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Your workplace in 5 years…

Interesting reports of a report from Forrester Research. They’ve looked five years into the future and reckon that virtual worlds will be a natural environment for real everyday work for many people.

Despite the difficulties in using current technologies (SL included), they see virtual worlds as a pretty much inevitable development:

Virtual worlds like Second Life,, and more business-focused offerings are on the brink of becoming valuable work tools. Major companies and public-sector organizations — such as BP, IBM, Intel, and the US Army — are investing heavily in virtual world technologies. But it’s still early, pioneering days. You’ve practically got to be a gamer to use most of these tools — setup can be arduous, navigating in a 3-D environment takes practice, and processing and bandwidth requirements remain high. But within five years, the 3-D Internet will be as important for work as the Web is today. Information and knowledge management professionals should begin to investigate and experiment with virtual worlds. (Forrester)

Forrester have identified 4 main scenarios for work applications:

  • Saving on travel costs for meetings and networking – link up more people than possible before, and for less money
  • Saving on buying expensive machinery for training – use a simulator instead, and keep the costly kit for the trained practitioners
  • Replicating the experience of working with other – particularly good for teleworkers, including training
  • Role playing exercises – especially on disaster management issues that you really wouldn’t want to try recreating in real life

Of course, five years is a long time, and SL might not even still be around then, let alone still a major contender in virtual worlds, but this kind of futurism is pretty useful, and we’d agree with the idea that we need to test out today’s tools to some degree, in order to seize the opportunity when it really arises.

You can buy the report online from Forrester for $279 – unfortunately we’re not talking Linden Dollars either, so we won’t be getting a copy ourselves :(

If you’re as skint as us, you can read interesting writeups in CIO magazine and in ComputerWorld.

© Trades Union Congress 2007