Virtual world. Real money

2 Jun

Have you ever dreamed about owning a whole island by your company? Or probably you have thought about one single place where you could communicate personally with customers from all over the world? If you have done it then it is the time when your dreams can become true.

Yes, I am talking about doing business in Second Life.

‘Second Life is providing lucrative business opportunities to a large, and growing, number of entrepreneurs,” claimes CNet.

According to Claus Nehmzow, a partner at PA Consulting, today, there are around 10 million users and 50,000 people are online at any given time. Furthermore, the number of users is increasing on 20% per month and shows no signs of slowing. Today’s users remain online for at least 30-60 minutes (on average around 2-4 hours) which is much longer than the typical website visitor. So all together it gives us a perfect platform for business.

If you read the article “Second Life: Five Primary Benefits for B2B” which is written by Chris Koch, you will sea that there are many benefits from doing business in Second Life.

1.  A new way of explaining products and services.

Second Life gives an opportunity to combine different communication channels which lets costumers experience products and services that can hardly be conceptualized in traditional media. For example, visitors of Dell’s island can enter a giant 3-D Dell computer to see the inner workings of a PC. And what is the most important, if visitors have questions, a virtual representative can answer them immediately.

2. Training and recruiting.

Many companies such as Microsoft, HP and etc, use their virtual islands to make a real time interview with job applicants. Moreover, Second Life is becoming a valuable training basis for Cisco, which provides trainings and seminars in virtual world.

3.  Global access.

Second Life is used by companies for business meetings which can replace in-person meetings and teleconferences. For example, IBM has a virtual conference center for meetings and events as well as a theater for product announcements and webcasts.

Chris Koch also writes about shared real-time experience which you can benefit from while interacting in real time using many different media in the same moment and not expensive prototyping which allows companies to try different sales techniques on users.

Additionaly, there are many more benefits that you can get from doing business in Second life.

I also found an article “Benefits of having a Second Life presence” which states following advantages:

–          Effective and not expensive form of promotion

–          Linking Second Life to website for direct sales

–          Possibility to Collect of all visitors’ database

–          Business networking

Through there are many potential benefits,  many people think that Second Life business can also fail.

In a March article David Kirkpatrick pointed out a major problem with the virtual world. He writes that the main part of virtual landscape is empty because users are mostly interested in “sex clubs and new-member gateways”.

This statement was approved by Allison Fass in Forbes magazine: “American Apparel, was the first retailer that set up a virtual store on the site, in June 2006. Rasmus Schiönning, Web director for the company, says the retailer is disappointed by “insignificant” sales from the site.”

Wells Fargo criticized Second Life even more. Some years ago, there were articles about Wells Fargo’s Stagecoach Island, where young people could learn about financial education in a “fun, engaging way.” Not anymore. According to Fass’ report in Forbes, the bank no longer has a presence in Second Life.

You can find many articles on the internet where people are criticizing Second Life business. For example, “Forbes Starts Hating on Second Life“ or “What Second Life business exodus?”

Authors of those articles agree in one thing – business is Second Life causes losses and it doesn’t cost investments that were made.

You can ask what kind of investments companies need to make? First of all for doing business you need a private island that you can simply buy. According to Island Pricing, the cost for a private island is $1,000 USD that you need to pay initially plus a monthly fee of $295 USD. Then you need to hire a person who will be available online. So you can see that for making virtual business you pay real money.

In conclusion, it can be said that, it is hard to say if it is beneficial to do business in Second life or not. While experts are arguing on this topic and can’t come to consensus, companies should make their own choices.

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One Response to “Virtual world. Real money”

  1. kristinajo June 8, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    I remember that in our last session we were talking about Second Life and it’s benefits and drawbacks in business questions. At first I really thought that it could actually be the new marketing strategy, but after reading your article now I am again questioning it. I still believe that the idea of having a platform for business interviews or in order to keep track of students who are abroad (heading towards 7th semester) is really innovative and good, but if it is worth to create and pay an island for one’s company is doubtfull.

    I also found a video on youtube of a companies Second Life, how to use it etc. So if your interested, take a look!Thanks for your post!

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