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ARMONK, NY - 15 May 2007: Today IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced a new virtual IBM Business Center offering a place for IBM sales people, clients and partners to meet, learn, collaborate, and conduct business together.
This center will have six areas: Reception; Sales Center; Technical Support Library; Innovation Center; Client Briefing Center; and Conference Center.
Accessible through Second Life, it will be unique because it is staffed by real IBM sales representatives from around the world, not robots or kiosks, who can chat with visitors in several languages and build business relationships.
If someone wants to buy hardware, software or services or needs help solving a business problem, the IBM sales avatar can work with the client avatar up to the point of exchanging private information, such as the signing of contracts and the passing of money or credit information. That would be handled through a link to IBM's web site or by phone.
"IBM is combining a 3-D virtual experience, its existing 2-D website, and real IBM people to conduct business. And since we are naturally wired for 3 dimensions, we believe this will make customers' business experiences more effective," said Lee Dierdorff, Vice President, Web Strategy and Enablement, ibm.com. "It offers a new way for clients to engage with us," he added.
*According to Gartner, "By the end of 2011, eighty percent of active Internet users and Fortune 500 enterprises will have a 'second life,' but not necessarily in Second Life."
"This is an extension of our existing teleweb sales channel. If this experiment in enhancing the customer experience is well-received, we'll expand it by adding more staff and languages," said Dierdorff. For example, the sales team plans to support Asian languages later this year.
IBM employees will staff this new office during business hours in their respective countries. They speak one or more of the following languages: English; Portuguese; German; Spanish; Dutch; Italian; French; and Canadian French.
IBM's Virtual Business Center's technical support library gives visitors access to technical information including IBM Redbooks and Systems Journals.
One advantage of going to a virtual world to get your information is that finding it can be faster and easier than just navigating a web site. In the virtual Business Center you can browse the 3-D book shelves, view a 3-D book or just ask the librarian, just like in the real world.
IBM developed this center with NMC Virtual Worlds, a virtual services unit of the New Media Consortium (NMC). The parent organization, NMC, is an international not-for-profit consortium of approximately 250 world-class colleges, universities, museums, research centers, foundations, and forward-thinking companies, including IBM.
IBM is not new to virtual worlds. IBM has 4,000 employees who are active in the virtual world called Second Life, up from 800 in December.
More than 230 IBM researchers, consultants, and developers use virtual worlds to experiment with and develop social networking tools and to design new ways of learning and doing business. IBM has more than 30 other virtual islands for purposes such as research, onboarding of new employees, developer support and IBM internal and client meetings.
To visit the new virtual IBM Business Center go to http://slurl.com/secondlife/IBM%20Business%20Center////
The center will open at 1 pm Eastern time on May 15.
Second Life has more than six million registered users up from one million in October 2006.
Business partner information including strategic alliances
1 *Gartner, Inc., "Gartner Says 80 Percent of Active Internet Users Will Have A 'Second Life' in the Virtual World by the end of 2011." April 24, 2007