Westpac pulls plug on virtual reality training

The recession has trimmed patience for Web 2.0 experiments at the Westpac, such as inducting staff in Second Life.

The Australasian bank had been trialing the use of online virtual world Second Life (pictured) for employee induction training.

Westpac says it got great feedback from the experiment

But at the Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum in Sydney yesterday (presentations online here), Westpac GM of application development David Blackely said the bank was abandoning Second Life: "Failures can become expensive. We do massive systems rollouts and we expect huge paybacks."

Westpac is also scaling back other online initiatives like desktop video over IP, and reviewing more meat-and-potatoes Web 2.0 (that is, interactive) experiments such as employee blogs.

Spokesman Craig Dowling says that, locally, there is no virtual world to disconnect. “We’ve been a bit slower in adopting Web 2.0 in New Zealand.” There are a number of limited projects, such as a staff blog for discussion about sustainability.

Reporting from the Sydney conference, IT News quotes Mr Blackely asking the audience before his speech:

“Anybody ever got fired over Web 2.0?

"Well, I was a CTO, and now I am GM of application development. Read into that whatever you will."

Many Web 2.0 initiatives are still going strong. And software companies continue to incorporate more and more social networking features into their business software (see Oracle gets down with the kids). But Second Life has fallen badly out of favour, and even been put on Deathwatch in some quarters.

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3 Comments & Questions

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Errr... Second Life isn't Web 2.0 (or 1.0 or 3.0) for that matter. It's not a Web application, nor a part of the Web.

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There's no dictionary definition of Web 2.0, but most people would include collaborative application that's accessed via the net. There are web browser-based Second Life viewers, incidentally.

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Many companies seem to be pulling back out of the virtual world of Second Life these days as the platform fails to deliver custom solutions to answer the business needs of their clients. A lot of press seems to be going out these days regarding this matter. What we also see is that many corporations set up their own grid or have their own virtual world developed instead of getting a sim in Second Life. There are also many new independant virtual world platforms such as http://www.virtualworld.sl offering solutions in a more affordable way. With the Metaverse expanding on a daily base companies will find a new haven to develop their business needs for the 3D web.

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