Take one slumped economy, add some high travel prices, stir in a healthy dose of climate change anxiety, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an emerging market: virtual worlds for businesses. According to the new GigaOM Pro report “Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise Market” by Kris Tuttle and Steve Waite of Research 2.0 (subscription required), these factors are driving annual revenues for the space for businesses up to $8-10 billion by 2015.
While I’ve been skeptical about the emissions-reducing potential of virtual meetings in the past, Tuttle and Waite’s report indicates that the growth of enterprise-focused virtual worlds could have some real green benefits, by helping companies eliminate a higher percentage of business-related travel over time. Early adopters of virtual meetings have primarily used them for internal communications between employees. But with better security, enterprise-appropriate branding, and improved interaction/collaboration tools, virtual worlds with a business bent can host a higher percentage of external meetings (those with clients, partners and potential customers) too.
For companies working in the greentech market, meeting in a virtual setting can help communicate shared values with potential customers while still offering strong demo and presentation capabilities. Some vendors, such as Sequoia Capital– and Northwest Venture Partners–backed Unisfair, even track the carbon savings achieved by customers using their products (about 170,000 tons to date). The full report (sub. required) reviews more than a dozen companies working in the space today; check out the list and see if there’s a good match for your company.