Saturday, April 24, 2010

HIPerWall: Really Big Collaboration, Really Big!

Photo: Anne Helmond

I just learned about HIPerWall from John Sviokla's blog posting "It's Time to Reinvent Knowledge Work." You can access the blog here!.

The HIPerWall - or Highly Interactive Parallized Display Wall - is a spinoff from the University of California at Irvine (UCI, and is based on research and technology at UCI's California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). Basically, the HIPerWall's software, enables a very large electronic canvas for creating very large video walls out of standard computer, monitors, and an Ethernet network. John didn't mention the wall itself, but a link in his blog took me to an article about two Calit2 affiliated professors (Steven G. Potkin and James H. Fallon) who were using a wall to help them identify the genes associated with schizophrenia (something one of my sons is also working on, and so I was further intrigued).

The researchers had to try and find patterns in a huge amount of data that could help them connect the millions of dots into a genetic picture. The 200-million-pixel,40 by 10 foot wall gave them larger-than-life views of their data sets at very high resolutions. As the Calit2 article said, ". . . they could scrutinize multiple data set sets simultaneously, comparing and contrasting images while they rotated, dissected, spliced and superimposed them." The wall also facilitated collaboration with other researchers in cognitive science, physics, informatics, computer science, neuroanatomy, statistics and genetics. The data was dynamic, could be grouped in many ways (e.g., gender, severity of illness). Before such a high-tech visualization tool, researchers had to grind their way millions of data-gerated numbers.

Use of the wall led to the identification of two genes associated with schizophrenia, and the researchers are now investigating genetic risk factors for Alzheimers.

As John says in his blog, other organizations (such as businesses) need to learn from these labs and consider how their own knowledge workers and potentially high-value teams think together, use information together, innovate together, learn and re-learn together. Tools like the HIPerWall not only help generate new knowledge, they feed curious imaginations that will disturb and overturn existing paradigms,and so present us with new ways of seeing. As Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Imagination is where knowledge begins life.

To learn more about the HIPerWall you can visit here. You can also see a number of videos on YouTube, including ones where researchers are playing Guitar Hero 2 on the wall. Fun times!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Emerging Markets Are Pretty Developed on the Collaboration Front

In May 2009, Frost & Sullivan conducted an online survey of 3,662 Information Technology and line-of-business decision-makers in 10 countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United States. The study - sponsored by Verizon and Cisco - wanted to find out how professionals work together using advanced collaboration tools. Here are some of the most interesting findings:

China is embracing unified communication and collaboration (UC&C) tools - 89 percent use some form of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) as their primary phone service

India sees the biggest return on their collaboration investment They have the lowest average spend on UC&C, but the highest return on capital

India is the most telecommute-friendly country, followed by Hong Kong, and with the US and China third

China has the largest proportion of its firms currently having both desktop videoconferencing (69 percent) and immersive video (62 percent. India is second and the US third

Chinese organizations ranked first with the highest percentage of companies giving advanced collaboration tools to their non-management employees. The US ranked second and Australia third

Differences in regional perceptions are very interesting:

Feel that communications technologies give them control over their lives, and allow for a better balance between life and work
Are most concerned about the security of their information
Like the ability to telecommute
Find the technologies are invalauble to help them stay in the loop and keep business moving forward

Like to work in the office, as opposed to working from home
Are least likely to multitask while on a conference call
Prefer in person meetings
Are least likely to disconnect from communications technologies in order to preserve their privacy

Highest percentage of all regions who believe that they lead busy professional lives
Readily substitute communications technologies for business travel
Like the ability to telecommute, and if possible, would do most of their work from home
Guard their privacy, often sending calls to voice mail or disconnect instant messaging so as not to be disturbed

The global collaborative infrastructure continues to develop at a rapid rate. Unfortunately,work cultures usually drag behind for many years, and so the value-generating potential at the Talent-Technology interface remains just that - potential. But, let's change that!