By Mark Jankowski, Co-Founder Shapiro Negotiations Institute
3-D virtual platforms are Internet based, multi-user environments where participants create avatars, which are, simply put, computer-generated people. These avatars can attend training programs, participate in interactive group experiences, and collaborate with one another.
The largest and most popular 3-D Virtual Platform is Second Life, which is used by organizations such as Intel, American Cancer Society, MIT, and the U.S. Military. A recentresearch report from Forrester Research predicts: “The 3-D Internet will be as important for work as the Web is today, and knowledge management professionals should begin to investigate and experiment with virtual worlds.”
This type of proclamation begs the following basic questions, especially when most organizations already are conducting front-of-the-room training, asynchronous Web-based programs and Webinars:
What are the advantages of 3-D virtual platforms?There are four main benefits:
What types of organizations would benefit the most?
Organizations that invest in soft skill training. Any organization that conducts training of soft skills that inherently have a collaborative component will benefit. Sales, diversity, negotiation, teambuilding, and leadership, among other topics, will experience the full benefit of what 3-D virtual platforms can offer in terms of an immersive experience.
Companies with large travel expenses. Companies that are centralized and have the ability to bring people into a regional site or to headquarters might benefit more from face-to-face versus virtual training. If however, an organization has a geographically dispersed workforce and currently spends a significant amount of money on travel in connection with training events, then 3-D virtual platforms are a viable solution with economic benefits that should be weighed carefully.
Firms with “virtual” teams. People who are in different locations who must come together to work on a project often feel disconnected and, therefore, do not function at their highest level. A 3-D virtual platform allows that team to more effectively collaborate, share documents, and bond as a team.
How to take the first step?
Step #1: Open Your Mind. Many people’s first impression of this technology is to think video games and kids. Get over it. Let it go and give it a chance. To not at least experience this critical new training technology is a mistake that could cost companies money, time, resources, and the ability to be on the cutting edge.
Step #2: Try Out an Environment. You can get free trials on different virtual world platforms (think WebEx vs. GoTo Meeting vs. Live Meeting) by going to:
Step #3: Stay Tuned. Each month in this online column, we will present a different topic on corporate training in 3-D virtual platforms. Future topics will include: “How to Select the Right 3-D Virtual Platform”; “Managing Technological Hurdles”; “Maximizing Real ROI in Virtual Worlds”; and “‘Selling’ 3-D Virtual Platforms to Management.”
Mark Jankowski co-founded Shapiro Negotiations Institute (SNI) in 1995 and has written two books on negotiation, “The Power of Nice: How to Negotiate So Everyone Wins—Especially You!” and “Bullies, Tyrants & Impossible People: How To Beat Them Without Joining Them,” which have formed the basis for SNI’s Negotiation, Influencing, Conflict Management, and Relationship Equity training programs.
As a result of SNI’s corporate clients asking for innovative ways to deliver distance learning, in 2008, Jankowski developed a separate division of SNI called Virtual Training Partners. Over the last three years, Jankowski has come to be considered an expert in the application of virtual technology for training and development of employees around the globe.