Corporations are used to Webex-like solutions (and even somewhat to Virtual Event platforms) for their Virtual meetings. The top 4 platforms in traditional virtual meetings are: Cisco’s Webex, GotoMeeting from Citrix Online, Microsoft Netmeeting and Adobe Connect. When they need more sense of presence and more interaction and more humanized meetings then they usually used to go for a face-to-face, even though some have been interested in pseudo-3D Virtual Events platforms for large virtual conferences and virtual trade-shows.
3D immersive solutions are filling in the gap by offering an in-between solution, where you can save time and money by keeping it virtual, while increasing engagement and interactivity, thanks to 3D immersion, avatar based platforms.
- 3D immersive spaces create a Sense of Presence,
- They create Feelings closer to face-to-face than to traditional virtual meetings of the Space
- Avatars lead to more “Human” Interactions, more engagement and more networking among attendees
- Avatars and 3D immersive lead to stronger Visual Memory of the Meeting
- Importing 3D objects improves communication and collaboration on 3D virtual products
This is an ideal solution for corporations as they have the best of both worlds; reduced cost/saved time (as the platform is running from the users’ computers), and increased engagement and more human interaction, VoIP, avatars interactions similar to face-to-face meetings.
So, given these huge benefits, how can this adoption of 3D immersive spaces for meetings get accelerated?
What are the real challenges and obstacles to overcome when adopting 3D immersive platforms in the Enterprise?
We, at Altadyn, have been in business since 2002. We pioneered browser-based and download-free virtual spaces; 3DXplorer multi-user avatar based platform was introduced 2 years ago and VoIP was added last year. Now, the adoption is taking off; with thousands of virtual attendees in our platform each week, and growing, we are seeing a clear acceleration in the adoption. We are getting closer to mainstream adoption every month, but what have been the issues? Here are some of the most common requests from the corporate users, that we have resolved in the past few years.
- Software Download or Installation: IT managers in enterprise can’t let users install ANY software without their involvement, tests, approvals or certifications. It doesn’t matter how small is the download. As far as the platform requires IT approval, then it becomes a problem. This has been forever the problem for Second-Life’s adoption in Enterprise until Linden Lab decided last year to refocus on the entertainment markets. Obviously being Browser-based helps, but it’s not enough. If your browser-based system requires a plug-in which is not pre-installed on corporate computers , it’s going to prevent users to attend meetings, even a tiny active-x installation is an issue.
- Enterprise Firewalls: the platform should not require open ports other than port 80, otherwise similar accessibility issues will need to be addressed.
- Bandwidth: Most 3D immersive platforms require large bandwidth for smooth animation and for VoIP. This not an issue in most corporate offices, but is sometimes a real issue in remote offices, and obviously one of the main reasons for these meetings or for getting remote offices people closer to large branches or to corporate offices.
- Mac Support / Multi-OS / Multi-browser: Although Windows is the main platform in Enterprise, almost 10% of Enterprise users are not running Windows. As far as the browsers are concerned, users are starting to have their own preferences, so supporting all browsers helps for a faster adoption.
- User generated content: As soon as the corporate users discovers the 3D immersion, they want to replicate their key strategic places: their Executive Briefing Center, their Show room, their Command Center, etc. Didn’t we mention the sense of presence as a key advantage? Well once they get it, they want it all. The 3D platform should allow easy import of 3D models. Moreover, corporate users are asking for open architecture to embed hyperlinks, documents, videos, audio, and even more recently, twitter feeds and more.
- Scalability: Meetings become conferences and customer days become global users group meetings. Corporate users attend meetings from a few participants up to thousands. 3D platforms should be able to handle small meetings as well as large corporate events with thousands of attendees. This means cloud computing support with off-the-shelf pre-configured instances with major cloud computing platforms such as those of AMAZON-EC2 and MICROSOFT.
- Learning curve: Users won’t spend too much time in learning the environment; chat, VoIP, sitting, laser pointing and desktop sharing should all be one-click features.
- Simple avatars: Long and complex processes to create an avatar are not welcome for most business users. They want to select an avatar quickly and get in the room.
- Walking & turning: For most business users who have never played a 3D game, this is not an easy reflex, even though the software only requires pressing on the keyboard’s arrow button to walk. They are not used to walk in Webex! Interestingly, unless they have not gone through this change, they’ll not notice the benefit of 3D immersive, as the immersion will only be felt after walking and turning around.
- Virtual behavior: Unlike in Webex, your gesture, movements and virtual body language is visible to others. And of course, walking over a table or into another avatar is not appropriate, just like in the real world. Those situations, which bring some fun and ice-breaking moments, can also appear silly or contribute to the “non-serious” or “game” aspect of the meeting thus becoming fatal for its adoption in the Enterprise. They need to be used responsibly.
3DXplorer has left most of the above challenges behind, especially those which are technology-related. We are still assisting users in their move towards more sophisticated applications for virtual meetings and working with them on better setting their expectations.
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