Corporations in virtual worlds

There has been a fair amount written over the last couple years of corporation running public presentations and employee communication sessions in virtual world such as SecondLife. Some of the largest users have been IBM, Sun Microsystems and Cisco, however most fo this work seems to have been public type presentations.

A couple of weeks ago Nortel conducted internal presentation using a prototype “virtual mixed-reality world”. This environment joined together several technologies such as voice, corporate security and identity management.

Everything was linked to our telecom infrastructure, corporate security and identity management systems. In other virtual reality experiences, like Second Life or multi-player on-line gaming systems, you need to go into their footprint and are limited by their capabilities. For example, although a name may be attached to an Avatar, you have no way of really knowing who that individual is in the real world. Yesterday, the virtual experience (complete with high-quality spatial audio) became part of our own IT ecosystem.

What will be interesting is how these environments scale, which is something Second Life has struggled with for years. Where each island (read server) is limited to about 50 simultaneous users which makes management of large scale events very difficult.

However these types of technologies (telepresence, virtual worlds etc) once mainstream will have a profound impact on the way organisations operate in the future, think learning and collaboration.