I was in a discussion a couple of weeks ago at an inworld event at Emory University: Virtual Worlds and New Realities in Commerce, Politics, and Society. A small group of us got talking about whether virtual worlds are a harder sell, to whomever we have to convince, than the World Wide Web was back in 1993. Of course, there weren't that many people in the discussion that had actually been in a position to have to sell the Web back in 1993, but that's a different matter.
I'm writing a post on this topic, but before I do, I thought I would kick off the discussion with a couple of quotes from our favorite, and very conservative, analysts on what they see coming:
In five years, business versions of online virtual worlds like Second Life will be just as important to commerce as the Web is today.
By the end of 2011, 80 percent of active Internet users (and Fortune 500 enterprises) will have a “second life”
(They are not referring to Second Life in particular, but the general concept of virtual worlds.)
There are many other predictions I could have used to forewarn what is on the horizon in regard to virtual worlds. It's suffice to say that the freight train is coming.
I'm a big believer in the first-mover advantage. If you wait until your customers/clients/constituents have already made the move to new ways of learning, communicating, and working you'll be years attempting to catch-up. If you aren't working on getting ready for this right now you're already late.
That said, from my perspective I think selling virtual worlds to decision makers is a much tougher nut today than the Web was back in 1993. I'll explain my reasoning in a subsequent post.