Businesses probe benefits of Second Life

Organisations are still experimenting with the virtual world, with some now seeing it as a place to collaborate rather than a virtual shop front to do business

Businesses are unsure about the benefits of using Second Life, with many still just experimenting with the virtual world to discover its true value.

One trend is that organisations are increasingly looking at the virtual world as a place to collaborate rather than as a virtual shop front to do business.

Ivan Croxford, head of market development for BT, said: "It's still very experimental, early-stage work for us. I think as an internal use of the technology it's quite an interesting departure for us."

When asked how the success of Second Life projects could be measured, Croxford said: "Something we're a bit unsure about is: what are the key metrics?"

But as start-up costs for virtual world projects are relatively low, the main thing businesses need to do is allocate enough time for people to work on them, Croxford advised.

Talking about the value of using Second Life, Kat Dawe, member of the new ways of working group at Unilever, said: "The simple answer for us at the moment is we don't know yet. This certainly wouldn't, I don't think, be the silver bullet for us. The key thing is this isn't a proven way of working."

Dele Atanda, a consultant with tech marketing group Ark Agent, said: "It's very much experimental at the moment. You have to be prepared to take risks and accept things will go wrong."

Second Life founder Phillip Rosedale added there is now a shift in how companies are using Second Life following the initial rush to have a presence in the virtual world.

He said: "As new mediums emerge, they are used aggressively by companies."

Rosedale said there is now a greater tendency for companies to use Second Life as a collaboration tool and advised companies to take a simple approach to see if the benefits are there for them.


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