Virtual Worlds, immersive and collaborative environments on the Internet, also referred to as Web 3D, are likely to transform the global business environment. Developed out of online games, social networking, and Web services, Virtual Worlds benefit from several technologies that enhance their usefulness, including massively scaled games, avatars, cloud/on-demand/grid computing, on-demand storage, and next-generation networks. What this paper describes is how corporations in this century will begin to use new technologies to transform the methods of production, the generation of services, and the management of people and processes. To make our case, this paper:
- Explains Virtual Worlds and how on-demand/utility/grid computing, on-demand storage, and next-generation networks support their commercialization.
- Explores how Virtual Worlds and the technologies that support them can change the nature of the firm and influence collaboration in business.
- Describes the changes that give rise to collaborative enterprise, including the two likely main forms of organization: the multi-industry conglomerate and the modern guild system. We also explore how enhanced collaboration has the power to extend and alter the ways in which today's firms create products and services and redefine relationships with suppliers and customers.
- Discusses how Virtual Worlds and supporting technologies will affect U.S. industrial competitiveness and provides policy recommendations in a number of areas, including deployment and adoption of Virtual Worlds, collaboration, skills development, and the ideal business environment needed for full and rapid adoption of these new technologies.