Transformation Group
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Helping your company figure out mixed reality

Today we are announcing Transformation Group, LLC.

Short version: Shel Israel and I are starting a company that will help corporations deal with the disruption of mixed reality.

Long version:

Mixed Reality, otherwise known as next generation augmented reality, is coming. You might argue with me that it’s not coming in 2017, but it’s clear to pretty much everyone I talk to that it will come soon, certainly in next three years. Apple, alone, will announce a series of products that do it this year. Tim Cook is pretty much screaming from the roof tops that it is coming and that it is big, with a capital B. Probably because he and his teams have spent seven years and many billions of dollars on it.

If it were only Apple, I probably wouldn’t have made the jump I did last year from representing Rackspace and being an advocate for cloud computing, and I certainly wouldn’t have jumped into doing a business with Shel Israel. We write books, we don’t bet our lives on new technologies.

Everywhere I go I see the investments. Google has hired hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people, not to mention it invested half a billion in Magic Leap, which gave it a head start. Let’s not forget the early attempt it made with Google Glass. Facebook has built R&D labs all over the world. Microsoft has pulled into the early lead with its HoloLens product that I love. Snap has been hiring tons of people and now has a dump of capital to further build on its leadership in augmented reality.

Huawei has a rumored 800 people working on these technologies, and last week at Mobile World Congress I heard even more are coming. Its execs say that mixed reality will really be helped by 5G and are using it to get telecom companies excited about the new business models that will empower. Samsung has been buying interesting companies and has already announced it’s working on it. When I visited Seattle recently plenty of people pointed out new buildings where Apple and Facebook were rumored to be working on mixed reality technologies and lots told me they heard whispers that Amazon is working on such.

All that means that there’s a big wave of new technology coming and brands are starting to think about what strategies need to change.

At Upload VR (where I’m still an advisor, and where we’ll have an office, along with more than 40 startups building for mixed reality) we are getting lots of requests for strategic and education help. Even insurance and travel companies are seeing that mixed reality could change literally everything about the customer experience and they need help thinking through just how they need to change.
In our book, "The Fourth Transformation," we detail how it will change everything from retailing to education to sports.

That book released in December and since has maintained a five-star rating on Amazon. Buy it at https://www.amazon.com/Fourth-Transformation-A…/…/B01M5JKW3Z

It’s nice that we wrote a book about a new wave of technology, but now we are getting lots of calls from brands asking for help. On Sunday at SXSW we are throwing our second-annual brand breakfast in USAA’s new design center which is sold out. 70 brands will come together to discuss just what it will mean to have Apple’s customers walking around with mixed reality glasses. Those will be announced this year, with many of us getting them within a year. Not a lot of time to build new brand experiences.

At that breakfast we will announce a variety of consulting services that will help companies learn about, and come up with a strategic plan. We’d love to help your company get a leg up on your competition when it comes to mixed reality.

Some questions and answers:

Q: What about Virtual Reality?

A: I include VR in mixed reality. Steve LaValle, who runs mixed reality for Huawei, and is a computer science professor at the University of Illinois (where lots of famous companies, like Tesla, PayPal, Mozilla, started) told me that within a few years he sees VR and AR “mixing together” into one pair of glasses.

That vision might be three to five years away, but the technology is very similar and I believe that within a few years we’ll come to know the two as the same thing, or, at least, experienced on the same pair of glasses that you wear. So, when we say “mixed reality” we really mean Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. They both are important and we have a front row seat on both. There are times VR is more appropriate to use and we have the best journalists, visionaries, and relationships with startups, studios, and other players in the mixed reality space to call upon. Twitter and Unity, to name a few, have hired execs out of Upload VR’s San Francisco offices, and it is opening a major new space in Los Angeles that Shel and I will be seen frequently in.

Just to cover terms for a second. VR is when you are wearing a headset that you can’t see through (like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive). In other words everything you see is virtual. Mixed reality, or, augmented reality, is when you can see through the device you are holding or wearing and virtual objects are placed on, or replace real objects with virtual ones (the best example as of this writing is Microsoft’s HoloLens). There are other systems that make you think you are seeing virtual objects “mixed” into the real world in a way that fools your mind into thinking you are seeing through the device too. I call that mixed reality too, although I’m sure some might argue over terms.

That’s cool, we aren’t hear to argue over terms, we are here to help businesses like yours learn about which technology is most appropriate for you and think about how it could help your customers and employees have a better experience.

Q: Are you just a consulting company?

A: For now, yes, but we have relationships with people across the industry and we'll be building teams to help corporations build new mixed reality experiences for their customers. Already on Twitter I have a list of more than 1,300 people in the community, from execs to developers. A separate list tracks about 1,000 companies that are playing a role in the mixed reality industries, from marketing activations, to camera and headset manufacturers, to software developers building everything from games to education and much more. Right now education and strategic help is most important. As strategic plans get firmed up, then we’ll move to helping your company build experiences and infrastructure, all using our relationships around the world.

Q: Will you still speak at conferences around the world?

A: Yes, but that’s a separate business for me and I have contracted ODE Speaker Management to help me figure out that part of my life.

Q: Will you still report on futuristic technologies?

A: Yes, but I’ve already been changing the velocity. Upload VR has the best journalists covering this space, so I don’t feel pressured to see EVERYTHING. That said, I’m always wanting to see important new technologies and companies before anyone else, and you’ll see me continue doing that on my Facebook account at https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Q: What makes you or Shel authoritative or credible in helping come up with strategic plans for companies.

A: Well, when I last worked at Microsoft my role was strategist. Why? Because I’m good at seeing how things are about to change. Gary Morgenthaler, who was one of the main VCs behind Siri regularly tells people that only two people got Siri, me and Steve Jobs. I have done strategic consulting with Nestle and quite a few others, too, and have spoken to tens of thousands of people around the world. I’ve also been a major public face of a huge cloud computing company, and Economist Magazine wrote that I changed the perception of Microsoft.

Shel has done this kind of work for decades, and even named PowerPoint, back when it was a startup. He has stayed ahead of his peers by working with startups and big companies on their strategies and is a respected thought leader writing for Forbes, Business Week, and others. Not to mention that all three of the books we have written together have predicted huge paradigm shifts before they have happened. 

Our first book, "Naked Conversations," was about how businesses would use social software long before Facebook shipped to adults. Our second, "Age of Context,” was about how businesses would use sensors, wearable and holdable devices, along with new contextual software, to come up with tons of new services. Now we see Google and Salesforce, amongst many others, talking about contextual systems (and, those will be hugely important in mixed-reality glasses).

There’s more, too. Running Fast Company.tv, selling tablets and mobile devices at NEC, and doing other tech reporting (I was the first to get a ride in Elon Musk’s first Tesla, even before he gave a ride to his best friend, who, by the way, is doing a podcast on these topics with me, thanks Jason Calacanis, that’s at http://vrpodcast.inside.com ).

Q: How do we hire the Transformation Group or see if your services could help my business?

A: Visit our Website at https://transformationgroup.io and let's see how we can bring the mixed reality future to your company together.

Robert Scoble1 Comment