Forterra ups the ante in enterprise virtual worlds

Enterprise-focused developer Forterra this week ramped up its virtual world offering, emphasising the gains for business over traditional teleconferencing and videoconferencing solutions. Forterra’s OLIVE virtual world platform has reached version 2.2 and with the upgrade comes integration with IBM’s instant messaging / web conferencing application, Lotus Sametime.

The video below provides a striking example of the potential of virtual worlds for enterprise (the really interesting stuff starts around the one-minute mark):

Forterra’s pitch to business is based on cost-reduction:

Audio and Web conferencing are inexpensive, ubiquitous, and generally easy to use. However for meetings involving complex or longer topics the participants can be challenged to grasp the discussion context and maintain focus due to multi-tasking. Virtual meetings in OLIVE are proving to be less expensive yet more engaging and productive for users. Most enterprise-grade teleconferencing systems charge $0.10 to $0.25 per person per minute which can equate to thousands of dollars of expense per employee every year. OLIVE pricing is an order of magnitude less.

Other features in the new update include a reservation system for virtual meeting rooms, with full integration with email calendars via MS Exchange and Lotus Notes. PowerPoint and Windows Media files are able to be viewed in-world, as can any Windows desktop application. Another feature that stood out for me was avatar integration with services like LinkedIn, Facebook, Lotus Connections, or an enterprise-based HR system or Learning Management System. Participants in meetings can right-click on an avatar to get full profile information from the selected service.

We’ve covered another integrated enterprise solution, Immersive Workspaces, previously. These solutions are helping to tackle perceptions of virtual worlds as insecure environments with no obvious return on investment.

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