James Cameron's blockbuster hit Avatar viscerally depicts the power of an avatar in a way that software geeks couldn't begin to communicate or illustrate in code. Nothing in Second Life, The Sims or other virtual worlds comes close to the movie for illustrating the power of an avatar to insert a person into another environment or "world." In fact, if you haven't seen the movie, I can say that it's hard to leave the cinema without wishing — darn it — why can't we really do that??? (Sort of like, "beam me up Scottie," why can't we do that too???) [If you are like me, I wonder . . . when will we be able to do that because surely sometime in the future we'll be able to. But, I digress.]
Last week some of my colleagues and I had a completely different experience that leaves me thinking that avatars aren't really the future. Instead, literally being there — yourself — in a virtual fashion is a more human and natural way of interacting than using an avatar to represent yourself. What am I talking about? It's telepresence — the high resolution, life-size video conferencing tool that, in this situation, was provided by Cisco.
Here's what happened. Last year we decided to bring our Business Technology Forum not only to the real world in Chicago but also to the virtual world over telepresence. Last Friday, Mike Gilpin, Clay Richardson, Ted Schadler and I got to deliver that virtual event by spending 3 hours interacting with 14 clients in 7 cities using telepresence. The cities were: Atlanta, Boston, Herndon VA, Irving, New York, San Jose, and Washington, D.C. In addition, we had one company that dialed in from its own telepresence facility.
If you've been following our recent blog posts, you'll know that Forrester has a lively business process management and Lean practice. To help us better understand the issues that business process improvement professionals face, we've fielded a very short (I promise) survey. Through it, we're trying to determine where business process improvement pros sit in the organization (IT, special business services group, or business domains), and who is driving business process initiatives in most organizations.
There’s no doubt about it. The BPM suite market has fundamentally changed, now that IBM announced plans to buy Lombardi, and Progress Software sealed the deal on Savvion yesterday. Two little vendors . . . and you would think, given all the reaction, that something really big happened. But in many ways, that’s the case.
Ok, why are these two deals so important? Lots of reasons, including: