Disclosure: Nvidia is a client of the author.
It’s fascinating to watch companies produce so-called collaboration tools because it often seems as if they do not truly understand collaboration. Most of the advanced tools I have reviewed to date are videoconferencing systems trying to emulate conference rooms or events virtually, even though that is rarely how people collaborate.
Collaboration is not about a place, nor does it usually require face-to-face interaction. What it does require is a common goal across a group of workers with the dynamic ability to focus on a product, concept, tactic, or strategy, and collectively move the effort to completion. People collaborated by traditional mail, over the phone, from hospital beds, and across vast distances long before we had videoconferencing.
The ideal collaboration tool would be highly flexible, accessible from anywhere, and would focus on the collaboration effort, not the medium or the location.
Nvidia has come up with something that looks very close to this ideal called Omniverse Nucleus. And at CES this week, the company unveiled the Nucleus Cloud, which goes even further toward creating what may eventually become the first advanced collaboration tool to shift the focus from the technology to the task at hand.
I’ve been thinking about NVIDIA’s Omniverse Nucleus and the new Nucleus Cloud this week and what they mean for collaboration going forward.
Some of the most effective collaborative efforts I’ve been part of were Skunkworks projects. Often, these were efforts that were in dire trouble of failing, but were critical to the future of the company. Failure was not an option. In this scenario, a team of highly qualified, handpicked collaborators are removed to a remote secure site, released from most of their corporate obligations, given the tools they need and set loose on the problem. The result? In a relatively short period, the team accomplished this seemingly impossible goal.
The key elements involved a team that could focus on the project without distractions, designing the collaboration environment they need, choosing the right tools, and being left alone until they exit the process with a completed effort. The problem has been that, to do this right, you needed not only a team of highly capable people, you also had to be willing to release them from their day-to-day duties. And the team members had to be willing to, at least temporarily, give up many of their day-to-day duties and relationships to accomplish this task. In addition, they had to all go to a remote location to make sure they were not distracted.
The metaverse to the rescue?
But what if you could build that kind of remote site virtually — and limitations on what you could have were only reined in by your imagination? What if you did not need to physically go to this site but could enter it from the convenience of your home and what if, rather than having to requisition a bunch of expensive hardware, you could instead use the massive processing power of the cloud to virtualize all the hardware you would otherwise need?
This is what the metaverse promises — and Nvidia’s Omniverse Nucleus appears to provide much of this capability. It connects the Omniverse Apps, DCC Tools, Renderers, Data Storage, and Access Control into a single solution. The Nucleus Cloud provides this same capability, but from the cloud. The need for a massive hardware purchase is mitigated by the related cloud services.
Don’t look back
We have been approaching collaboration backward by first focusing on videoconferencing tools that have not done well for collaboration historically and trying to force-fit them to solve our reduced ability to collaborate remotely. Meetings, while often needed to convey directives or establish milestones and communicate progress, are not collaborative; in fact, they can often become a distraction and reduce productivity. Many argue that banning meetings may be one of the easiest ways to increase productivity, so why would we want to make it easier to create them?
In the past, Skunkworks efforts could be successful, but are difficult to do remotely because traditionally they required everyone to be in the same place. Now, the metaverse can become that location.
Using a tool like Nvidia’s Omniverse Nucleus provides a credible way to use the metaverse to create an optimized Skunkworks-like effort virtually so people can participate from any place in the world. Moving this effort to the cloud reduces the initial costs significantly and provides far greater tool flexibility.
In the end, the Nucleus Cloud showcases how we should approach collaboration. Instead of virtualizing meetings, virtualize the collaboration process. It is far less expensive and has a far greater ability to apply the tools available now to our new remote-work normal.
Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.