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Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

Personally I am not a fan of Second Life - it has never captured my imagination and with three children, two of teenage years, it hasn’t captured their’s either. Clearly, for the virtual world creators at Linden Lab, and the early adopters that got on board at the start, it has been a success. But like most things, once the hype and excitement of a new application wanes, that is when the real effort begins. Can Second Life really sustain a presence, continue to innovate and attract new users, whether personal or business? You decide.

But one Australian researcher, Kim MacKenzie, a PhD student at the Queensland University of Technology, is trying to find the answer. Kim is completing her honours year thesis around the business applications of Second Life. She studied 20 international brands over three months last year and has come to the conclusion that many were either ghost towns or worse, had shut up shop. She often found herself wondering around with no evidence of anybody in. See the full article posted today by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Asher Moses.

Linden Labs released figures in April that showed Second Life active users in Australia were 12,245, down from 16,000 towards the end of last year. Not very impressive. According to the Herald article by Asher, it is suggested that brand engagement is not really going to be in Second Life, or not at this time.

MacKenzie herself suggests the application is still a few years ahead of the curve and companies hadn’t done enough to advertise their presence there; or, when more advanced features are added such as voice chat, she believes it will grow in popularity. I guess time will tell.

I don’t know what your experience is with or in Second Life. Are you a corporation that has had success? Or has it been an experiment or a tool to engage your staff? Or do you agree with Kate’s thesis? Or are we all missing the point? Do share.

I was reading a story this morning from B2B magazine that the popularity of blogging by b-to-b marketers is waning. This is according to Forrester Research’s “How to Derive Value from B2B Blogging” report released Monday. A stand out finding is that 53% of respondents said blogs were either marginal or irrelevant in their 2008 marketing strategy.

Why?

Whilst not an expert and without knowing the companies surveyed, my gut tells me that the only reason for a negative response like this could be because the content is not relevant and is not driving conversations. I also imagine the reason for starting a blog in the first place was a knee jerk reaction due to the interest and desire to embrace blogging as part of a corporate social media program.

Forrester recommends that companies give it another go, employing a few basic strategies like honing their voice on other public forums, becoming a resource rather than espousing company rhetoric.

Are we going to see a decline in the number of corporate blogs – one would expect that technology companies would have more success, especially within the markets they operate and the topics relevant to their buyers. Perhaps I am wrong. But with blogging and other conversational marketing activities now part of an employee’s job description, are we forcing the issue and as a consequence, finding that there is little of no value because the content is probably not worth the effort. These results in this Forrester survey would suggest that is happening.

Graham White

by Graham White
Category: Technology

Gartner has looked into its crystal ball and come up with the 10 most disruptive technologies that will shape the IT landscape over the next five years. No surprises that social networking technologies, Web mashups, multicore and hybrid processors and cloud computing are nominated.

Gartner is currently in undertaking its Emerging Trends and Technologies Roadshow in this region and according to several media reports and the company’s press release business IT applications will increasingly start to mirror the features found in some of the popular consumer social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. The key driver for organisations to want to do this will be to improve employee collaboration and harness the community feedback of customers. This feedback will collected and used to help shape a business strategy.

One of the most accessible opportunities Gartner predicts is Web mashups, where companies will mix content from publicly available sources. Gartner reckons this will be the dominant model (80 per cent) for the creation of new enterprise applications. Reason being is that mashups can be created quickly and easily, thus birthing a new era of short-term or disposable applications that would not normally attract development dollars.

Gartner also expects new user interfaces such as organic light-emitting displays, digital paper and billboards, holographic (see my earlier post) and 3D imaging, and smart fabric.

So what for tomorrow’s CIO. Gartner’s summary is simple. The CIO that is responsible for keeping the data centre running, business continuity planning and finding new technology will not survive. That’s a relief. Rather, they have got to be innovators and think beyond the constraints of the conventional. Interesting, but not an easy gig.

As a start point, Gartner’s recommends that CIOs establish a formal mechanism of evaluating emerging trends and technologies, then set up virtual teams of their best people and give them time to spend researching new ideas and innovations, especially those that are being driven by consumer and Web 2.0 technologies. Perhaps I should get my two teenagers to work on their CVs tonight.

Graham White

by Graham White
Category: Technology

Oh, what a day! Australian journalist bemoaning the role of Social Media Releases. Comments like “I’m not quite sure I get the whole social element of this release” or “I think the interview grabs and images are a great addition, but if they are to replace actual contact with persons of interest, I’d rather go without. First and foremost, these type of press releases act as a primer for me. If I’m interested in their message or feel it could contribute to a story I’m chasing then I’ll put in a call and get the info relevant to my readers’ needs.” I think he is missing the point - the message doesn’t have to be text, it can be images, video, etc, but you don’t necessarily have to use it. The same journalist goes on to say “I don’t think I’d bother to share the release through Digg, deli.icio.us or Facebook as I only use social tools such as Digg and Facebook for social needs, not work related happenings.” But more interestingly, Steve Boyd and his theory of Twitpitch - basically, pitch on twitter getting the story down to a one-liner ‘escalator’ pitch — like 10 seconds long — which is going to force them to drop the superlatives and buzzwords and get to the heart of the matter. Now that sounds like fun!

Graham White

by Graham White
Category: Technology

In an Australian first, and in a scene reminiscent of a Star Wars Jedi Council meeting, Australia’s dominant carrier Telstra has projected a life-size 3-D hologram of its chief technology officer, Dr Hugh Bradlow from Melbourne live to a stage in Adelaide, which is more than 700 kms away. Dr Bradlow’s life-sized, real-time hologram walked, talked and interacted with business executives at an Adelaide conference while he stood in front of cameras in Telstra’s Melbourne office. Cameras and microphones in Adelaide allowed Dr Bradlow to see and hear his subjects in the Adelaide audience, as they watched his high definition image projected onto a transparent screen or “foil”. Click here to see the video on ABC News.

The technology, created by British company Musion Eyeliner, has already enabled former US vice president Al Gore to speak to the Live Earth concert’s London audience from Tokyo, and retailer Target to host a model-less virtual fashion show in New York last year. UK band Gorillaz has also used Musion to give life to three-dimensional cartoon characters who performed their song at a 2005 MTV Awards concert in Portugal as rappers interacted with them live on stage.

But Telstra reckons it’s not just for entertainment, but believes there are real business applications and serious benefits from this technology. Perhaps it will help to reduce carbon emissions as executives take less flights, opting instead for their 3-Image to travel? Certainly, that would be a more productive use of one’s time, and reduce travel costs. But clearly it is early days and the costs of this technology as still quite high. This particular holographic video projection system took about half a day to set up, and to move the image the infrastructure needed was “tens of megabytes”, which Telstra ran across its high-speed internet-based Next IP network, which was launched in April last year.

So, a sign of things to come, or pure science fiction?

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Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide