8 A.M. Preparing for the big presentation and teleconference later this morning. Which should I do? Same old Webex? Or might we meet in Second Life, the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), and I’ll show up in my Rabbit Avatar outfit? Hmm. Tough question.
The customer has likely used Webex before. But in Second Life, I can see the customer, or rather their Avatar, and we can meet some place special to lend atmosphere. Like say, Second Life University if I want an intellectual, thoughtful slant. Or, perhaps we can meet in Amsterdam and go hit some clubs after the meeting. Forget it; that might get weird. If the customer has never been in Second Life, that could be risky.
If you think I’m fruitcake for considering online virtual reality for a business meeting, think again. People are already using Second Life for serious meetings with Skype for voice. Okay, Citigroup and the Pentagon probably aren’t but consider:
– Wells Fargo has launched “Stagecoach Island” inside the virtual world of Second Life, to teach people how to handle their finances
– Professors from the University of Texas, University of Oregon, Michigan State, Ball State, and Vassar are conducting lectures
– $5,000,000 in real money transactions took place within Second Life in January of this year
– On my own foray into the game, I met a couple that in Real Life travels a lot and they use Second Life to meet and socialize when they are thousands of miles apart.
Here’s my Product Comparison of Second Life vs. Web Conferencing for business meetings…
1. Will the meeting be interesting?
Second Life wins hands down. How often do you get to show up looking like a Rabbit with a baseball bat in your hands? Or perhaps a Cow with wings and a top hat? How about everybody on motorcycles? Think of how provoking your first impression might be on the customer?
2. Will you strengthen your relationship with the customer?
Guaranteed with Second Life. Memorable events greatly increase the chance of the client remembering you later. Think of it this way: if you took your client to a costume party in the Lower East Side of New York City at midnight dressed as Batman, would they remember you? Second Life offers you a safer alternative than walking down 8th Avenue ay 2.A.M. dressed up like a total idiot.
3. Will your message get across?
Webex may win for boring Powerpoint presentations. But we all know Web 2.0 Feng Shui says attitude is everything. Second life has attitude, baby. Although I have not found a Powerpoint API for Second Life yet, I bet if you attend some of these lectures, you’ll find a solution. Second Life has a developer community that builds things like animations so you can dance on your head, make rude hand gestures, and do other rather bizarre things.
Running a meeting in virtual reality may be best for weirdos from San Francisco and the New Media Consortium who already do. But just wait.
Here at Atlassian Software, we learned about Second Life because the creator, Linden Lab is a customer of ours here in San Francisco, and they emailed us to tell us how they use our issue tracker software, JIRA. Linden Lab uses JIRA to manage all projects in the company – not just software development but all projects including sales and marketing.
Now that we have visited CEO Philip Rosedale and the creative team behind him, we’re ready to check it out for our next company picnic…