Really effective: There’s nothing virtual about virtual meetings

voiceoverip meeting

Amanda Van Nuis, Enterprise Marketing Director at Linden Lab, wrote about her first virtual meeting experience with her colleagues in Second Life and about how she „wasn’t 100% convinced that working in virtual worlds really works.“ It sounds like an authentic record of her experiences and some commentators have contributed little stories about how valuable immersive environments for meetings and brainstormings are for them. While it seems natural that people working in the virtual world industry use their own products in their everyday office life many people from the most innovative industries still don’t „see“ how virtual meetings with the third dimension add any value.

Dennis Shiao posted a list of efficiencies he’s seen with virtual office meetings (please read his article where he elaborates on every point):

  1. Lower overhead to start a meeting
  2. Facilitates ad hoc, spur of the moment collaboration
  3. Material related to the meeting is at your fingertips (or a mouse-click away)
  4. Immediacy
  5. True facial expressions

I’d add another two points to that list:

6. Social bonding (by having fun)

7. Inspiration & motivation (by having fun experiences)

Karl Kapp listed some advantages of 3D environments for learning the other day and we had a discussion about the „fun“ factor that’s an important ingredient in any learning situation. I believe this is true for meetings in an immersive environment, too.

In addition to the social „water cooler effect“ 3D environments (and in some cases even 2.5D) add value because people are having fun with it. Here’s why.

Laughing together not only builds a better rapport and therefore improves the corporate climate, but it also motivates and inspires people. Since people tend to loosen up in virtual meetings (try not to if you’re sitting across a giant turtle – your graphics designer – or the Wizard of Oz, who happens to be your technical director) and things get a little more playful if you’re able to „magically“ materialize anything you have in mind (or on your desktop). Psychologically speaking those are the basic ingredients for new ideas, group inspiration and motivation.

What’s astonishing even for me is that these effects also happen in 2.5D spaces.

Just yesterday I evaluated the Meetsee.com beta again and I invited a colleague of mine, who is working in another city. Meetsee is a virtual office solution with 2.5D or isometric views. My colleague is no geek and she refuses to use Second Life; a web browser is as far as she would go.

Usually we Skype (with and without video) but now I tried the web-based Meetsee solution with her. She was in-world within seconds after I sent her the link and scribbled a note on the virtual blackboard before we even said a word. So we have zero accessibility issues here (in stark contrast to Second Life or others). We had one of the most productive meetings in a long time. It was almost as effective as our face-to-face meetings but without even leaving our desks and driving for 6 hours. And that was no thanks to Meetsee’s technical features because the most basic stuff like a whiteboard, voice- and video conference didn’t even work (it’s still in beta).

UPDATE: Their staff has seen this post and in fact fixed the video conferencing and whiteboard feature – thanks to Nikki Santoro (Meetsee CEO)!

The reason was that we both had the sense of being there together, pointing at important information like we’d do in a real meeting room and having fun by using the emoticons to get our message across. At one point we even discussed a new layout of chairs (by moving them around together in the virtual room and try-sit on it) for our next workshop. Now that is something you can’t do in WebEx or Go2Meeting. The only thing that would have topped this would have been the true sense of proximity that you only get in 3D environments with real individual avatars and real three dimensions. Well, like in real life 😉

Meetsee

Simple virtual office solution for classrooms, meetings, web conferences or panel discussions. If video, audio and whiteboards would work, that is. Meetsee still has to work on its technology and become much more reliable and stable. If you want to meet me in my offices to try it out please IM me at LaConsiliera on Skype.

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Investor’s Business Daily: A Whole New Dimension (for online 3D virtual worlds)

Employee training and collaboration could well become the „killer apps“ for the 3-D Web, says Colin Parris, IBM’s vice president of digital convergence. These online meetings do away with the huge cost and hassle of traveling to distant in-person meetings, he says.

Studies show that workers retain just 5% of what they’re taught in classrooms. That figure jumps to 50% for group discussions and 70% to 90% for simulation-based training, a natural fit for the 3-D Web.

Investor’s Business Daily: A Whole New Dimension In Shopping.

Training und Kollaboration in 3D-Welten

managerSeminare hat heute einen Artikel veröffentlicht über die vielfältigen Möglichkeiten für Unternehmen, virtuelle Welten für Themen wie Weiterbildung, Teambuilding und internationale Kollaboration zu nutzen. Schöne Einführung in das Thema für Manager und Personalleiter, die sich mit dem Thema noch nicht befasst haben. Ich plane und konzipiere ja solche Maßnahmen – Corporate Training – regelmäßig für Unternehmen, Hochschulen und Agenturen und freue mich immer, wenn Fachmagazine etwas seriöser über die momentanen Entwicklungen neuer Medien berichten anstatt sich mit Flop-Meldungen à la „Endlich ist auch dieser Hype (den ich sowieso nie verstanden habe) wieder vorbei …“ zu begnügen.
Ich habe viele Trends kommen und gehen sehen (z.B. das World Wide Web) und bin mir mit Gartner seit Jahren einig, dass virtuelle 3D Umgebungen unterschiedlichster Arten für verschiedenste (kommunikative und edukative) Anwendungen in ein paar Jahren genau so Standard sind wie das (2D) Web heute. Das ist kein Vergleich? Dass das Web nur ein Hype ist, der schnell vorübergeht, haben in Deutschland noch 1995 viele laut und teils hämisch ausgerufen. Bill Gates gehörte übrigens auch dazu („Internet is just a hype“). Well, the rest is history…

Gartner im Emerging technologies report 2008: „virtual worlds will represent an important media channel to support and build broader communities of interest.“

Auszug managerSeminare: „Train and Meet in 3-D. Der Hype um Second Life ist vorbei. Viele Unternehmen ziehen sich aus der virtuellen Welt zurück – enttäuscht, weil der finanzielle Erfolg ausblieb. Dass virtuelle Welten mehr sind als nur ein zusätzlicher Werbekanal, ist den meisten entgangen. managerSeminare zeigt, welches Potenzial Second Life & Co. im Bereich Training und Kommunikation. (…)“

Der Artikel zeigt auch einen kleinen Überblick geeigneter virtueller Umgebungen für professionelle Anwendungen

Hier ist der vollständige Artikel (PDF)

“It’s actually about people making things together.”

“It’s actually about people making things together.”

Really » Blog Archive » I’m in ur browser, chatting in 3D

Nice blog post about all the buzz (quoting Rosedale, Linden Labs founder) and I couldn’t agree more. It’s about facilitating collaboration in an ever-changing, globalized and internationalized (business) world and about using modern bandwidth and technology in order to reduce travelling time and costs, cultural barriers and borders. And, additionally, about fun. Always 🙂

“Around the world, universities, and even the US Department of State, are turning to online virtual worlds…

“Around the world, universities, and even the US Department of State, are turning to online virtual worlds to create cultural exchanges. In these immersive, 3-D environments, users from around the globe can collaborate in ways that were previously impossible.”
Study abroad through Second Life | csmonitor.com