Leighton and Byron's Blog

Friday, January 22, 2010

Harvard Business Review: Avatars in the Workplace

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The word that avatars have a serious place in the workplace has made it to Harvard Business Review. See our guest blog post about how James Cameron's magnificant new film teaches more than you might expect about the future of work. The post describes how self representation via an avatar can transform workplace collaboration, innovation and productivity. Avatars are only one of the ten ingredients of great games highlighted in Total Engagement that can be used to transform today's enterprise work.

The full list is here

1. Self representation with avatars
2. Three dimensional environments
3. Narrative context (great stories)
4. Feedback
5. Reputation, ranks and levels
6. Marketplaces and economies
7. Competition under rules that are explicit and enforced
8. Teams
9. Parallel communication systems that can be easily reconfigured
10. Time pressure

In the comments, someone took exception to the way we described a Gartner study, and Byron has provided excellent follow up on the point. It is copied here:

January 22, 2010 at 2:48 PM
Not so fast please on dismissal of the Gartner information. The author of the estimate at Gartner, Christy Pettey, confirmed for me today that her projection that 80% of internet users will have an avatar by the end of 2011 included enterprise as well as entertainment uses.

And the age of the Gartner study shouldn't be comfort for those concerned about a trajectory of greater avatar use. There's plenty of recent data that confirms interest in avatars and virtual environments.

Thinkbalm.com, a consulting group tracking the immersive internet, has excellent reports on their website. Erica Driver, Co-Founder and Principal at Thinkbalm, told me that based on their current work, her estimate is that within three years (the end of 2012) there will be an early majority of companies involved with virtual environments, including a significant installed user base within the Global 1000 and large public sector organizations, and a solid list of successful large-scale deployments of 10,000+ users.
Here are three quick company stories from the Thinkbalm website that are interesting:

* In September of 2009, Cisco Systems held its annual sales kickoff meeting online using a virtual event platform, with 19,000 attendees.
* BP extended its 2009 Game Changer program, which has been focused on the Immersive Internet, for an additional six months because the company was seeing so much value from it.
* IBM’s CIO office has a vision of deploying immersive technology to their entire workforce — that’s nearly 400,000 people

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