Second Life is potentially a better communications tool than video conferencing, according to Gavin Keeley, General Manager of Solutions at Suncorp Metway.
"I believe the conversations before and after the meeting can be as important as a meeting itself," Keeley said in an interview with SearchCIO.com.au. "In the sterile environment of a conference call you do not get the pre-and-post-call interaction."
"What you find with Second Life meetings is the sidebar conversations happen. People say to themselves: 'George is here, I'll have a chat with him after the meeting,' which doesn't happen on a conference call."
Those secondary conversations, Keeley believes, can be as important as the conference call or videoconference itself, making the more casual and persistent environment of a Second Life meeting more conducive to collaboration.
Keeley also believes it is important to trial initiatives such Second Life meetings to attract younger workers.
"We think we need to consider how to tap into these Generation Y and Generation Z phenomena to get competitive advantage," he said. "It is only a matter of time before customers go from interest to expectation and ask why their bank won't let them use their preferred tools."
Suncorp has already rolled out other "Web 2.0" style initiatives, with internal podcasts of meetings for team members who could not be present and a wiki implementation.
"I got a couple of our graduates who are new and fresh and I showed them what we had and I said: 'You get it: go do it!' Two weeks later had a completely refreshed intranet."
What do you think?
Is Second Life better than videoconferencing? What do you think is the best way to communicate with a distributed team? Let us know your ideas and we'll publish the answers later this week. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.