These experimentations — with innovative companies like Circuit City — are part of an IBM-led initiative to collaborate with clients and partners in three ways — conducting business inside virtual worlds; connecting the virtual world with the real world to create a richer, more immersive Web environment; and to solve business problems in a new way.
IBM is opening up areas in SecondLife previously inaccessible to the general public. On these “islands” — which are spaces where people can build three-dimensional objects and interact with other people in a way that is more visual and real — IBM has been experimenting on extending virtual worlds for business. Three key areas in business include: virtual commerce and work with clients to apply virtual worlds to business problems; driving new kinds of collaboration and education; and experimentations on pushing the limits with a broad community on what might be possible in virtual worlds.
IBM is working with dozens of clients to experiment and help them understand and apply virtual worlds to their business. While IBM is prototyping and developing in SecondLife, it has a bigger strategy to collaborate with a community in an open source fashion to build out the next generation Web, which IBM and others call the 3-D Internet. IBM also aims to build a platform for “serious” business, including 3-D Intranets inside of a company firewall where private and confidential business can be conducted.
In addition to virtual commerce, IBM works with clients, employees and alumni to use virtual worlds to drive collaboration and provide a more immersive online educational experience. For example, IBM uses virtual worlds to connect with its alumni population and for on-boarding and educating new and current employees. Virtual worlds have proven an effective tool to help simplify the complex, with 3-D models and interactions that cannot be recreated in a Web conference or phone conversation, and have been useful in connecting people around the globe to drive collaboration.