Enterprise Virtual Worlds Get REAL (Really ; )


It is very rare to get in on the ground-floor of an emerging industry. It is also somewhat frustrating to be in the thick of it for a few years writhing with impatience for the market to or the technology catch up. The dance between market and technology readiness stair steps its way through predictable peaks of inflated expectations and troughs of disillusionment on one side and eras of ferment followed by dominant design on the other.

My intuition tells me that 2009 is the year that the planets align for Virtual World Enterprise applications to head up the proverbial hockey stick. For years now I have been hearing Virtual World vendors complain that they do not have a legitimate home. At the Serious Games conferences they are marginalized my the more jazzy games. At Training Conferences they are pushed out of the limelight by Instructional Design Approaches and LMS vendors, and, until NOW, at the Virtual Worlds conferences it felt like Entertainment and Media was sucking up the bulk the oxygen. NOT ANYMORE ; )

On the client side (people who are hungry to implement Virtual World Technologies within their enterprises) I have heard an ongoing plea for TANGIBLE EXAMPLES of how Virtual World solutions have solved REAL Business Problems and delivered REAL Business Results.

Today I am pleased to announce that Chris Sherman has asked me to develop the program and MC the first Virtual World show dedicated specifically to the Enterprise.

I am incredibly excited about the opportunity we have here. I am hoping, like the inaugural VW show in NY, that this will be THE event that creates a critical mass of innovation and collaboration that finally catalyzes the widespread adoption of Virtual World technologies within the enterprise.

Chris, Tonda and I have had a number of conversations about the positioning and tone of this show. At this conference, we are clearly seeking to move beyond discussing the potential of Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise and instead to be focused on sharing PRACTICAL EXAMPLES from early adopters in industry that have already applied Virtual Worlds successfully.

Gibson’s (or is it Brand’s) old saw that “The Future is Already Here, It is Just not Evenly Distributed” is quite appropriate. My goal over the next six weeks is to search high and low and in an out (it is 3D after all) for the most compelling examples of Enterprise Virtual World applications that will help build an evidence base to substantiate our hypotheses that Virtual Worlds will reshape industry and value chains in ways at least as profound as its one-dimensional cousin. We want to even out the distribution by bringing the best examples of virtual world enterprise applications so we can accelerate the path to the future.

Some Acid Test Questions for Vetting these Exemplary Stories Are:

    What was the business issue or opportunity you were faced with?
    What was your virtual world solution and how did it address that problem?
    Why was this virtual world solution chosen over other options? What differentiated it?
    How did you get sponsorship and funding to implement this virtual world solution?
    What virtual world platform did you choose to implement your solution?
    What were the key attributes of that platform that led to its selection?
    What were your biggest barriers to implementing the solution?
    How did you evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the solution?
    What results have you been able to demonstrate to date to legitimate the investment in the Virtual World Solution?
    What advice would you have for others considering implementing a virtual world solution within the enterprise?

In many ways the pattern of diffusion of 3Di has followed a similar path to Web 1.0. In the early days of the browser there was a lot of emphasis on B2C, then over time, and the collapse of irrational exhuberance of the dot.com era, companies retrenched and started leveraging browser technologies behind the firewall. Sound familiar?

Right now, after speaking with a number of folks close to the industry the wisdom of the crowd says that Virtual World technologies are most likely to be applied within the enterprise for Training, Learning and Collaboration. Consequently, our primary focus will be on these big three for the April show.

The success of this show hinges upon how compelling a case we can make that the time for Virtual Worlds TLC application for the enterprise is NOW via the power of example. So if you know of a wonderful TLC enterprise application, please submit to the call, or contact me directly.

Lets all work together to make this show the best it possibly can be.

Leave a comment


  1. Congratulations Tony, that’s great news that you’re in charge of the Enterprise Virtual Worlds show, I couldn’t think of a better person for the the job. I really share your sentiment that we need to take a pragmatic look at what has been done successfully. I’m tired of listening to lame excuses by bureaucrats about why things can’t be done today, or pipe dreams by engineers about what could be done in five years, just tell me what has been and could be done right now!

    I’m sure the irony of holding a live conference to discuss the virtues of virtual worlds conferencing is not lost on anyone. I think you should consider a mixed reality meeting and/or have your speakers and panelist give pre-talks in Second Life, helping them hone their talk for the conference.

    I like your list of questions. The one I’m missing is: “How did you take advantage of the virtual world to do things that are not possible in a webinar or perhaps even in a live meeting, how did you innovate and do ‘new things in new ways’ instead of just ‘old things in new ways’?” I’m really concerned with the direction of a number of vendors and platforms that are intent on dumbing down virtual worlds and positioning them as a WebEx+, or a suped-up eLearning platform. Here’s a litmus test for you: If the case involves putting avatars in chairs and displaying PowerPoint slides and video content on a media viewer, it’s out! You don’t want to waste people’s time with business cases where they simply automated what they’ve done in the past and accentuated today’s Dilbert-like meeting environments.

  2. Hey Tony – we are well into a few use cases now and would love to participate in the big show – with TANGIBLE EXAMPLES – count Caroline and I in!!!!

  3. Caroline Avey

     /  December 30, 2008

    Hello Tony! What great news as you are the perfect host for a conference such as this. I did read through your discussion points… but wonder if it might make sense to do breakout sessions around specific topics in 3D such as Marketing, learning, social networking? If so, then think we could have a very powerful session on “learning” that explores sychronous and asynchronous opportunities, learning environment specs, participant readiness, etc. Let me know how we can help as we would love to participate.

  4. Great news Tony!

  1. 3DTLC - Enterprise Virtual World Conference | Workplace Learning Today

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