A Second Look At Second Life

June 3, 2009

Source: San Francsisco Business Times

Source: San Francsisco Business Times

“A lot of Silicon Valley has written Second Life off.  The tech world will have to revisit Second Life as a phenomenon in the next six months or so.”

Thus spoke Wagner James Au, noted virtual worlds author and blogger in a San Francisco  Business Times article on Second Life (note: the full article is available to paid subscribers only).  Au, who blogs at New World Notes about Second Life, notes in the article that Linden Lab CEO Mark Kingdon has renewed the Second Life brand that was created by founder Philip Rosedale.

While the revenue model for Twitter is slowly coming clearer (judging by the accounts in the business media), Linden Labs’ strategy under Kingdon is becoming quickly self-evident with the announcements of the past few months.  From my perspective, Kingdon’s growth strategy is around a few core pillars:

  1. Enterprise use of Second Life – makes sense, as enterprises and corporations can be monetized at a higher clip than individuals, artists, hobbyists, etc.  Enterprises (in the former of marketers) were a big portion of Second Life during its initial peak – and it seems the current focus is to bring marketers back into the fold, along with complementary uses in non-marketing disciplines (e.g. training, enablement, collaboration, etc.).  In the past 6 months, Linden Lab has hired 25 marketing and product people as part of their push for enterprise clients.  In addition, the company recently hired Amanda Van Nuys as Executive Director of Enterprise Marketing, signaling a further endorsement of the opportunity in the enterprise.
  2. Nebraska – an on-premises software version of Second Life  (compared to their Software as a Service model), which enterprises can run on their own servers behind the firewall.  IBM has been an active partner with Linden Lab on behind-the-firewall integration – the telltale sign will be how many other large enterprises opt for the Nebraska model.  For “behind the firewall” use, I have to think that we’re talking less about marketing and more about collaboration.
  3. Voice – not mentioned in the Business Times article, but Virtual Worlds News covered it well – Linden Lab is poised to go after the Skype market with capabilities to bridge voice calls and SMS messages between the real world and Second Life.  In the Virtual Worlds News article, Linden Lab Vice President of Platform and Technology Development Joe Miller notes, “The opportunity to monetize at a significant added value for our business is there”, regarding the opportunity in Voice.

IBM marrketing executive Karen Keeter notes in the San Francisco Business Times article that nearly 100 IBM’ers are “working on virtual world tools for commercial sale in Second Life and on other platforms”.  As such, IBM stands to achieve commercial gain from increased use (by enterpises) of Second Life and related virtual worlds.

In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to see IBM leverage virtual worlds to generate services revenue.  Two things come to mind – IBM Global Services and IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative.  IBM Global Services could assist enterprises on their virtual worlds strategy (e.g. build me a virtual world representation of my data center, so that I can run heating and cooling simulations) – or, IBM could go in-world to enterprise’s private virtual worlds to provide traditional consulting services within the virtual world.

So a manufacturer who’s replicated their factory in a 3D world can have Global Services visit (in-world) to optimize their factory floor workflow.  Then, of course, Global Services could help facilitate the parallel action in the real world.  On the Smarter Planet project, IBM might create 3D models of the next generation power plant to show utilities how to become more energy efficient.  In a virutal world, I’m sure the possibilites are limitless.

Finally, Dan Parks of Virtualis is featured in the article.  Virtualis created a compound in Second Life with 34,000 square yards of meeting rooms.  Quite an interesting model – an event producer that leverages a re-usable area (virtually) to host meetings for corporate clients.  Companies who have done events with Virtualis include Deloitte, Oracle and Trend Micro.

I’d be interested in your thoughts – what do you think about the potential of Second Life for enterprises?

Related Links:

  1. Blog posting on Virtual Offices, with reference to Amanda Van Nuys’ use of Second Life
  2. Blog Posting: Virtualis and Trend Micro Put On Quite A Show
  3. Blog Posting: Philip Rosedale On Building A Business: Practice Extreme Transparency
  4. Blog Posting: IBM’s Second Life ROI: The Headline Beneath The Headline

Virtualis and Trend Micro Put On Quite A Show

February 5, 2009

Trend Micro

Source: Trend Micro

The Virtualis Convention and Learning Center is an island within Second Life that’s produced by California-based Corporate Planners Unlimited.  Trend Micro, a technology provider of endpoint, messaging and web security, recently hosted a 2-day live event within the Virtualis’ Second Life convention center.  Virtual Worlds News has detailed coverage of the event here:


Dan Parks, President and Creative Director at Corporate Planners Unlimited (and Founder of Virtualis) is quoted extensively in this article regarding the demand for virtual events (and Virtualis), their cost efficiency and uses of Virtualis by other clients of his.  As interesting as the technology is (and it sure is cool), I found the virtual event planning (by Virtualis and Trend Micro) to be most interesting.

In the Virtual Worlds News article, you can view a 2 minute video overview of the event (given by a Second Life avatar / news reporter, no less).  Alternatively, the same video is available on this page: http://silverandgoldie.com/trendmicro.htm (Machinima by Silver & Goldie, who [presumably] produced this nifty segment).

Virtualis and Trend Micro named the event Trend Micro Virtual Technical University – an internal-facing training venue for 75 Trend employees (also called Trenders) across 5 locations.  Day 1 started with an introduction (and keynote of sorts) by Harry Coit, Trend Micro’s Director of Technical Support, North America.  Harry welcomed the Trenders, who sat around round tables in folding chairs.  Harry’s goals for the 2 days:

  • Collaborate
  • Building strong relationships
  • Have some fun

The in-world sessions were spread across two tracks – product sessions and educational sessions.  The product sessions provided product updates on emerging technologies, along with case studies on the latest web threats.  The educations sessions included creativity sessions, which were held in futuristic settings (where avatars sat around in Jetson-like furniture).

Trend Micro

Source: Trend Micro / Virtualis

For fun, the event included four unique technical challenges.  In a parachute challenge, avatars descended from the sky in parachutes and had to score points by grabbing balls that flew by.  A treasure hunt challenged participants to find specified items throughout the island – scores were tabulated and the top 2 teams squared off in a Trend Micro Tech Challenge – a live game show that was played in front of the entire audience.

Trend Micro

Source: Trend Micro / Virtualis

At the end of the first day, a night club hosted dancing, along with music from “one of Second Life’s most popular entertainers”.  All in all, quite a show.  I admire the attention to detail paid by Virtualis and Trend Micro in planning the events – this was truly a melding of virtual world benefits with the full trappings of an all-day physical (corporate) outing.  The typical applications of virtual worlds and virtual tradeshows –  lead generation, marketing, exhibiting products and services, internal training – has now taken on a new angle.  We’re now seeing internal training, complete with virtual team building!

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