Real Work in Virtual Worlds
Here's the Executive Summary:
"Virtual worlds like Second Life, There.com, and more business-focused offerings are on the brink of becoming valuable work tools. Major companies and public-sector organizations — such as BP, IBM, Intel, and the US Army — are investing heavily in virtual world technologies. But it’s still early, pioneering days. You’ve practically got to be a gamer to use most of these tools — setup can bearduous, navigating in a 3-D environment takes practice, and processing and bandwidth requirements remain high. But within five years, the 3-D Internet will be as important for work as the Web is today.
Information and knowledge management professionals should begin to investigate and experiment with virtual worlds. Use them to try to replicate the experience of working physically alongside others; allow people to work with and share digital 3-D models of physical or theoretical objects; and make remote training and counseling more realistic by incorporating nonverbal communication into same-time, different-place interactions."
For me, the Executive Summary doesn't answer the question. The summary doesn't provide answers to how we should go about business in virtual worlds and why it is important. The table of contents holds a good promise though:
- Much Of Today’s Technology Leaves Communication Problems Unsolved
- Now Entering: Virtual Worlds As A Real Business Tool
- Virtual Worlds Can Reduce Costs And Improve The Work Experience
- Lots Of Fantastic Efforts Are Going On “In World”
- What’s Holding The Business Use Of Virtual Worlds Back?
You can find the Executive Summary and order the full report here.
To get into a little more detail: The problems of today's technology are challenges, such as working together in real time while in seperate locations, expenses and climate stress while traveling to conferences and events and training on complex equipment and hazardous environments are topics that could well be adressed by virtual worlds.
However, the future of Virtual Workspaces is not in naming the obvious. I think there won't be many people that see a 3 dimensional space as an added value to, let's say Real Estate development or as an extra medium for automotive companies to play with prototypes and receive user feedback.
The Forrester report offers quite a list of 'practical' situations in which you can use Virtual Workspaces to conduct business:
- Holding new and improved virtual meetings
- enhancing military training and simulation
- providing therapy, counseling and medical information
- recruiting from a worldwide labor supplu
- conducting virtual trade shows and conferences
The report actually names a dozen more suggestions, and gives explanations, but you'd have to order report yourself to find out which ;)
The report doesn't tell me how we can conduct down to earth business. For example, in which way would Virtual Workspaces enhance logistical services, construction, food & beverage, law firms etcetera. When virtual worlds get more direct api's to office software (charts, spreadsheets, word processing) it seems the Virtual World has a lot to offer for every part of companies except the actual workfloor where the products are made.