Developer forums like Intel's Developer Forum are a place you can go to learn about the future. The more global and powerful the vendor, the better the view of the future, and in this regard, Microsoft and Intel are likely the most powerful vendors to watch. This isn't to say either is always right, nor that the roadmaps they provide will survive the test of time. But these companies drive the market and have a lot to say about where it is going.
I've observed that the accuracy of related predictions goes up sharply when the companies are executing well and drops like a rock when they aren't. Right now, Intel is executing at near historic levels, suggesting that predictions based on IDF should be relatively accurate. One thing stood out: We are moving to the 3D Web and we are ramping to it much like we ramped to the original Web.
Before I go into more detail on that, I'd like to spend a moment on why presenting well is critical to a company's image in the real world or in a virtual one.
The Importance of Presenting Well Executives often seem to forget that they are the visible face of their companies to outsiders, such as reporters, investors and customers, and also insiders, like employees. When they do a great job, they carry the pride of their companies and set an example of excellence that permeates their companies. Apple's Steve Jobs and HP's Mark Hurd do their companies proud every time they are on stage. I believe a lot of both companies' strong execution comes from the visible example these CEOs make every time they are seen behind a podium.
The worst I've ever seen, by the way, was the first executive presentation by Netscape. One key executive, who was just as unprepared as the others, said "had she been given more than a day to prepare, she would have done better." The event had been booked weeks earlier, but no one evidently told key speakers they would be speaking. It was clear they had no idea why they were there, had no working strategy and apparently didn't talk to each other much. I accurately forecast the death of Netscape based on that one day. I kind of wonder how many concluded the same and helped cause that result.
It amazes me how many companies put executives on stage that likely are otherwise competent but suck in front of audiences. At the AMD Barcelona launch, a number of speakers from a variety of vendors sucked. One looked to be expecting a blindfold before being shot. Dell set the best example in that it had a practiced speaker and Michael Dell in a video. The combination, in my opinion, made the strongest vendor statement at the event.
Through much of this decade, Intel's executives would get up on stage rushed, poorly prepared and communicating a company in trouble. At this IDF, the executives were relaxed and rehearsed, they looked professional and were consistently on message. They conveyed a level of competence and confidence consistent with their execution this year and demonstrate how these things must be done if a company is to successfully execute and convince stakeholders that they can rely on this execution.
This may be the only time key people see the face of Intel and that company did an excellent job of creating an image of competence that will serve the company well over the next year.
AOL Is to the Web What Second Life Is to the 3D Web It's not a typical topic you would expect when talking about a chip vendor, but this was a major portion of the third-day keynote by Intel. I agree that we are looking at the birth of a new Web.
This idea of a 3D Web isn't new; we have been messing with the related concepts since 1995 when I saw prototypical products from several vendors at a time when we were still thinking properties such as AOL were the Web.
What's different? The birth of Second Life and massive multiplayer games such as World of Warcraft showcase what can, technically, be done online to bridge the 2D world that represents the Web today, with the 3D world we live in both physically and virtually.
Justin Rattner, Intel's CTO, made a powerful point when he connected the Second Life of today to the AOL of over a decade ago. It got me thinking about what a difference the new 3D Web he and others are envisioning will mean for our future.
3D Web and a Raid in Second Life If you've seen a vendor presentation in Second Life, you probably have learned that, regardless of the technology, people can bore you to death as effectively in Second Life as in real life. Few have learned how to use it and fall back on the limitations of the real world. It amazes me that in a world where you can do anything, people still feel the need to do PowerPoint presentations.
Think how much fun it would be to raid such a meeting with a team out of World of Warcraft. While it probably wouldn't improve the quality of the presentation, it would be a lot more fun and probably force folks to improve their pitches. I'm not just joking either. Folks are actually working on this.
In business, imagine being able to go to a site that was the virtual representation of a company, where you could talk to a company representative and have the experience mirror more closely a physical visit. Then if you needed another company or resource, you could move to that other company or resource much like you do today on the Web, but without breaking the 3D virtual experience.
Now think of having a virtual home where you could select furniture, appliances and art, and, if you like what you see, be able to click and have it all transition -- for a price -- from that virtual home to your own. Now apply this to your company, your car, your clothing. You would have a much more powerful try-before-you-buy capability and the leveraged cost of a Web site, likely fewer returns and more sales, which equates to better margins.
Getting Ready for the 3D Web People who figured out the Web early gained advantages in terms of Web-based revenue, company perceptions (which lead to stronger company valuations), and significant competitive advantage. On Monday, a new company -- which I can't yet talk about -- is launching that will provide the first blended platform to make an open 3D Web possible.
It might take a few years to figure this out, but that means it is coming and you probably should start thinking about this new virtualized representation for your company. Of course, I'm looking forward to the day when I can avoid traffic and no longer have to drive to events like IDF. I also look forward to showing up at an event as my World of Warcraft Mage and blowing boring presenters off the stage. It is kind of interesting to note that AMD started down the VR path some time ago.
In the end, those who win in this future space will be those that don't limit themselves in virtual words to things they can do in the physical world, but who expand their imaginations to include all the possibilities in a world limited only by that imagination.
If you haven't been in a good Massive Multiplayer game recently, it may be time to wonder in, think about what is possible, and maybe blow some things up, including your preconceptions.