Can you imagine sitting in a virtual conference room with a handful of executives from all over the world, looking at a running car engine in the middle of the table? If you have never heard of The Second Life Grid, it is quickly gaining momentum – not just with gamers and programming enthusiasts, but global organizations such as HP, Nissan, IBM and countless others who are leveraging this virtual environment to deliver real results.

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world created entirely by its residents and since its launch in 2003, it has enjoyed exponential global growth. By developing digital assets, Linden Lab has created a very real digital economy of unparalleled proportions.

The Linden exchange allows an individual or organization to use real currency to fuel the exchange of these virtual assets amongst well over 11 million residents. How does this relate to you? Imagine a new world of opportunity where you can receive instantaneous and often global product feedback from current or perspective customers without leaving the office. In a society suffering from philanthropic fatigue, imagine a new world of online fundraising capabilities, the ability to build communities of brand advocates, and the means to trade in passé conference calls for real-time 3-D collaboration.

Since my days at SiliconGraphics (SGI) and the exciting yet infant stages of virtual reality modeling language (VRML), the Second Life Grid now allows for strategic business collaboration limited only by a leader’s imagination. From enabling NASA scientists and engineers to build a rocket and launch it into flight, to Philips Consumer Electronics presenting early prototypes to focus groups to improve their product design process, to Starwood Hotels mocking up new hotel concepts – Second Life is quickly touching many aspects of our lives.

If your product or service makes its highest impact through a visual representation, the Second Life Grid offers simulation and prototyping capabilities previously unavailable to a mass audience. UC-Davis is currently simulating emergency aid worker training while Sears allows visitors to design their dream kitchens. Reuters uses the grid to interview high powered executives like Meg Whitman of eBay, musician Peter Gabriel, and Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu, while the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic has used it to build a replica of its concert hall and performed regular concerts there. (By the way, you can also use the Grid to talk to performers and the orchestra’s principal conductor, Vasily Petrenko, in the virtual bar after the concert.)

Mazda, Dell, Adidas, and even Coca-Cola are launching concept cars, virtual retail stores, and digital ad campaigns to further extend the reach of their respective brands. With the upcoming presidential election, even John Edwards has a campaign office in Second Life.

But one of the most applicable arenas to companies of various sizes is the platform’s online education and training capabilities. Harvard Law School uses it to teach the class “Cyber One: Law and the Court of Public Opinion,” while the University of Houston’s Money and Design class allows designers to test their concepts and entrepreneurial skills in a simulated market. Stanford is using the Second Life grid to explore social interactions while Kelly Services (that’s right – the temporary services agency) uses it to virtually train its employees.

Even the American Cancer Society held a virtual “Relay for Life,” raising more than $40K by the efforts of 30 volunteers and 1,000 participants walking through virtual places in Mexico, New York, Paris, Sweden and South Africa. Along the way, participants donated money to attend events and engage in activities such as sky diving off the Eiffel Tower.

So what can this platform do for you? Join us on Wednesday, January 23rd, for a panel discussion and live Webinar for a first-hand perspective.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedIn