IBM's Secret Island
From the Register:
"It would not be the first time the suggestion has been made that games programmers hold at least one key to the future for business systems development. But IBM's latest research project - a "secret island" within the confines of Linden Labs' Second Life massively multi-player games environment - brings that possibility a whole lot closer.
The basic premise is to exploit the multi-player and graphics capabilities at which games programmers now generally excel to create an on-screen virtual analogue of a business.
IBM has decided to use the capabilities already developed by Linden Labs for its Second Life gaming environment to build a separate, experimental area within it. Participants – from IBM research and development departments around the world – can contribute whatever they feel is important to create a productive environment in which to conduct and manage "business".
Communications can be by key-entry text or VoIP if that is appropriate. With text, all the contributions can be easily and fully minuted, and the probability is that speech-to-text systems will allow the same for speech-based interactions in the near future.
The advantage over phone or video conferencing systems is that participants feel they are much more "there" – for example, it is far easier to identify who is communicating what at any one time. It also adds the scope to move away from a formal meeting to relax or "play", or perhaps hold a breakout meeting, all of which can help creativity.
He (Wladawsky-Berger) is also looking at the potential the system might have for furthering the disaggregation of business structures. At one extreme this could lead to their being no "businesses" as we know them today – everyone would be self-employed."