When IT projects begin and end with the words ‘Second’ and ‘Life’ the almost universal response from managers is “nice graphics, now talk ROI.”Needless to say, interest in developing technologies withers, as proving ROI is almost impossible to do honestly. What also withers is the possibility of any basic exploration or piloting of a virtual world project.
This is happening at a time when businesses are being told to look to IT as a source of innovation.
Having talked with businesses beginning to use virtual worlds, it is still very much a case of them finding out what technologies like Second Life offer their business.
The situation has many parallels with the first wave of business interest in web sites. Having a website in the 90s was seen as part of a fad, now it is a customer’s first port of call and a required part of any business plan.
The jury is out on if these virtual worlds actually offer (or will offer) the same kind of value to a business as a web site. There is no acknowledged best approach for building an enterprise virtual world application, but it hasn’t stopped businesses from exploring the technology.
It is having an open mind and willingness to devote resources to something that might never pay off immediately that could spring the biggest rewards.