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Posted by Erica Driver on November 30, 2007
by Erica Driver.
Yesterday a small group of Forrester analysts and research associates held a team meeting in Second Life to try to figure out whether meeting this way is a viable alternative to the usual teleconference. Teleconferences are terrible. While we're talking and listening, there's not much to look at but our computer screens (which are constantly blinking at us with new emails and IMs and reminders of all the tasks we haven't completed yet) so inevitably we end up multi-tasking. And in teams that have been around for a while people know each others' voices but not so for new teams. So when people on the call forget to introduce themselves before they say something, the first few words are lost while listeners try to figure out who's talking, and then the next few words lost while you try to recreate the first few words.
While we had some fun yesterday trying on free T-shirts, teleporting to otherworldly locations, and taking some carnival rides, the sentiment of most of the participants was that Second Life isn't really ready for prime time team meetings. If it was tough for us it will be tough for other information workers. Here's why:
But you know what? I'm going to keep on trying. I've talked with enough other people who have been able to use virtual worlds to replicate the experience of working physically alongside others, to allow people to work with and share digital 3D models of physical or theoretical objects, and to make remote training and counseling more realistic by incorporating non-verbal communication into same-time, different-place interactions. I believe in my gut that give it 3 years and the 3D Internet will be just as important to business and work as the Web is today.
And I'm going on more than faith. Tech companies like Cisco, IBM, Intel, and others are spending millions on virtual world technology. I have had two meetings with outside parties in Second Life within the past couple months and have another internal meeting scheduled there for next week. I can't make it to IBM’s Lotusphere conference in person this January because I have a conflict, but I'll join the Second Life version of the event from my hotel room in Canada. Stay tuned for more research from Forrester on this area — including an upcoming report called "Getting Real Work Done In Virtual Worlds," co-authored with Paul Jackson.