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Introduction
I was introduced to second life a year back by an invitation of a virtual talk in Second life by Peter Morville (the person who coined the term findability). It was a crazy idea and at first seemed quite a geeky one. But, when I mentally chew the idea it appears to be an amazing concept.

For those, who are not aware of Second Life, in simple terms it looks like a 3D game. But it’s much more than that. Developed by Linden Labs, it’s a virtual 3D environment for web 2.0 mashups. For more details you should have a look at the following link – http://secondlife.com/whatis

Reality is stranger than fiction
Although I viewed second life as an undoubted bridge between the virtual and real world, even the wildest of my imagination couldn’t think of it as an idea which could be related to the SAP world in near future.

As it’s rightly said, “Reality is stranger than fiction”, today (a year later) I came across a blog which talks about the linking of Second life with SAP world. This article show cases one of the explorations within SAP developer challenge.
http://theotherthomasotter.wordpress.com/2006/12/14/sap-and-the-simplicity-sap-and-second-life/

Even SAP research explicitly talks about the revolutionary ways the retail business using virtualization.
http://theotherthomasotter.wordpress.com/2006/12/14/sap-and-the-simplicity-sap-and-second-life/

To sneak into the SAP related second life, have a look at the following Flickr account
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmehil/sets/72157600618529575/

These visionary thoughts floating around and the big recession over the head provide these concepts of virtual enterprise (what I like to call enterprise life 2.0) a momentum and food for development.

Second life for Enterprise
Second life these days is most obviously used by enterprise as a virtual meeting place. It is a creative way of having virtual board rooms, tutorials, virtual talks, etc. But all this is a nice to have usage and don’t generate a “wao” effective from the business perspective.

What would be the future of SAP with Second life?

  1. Probably we will have immersive B2C businesses in future. E,g an online immersive retail store where I can see the products in its 3D form. (One of the first explorations by SAP research on this subject)
  2. There are some roles in the enterprise that have to take high risk speculative decisions. The success of these decisions is based on the experience of the person in the role. Enterprise life 2.0 could be used to stimulate real life situations to better prepare people for mission critical situations at a relatively less cost.
  3. A more visionary approach could be the revamping of the business and the way communication for the business happens. I can draw parallels between the overhauling of online marketing strategy with the advent of social networking sites and the overhauling it will go through with the inclusion of virtualization in the mainstream business. E.g. new clothes or avatar sold in Second life for the linden currency will promote real world brands and not only generate market awareness but also earn money over it. People will connect and look for opportunities from a totally new perspective.

Right now I am thinking with just business and SAP in mind. Think about scenarios when all major business players like Microsoft and Google start exploring these options. Microsoft’s famous concept house of future when starts working with Enterprise life 2.0 will generate unforeseen frontiers of opportunities.

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  1. Lee Chisholm
    I don’t know how applicable the data in SAP is to 3D.  The idea of virtual shopping is nice, but that is probably 10 years away from anything world shaking…  The physics and avatar representation are just too unrealistic.  Once we can ‘clone’ ourselves and our environment perfectly in a virtual world, THEN it’s game on.

    Ultimately in my eyes, SAP will continue to do what it does best though, 2D back-end business processes.  Whether it’s in a real world or virtual world won’t matter.

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