I’ve finally been able to read and digest the Forrester report on virtual worlds from earlier this year: ‘The Real Value of Virtual Worlds’ by TJ Keitt.
It’s a great report that signifies where many (including your humble correspondent) have been getting it wrong when we trumpet the value of 3D virtual worlds.
Let me explain…
I, probably like many evangelists, have been trumpeting the corporate value of 3D virtual worlds (aka ‘3D VWs’) as arriving from being able to hold pan-global meetings and benefit from the immersive, multi-level interaction and psychological investment that comes from these immersive environments.
But as the Forrester report points out, such a focus is folly. The growth and development of bandwidth and concomitant technological capability means that merely positioning 3D VWs as ‘better-than’ replacements for traditional audio/video conferencing or web conferencing is misguided at best and totally dumb at worst; these technologies will continue to evolve and improve.
But where 3D VWs will shine, and the traditional conferencing tools will not be able to match, is in multi-dimensional complexity.
Diagrammatically this can be represented so:
The challenge for us evangelists is that we haven’t been clear on the benefits that arise from the multi-dimensional aspects of this communication universe.
That is in part, Forrester argue, because we have been focused on attempting to be ‘separate’ from the existing conferencing tools, a ‘better than them’ approach.
What Forrester rightly point out (and I am the first to raise my hand and proclaim ‘mea culpa’) is that we are foolish to ignore the embedded technologies already extant in corporations.
Oh, and forget SMEs; I have come to realise after two failed business ventures that Small-to-Medium-sized-Enterprises just don’t have the financial capital (even if they have the intellectual capital) to invest in such technologies, partly because their clients are nowhere near ready to join them.
What we ‘should’ be trumpeting loudly from the parapets is the multi-dimensional and psychologically immersive nature of these 3D
VWs; but I agree that attempting to ‘sell the benefits’ in a workshop can be a hard slog without actually getting the participants ‘wet’, which takes bandwidth and a HUGE amount of time, which today’s workshops certainly don’t allow me (and I can’t see many corporately or governmentally employed delegates signing up for a whole-day workshop on virtual world immersive communication! [grin])
Corporations and large government departments are focusing their energies on unified communications and collaboration (known as ‘UC & C’); we evangelists should be focusing on the benefits that come from these multi-channel and immersive interactions that happen IN CONJUNCTION WITH already existing UC technologies when you add in 3D VWs. Therein lies a foot in the door.
We should not be trying to COMPETE with the Microsofts, Alcatel-Lucents, IBMs, Avayas and Ciscos of this world for some (to our potential clients) slightly intangible ‘touchy-feely’ benefit; we should be aligning with and integrating any offering we present WITH these giant organisations, not trying to be a ‘Jack of All Communication Trades’ solution in the one box to them.
The report, if you haven’t already picked it up, is a cracker, and I thoroughly recommend you get hold of a copy. I thank Sarah at Forrester for being patient enough with me to let me sit on this report for a few months while I let non-virtual intrusions get in the way of compiling it. Thanks, Sarah – you are a gem.