Setting Up Shop on Second Life - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Setting Up Shop on Second Life
An online universe opens up a virtual world of possibilities for businesses, including consultancies, to interact with their clients


Consultants Confidential


How would a consultancy operating in Second Life benefit a company?

It is important for a consulting company to have a view of how to apply technology such as this to businesses. We can now work on- site with clients to build 3-D "immersive" environments that can be used to collect customer feedback, involve customers in design, and eventually use this medium as a customer service and interaction channel.

How is it different from a Web site?

A Web site is a one-way communication. It is good if you want to find out certain facts—how big the company is, where their office is located. It is not good if you have questions, if you want to have a dialogue. Virtual worlds will not replace the Web, but it is better in certain applications.

So a virtual world is very much a shared experience?

Both shared and real-time. Another thing about the Web is it's a lonely experience. In spite of billions of people using it, it's always just yourself on the Web. In a virtual world, you are there with multiple people, surrounded by, say, multi-media. It can create a very powerful communication experience for your clients, and for recruits. It is dialogue oriented. All these things are important, particularly for an industry like pharma because it deals with such complex subject matter.

Say I was a pharmaceutical executive interested in your consultancy and I wanted to contact you through these means. How would it work?

Well, have you been in Second Life?

Yes, I actually joined to go to your place, but my avatar accidentally ended up in a large body of water.

Well, you have to be careful. Some of the nitty-gritty idiosyncratic details of Second Life we have to overlook to some degree because it's not as good as it could be, although I'm fairly sure it will be in the future.

If I had in fact reached your building, what would have been my experience?

You would have been met by one of our receptionists. She then would have introduced you to me. My avatar is John Manguru. I'm public about it, very open, but you could chose not to tell me who you were. So, in the first stage, you'd have the opportunity to come in and ask some questions without me knowing your real identity, or being able to make assumptions about you—looking you up and down, judging your voice. We could engage in a pretty open dialogue.

I would be able then to show you things by using not one but, say, 15 different PowerPoint slides. I could put them up, next to each other in a half-circle, and we could look at them together, walking from slide to slide.

We would be talking like this, but the voice quality would be better than on the phone. It would be in stereo. I might want you to meet someone else in the company. I would fly you up to our skybox.

To go to his office?

Yes, perhaps it would be Dan Walsh, or some of our other pharma experts. I could teleport them over. And then we could have a discussion all together in this virtual world. After a short while it would feel very natural.

In the future, do you expect more and more business will be conducted in this way on Second Life?

Well, it's already happening. But Second Life is just an example. So whenever I say Second Life, I mean this kind of virtual world.


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