Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Now don't get all virtual on me!

What we have heard from our Fortune 100 customers and users of virtual fairs including a global University doing virtual job fairs, seems to be getting further validated by the broader market. Reuters are shutting down their bureau in Second Life, and Google Lively is being discontinued.

Here is what we hear from our customers...
- They want uncluttered environments.
- They want a swift retrieval of relevant and up-to-date information,
- neatly and logically arranged
- in a manner that makes sense to their internal users and audiences.
- At the same time it has to be arranged in an engaging manner.
- They do not want to deal with a huge learning curve.
- Their network administrators do not want to deal with software downloads.
- Do not ask our speakers to prepare for a webinar, they say.
- Make sure it works even from our corporate laptops, they say.
- Give us crisp and factual activity reports, they say.
- Remove that moving and gliding stuff, they say.
- Make sure the event is search-capable, they say.
- Can you marry it with our internal systems?, they sometimes ask
- Do not complicate the navigation, they say.
- Use our time wisely, they say.
- Keep it simple, they tell us.

There are some situations where virtual reality environments are loved. An event organizer I was talking to recently, who creates consumer shows with upto 15,000 users would have loved to see Google Lively continue, if only they did not have a limit of 20 users. Her audiences love SecondLife but she wishes it were more cost-effective during a scale-up.

One can not deny the beauty of being able to fly into a convention center and drop into the front row of a live webinar session. However, they come bundled with several challenges from a user's perspective. For now, what we hear the market say is not to get too caught up in the meaning of the word 'virtual'. That takes us back to a previous post where I have argued for a new label for what we do instead of virtual fairs.

What do you think?