Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook and Oculus: A step forward for Social Big Data

Oculus Rift and Social Big Data
Oculus Rift photo courtesy of Sergey Galyonkin.

Yesterday, Facebook announced that it was purchasing Oculus VR, makers of the Rift 3D virtual reality headset, for two billion dollars. If you’re not a hard core gamer locked into the happenings of the International CES show, you many not have seen this technology before.

Oculus has created a development kit, originally funded on Kickstarter, for an immersive 3D headset. This headset won multipleBest of Show” awards at CES and was widely seen as one of the top technologies in Las Vegas this year.

But cool technology alone doesn’t automatically lead to a multi-billion dollar price tag. Even in Silicon Valley, there usually is a reason for throwing billions of dollars at someone. In this case, Facebook is seeking to maximize the value of a technology that telecom and unified communications professionals have read much about in past years, Virtual Reality.

In our world, we have seen a variety of virtual reality technologies come and go with limited market success ranging from Second Life to Avaya web.alive to Musion 3D telepresence to Suitable Technologies’ Beam Robot. Although all of these technologies looked promising at one point and have the potential to make some waves, none have justified the price tag that Mark Zuckerberg has placed on virtual reality. What are we all missing? Where is Facebook going to do that is different from the rest of the collaboration and communications market?

The Zuck has already blogged about this on Facebook, but he sees the Oculus Rift as a potentially new interaction platform to come after the mobile phone dies out. Facebook was late to the mobile revolution and wants to get in front of the next key interaction platform.

In his post, Zuckerberg lays out the next generation vision that Facebook has for virtual reality as an extension of Facebook:

“After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home.”

And imagine going through Facebook to gain access to these experiences. In theory, you could also bring your friends along to the courtside experience and Facebook could offer the same view to thousands of people at once. Students and Millennials are already used to working together by keeping social media windows open that keep access to their friends on their phone, tablet, or laptop. With Oculus, they could have their own immersive space for studying or hanging out.

(Interestingly, Plantronics developers have an interesting demo that they are starting to show where their headset was able to control a Google Maps view simply by moving your head from side to side. This is undoubtedly a first step in building the type of experience that Facebook would like to emulate over time.)

But one of the most interesting aspects of this vision isn’t how futuristic this seems, but how this vision actually reflects the past few years of unified communications. A couple of years ago, the Big Thing in unified communications was the potential to merge social networks with unified communications to create a converged collaboration environment. We already had virtual reality solutions. We already had immersive video, which has only gotten better year over year. And, of course, we already had the most advanced voice solutions in the world. The only thing left was to add a social aspect.

As social companies such as Jive Software and Yammeremerged as front runners, the common thought was that these would merge with UC vendors such as Cisco, Avaya, and Microsoft. But, despite Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer, this hasn’t really happened as of yet. The biggest challenge has been that these social software vendors only see themselves as a portal for specific types of interaction, rather than a single point of interaction for all communications types. And in the vast majority of enterprise environments, social communities and call control are still completely separate in nature. Only now, with the advent of improved user experiences such as Unify’s Ansible product does it look like social media is finally being integrated into the typical business end user’s workflow.

Even in the consumer world, calling and social media are typically separate as well. Consumers rarely look for “unified communications” as a standalone capability from their phone company; they simply have a mobile phone that provides most of the benefits of unified communications: text, video, chat, presence, and social. And even then, the voice and video aspects are typically separated from the social networks they use, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Instagram. Although Facebook and Google+ have started to make inroads into real-time communication, it would be hard to argue that either of these services are replacing Skype or Snapchat any time soon. So, not only does the enterprise world not accept this merger, but the consumer world still isn’t sure how to connect social networks with immersive speech or video communications.

Of the existing vendors in enterprise communications, only Microsoft seems to currently have the pieces needed to compete with Facebook’s vision. Between the XBox Kinect, Skype, Yammer, and Lync, Microsoft has the pieces to pursue a similar vision where social experiences can lead to immersive video and interaction. However, Microsoft hasn’t built a Virtual Reality department for a simple reason: lack of business demand. And despite the criticism that Microsoft has received on business execution, nobody has ever accused Microsoft for not chasing big markets: their investments into mobile and cloud technologies show real commitments to Windows Phone, Office365, Azure, and other technologies.

So, did Mark Zuckerberg just throw away 2 billion dollars? Given that Facebook is near an all-time high with a market cap over 150 billion dollars, this is a drop in the bucket for them. But two things tell me that this investment could potentially pay off.

First, the newest Oculus Rift experience really is head and shoulders above any virtual reality helmet or goggles that have previously been on the market, both in terms of comfort and immersiveness. I’ve worn my share of 5 pound helmets where one could only focus on a single area that would leave me crosseyed and dizzy when entering the real world. In comparison, the current Oculus development set is less than half a pound and provides a stereoscopic view to support normal vision. This provides a level of physical comfort that has been missing in virtual reality. But this admittedly only means that Oculus meets the minimal standards of being usable without creating pain for its user.

Second, and more importantly, technology has finally started to catch up to the demands of virtual reality, although it is still early. The combination of increased bandwidth and improved networking, immense back-end cloud resources to create better video environments, and the emerging concept of “wearable” mobile technologies such as Fitbit and Google Glass are leading to an environment where end users are starting to look at virtual reality as a potential option. The real key here is ultimately the adoption of wearables, as this determines whether end users will actually use a technology like this without thinking of this as a bizarre experience.

A relevant parallel may end up being the tablet computer industry. Back in 2000, Bill Gates demoed a tablet PC at COMDEX (Remember that name?) and announced that it was the future of computing. It ends up that he was right, but it took another 10 years of slogging through the UMPC (Ultra Mobile Personal Computer) and PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) market before the iPad finally made the tablet usable. The key wasn’t the size of the tablet or the processing power, but creating a user interface that replaced the stylus and awkward handwriting detection software of the time with a simple touch-and-swipe interface that is now standard.

For Oculus to succeed, Facebook is going to have to learn from the challenges of the unified communications market and the concerns of the consumer technology market. It won’t be enough just to have an interesting technology or to achieve integration between Facebook, Oculus, and real-time events. And it won’t be enough to build the massive infrastructure needed to provide a 3D viewing experience to a home audience. With this investment, Facebook is going to need to play a primary role in advocating and educating consumers on how to use headsets and augment their existing world with a virtual world. So far, that has been a tough sell. Then again, 10 years ago, the idea that a “social network” would be a 150 billion dollar company was a tough sell as well.

The frustrating angle for DataHive Consulting is the realization that the eventual integration of Facebook and Oculus is probably another 3-5 years down the road, meaning that we are unlikely to have any true projects for Oculus-based data before 2020. But while we wait for the tools of the future to gain widespread acceptance, it’s good to know that somebody is actually working on building it. In the mean time, we’ll have to maintain our focus on the social media, video analytics, and telecom big data problems that permeate the enterprise.

Part 1: Building a Social Media Presence For The Long Haul

Social Media Construction

Michel Filion via Compfight CC-BY-2.0

This blog is the first in a three part series to show you how to build a social media account that will last for the long haul.  Social media can be a powerful force multiplier to get out your message, connect with new people, and find new and interesting ideas, but your social media tactics need to be aligned with your business goals.  And, most importantly, it is always all about the people.

To take a step back, let me explain how I use social media.  Continue reading

Where Dreamforce 2013 Missed the Mark with its Social Efforts

Dreamforce DataHive Hub

Dreamforce Social Media Command Center

Dreamforce, Salesforce’s annual end-user event and the largest cloud tradeshow in the world, recently concluded in mid-November. It has become a zoo of a show with over 135,000 registered attendees, which makes it a challenge for Dreamforce to create more personalized experiences for each person on site. This challenge is increased by the fact that the demand for Salesforce-based education is greater than the number of sessions offered, especially with technical topics where expert users are seeking more knowledge and MVP-level tips.

In this regard, Dreamforce had the opportunity to take advantage of both its massive social media audience and robust social media monitoring capabilities to help out attendees, but failed to do so. This was not due to either Salesforce’s or Dreamforce’s inability to support social media, but was based on a poor event-based social media strategy. Based on DataHive Consulting’s experience, here’s what happened and what should have happened. Continue reading

Hello World!

Baby Panda Bear Cub - San Diego Zoo Baby Panda Bear Cub – San Diego Zoo by fortherock is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

We are proud to bring a new consultancy firm to the market: DataHive Consulting. Our firm is focused on showing corporate end users, PR firms, and technology vendors how to bring social media, data, and mobility together to make people more productive. By bringing the context of location, metadata, and other third-party data sources with the Hive Mind of social networks connected in a ubiquitous manner, we all have the opportunity to become smarter, more agile, and more productive.

The Principals of DataHive Consulting, Lynne Baer and Hyoun Park, have each used social media for over 15 years. For us, the concepts of friending, blogging, and metadata are ingrained into our daily workflows, our personal lives, and our corporate work. As social natives, we have seen countless examples of how companies have harmed their own corporate brand by using social media inappropriately, failed to take advantage of large audiences because they did not understand the opportunities they had, or wasted time and money by fighting unnecessary fights in trying to remove the personalized technology ecosystems of new employees from corporate IT.

To support the technology community, DataHive Consulting will bring our experience to market to help companies in the following areas:

Social Media: Although Facebook and Twitter have existed for eight years and blogs are well over a decade old, the vast majority of social users and community managers still find it challenging to take full advantage of social media. Social monitoring is just a first step in optimizing the value of social. The true value of social media does not simply come from just having thousands or even millions of followers. In a time when Twitter followers can be bought by the thousands and online celebrity often has little to no credibility, social media is no longer simply a numbers game. Instead, social media should allow individuals or organizations to have a closer relationship with their friends, partners, and customers. DataHive Consulting provides guidance on creating a more immersive and effective social presence. At the same time, we know that social media is often an understaffed activity, so we will teach you which areas of social media can be automated and which areas have to be staffed on a real-time basis.

DataHive Consulting provides support and consulting for corporate social media presences on platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Storify. In addition, DataHive can also help to enhance the social aspects of end user conferences and tradeshows, since we have noticed that the vast majority of events do not credibly unite their social and real-live events.

Personalization of IT: This trend is also called the consumerization of IT, but DataHive Consulting prefers the term “personalization” because it reflects our individual efforts to create a technology ecosystem built around each of our lives. Think about your own smartphone and the apps that you chose for that device. Consider the shortcuts and bookmarks on your browser to make your life easier. This is the personalization of IT and it has transformed corporate IT in many ways. By bringing together DataHive Consulting’s expertise in personalized productivity technologies and with enterprise applications, we can provide a roadmap and integration strategy for IT departments to support the emerging applications that new employees are bringing into the workplace.

DataHive Consulting views the Personalization of IT in multiple aspects, all of which directly affect the corporate environment:

Bring Your Own Device, where employees expect to use their own equipment. Currently, over 70% of companies support some level of BYOD, yet market estimates state that only 30% of companies have formal BYOD policies or strategies. In other words, the majority of BYOD users are improvising and facing financial, compliance, and security risks as a result. Find out how to support BYOD, especially in context of the social, Big Data, and cloud projects your organization faces.

The Subscription Economy, where infrastructure, resources, and services are now rented, not owned. As employees bring new applications into the organization and cloud infrastructure needs to be managed, companies must fundamentally shift from a CapEx to an OpEx model and from a fully centralized model of IT procurement to a complex role-based and location-based model of IT procurement similar to the model of Telecom Expense Management. In addition, companies must shift their billing and invoicing models to fit the increasingly complex models of commerce created by flexible subscription options.

Personalized Big Data: We all use Big Data as Google, Amazon, and Facebook users. We have all grown accustomed to having access to services based on these massive datasets and customizing them to our very specific needs through apps and data integration tools. Now that enterprises are catching up with their own Big Data services and applications, how are they providing the appropriate user interfaces for employees to take advantage of this information? Also, how can companies take advantage of employees’ existing use of Big Data rather than create a separate corporate paradigm of usage that will be more difficult to use and less valuable for the employee? At DataHive, we’ve spent over a decade working with the challenges of using Internet-scale and social Big Data as end users and want to share that insight with you as you develop Big Data applications for customers and employees.

DataHive Consulting provides hands-on implementation, strategic support, and workshops in all of these areas. To schedule a free half-hour consultation to discuss your organization’s needs in any of these areas, please contact us at connect@datahiveconsulting.com.