IBM’s Second Life ROI: The Headline Beneath The Headline


Source: Linden Lab Case  Study

Source: Linden Lab Case Study

A Case Study published by Linden Lab (the company behind Second Life), documents IBM’s use of Second Life to hold a Virtual World Conference and Annual Meeting.  The meeting, organized by IBM’s Academy of Technology, brought together 200+ participants from across the globe (virtually) and had an ROI estimated (by IBM) to be $320K.

The $320K is derived from taking initial hard costs of $80K, then factoring in $250K in savings from travel and venue costs and $150K from productivity gains (since attendees participated from their desks – and could presumably do on-the-job tasks while in-world).  So that’s ($80K – $250K – $150K) = $320K in total savings.

So that’s the headline story – and what a great story it is.  I can understand why the Case Study led with this angle – in this economic environment, any talk of significant cost savings is going to score points with the CMO, CFO, CEO and Board.  And while I’m not one to diminish cost savings that’s simultaneously eco-friendly, what excites me most about the ROI equation here is the value add that virtual provides – the headline beneath the headline.

If IBM had convened this meeting at a physical location, I’m sure the event would have been equally valuable – but, at the event’s conclusion, the walls come down and participants leave with some photographs, business cards and memories – and may never be incented to re-gather and collaborate again, aside from the next scheduled (and organized) gathering.

With virtual, however, what IBM discovered was a build it once and reap the continued benefits phenomenon.  The island(s) built for this virtual event remain available on an ongoing, 7×24 basis.  So, participants who met and collaborated with specific colleagues may want to arrange for follow-on in-world meetings to further brainstorm their ideas together.

Additionally, IBM found a way to leverage the event to support an unrelated gathering – the Academy of Technology’s Annual General Meeting, originally scheduled in Florida.  The general meeting moved virtual and included live webcasting and videoconferencing – while leveraging the pre-built island in Second Life to support 120 poster sessions.  The beauty with the ROI equation here is that the more IBM can leverage what they’ve already built, the more “R” they generate in “ROI”.  And of course, this sort of re-use is eco-friendly.

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4 Responses to IBM’s Second Life ROI: The Headline Beneath The Headline

  1. [...] Susan noted that IBM’s involvement in virtual worlds is not to be a platform provider – instead, IBM is platform agnostic.  Susan’s interest is in virtual world applications that achieve results that would be harder to accomplish in the real world.  One example noted was the practicing of negotations in complex deals – reviewers (of the deal maker) could provide a virtual thumbs up or thumbs down.  Trainees could then replay the segment and view the feedback as it occurred.  Susan spoke of the need to capture data to better understand in-world behavior.  IBM Researchers developed technology to take audio chat, utilize voice-to-text to transcribe it and then perform unstructured text analysis to decipher patterns of behavior.  Susan also spoke of IBM’s Sametime 3D initiative and referenced the use of Second Life to facilitate a virtual meeting for IBM’s Academy of Technology. [...]

  2. [...] Blog Posting: IBM’s Second Life ROI: The Headline Beneath The Headline [...]

  3. [...] IBM’s Second Life ROI: The Headline Beneath The Headline « It’s All Virtual – [...]

  4. [...] economic situation is boosting virtual worlds, reason why companies like IBM decided to have their Conference and Annual Meeting through the virtual world, saving hundreds of [...]

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