Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.



I came across this article in the WSJ where companies are testing job interviewing in the virtual world called Second Life. Huh? I thought this was another gaming environment where people could spend countless hours wasting their life away. So I Googled Second Life and looked for more business uses of this virtual world. There where way too many articles about virtual sex but I did find a few articles like this one about virtual classrooms in SL and this one where Dell set up Dell Island. As my research continued I stumbled across one grassroots initiative who started leveraging SL for streaming video of keynotes and allowed you to attend breakout sessions. Another article from Brandweek discusses marketers challenges as they try to use SL to promote brand awareness.

Perform this search and you can see countless businesses dabbling in SL ranging from recruiting, advertising, educating, collaborating, to countless other innovative ideas. Then I found this article that shows how the Weather Channel, IBM, and Cisco are leveraging SL to advertise and create brand awareness.

All of this is mind boggling to me. I can understand people using SL as a gaming environment. But for someone like myself who has a full time job, a family, and a life, how can you justify spending countless hours "conducting business" in a virtual world? As the head of the architecture team at my work, it is my job to learn about all emerging technologies. I am constantly studying topics like Web 2.0, Open Source, SOA, virtualization and best practices such as change management, project and portfolio management, and IT governance. I feel obligated to take a deeper dive into SL but after walking around SL aimlessly for 30 minutes I decided to let others do the research for now and I'll stick to reading articles on this topic for the near future. Besides, it is hard enough to get new initiatives going in the real world. I can't even imagine selling management on the virtual world!

I would love to hear from anyone who has some real experience using SL for business reasons.

5 comments

  1. Anonymous  

    Mike,
    I definitely agree with your last statement.

    Carmelo Lisciotto
    www.carmelolisciotto.com

  2. Andrew Vaserman  

    I need wireless data collection tool that would let me make custom forms on my Blackberry or Motorola. It needs support drop down menus, check boxes, support GPS, maybe bar coding and photo capture. Does anyone know where I can get product like this for data collection?

  3. Roo Reynolds  

    The parallels with the early days of the web are interesting. I imagine this sentence re-written 12 years ago...

    But for someone like myself who has a full time job, a family, and a life, how can you justify spending countless hours "conducting business" in...

    ...this newfangled 'World Wide Web'?

    I wonder if spending time in a virtual world is really so different from spending time on the web. In the early 90s the early adopters were considered by the masses to be wasting their time in this online playgrounds which, incidently, was also a den of sex, porn and gambling.

    Coming to terms with a new technology takes time. I find it quite impressive to see how quickly virtual worlds are maturing and being adopted by big business.

    Second Life is not just useful for marketing by the way; I work (as a Metaverse Evangelist) for IBM, and while I've been involved in helping my company use it for all sorts of interesting projects the earliest and most impressive use is simply bringing people together to socialise: helping the watercooler become global (and public!), if you like.

    And of course, Second Life is just one virtual world. Having explored quite a few I can see why its feature set means it has become a popular one. Nevertheless, in its current form it's utterly impractical for confidential meetings. Hence, IBM and others are buildng internet virtual worlds, which corporations can run behind the firewall. Things are getting interesting.

  4. Mike Kavis  

    @Roo,

    Thanks for your comments. I know that with millions of people discovering these virtual worlds, that eventually there will be business value to it at some point. Right now, I am struggling to see it but I felt that way about other technologies before. Twitter is another one. I know that the Gen-X & Gen-Y users are all over this technology. I personally can't understand why I would post frequent updates to my friends on my where abouts and random thoughts, but I know this technology will lead to something important in the near future.

  5. Michelle Switm  

    I have been working in construction industry for about 3 years and we found a solution that does this. We use it for wireless bar code reading and GPS tracking. The best part is we can customize the forms on-the-fly which saves us a lot of time over a customized solution. The company that makes the product is Westlake out of LA I think. There website is www.westlakesoftware.com. Their product is call AirMobility.net. They made a custom Extranet for us for our company to use but their main product site is www.airmobility.net. We found this service set up to make it pretty easy for us to migrate the information to our back office system. We use the technology and route it to 40 different servers nationally; has worked flawlessly for about three years. I am note sure if this will match your exact needs but it is what we have been using and it has been working pretty well for us.
    Michelle Switm, IT

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