Salesforce offers the Glue for virtual collaboration

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Roasting marshmallows around a fire pit: Not the most favorable scenario for serious business discussions.

Or you may think so.

But Salesforce has experienced the same with its customers when using the Glue Corporation virtual collaboration platform. Participants in the software giant’s virtual exposure and meetings gather in a wild, wild-flowered environment to discuss customer relationship management (CRM) software, use cases, and strategies – sometimes relaxing while toasting the central ingredient for smores at the campfire.

“This is one of the most popular destinations,” said Nick Boter, Northern Europe’s Chief Innovation Officer and Retail Lead for Salesforce, during a recent demo of Virtual Environment for VentureBeat. “People like this, they can sit here in this beautiful natural environment, put their feet up, roast marshmallows and discuss very lightly.”

Shortly before the launch of the Covid-19, many companies, including Salesforce, focused on developing exciting, personalized experiences at their various global venues and events.

The world changed, the sales force adapted

Now just the fact that we use the term “personal experiences” shows how much the world has changed in such a short time. To adapt, Salesforce – which has ordered a global physical presence with its huge office tower and thousands of drawing attendees in attendance – is leading the charge in adopting its VR and AR tools.

Over the past year, CRM Leader has implemented virtual collaborative tools developed by the Finnish company Glue Corporation. This creates “true presence” with spatial audio and custom, 3D avatars that mimic their users’ gestures and movements while sharing media, notes and presentations both lively and asynchronously.

When covid hit and remote work became the norm, “it was really hard to have a really good group discussion – our brains aren’t wired to look at the camera all the time,” Botter said. “We had a vision to create this immersive environment.”

The use of AR and VR has been growing rapidly in recent years, and that trend is expected to continue: according to Technavio, the AR / VR market size will reach $ 162.71 billion by 2025, representing a compound annual growth rate of 46% (CAGR). )) From 2020. In addition, Superdata says that the enterprise sector will generate more than 70% of total AR / VR revenue by the end of 2022.

Glue, founded in 2016 and supported by i 8 million in investments from Maki.vc, Reaktor Innovations, Tesi, Braigel Brothers, Foobar.vc and Angels, is helping to drive this trend with its Remote Presence technology. Competing with the likes of The Wild, Party.Space, Yullo, Breakroom and Facebook Horizons, the company’s platform combines immersive 3-D graphics, VR and cloud computing technology to enable companies to “maximize their collaboration potential,” said CEO Jussi Howe. . .

While organizations spend more than 1.3 trillion a year on business travel, they now ask, “Can you hear me now?” And ‘Oh sorry, you go first … well, I can go first, “said Hou.

“The way we work has fundamentally changed,” Howe said. “Remote is the new standard. Our social interactions are becoming primarily virtual. It is also affecting the way we work and do business.

Glue strength test

Using its team’s extensive background in advertising and movie production environments, CGI, graphics, video games, and enterprise-level security platforms, Glue tested its first commercial pilots in 2019.

The company today counts among its customers Deutsche Telekom, Excel Springer and Salesforce – the latter choosing its platform, Botter said, because of its capabilities with space audio, which mimics real multi-dimensional sound.

As Hue explained, Glue offers about a dozen different templates, but users can also create custom platforms. Salesforce, for its part, has digitally copied its San Francisco Tower and Dreamforce Expo. It is also in the process of creating an environment that offers more dynamic, customer-friendly demo space. For example, it could mimic a manufacturing plant with an assembly line, or an oil platform with working rigs.

These platforms provide space for large creative workshops and small round tables, and are used in a combination of individual meetings and collaborations by Zoom, Google Hangouts and Slack for groups of about five to 40 people.

“We’ve been able to create moments for all these people to come together, small groups, big groups, one-on-one interactions,” Botter said. “They really feel like they’re connected to each other, but without the travel.”

On the Dreamforce Expo platform, for example, customers start in “Dreamforce Park”, then pass through a patch of wild flowers surrounded by pine tree groves and fluttering butterflies.

Botter explained the background: “The idea is that we came out of the epidemic with a fresh start, growing new flowers.”

Along the way, users pass billboards with automatically uploaded, industry-related consumer stories, watch videos, chat in “Mindfulness Corners” and request more information by tapping the big red buttons. They can virtually high-five each other, and avatars can gesture with their movements (either they gesture or turn their gaze to the group’s dominant speaker).

Meanwhile, the Salesforce tower platform has a seating area in the pavilion with floor-to-ceiling windows offering beautiful views of San Francisco Bay. Users can also pour themselves virtual cups of coffee before gathering in the presentation area, settling into a casual cluster of tables and chairs, or looking out the windows at iconic city landmarks, including Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. Butter himself, who once lived in Golden City but now works outside of Amsterdam, notes that he sometimes uses the platform for fun purposes: “I miss San Francis, sometimes I go and see the city I remember. is coming.”

Keeping the virtual environment real

Salesforce relied heavily on its real estate and marketing departments to design spaces, and was somewhat accustomed to physical limitations (or lack thereof). For example, in the Salesforce Tower, the ceiling can be raised without worrying about the strong impact of an earthquake.

“You can really play with the environment,” Botter said.

However, he asserted: “When we started doing this, we did not want to devise a plan. We thought it should be fun, but it should also be useful and bring value to us and our customers. “

For that, users can draw on whiteboards and take advantage of tools including screen share, huge post-it notes and freehand 3-D drawings. All of this content can remain on the platform as long as users need it or can be exported to various supported file formats through a web user interface. The platform will eventually include the ability to take automatic notes, Howe said.

“The future is to make these systems smarter and understand what is happening in meetings and trainings, which makes participants more productive,” he said.

How many people get involved and what can be done with technology will depend on how fast the hardware becomes more affordable and scalable, he added. The enterprise is still learning what can be done with VR and AR and its effects when it comes to space anchors and retention – which has been shown to be more than just reading a book, watching a video or attending a lecture.

But overall, Howe insisted, “We do not expect this to eliminate the need for other existing communication tools. They all have specific use cases and purposes. This will be just one tool in the information user’s toolbox. “

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