Wells have migrated away from Second Life to their own virtual world Stagecoach Island created using ActiveWorld. I tried to install this but nothing happened, presumably because they don’t like Macintosh users, so I can’t say what the experience is like. They have also created a complimentary MySpace page for “Cassie Hill” (apparently their first woman stagecoach driver), which I think is an idea worth developing. I’ve spoken before about moving away from the client/server Metcalfe’s Law paradigm to the community Reed’s Law paradigm and is was illuminating to see that kind of idea applied in banking.
Personally, I thought that the more thought-provoking part of his talk was less about virtual worlds than about blogging and the way in which the organisation noticed how the blogosphere was connecting the traditional media and the brand, which must be a common experience for large organisations. This had demanded, and received, some pretty clear thinking about the role of blogs in the modern marketing mix. There is a new dynamic here, because social networks are, to some extent, trust networks. As organisations become connected, they must themselves add trust to the network.
The idea of having digital identities that can transact real business is a little way off yet and must still seem a little far fetched to corporate management, but given the number of grey hairs and business suits in the room, it’s getting closer all the time. Chris, incidentally, told the best story about the disconnection between the cutting edge and the boardroom: he said the the CEO of one of the world’s largest management consultancies read in the paper about Google buying YouTube for gazillions of dollars and wanted to see what the fuss was about so fired up his browser and put in “www.youtube.com” and got back the message “this site is blocked by the company firewall”.
(*) I owe much of my fading guruhood in virtual worlds to Tim, because I wrote a report some time ago concerning opportunities for financial services that mentioned virtual worlds a couple of years ago. About a week after the report had been presented to a sceptical audience, Wells Fargo put out a press release about setting up in Second Life, quoting Tim. This made me look like a virtual worlds guru to a banker who had never heard of virtual worlds before!
These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]