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B2B jargon watch: The 'sleminar'

At first glance, this is an application tailored towards consumers and B2C businesses. Interestingly, a select number of B2B businesses have already launched their brands into Second Life. Reuters, Cisco at PA Consulting and Sun Microsystems have all recently opened virtual offices and see Second Life as an important tool in their marketing armory moving forward. But for what purpose?

Well, like any new technology, we're just starting to scratch the surface of what's possible and are discovering the major opportunities. However, marketers within these B2B companies already plan to use Second Life as an online platform to talk to customers and prospective clients. For example, the concept of the virtual seminar (or the phrase which I've coined the ‘sleminar') will be used by these companies. Within their online venues they have meeting rooms, auditoriums and other areas where people can attend conferences and meetings in realtime, and converse and interact collaboratively, sharing ideas and even studying products/designs/concepts together. Although taking a little time to get used to, the benefits of sharing a virtual space and being able to look at something in 3D is appealing to these organisations, and, hopefully, their customers.

PA Consulting in particular plan to meet existing clients and prospective customers in their Second Life office and view their virtual set-up as a new way to discuss and demonstrate business issues in realtime. They have a 100-plus seater auditorium to deliver keynote presentations from sector-specific experts and display virtual exhibition displays in one area of the building. These are the immediate ways PA plan to use this platform. With regards to longer-term benefits, PA and others plan to use Second Life to collect customer feedback, involve clients in design and eventually even use it as a customer service channel. There are even early-stage discussions by several B2B companies to use Second Life to recruitment purposes.