Just the other night I attended the CNN Future Summit at Stanford where Linden Labs CEO, Philip Rosedale, Flickr co-founder, Stewart Butterfield (who might I add was wearing a sweater to match the r in Flickr... sooo cool) and a host of other leaders in this online space were speaking. It was a really cool event that surprising not a lot of people turned up to.
While there I ran into an old colleague from Cisco who has been involved with launching a product in SL. He was really jazzed about it but admitted there were a lot of difficulties with identifying who was at the launch, which customers, reporters, if any etc.. He also said that a lot of people were finding it difficult to maneuver through the space. I thought this was interesting because you don't hear too much about this side of taking real world business into Second Life. My old colleague also told me that he heard IBM was scaling way back on their presence and activities on SL because they weren't seeing the ROI they'd hoped for.
I still think Second Life is a great and fun tool, but it's important for businesses to understand not only the security and privacy issues involved but also the technological boundaries that still exist. For example no more then 30-40 avatars can be on an island at once, product updates that can take 30 minutes before you're even able to log in, a very high learning curve for simple navigation, which Rosedale admitted to at the conference, and one I've experienced several times is loosing parts of my clothes or even my hair. Despite it being an avatar and not actually me I get very embarrassed when my avatar looses clothing, can't stop dancing when there's no music or looses her hair yikes! (this would be hard for anyone to understand unless they've played)
I guess I'm still skeptical of using Second Life as an efficient communication tool for large corporations. I don't see a lot of high profile, and very busy at that, executives wanting to go through all of the above mentioned to communicate with their key audiences, especially when there are more seamless and efficient forms of communication. Thoughts?
By the way if you want to check out the CNN Future Summit it's airing June 13th online and on CNN International, I'm in the very front row!! Here's a nice action shot of the panel during prep time.