I believe that using such virtual, highly visual capabilities to help us design, simulate, optimize, operate and manage business activities of all sorts is going to be one of the most important breakthroughs in the IT industry over the next decade. Today’s commercial applications, especially those involved in enterprise resource planning (ERP), are very complicated, monolithic and static, and often end up frustrating their users. I am convinced that dealing with such business applications in a kind of SimBusiness fashion, – that is, the application feels like a realistic simulation of the business and its operations, – will not only transform IT but business itself. Perhaps for the first time, we will be able to understand what is really going on in a business and its various processes, and then systematically improve and optimize them in multiple dimensions.
Virtual worlds provide a great opportunity for organizations to maintain connections between its past, present and future members. It has been a practice investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, management consultancies such as McKinsey and Business Schools such as Harvard have long been attuned to and perfected over the years. In many ways this very connectivity has proven to be one of the cornerstones of each respective organizations success.
SL now provides an open platform for organizations of all sizes and locations to do likewise. IBM is one of first RL organizations to have seen the light and have been experimenting within SL over the last two years. Most recently they held an event titled the Greater IBM Virtual Bloc Party in SL for its alumni and present members. Some members of its UK based Hursley Park Labs provided coverage of the event over on their weblog eightbar.
IBM thought leader Irving Wladawsky-Berger (quoted above) wrote a great post back in September titled Transforming business through virtual worlds capabilities – its deja vu all over again which is highly recommended reading – be sure to read all of the comments accompanying the post for maximum food for thought. Virtual worlds are already playing their part in transforming business as we knew it up until the end of the 20th century. Interesting times indeed.
UPDATE : IBM eyes move into SL v-business by Adam Reuters