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Virtual Worlds and Business Ecosystems

Mark Marich

The development of virtual world technology, in programs like Second Life and Habbo Hotel, has reached a point where these tools and concepts are beginning to change the way that businesses operate. A new Athena Alliance study contends that virtual worlds can become a critical platform for open innovation, where designers, users, and other interested parties can collaborate to develop, improve, and transform products and services. The study’s author, Robert B. Cohen, notes that these virtual collaboration platforms are no longer an “add-on” to other innovation efforts. They will become a core activity that will change how businesses are structured and managed. He concludes that US policy makers need to better understand virtual worlds because this new business model will greatly affect the global competitiveness of US firms. New efforts to speed the deployment of virtual world technologies, and training in how to use them are important first steps in this work.

Access the December 2008 Athena Alliance report, “Virtual Worlds and the Transformation of Business,” by Robert B. Cohen.

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