About a year ago, after my visit from the VW Expo 2008 (now called the Engage Expo) I wrote about how enterprises were cautiously approaching virtual worlds by deploying small pilot projects around support functions. One of the main concerns that were brought up at the conference was around how to measure Return On Investment and whether organizations would be willing to publicly talk about their success stories. On the other hand, there was widespread belief that the areas where there would be some clear benefits would be around training and collaboration – operational cost savings, efficiency and productivity.
Well we didn’t have to wait too long to see what happened. By April of 2009, 3D TLC 1.0 happened, a conference around the application of 3D worlds towards Training, Learning and Collaboration. Not only is it commendable that they were able to pull off a whole conference around this, but there were a plethora of enterprises present to talk about how these new technologies helped them. The 3D TLC 2.0 is being held with the Engage Expo in San Jose on Sept 23-24th. I am also encouraged to see that the event continues to attract enterprises from various industries.
So is the case with social media. Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are being increasingly used today by enterprises for viral marketing, collaboration and even advertising by companies such as Home Depot, Best Buy and Wal-Mart. More importantly, they are also able to gauge the effectiveness of using these media. Best Buys’s Twelpforce is an innovative way to provide online customer service with a personal connection; so did HomeDepot. Wal-Mart’s elevenmoms leveraged the power of collaboration to bring together money-saving communities – something central to Wal-Mart’s messaging.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that these immersive environments and social media technologies have become main-stream in enterprises. But it certainly shows that enterprises are finding real applications for these in solving business problems. And it definitely provides a boost to other companies on the fence who have thought about trying it but haven’t made the move yet.
I was part of IBM’s Data In Action Virtual Event back in February and therefore got to experience this first hand from the “supplier” side. There were some clear benefits to this:
- Obviously it allows for many interested parties to take part in this event who otherwise would not have traveled out to a conference
- Registration and lead tracking is far more automated
- “Floating” around the VW via your persona is obviously time-saving and efficient
- The ability to replay a presentation in the conference was certainly very useful
It also brought to light some things that could enhance the experience, notably, if there was a notification mechanism for the booth staff if someone visited (so I wouldn’t have to poll the screen all the time I was on duty) and also if there was a mechanism to exchange files or e-business cards. But I am sure these capabilities – and more – will be available soon.
While this wouldn’t necessarily replace a full blown real world event, it does compliment it. A virtual conference before a real world conference would allow me to either better address or keep focus on key priorities. A virtual conference after an event would give me a venue to follow-up on key feedback items from the main event. And that’s really how I see the value being played out today.
The technology is only getting better and so are the options for the enterprise. This is exactly what OpenSim offers – an open source choice for customers who would like to deploy virtual worlds inside the enterprise. With the integration of OpenSim and Informix, you now have a “best in class” OLTP database to manage scalability and growth – enabling companies to start building best of breed solutions – that’s what progress is all about!