Friday, October 3, 2008

business isn't usual in Second Life

Linden Labs launched its Second Life virtual world in 2002. Since then it's become a phenomena with more than 15 million residents. While many still view Second Life as a gaming environment many more are realizing its potential for project collaborations, business opportunities, and professional development.

Think I'm kidding? Here are current statistics:

Can SL, and other virtual worlds like it, be a platform for business? SL is a popular spot for virtual conferences, training, study groups, consumer research, and more. It's no wonder that big businesses like Sony, Dell, IBM, Target, and others created destinations in Second Life.

But are they successful? Most haven't been able to make significant revenue gains with residents. When we evaluate traditional business models we can readily see why they've been unsuccessful. It's impossible to run an old-world model in a new world. If Henry Ford hadn't closed his plant to refit it for assembly line production of the Model T in 1927 we might not have a Ford Motor Company today.

Many have speculated why many of these corporate titans are closing up shop and moving out of SL. I think the bottom line is that virtual environments require interaction with the user. Second Life is built on the idea of one-to-one connections and the sharing of information. It's more than customer service, it's a matter of rethinking how we engage consumers.