navigation instruction from peers, explored exhibits, tried math puzzles, went to the NMC museum, talked to robots, picked up free tee shirts or got themselves tossed out of cannons. Long after the scheduled event people mingled and dialogued about what had just happened to them.

In just a few short hours, people were ripped into a future world, old timers still frustrated with cuurent browser usability issues flew about next to younger upstarts who were up and running in ten minutes. A buzz began.

This buzz then flowed into the IBM InnovationJam, which became the next attack point for participant comments. New comments streamed into the space dedicated to ‘Real Markets for Virtual Worlds’ which became one of the most active threads of the entire InnovationJam.  This was followed by requests and proposals to integrate this sort thinking into our business and numerous media requests.

On Tuesday September 19th Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Vice President, Technical Strategy and Innovation will be speak to the world about the innovation emanating from these spaces with live demo in London England. IBM’s newly formed Virtual Universe Community (which meets weekly in Second Life) is still sorting through the deluge of requests and the new to do list we have generated through our after action review.

This entire event was managed by a cross section of the IBM community, numbering around 15 or so people, volunteering their skills and ideas. No one was really in charge, we just assumed roles, without a hierarchy, doing what we could and helping each other with any holes we encountered. It was tiring, but well worth the effort. While most people were pleasantly surprised, some were simply shocked by the activities they saw. Another group simply gave up, frustrated by the barrier to entry they encountered.  Yet this simple experiment has yielded a wealth of knowledge about IBMers and the future of remote collaboration. Our team will be grappling with lessons learned from this event for quite some time.

But here is the real kicker: The cost of this entire experiment was ‘zero’. Outside of the time people offered up to participate, there was not cost to IBM for this deeply immersive 3D, virtual meeting of 150 people. Let that number wiggle around in your head for a while and think about what is possible from a community building and collaboration perspective across IBM.

We launched and watched innovation happen this day and IBM was a wondrous place to be! We employed a new work model that is certain to be at least part of the future of our work and frankly we are not sure what we’ll do next. But stay tuned!

Some Comments from the Virtual Event

“I am getting buried in Sametime questions, meeting invites and emails on this.  The timing was perfect aligning the community launch, the 3D jam and the innovation Jam. I could not believe the number of people collaborating in the Innovation Jam on this”

“Wow this is a very cool idea. Is it real?”

“This is the coolest thing I’ve seen IBM do in a long time, whose paying?”

“I was able (with difficulty) to get into the Second Life.  After the experience, I know why it is we hear about guides for the next life :-).  And…I think I understand a little better what Alice felt like when she fell down the rabbit hole.  It was not intuitive….starting with the email invitation that had extremely limited instructions (e.g. “set up avatar” and “install software”)…would have actually been easier to fall down a rabbit hole!!”

“It was incredible!  You cannot imagine what I had experienced!”

Some IBM Virtual Places in Second Life

Almaden     PUBLIC    106.164.25     http://slurl.com/secondlife/Almaden/106/164/25/

IQ              PUBLIC    148,136,24     http://slurl.com/secondlife/IQ/148/136/24/

Jessica       PUBLIC    47.53.27       http://slurl.com/secondlife/jessica/47/53/27/

Innovation Jam Wiki   http://wiki.globalinnovationjam.com/collaboration/jam/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=55