IBM on Second Life: More than PR

Stephen Baker

It seems like a PR stunt to give IBM CEO Sam Palmisano an avatar and have him make a presentation on Second Life. All kinds of companies are rushing into the virtual world, including Dell. But IBM's push is far more than PR. If you consider what IBM is doing, such as building mathematical models of thousands of consultants, you can see that future steps in its $40 billion services division might start looking like Second Life. Consider what it would mean for corporate planners to be able to experiment with models of their suppliers, customers and employees in a virtual world. Such virtual business worlds could go far beyond today's simulations. They could simulate entire ecosystems, each one evolving as streams of data flow in from the real world. And even if today's planners find such systems weird or laughable, today's 20 year olds, who will be running the world in a generation, will happily grab the controls.

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