nTeams, the first virtual world solution designed to improve innovation in distributed teams, announced today it has been named a “Cool Vendor in Social Software and Collaboration 2010”* by Gartner, Inc.
“For Gartner to name nTeams as a Cool Vendor is a great honor and significant milestone,” said Barbara Westmoreland, nTeams CEO. “Nine months ago our global team had a vision to create an immersive 3D environment where distributed teams innovate together in real-time to create groundbreaking solutions. Now our nTeams solution has been recognized as innovative, impactful, and intriguing by the world’s leading IT research and advisory company.
“We believe Gartner’s recognition as Cool Vendor in the social software and collaboration market affirms nTeams’ mission to catapult distributed teams beyond non-engaging conference calls, web meetings, and teleconferencing,” continued Westmoreland. “In nTeams, distributed teams innovate together ‘face-to-face’ in their private nTeams offsite any time. Innovation tools and training are always available for team building, idea generation, and collaboration. Without any travel costs.”
Gartner’s Cool Vendor for Social Software and Collaboration report points out that “social software initially attracted attention from enterprises eager to facilitate less-rigid, more-flexible styles of interaction that acknowledge the social dimension of work. People want to share insights, connect with colleagues, and contribute to the success of their organizations.” The report distinguishes that “the social software tools highlighted in this research show that the tools for collaboration have expanded beyond the bounds of wikis and blogs. They enable people to aggregate information from the social network and harness it to make better decisions. They also enable people to take advantage of virtual environments for a richer approach to connecting and engaging.”
According to Westmoreland, distributed teams’ ability to connect and engage has become more challenging during the 25 years she has lead global teams for Fortune100 corporations. “I’ve seen team engagement dramatically decline over the years, especially now that we rarely have travel budget to meet face-to-face and depend on non-interactive technology to communicate.
“For teams to implement corporate innovation strategies, they first must be engaged,” said Westmoreland. “nTeams leverages the virtual world advantages that Gartner points out – a richer approach to connecting and engaging – to help distributed teams create innovative solutions that give corporations a competitive edge.”
nTeams provides an “off-the-shelf” innovation solution for a distributed team to have its own “Avatar-like” virtual world with pre-built buildings, tools, and training designed to support their innovation initiatives. To engage and unify distributed teams, nTeams includes over 40 hours of off-site “outward-bound” team building challenges to help teams leverage individual differences and strengths, create a shared vision, and define team values that build an innovation culture. To inspire creativity, nTeams provides ideation tools, including brainstorming, role playing, and 3D prototype modeling for teams to capture ideas every day, any time. To collaborate with partners in real-time, nTeams includes more than 100 multimedia displays for teams to share, collect feedback, and edit documents, presentations, websites, 3d models, and videos in a secure environment. nTeams packaged solution can also be customized with organizations’ standard team building and creativity tools, innovation best-practices, and integrated application data.
The vision for nTeams began when Westmoreland wrote team fable Invisible Forces at Work (August, 2010) that introduced the idea of using virtual worlds to improve innovation in distributed teams. To implement the solution, nTeams partnered with Hong Kong-based ALCUS International, Ltd. and its best-of-class virtual world design team to built nTeams on Linden Lab’s Second Life™, a virtual world platform that offers a robust community, support, and building tools with the option of behind-the-firewall corporate security.
ALCUS’s Managing Director Claus Nehmzow, an expert in applying virtual worlds to address business needs, sees nTeams as making a quantum leap from earlier corporate virtual worlds: “Virtual worlds first made a big, but short-lived splash several years ago when companies replicated their corporate meeting and training rooms for one-time events. Custom building the virtual worlds was expensive, risky, and often difficult for users to navigate. They were rarely built for re-use and expandability. As a result, many corporations didn’t realize the long-term business value they had expected.
“nTeams represents the next generation of virtual world adaption,” continued Nehmzow, who has led teams that designed virtual world solutions for Cigna, the U.K. National Health Service, and HealthyWorlds. “Our team was very excited to build the first packaged, off-the-shelf virtual world application to address the business need to improve innovation in distributed teams. In our design we utilized the power of virtual world presence with life-like team building adventures, interactive idea sharing with 3d creativity tools, and real-time collaboration with partners. With nTeams packaged solution any distributed team can quickly learn how to work together better to drive corporate growth through innovation.”
After nTeams and ALCUS collaborated to develop the distributed team virtual world, they expanded their partnership to market the solution to global corporations, government, and educational organizations.
*Gartner, Inc. Cool Vendor in Social Software and Collaboration 2010” report was published by Carol Rozwell et al, on April 6, 2010.