Applications, Tools and 3D Pipelines, Business in Virtual Worlds, Second Life

Advice to Corporate: Set Goals, Then Go 2.0

A comprehensive piece by Maryann Lawlor at RedOrbit gives some very clear advice to corporations looking to graft Web 2.0 weapons into the corporate infrastructure: set some goals.

Firstly, Web 2.0 applications are not for everyone. Lawlor quotes Kate Walser, a director at the Usability Center of Excellence, SRA International Incorporated:

“If, for example, an organization has a strict chain of command and only executives have certain information that they want to keep under tight control, the tool its leaders choose must have an authority- and approval-chain capability built in, she explains. “If that’s not the case, and you are trying to get the information out regardless of where it is in the ranks so you don’t need as much approval, you can start looking at social networking tools and really start to open it up a little bit more,” Walser adds.

Lawlor outlines the advantages of an app like, and its ability to take info sharing out of the realm of e-mail. She writes how social networking tools are making it easier for employees to find others who are interested in similar topics. She also writes about the ability of Second Life to erase a number of barriers:

Web 2.0 tools can also help break down geographic, temporal and physical barriers, facilitating collaboration. For example, SRA has a presence in Second Life, one of the most mature and well-known virtual worlds, and has found people who either specifically look for the company there or have stumbled upon it “in-world.” In addition, Walser relates that the Second Life island dedicated to accessibility for people with disabilities enables her to meet new colleagues with similar interests. “Now we have a whole new network of people that we didn’t know before. They are nowhere close to us in the United States, but it doesn’t matter. You start to transcend geography,” she points out.

The author also points out other advantages to Web 2.0: anonymity, trust, and the special modifications to languages such as those used in instant messages and other communications. She also notes that conferences are still a necessity, as they allow for face-to-face meetings of employees who, quite often, have only met online. But there are still challenges to corporations:

The Web 2.0 balancing act for corporations must extend even further than their employees maintaining a professional presence on the Web and ensuring mutual respect among its personnel. Although these tools are ideal for promoting collaboration in many ways, Walser warns that companies must make sure that they offer opportunities for real-life interaction among their employees. This helps nurture the e-collaboration that takes place online, she maintains.

Similar to the level of the Web 2.0 tool integration taking place within the U.S. military and government, the extent of usage in the corporate sector varies and depends on a number of factors. Walser believes SRA, for example, is more open to using these capabilities both externally and internally because of the work it has conducted in this area for many of its customers. The company has seen what does and does not work in corporate Web 2.0, she maintains.

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