Tuesday, IBM and Linden Labs (the creators of Second Life) announced that they’ve reached a breakthrough -It is possible to teleport your virtual characters to multiple platforms. A breakthrough because it evangalise the importance of data portability and interoperability for new web applications. Alright, so teleporting virtual characters among scattered virtual worlds becomes possible by now? Is it already possible to teleport my boring Second Life character to Google’s new virtual platform named Lively?
This week Google launched a new initiative that creates a real character in a virtual world surrounded by social networks. You can create a personal avatar and make or join a virtual 3d room, invite friends and get social. Not very innovative, unless you incorporate the fact that they also mashed up with other social networks as Youtube and Picasa. It now even becomes possible to project your own video on the plasma screen in your room. Well, other authors already did an extensive review on the application and business model opportunities. Therefore, no need to discuss the application myself.
Corporate Innovation Strategy
However, I would like to stress one interesting perspective of this story. I wrote an interesting article for CIO magazine (to be published in July 2008) in which I already mentioned the rewarding mechanisms and the particular time scheme of Google employees to create their own innovative projects. Again, Lively came about during Google’s “20 percent time” which is a rule of thumb for engineers to devote 1/5th of their time on their projects and innovation. In today’s world where customers bargaining power is rising and the need for innovation to differentiate is enormous, Google set an example for a valuable innovative strategy. In my daily practice as an innovation consultant I continuously notice how companies experience innovation. The innovation strategy is always a discussion about investing in your company’s portfolio or brand on the one hand, and fulfilling the daily operations on the other hand. Of course, I understand that Google’s time scheme is somewhat extraordinary, yet I do think that it can serve as a good example that valuable innovation requires investments both in capital and resources. Probably most of Goolge’s initiatives that come up during the 1/5th rule never reach a stage of becoming the next big thing, but Lively has the potential due to Google’s huge userbase and ability to integrate it with various other services.
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