Microsoft Lync has a 3D Virtual Environment Secret Weapon–Proton Media
By Jim Lundy
The 3D virtual environment wars are here and Facebook, Google, and even Microsoft are making moves into the 3D world.
Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion and Google is not standing still with 3D efforts underway such as Project Tango. Google plans to have tablets and map applications that are 3D-enabled. Microsoft has always done a great job of finding applications that compliment its core applications, such as Microsoft Lync, and 3D is no exception. One of the firms that Microsoft is partnering with is a 3D virtual environment firm called Proton Media, which the Lync team is bringing on deals to show value to customers who are paying for Lync.
3D Virtual Environment: 2nd Generation
Proton Media is not new to the 3D virtual environment space. They were an early entrant—back when others, such as Second Life and Forterra Systems, made a big splash.
In fact, back in 2007, when I was still at Gartner, I did an interview with Phillip Rosedale about his firm Linden Labs and the virtual environment called Second Life. Today, of all the virtual collaboration platforms, Proton Media is still in the game and they are attracting new attention as firms such as Facebook and Google experiment with 3D gaming and collaboration. Also, Avaya, known for Unified Communications and Collaboration, offers a 3D virtual environment called Avaya Live.
In fact, now that mobile devices are so powerful, the limitations of desktop PCs are waning. That combined with growing user interest means we are now about to enter the second generation of 3D virtual collaboration.
Lync and Proton Media
Proton Media has evolved over the years with more enterprise deployments featuring its flagship offering ProtoSphere. Ron Burns, the Founder and CEO, is still at the helm of Proton Media. His move to partner with Microsoft Lync is timely and it will help both Proton Media and Microsoft.
3D virtual environments have lots of use cases, particularly in the enterprise. Microsoft has not made a big deal out of this, but as enterprises seek to justify continuing investment in Lync, Proton Media could be a difference-maker.
We see the demand for 3D virtual environments going up, partially due to the fact that we see Facebook, Google, and Microsoft starting to promote the concept, even though others, such as IBM, were involved with this concept early. For now, Microsoft gets special treatment from Proton Media. We expect to see more integrations as enterprises start to realize that collaboration can be interactive and engaging.
Training and onboarding are two of the top use cases, but so is corporate communications and events. 3D interactivity will grow; it is as much about the core platform capabilities that are emerging as it is the virtual environments themselves. In fact, by 2018, we think 3D interactivity will be the norm, not the exception.
The key question is, how will your enterprise plan for and leverage 3D virtual environments to gain a competitive advantage?