The following is a guest post by Veronica Butler-Borrer, known in-world as Pooky Amsterdam (@PookyMedia).
AVATAR started off being the word of the new decade, and for good reason. The blockbuster movie, which allows a man to take on a completely new form through a kind of mental transfer, has made hundreds of millions of dollars. It also speaks to the new decade in terms of new possibilities.
While Second Life has been part of the Internet for a while, recent changes and upgrades have made it more compelling as a business and media platform. Recent economic conditions have also required new strategy to save money on travel costs. And increased attention to environmental changes has required us to look more closely at green alternatives to business. Facts and figures plus improved opportunities are now encouraging us as a business community to re-examine Second Life.
What makes doing business as an avatar in Second Life a good choice?
- You can virtually meet people from anywhere in the world easily and inexpensively
- Your Avatar can be an extension of yourself and increase personal investment for you and the business community you are addressing
- VoIP puts you in the same room with those you need to speak with
- You can share any documents you need to
- You can work in real time on those shared documents
- Any 3D product or place can be re-created cost-effectively and to scale for business decision making
- You save on time and travel expense by just logging in from your computer
- You can establish a secure environment by restricting access to your location
- Training and Education done in virtual worlds returns great results
- Video created in Virtual Worlds (known as Machinima) or cinema done on machine will get your message to the public through regular distribution channels (e.g. YouTube). In addition, it will be available as video content on your web site, plus be something you can include in your video emails
These are the main reasons to think about doing business virtually. Let’s look into this a bit further.
Analysis: Benefits of Doing Business Virtually
That’s right, once you download the free client which is Second Life, you can enter a 3D world where you can meet by prearrangement, those whom you would like to, from anywhere in the world. Of course this will take some organization, but that is easy to facilitate.
Your Avatar is an identity that you construct to carry out your work in a virtual world. Allowing this creation to personify you means you invest yourself in it, and interact as well. This is also not a bad thing, as in creating an other self which is “better, faster, stronger” will also result in your being able to transfer some of those properties to your real world person. If you saw a digital image of yourself running on a virtual treadmill, would you feel like going to the gym? Probably so, according to a Stanford study showing that personalized avatars can motivate people to exercise and eat right.
It doesn’t yet beat Skype for number of chat minutes a month, but the VoIP technology in Second Life is excellent, and has served over a billion minutes of voice chat a month. That means you can speak to people anywhere in the world, in the same virtual room, sharing important documents or any 3D representation for absolutely free.
Second Life Viewer 2
The latest viewer for Second Life (Viewer 2) also allows for shared media within this Virtual World and that means you can view ANY content on the web in real time with people from (or outside of) your organization.
This includes of course, Google Docs and Etherpad. So you can make decisions together from your office, or home, without having to fly anywhere. This is a remarkable opportunity that is afforded people who are on this site. Plus, being able to recreate objects in 3 Dimensions means you can build anything to scale, whether it be a building or an engine, and have your people discuss this matter, again in real time and vocally.
When you have your own location, you can also set permissions to that landing point and area so you are the only ones who have access to it. This will not compromise your security at all, when you are discussing matters of confidentiality.
Second Life Case Study
Consider the case study entitled, “Virtual World Simulation Training Prepares Real Guards on the US-Canadian Border: Loyalist College in Second Life,”
The executive summary reads:
Before September 11, 2001, Customs and Immigration students at Loyalist College spent three weeks closely tailing professional border guards to experience the daily routine of their future job. In a post-911 environment however, this was no longer allowed. Training suffered until the Director of Educational Technology at Loyalist College catalyzed a virtual border crossing simulation in Second Life for Loyalist students.
The amazing results of the training and simulation program have led to significantly improved grades on students’ critical skills tests, taking scores from a 56% success in 2007, to 95% at the end of 2008 after the simulation was instituted.
This is proof positive that training in a Virtual World environment has documented benefits.
I present a video which my company made to show you some of the amazing opportunities that the Virtual World of Second Life can afford. Video is a hallmark of professionalism, and being able to have content on your website, and/or through video email is an important way to integrate your customer base.
Before embarking on a Second Life journey, you may want to seek expert help; it will save you time and ultimately money if you begin your investment with those who are knowledgeable about the world you are about to enter for business. Just of course if you wanted to have a meeting in Paris, you would need concierge services there. Pookymedia can help you get started.
Please feel free to contact Pooky Amsterdam at firstname.lastname@example.org.