Monday, September 29, 2008

The Revival Of Consumer Virtual Worlds

During the weekend topnotch research agency Forrester released a new paper on Virtual Worlds: "The revival of Consumer Virtual Worlds -- Virtual Worlds Emerge From Their Initial Boom/Bust Cycle". Here's the executive summary from the 6 page paper:

"The two years since virtual worlds went "mainstream" have been a roller-coaster ride for all involved; for every success like World of Warcraft, there have been negative developments such as the media backlash against Second Life. Now, as a number of new worlds are appearing, the technology is improving, and interest levels are growing, virtual worlds are ready to enter their second phase. Forrester recommends that consumer product strategy professionals watch the space carefully — if they are not involved already — as we expect the next 12 months to be momentous for consumer virtual worlds. Much-heralded new worlds will arrive, marketers will return to the medium after initially being burned, and Web3D elements will start to creep into consumers' lives. "
The first sentence makes me extremely sceptical immediately, since Virtual Worlds are far from being "mainstream yet" Especially with the market behaving as it is (The Dow downed severely today after the US Governments bailout failed in congress) I predict there won't be many consumer product strategy professionals out there that will take a shot at immersion.
In short, Im not yet up to paying $ 280,- on this paper yet, will have to wait for it to become available through my office.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What Works in Second Life

Over the past year many companies have wondered what in Metaverse's name they should, could or would do in Second Life. Throughout this search for added value, one particular application has stood out as being succesfull: Training and Simulation.

Marked by Forrester as one of the key areas of Virtual Worlds, a number of succesfull training programmes have been initiated over the past year. Here's two recent projects in the media:

Quick Stat: Second Life Boosts Canadian Border Guard Training Scores by 28%

Through Virtual World News

Wagner AU, of New World Notes has been following the use of a Second Life-based simulation for training Canadian border guards designed by Loyalist College's Virtual World Design Centre. It's saving money and having real-world impacts on the interview section of the students' final test. "2007 - Without using Second Life, student interview skills average grade: 58%," Ken Hudson of Loyalist told New World Notes. "2008 - after using Second Life simulation, student interview skills average grade: 86%."

How to Set Up a Second Life Presence for Federal Agencies

Through Virtual World News

Anne Laurent who blogs about virtual government at The Agile Mind and reports for NextGov is putting together a YouTube series on how agencies can join the virtual world. She's following the story of the National Defense University's Information Resources Management College in Second Life, beginning with the process of convincing management, buying islands, and setting up its environment before looking at its current use with students. It might be basic as an introduction for some readers, but it's an interesting case
study as well.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, February 29, 2008

Siemens Solid Edge to enhance Second Life 3D design

PLANO, Texas, Feb. 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of Siemens Industry Automation Division and a leading global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services, today announced a new interactive tool that enables users to create their own 3-D Razor Scooter in Second Life. The tool is easy to use like Siemens PLM Software's Solid Edge(R) software and meant to expose Second Life residents to the possibilities of CAD software.

In the real world, Siemens PLM Software hosts "test drive" Solid Edgeseminars to illustrate how easy the software is to use. Solid Edge is apowerful hybrid 2D/3D design system and a core component of the VelocitySeries(TM) portfolio.

In the virtual world, the new interactive tool provides companies a glimpse into the use of 3-D modeling software inproduct development. A transparent screen guides Second Life residents to click through a range of selections to create a custom-built scooter in less than a minute. "

In our industry it's important to be able to vet out design ideas as quickly as possible," says Bob Hadley, product development manager, Razor(R). "In the real-world, with Solid Edge, we're able to introduce at least two or three times as many new products each year as we could previously. To compete in our industry, that's essential. Siemens PLMSoftware is taking this to the next level by integrating real-world design experiences in virtual worlds."

According to a recent report, "Getting Real Work Done In Virtual Worlds," Forrester Research, Inc., Jan. 7, 2008, "Virtual worlds like Second Life ... are on the brink of becoming valuable work tools ... " Thereport notes that virtual worlds have advantages over other approaches to communication and collaboration. One example is "they allow people to work with and share digital 3-D models of physical or theoretical objects. Many disciplines rely on 3-D models and designs: Surgeons, architects, engineers, and product designers all use CAD models or sophisticated visualization systems to explore and create complex real-world objects ...You can release near-final designs to a limited external group of users and solicit feedback before starting fabrication." The report predicts that within five years, the 3-D Internet will be as important for work as the Web is today.

"This new tool is a great example of how companies can use some of the unique characteristics of the Second Life platform to create interactive experiences for their products," said Chris Kelley, vice president, Platforms and Partners, Siemens PLM Software. "Our goal in Second Life continues to be to find new ways to collaborate with our customers and partners in an effort to provide a more immersive way to experience our software. The user experience in Second Life is based upon our successful Solid Edge Dare to Compare Test Drive events where you learn first-hand how easy it is to use Solid Edge compared to competitive products."

In the real world, Solid Edge Dare to Compare Test Drive events guide users through key stages of 3D design: part modeling, sheet metal, assembly creation, drafting and documentation, plus analysis and full motion simulation.

To reach the Siemens Innovation Connection on Second Life, visit

To attend a real-world Solid Edge Dare to Compare Test Drive, visit

Source: PRNewsWire

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, January 25, 2008

Real Work in Virtual Worlds

One of the questions that have crossed my mind a lot in the last year is on how to make virtual worlds fit for business. So when I received Forrester's thoughts on this in the report "Getting Real Work Done In Virtual Worlds" (January 7, 2008) I was anxious to know how they would answer the question.

Here's the Executive Summary:

"Virtual worlds like Second Life,, 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:

  1. Much Of Today’s Technology Leaves Communication Problems Unsolved
  2. Now Entering: Virtual Worlds As A Real Business Tool
  3. Virtual Worlds Can Reduce Costs And Improve The Work Experience
  4. Lots Of Fantastic Efforts Are Going On “In World”
  5. 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.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Virtual Workspace

Right after I received Forrester's latest report on getting real work done in virtual worlds (will blog this soon) I also got a notice from one of my Linked In connections on the launch of the VR Workplace initiative. Here's the press release:

Boulder, Colorado (PRWEB) January 14, 2008 -- Recently launched VRWorkplace,

The Virtual Reality Workplace Company (, offers unique services from two facilities -- one in Boulder, Colorado, USA, and the second, in the on-line virtual world of Second Life. Its mission is to render physical distance obsolete by using virtual worlds technology, virtual offices and virtual social environments, to bring global enterprises, businesses and clientele together in virtual reality, as if in person. VRWorkplace will lease, design and construct office and meeting space on the Second Life grid, design and deliver training programs, and counsel enterprises on virtual worlds strategies.

VRWorkplace was founded by and is led by Dave Elchoness, CEO, an experienced US employment attorney, HR consultant and former Fortune 200 executive. A leading authority on virtual worlds, including legal and HR issues in virtual worlds, Elchoness founded VRWorkplace because of the challenges he witnessed running a global IT outsourcing function and as an HR counselor and advisor. VRWorkplace's corporate facility includes office and meeting space, an amphitheater, a coffee house and an amusement park. It can be found on the Second Life grid at

Elchoness said, "Geographically separated teams and client bases are increasingly the norm. Until now, we've used air travel, telephone, and other technologies to help us with distance. But there's nothing like virtual worlds technology to bring people together." He further stated, "Having a virtual workplace reduces air travel and improves workplace collaboration because virtual worlds offer one-of-a-kind shared experiences." For example, he said, "With VRWorkplace, coworkers 10,000 physical miles apart can meet in a virtual 'hallway,' conference room or coffee shop, any time they like. It's what we call 'remote togetherness.'"

To visit VRWorkplace on the web, view video demonstrations of the VRWorkplace proposition and subscribe to the VRWblog, go to

About VRWorkplace:

VRWorkplace advises enterprises on how virtual worlds can benefit their employees, customers and members. VRWorkplace provides realistic and practical ways of eliminating the challenges of distance, improving collaboration and enriching relationships.

Press release in PDF can be found here.

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 16, 2007

When will they get it?

The Dutch PCM Web (Personal Computer Magazine) picks up a story by the LA Times that companies are getting disappointed in Second Life. It is another sign of old media living in total oblivion of what is going on.

"After an enormous hype om Second Life more and more 'experts' are getting sceptic on the added value of Second Life to business. Online visitors aren't big shoppers, but are mainly looking for entertainment" reads the introduction. Where did this come from? There's hardly a real life company to be found in Second Life that's actually selling stuff. If it ain't on offer, we can't buy it.

"Successfully promoting your company inside the virtual world of Second Life shows to be harder than expected. More and more marketing departments conclude that Second Life residents feel like visiting their online stores. "Actually there isn't any convincing reason to be present in Second Life" says Brian McGuinness, a Hotelchain bigshot in the LA times, and thus his company left Second Life"

Most of these 'marketing departments' probably have never seen Second Life from the inside. Many companies just use Second Life as another medium for corporate communication... without understanding it. It's back to the early 90's when serious companies launched crappy (excuse me) Frontpage websites.

In most cases there wont be a ROI (return on investment) indeed for the year to come, or even the year after. When will companies see that Second Life is not a commercial, a product flyer?

There are companies that dig SL though. Have a look at Intel and Cisco giving tech meetings and classes on Java and other skills. take a look at Philips taking surveys, or at ABN Amro organising sponsor events for non profits.

Forrester shows brain!

One of the most telling lines in this article is the following quote: "Analists from Forrester (yay, the big reasearchers) have calculated that at prime time there are only about 35,000 to 40,000 visitors in Second Life"

Okay, prepare for another research paper (usual rates about $ 1.000,- US dollar / hard cash) telling you the same the counter on this webpage -an many many other websites - will show you every single day.

The good news is: You don't even need to pay me L$ 1,000 to get this info.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Forrester Research

Last week I came across a study on Second Life by Forrester. In my line of work, Gartner, Giarte and Forrester are usually taken very seriously. Usually they know it and adjust their pricings accordingly.

In this case the study was about 10 pages text (and 5 pages notes, titlepage and credits and more bla bla) for a mere $ 750 (US dollar that is, not Lindens). Fortunately my boss picked up the tab :)

If compared to the Gartner study Forrester sees much of the same risks involved in SL business, though they've done a bit more research on the background and the evolvement of virtual worlds. Since it's priced at about $ 80,- per page, I presume they'll have my hide if I get into too much detail of the paper.

Labels: , , ,