Business in Virtual Worlds, Second Life

Quick Link: New England B.B. Vouches for SL

The New England Business Bulletin recently published a primer on how virtual training spaces, and 3D worlds in general, are being used by corporations and are one of the growth areas in this recession.

The article cites a number of corporations that are using Second Life as a training playground: IBM (which the author’s note have saved in the hundreds of thousands of dollars from virtual training), Michelin, and Xerox, among others. Scott Ahrens, a UMass Dartmouth professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, notes that there are three main areas where Second Life is being used.

“It is currently being used in corporations for teleconferencing, role playing (mock interviews, practicing management strategies, etc.) and simulation (training workers to use a product or practice tasks that would be too costly or dangerous in the real world),” he told the Bulletin.

As well, some organizations are using Second Life as a marketing tool, citing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which calculated that 40% of its recent visitors found out about it from Second Life.

“You can read about a tsunami in a textbook or you can experience one in a virtual world,” said NOAA’s Virtual Worlds Program Manager Eric Hackathorn in the case study report. “I believe that (virtual world) experience has a great impact.” The article also cites figures showing that sales in Enterprising Social Networks – including SL – rose 29% in 2008, with another 26% bump expected in 2009. Which will all lead, of course, to the 3D-based broswers and the proliferation of virtual spaces.

“The single greatest innovation in ESN over the next decade will be the move from two-dimensional interfaces to three-dimensional virtual reality places,” said William F. Zachmann, social networking industry analyst who was part of a Wainhouse Research report on these subjects.

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