Virtual consulting companies are popping up across the country, but could these Metaverse entrepreneurs be miscalculating the scale of corporate interest in virtual worlds?
One report argues that 2010 will see a marked downturn in corporate interest in virtual conferencing and digital events. Could the boom time be ending already?
Pixels and Policy takes a look at what's in store.
The Uncertain Future of Virtual Events
Pixels and Policy recently looked at some of the major obstacles preventing widespread adoption of virtual world technology by businesses, but one article makes the point that simplifying the user experience may not be enough to keep recession-smacked companies interested in avatars.
HyperGrid Business recently published an excellent piece outlining what consumers and companies can expect from the Metaverse in 2010. The predictions are certain to disappoint some diehard techno-optimists. From the article:
In the B2B market, we now have plenty of users who have attended two or
more virtual events. If virtual event show hosts continue to use the
same graphical templates, organize the same presentation agenda and
re-create an identical experience to their last event, then “relative
response rates” will drop – meaning, it will become harder and harder
to recruit users to register and attend.
Metaverse entrepreneurs are falling victim to the same foot-traffic problems government sims suffer, apathy brought on by a lack of changing content. Corporate clients may sit through one or two identical seminars designed to showcase the eye-popping power of virtual worlds, but without a major face-lift, virtual consultants could be preaching to empty digital seats.
The decline in industry interest is coupled with a move towards more professional sources for video conferencing and virtual work: Companies are no longer going to tinker with Second Life if they can receive a product tailored to their corporate needs and free from flying penises. The HyperGrid article sums it up well:
Multinational corporations have adopted high-end video conferencing to encourage collaboration and save on travel costs. They have the budget to invest in Cisco Telepresence or HP Halo.
As those same corporations look to adopt virtual events (e.g. for an annual virtual sales meeting), it’s only natural that they incorporate the video conferencing technology that they already have running.
In short, the success of virtual platorms for work and conferencing has created a market for professional solutions. Second Life introduced the trend, but it is rapidly falling behind as bigger companies view developing virtual work platforms as a less risky investment. The success of Second Life may end up dooming its relevance.
Nothing said so far is set in stone, and shifting economic circumstances could have a broad impact on how well virtual commerce and conferencing fare in the new year. What's certain is that companies hoping to hawk virtual solutions to brick-and-mortar companies will have to become even more innovative and original as the field crowds with competitive names.
Immersiveness will be key in 2010, as increasing video card capability brings forward strong virtual commerce contenders like Blue Mars. Decreasing graphics card costs and markedly upscaled processor speeds will only drive this point home.
The availability of multiple options for corporate conferencing means programs that produce a streamlined user interface, immersive graphical experience and integrated voice controls will fare better than clunky, graphically-challenged programs like Second Life Enterprise. Dogs are finally eating each other in the virtual conferencing world.
In the Metaverse, innovation is the stuff of life. Companies may end up doing a lot more of it over the next year.