IBM may not have the reputation to be the hippest of big IT, but it's a dynamic place nonetheless. Because of my day job I am closely monitoring IBM, and they've made a couple of surprising statements recently.
At my day job, we're using Lotus Connections - a corporate version of social software tools like Facebook, Hyves or LinkedIn. Think Facebook within the firewall. It has profiles, blogs, shared bookmarks (called DogEar), communities and activities, a kind of (shared) todo's on steroids. We're also using IBM Lotus Sametime, IBM's corporate, secure Instant Messaging and web conferencing application. Recently, I have picked up several articles that point to a 3D future for IBM Lotus Connections, integrated with Sametime.
The first one is this eweek article: "The mashing of Virtual Reality, Social Computing". It tells how IBM Lotus engineers are working on ways to get data from Connections in a 3D environment. Your avatar would show data from your profile, for instance.
Another article discusses IBM's own 3D software: "IBM gulps it's own web 2.0 kool aid": IBM is apparently working on a 3D platform of their own, called Metaverse. It's currently being tested by 2200 IBM internal staff, and it's mostly used for web conferencing activities. IBM is looking at integrating Sametime with Metaverse, which would provide VOIP services in world, much like Second Life has.
So, is IBM creating an enterprise alternative for SL, like Connections is to Facebook or MySpace? I'm not so sure. IBM is actively participating in OpenSim development; limited, but official. And, in october of this year, they inked a deal with SL's Linden Labs to work towards open standards and interoperability for 3D environments. IBM is, at this moment, not betting on one horse it seems. Maybe IBM will tell us more at LotuSphere, the big annual IBM Lotus conference in Orlando, Florida, which will take place in January 2008.
In the mean time, IBM's Jo Grant posted some interesting thoughts on integrating Second Life with other software - IM or otherwise. He makes a couple of valid points: first, a 3D environment may not be the most suitable for all activities, and second, easier methods to integrate SL in other software (Lotus Notes, AOL chat are the examples used) would be beneficial to both Linden Labs and SL residents. Read the whole thing, as the saying goes.