Friday, March 26, 2010

Hear us out! It's virtual worlds for business, not just virtual worlds.

Rafe Needleman wrote a post on his CNET blog, Rafe's Radar, a few days ago about Venuegen's 3-D virtual meeting service. One part of his article that jumped out at me was were he said, "There may be big problems getting everyone in a team to take the service seriously."

Couldn't agree more... We've been facing and overcoming those types of misconceptions for several years. The problem is, when people hear "virtual worlds for business," they don't hear the "for business" part. They just hear "virtual world." They immediately think of 3-D gaming and romparoos.

As I wrote in the comments, I can't imagine ever having a solution that is going to be liked by everyone who comes in contact with it. However, we've found if you can get people to use the environment as part of a collaborative project, as opposed to just kicking the tires, the real business benefits start to become clear.

We have case studies showing that global organizations have serious business collaboration objectives they are attempting to achieve with a 3-D virtual world, and when they measure the outcomes, the results are often astounding. That's not hype. Those are the actual metrics we continue to find and document.

When our customers have rolled out  ProtoSphere, even the skeptics often come around to understand the true role of virtual world technology in business. And it's through these engagements that we can dispel popular notions about 3-D virtual technology.

There's absolutely demand for more engaging and immersive collaboration tools that help people work faster. This is painfully evident is global organizations, where teams are usually dispersed.

In those environments, you're dealing with not only demand for engagement and immersion, but also cost reduction, which virtual environments can help you do well. It's a simple equation. No need to travel, means no travel expenses. The savings are obvious.

The same can be said of 2-D online conferencing services. But you don't gain the immersion that studies show improve knowledge transfer, knowledge retention, collaboration, and productivity.

Let's not forget that people were skeptical about blogs at the turn of the century. And then they were skeptical of social networking. Heck, people were skeptical of computers and the Internet! Skepticism in and of itself can sometimes be part of the learning curve for new technology. We believe that's what's happening with virtual worlds for business.

2 comments:

Erica Driver said...

Dom: Funny you should post this today. Just yesterday we discussed the name game again in a ThinkBalm blog post titled, "Pseudo-3D is a rising star, keeping barriers to adoption low" (http://www.thinkbalm.com/2010/03/25/pseudo-3d-is-a-rising-star-keeping-barriers-to-adoption-low/). We wrote about terminology more extensively in a Sept. 28, 2009 article, "To cross the chasm, we must close the language gap" (http://www.thinkbalm.com/2009/09/28/to-cross-the-chasm-we-must-close-the-language-gap/).

The comment I want to make here is that while the name game can be a bit of a red herring, I think that in this emerging technology market it's important to choose words carefully. My soapbox: I don't actually think of ProtoSphere as a virtual world. ProtoSphere is not a virtual “earth with its inhabitants and all things upon it,” (Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/world). Rather, it's a set of professional spaces designed and deployed specifically for getting work done. It’s a business tool. It’s a 3D immersive environment for training and collaboration.

I could yap on and on about this but I’ll spare you. :) Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Karl Kapp said...

Dom,

Good post and I agree with Erica's assessment that language plays a key role, I think so does perspective. You mention the resistance to social media and computer and, going back further, remember resistance to calculators.

I even remember having to teach people that a blue underlined word in a browser was something called a link and that clicking on the link opens something called a window.

The adoption of technology is often slow because of mis-guided resistance and a mis-understanding of the power of the technology. I think that as more people see business results and experience business meetings in virtual immersive environments (VIEs) they will understand that 3D is a powerful element in learning and collaboration.

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