Forrester Releases Report: Getting Real Work Done In Virtual Worlds

“A good place to start is donning an avatar persona and touring a world where the physical is increasingly being represented in the virtual, and the virtual is informing the physical world.” – Linda Zimmer, 2008

Today Forrester released a 24-page report, Getting Real Work Done In Virtual Worlds, telling its clients that virtual worlds are on the brink of becoming valuable work tools; and that within 5 years, the 3D Internet will be as important for business as the Web is today.  They urge companies to:

Use them to try to replicate the experience of working physically alongside others; allow people to work with and share digital 3-D models of physical or theoretical objects; and make remote training and counseling more realistic by incorporating nonverbal communication into same-time, different-place interactions.”

I have not yet read the report, so can’t speak with knowledge about it beyond the Executive Summary.

I think many of you who stop by here already know that virtual worlds are a credible work tool, but the good news is it appears Forrester is once again adding its stamp of approval on virtual worlds as businesss tools.

I normally don’t point out my own work here, but I simply can’t resist this one (please forgive).  It was exactly one year ago that I wrote an article for Information Week saying the exact same thing.  I’m delighted to see Forrester has come to see it my way. 🙂

My article, How Viable is Virtual Commerce? is rather a long one, and even then it was edited down quite a bit, but near the end, I point to six ways businesses can benefit from virtual worlds (remember: examples then were up-to-the-moment at that time. Now, not so much):

  • Fast and cheap prototyping. 3-D collaborative modeling tools allow rapid building and manipulation to avoid costly real-world design mistakes. Crescendo Design, a residential designing company located in Cleveland, Wis., prototypes homes in Second Life so clients can visualize the space and “occupy” it via avatars, then suggest design alterations in a way not possible through 2-D drawings.
  • Training and learning. More than 75 universities and learning organizations are exploring learning and library services in 3-D spaces.
  • Global collaboration. Real-time text-chat translation, voice integration, and object and identity persistence make global collaboration possible in real time.
  • Marketing and advocacy. The economies and high-engagement quotient attract marketers and social-advocacy groups. For example, the United Nations Millennium Campaign commissioned a poverty-awareness project in Second Life.
  • Media. Publishers such as Penguin and news outlets CNet (NSDQ: CNET) and Reuters are actively exploring content and value propositions for virtual audiences.
  • Technology development. New hardware, software, browsers, and protocols will be needed to support immersive spatial environments. Rich media and 3-D search solutions will become increasingly important as virtual worlds expand their Web presence.

The full Information Week article is here.

Forrester’s report web page and Executive Summary is here.  If you are not a Forrester client you can purchase the report for $279.

I’m pretty sure Forrester would also agree with my article wrap-up advice:

“A good place to start is donning an avatar persona and touring a world where the physical is increasingly being represented in the virtual, and the virtual is informing the physical world.”

Originally posted at my blog, Business Communicators of Virtuality, 2008.


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