IMF’s initial foray into meeting within a virtual world was a great success! Â The new format provided members (and the IMF team) an opportunity to experience a meeting “in world,” and get an initial feel for how it may or may not be a good fit for their businesses. Â Nearly 20 members joined the meeting, during which we discussed the state of the virtual world industry, the general use of and navigation in Second Life, and an overview of several Social Media trends.
Jonathan Reichental, Director of Industries and Innovation at PricewaterhouseCoopers, served as our host in the PwC Second Life island, Lakepointe. Jonathan provided a brief overview of the virtual world industry from his own research and experiences.
Trends in Virtual Worlds:
Growth Continues. Although some high-profile companies such as Google have failed at previous attempts, investment continues in virtual worlds (to the tune of nearly half a billion dollars last year). Â Many new solutions focus on integration with the browser (either native or with a small plugin) to avoid the need for desktop client applications. Â The largest growth market appears to be children and young adults (Disney, for instance, is investing here), but additional solutions for business training and education will also continue emerging.
Second Life Investment is Minimal. PricewaterhouseCoopers has been pleased with the small investment needed to implement their virtual meeting spaces. Â The initial development for 2 identical islands (a private and a public version) came at a cost of $60,000, and the annual cost to maintain the space is $8,000. Â PwC chose to create a private version of their island for internal meetings and to alleviate several security concerns. Â The administrators of the space maintain an active control list to limit access to the private island.
Getting to Know Second Life. Those planning to use Second Life, or any virtual world, for meetings should be aware that there is a period of learning to use the tool for all users. Â Some training and orientation should be built in to any program. Â For IMF’s virtual meeting series, we allowed much of the allotted time for the first meeting for training in the Second Life tool, and a tour of the virtual meeting space. Â PwC has designed a large stadium space, several smaller meeting rooms, a reception area to greet guests, and a rooftop space for informal discussions. Â Attendees learned how to walk, fly, and teleport from one location to another, as well as interact with objects such as chairs and mailboxes in world. Â At the end of our meeting, we congregated in one of the conference rooms to demo the PPT presentation in world.
Our next virtual meeting will be on July 16. Â We’ll be discussing some more specific applications of virtual worlds, and perhaps making our way to a few other interesting places. Â Space is still available – click here to visit theIMF.com to register.