Todd "Turbo" Watson -- IBM Corporation
IBM launched a new virtual Business Center inside Second Life about a half hour ago.
The new center has six areas, including a reception area (although it's not quite as big as the reception area in Armonk), a Sales Center, a Tech Support Library, an Innovation Center, a Client Briefing Center, and a Conference Center.
Though the meeting areas may be virtual the people "manning" it are for real.
That means real IBM sales reps from around the globe, no bots allowed. Many are multilingual and their express raison d'etre is to help you out. The IBMers staffing the new office will do so during business hours in their respective countries.
If you want to buy some hardware, or software, or services, or you need help solving a particular business problem, the IBM sales avatar can work with your avatar up to the point of exchanging personal information (signing contracts, credit info, etc.) -- for now, then, you'll move on over to the 2D Web or the phone.
2D + 3D = 4CustomerD
Check out the SLurl here and let us know what you think.
ADDENDUM: You can also check out a YouTube video overview of the new IBM Business Center in Second Life...just in case you haven't had time yet to shop for some new threads for your avatar.[Read More]
I'm attending a two-day IBM pow-wow for the next couple of days. But rather than attend in person, I'm attending virtually.
Hey, would you expect anything less?
For competitive reasons, I'm not going to talk about the meeting topic. And although the meeting topic was tangentially related to the point of this post, it wasn't the core of the point.
The core was this: How do we go about thinking about planning for virtual meetings, meetings which also include a large component of individuals coming together in a physical space.
Firstly, the people who, for whatever reason, aren't able to come to your physical meeting and are virtual attendees, are probably just as interested and desiring of participating in the meeting as those in the room.
That means the organizers should find a way to facilitate the virtual attendees' full participation.
That means also making sure speakers in the physical room are well-miked and speak to the Internet audience as much as they do to the people in the room.
That also means, the speaker checks in with the people in the virtual audience every once in a while, and requests positive reaffirmation from the people online to ensure they can still hear the speaker and everything is going A-OK.
And, it means that other speakers in the physical audience waits for a microphone or, if necessary, get up and walk over to the phone to ask their question (It'll be good for you, you need the exercise). Otherwise, the virtual attendees can't hear what you're saying, and what you're saying is important, and we want to hear you, but we can't if you're sitting in that chair halfway across the room.
Ultimately, it means the physical group develops a consciousness of those virtual attendees as being an integral set of participants in the meeting. (I'm thinking maybe a PowerPoint slide with a group or collage picture projecting those individuals attending virtually splashed on a wall of the meeting room might be a good reminder.)
The best way to handle all of the above is to ensure that there is an emeeting coordinator in the physical room, but who is actively participating in the emeeting him- or herself to ensure that the online experience is as positive and interactive as the physical experience.
Second, always make sure the meeting materials are viewable and that there's backup for those materials.
For our meeting the next couple of days, we have an excellent wiki that provided many of the presentations in advance, so even when our own emeeting software went dark (hey, it even happens to us) we were able to have a fallback and not disrupt the momentum of the meeting.
Finally, if you have the resources, record the sessions either for podcast or videocast replay.
If the meeting was worth getting all those expensive and great minds together for two days in a physical space, the discussions and presentations were worth recording (well, most of them, anyhow) for those people who couldn't attend, or who couldn't hear because Joe Speaker was talking to himself like a Dilbert cartoon instead of to the Internet audience.[Read More]
As I mentioned in a post yesterday, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano is getting himself an avatar -- two, actually (one dressed a little more casually than the other), which he used to pay a visit earlier today to an IBM meeting held in a recreation of the "Forbidden City" inside the virtual world Second Life..
In this electronic global town hall meeting, Sam used the opportunity to announce a $100M investment in ten new business opportunities that were generated via their own unique online venue, our recent InnovationJam, which involved more than 150,000 people from 104 countries.
One of the ideas that emerged from this virtual jam was funding for R&D to accelerate the exploration of virtual worlds for use in business and society...the "3-D" Internet, if you will.
For those of us who have been early advocates inside Big Blue around the notion of "v-business," particuarly in Second Life, this is very exciting news, as it clearly indicates our own bullishness about the promise of virtual technologies in business, educational, medical, and other organizations that can benefit from a more visual Web environment.
There have been a number of IBMers who have been paving the way in this brave new world, working to establish new technologies and to build collaborative relationships and IBM and client "facilities" to explore business applications.
In today's meeting, Sam entered into a 3-D virtual world filled with more than 200 IBMers from around the globe -- Australia, Florida, India, Israel, New York, and dozens of other locations -- moving through various IBM "islands"in Second Life -- including the Almaden Research Island, Hursley Island and ThinkLand, where IBM recreated the Forbidden City.
The virtual participants were joined by IBM's chief scientist, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, and were able to watch a feed of Sam's talk from China, then interact with Sam's virtual avatar (hopefully they behaved themselves). During that interaction, Sam announced that a major part of the $100 million InnovationJam investment will be to innovate and build a business around the future of the Web with these immersive 3D environments and virtual worlds.
Just as we did in the early days of e-business and Linux, our goal is to build a community and drive the business opportunities for virtual business, or "v-business."
Having been at an Internet World press conference where IBM's commitment to "e-business" was announced over a decade ago, I'm very excited to see a similar commitment to these emerging virtual worlds, and to see them announced very much in the spirit and energy this new frontier presents to businesses and organizations around the globe.
If you've experienced them firsthand, you know that it's only the limits of your imagination that will shape what can be done there.[Read More]