The 3D Training, Learning and Collaboration conference has come and gone in San Jose. Our reflections conclude that something is astir in the virtual world. This year we were not talking about technology barriers and whether an organization should think about using virtual world technology, we were talking about how they use it. In the session led by Randy Hinrichs, Club One Fitness, Cisco and Fuji/Xerox demonstrated just how they were using virtual worlds to meet business needs within organizations.
2b3d started the session off with, it’s about doing there, not about being there. They reminded the audience of last year’s Ernst and Young interactive warehouse for doing inventory observation audits. The solution is to enter into a warehouse and start counting inventory. The principles are maintained in Theory Plaza outside the warehouse if you need to find out why you haven’t reconciled to the count sheets yet. Try it again, and again.
In terms of getting down into the micro word of installation for a DVR device. 2b3d suggests that you get right into the context of the environment and show the trainee exactly where the cable is and where the outlet is. Got any questions, ask the database, or even better ask a consultant who shows up and watches you do the work.
More visceral experiences abound in looking at doing damage estimates of a roof. One junior estimator lands on the roof in a virtual simulation of the damaged house, and a senior estimator lands on the roof with a simple question. How are you going to calculate the replacement of the shingles here? The Junior Assessor says, well I’d start counting the tiles and multiply that number by the cost per shingle. The young estimator reflects diligently by counting and multiplying. The Senior Estimator responds, we’ll if you’d like to get a nice even run of water off the roof, you might want to calculate the pitch of the roof and actually replace an entire row, count that number of shingles and multiple by the cost per shingle. The Junior Assessor responds, “yeah right”, and never forgets that lesson again. Perhaps he felt like his uncle showed up in the virtual world and helped him with a very simple rule on assessment.
Cisco is using Second Life’s Nebraska product to create a high performance trader floor and observe work flow by walking into a functional office during the middle of the day. Telephones are ringing, research is being conducted, trades are being decided upon over the network with various communications technology solutions. Students enter and observe employees at work. Then they teleport off to a brainstorming session, break into groups and come up with their Cisco intervention solution. All the solutions are aggregated onto a big screen for comparison. Then, they return to an office that has Cisco technologies integrated in the office and the data center, and watch how the HPTs pain points melt away. How well did each group construct a solution. Which sales team would have won that quota?
Club One decided to tackle the 80% of the population that doesn’t come to a health club. Why don’t they come, maybe its for psychological reasons or visualization reasons. They’ve never been in a health club before, they are intimated to talk to life coaches, or get assessed, or discuss what their goals are. So, what if you could break that barrier and create another door into the health club — on through a virtual world. First, they could see what a health club looked like inside, meet a virtual life coach, talk about goals with anonymity, test out the equipment, perform some psychological tests, and create an avatar in the shape of their current body, with ways to get to their ideal body. Club One built a Second Life version of their best of breed clubs and integrated their fitness programs as services into the club. They are just beginning the testing phase of the project, and will be launching their solution in the next month.
The Virtual Factory project provided an example of industrial collaboration environments. They designed, created and applied new technologies in a real world factory setting, based on real users and real-world problems. They created a mixed realty space with collaborative applications for a specific task. They looked at six types of users with subsets of each and created an interlinked, real-time 3D, 2D and mobile layer of information exchange.
You see, a year is a decade in a virtual world, and the tools that have enabled various organizations to take their idea from the white board onto to the 3D surface of a social networking community have changed how fast you can conceptualize and realize. It really is about doing something there to demonstrate the power of the medium. Next year, your pictures will be here show what you can do in a virtual world to address your business needs. Perhaps it’s not about cost reduction, or cost avoidance anymore, perhaps Club One see revenue growth in club membership, and Cisco sales groups build solutions for their customers to close that sale.