|Botgirl Questi: Ace Corporate Consultant|
I've been ruminating on the future of Second Life in preparation for an upcoming Panel Discussion at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference on April 12. After coming at the question from a number of different angles, I decided to put together a short list of foundational steps I'd recommend a new CEO take before jumping into formulating a strategy:
1. Get an independent technical audit of the platform, client, infrastructure and software development processes. This should be done by a third-party with significant expertise in system architecture, software development, user experience, design, hardware infrastructure, etc. Good decisions about the future development of Second Life require a clear grasp of what’s broken and the cost and risks of fixes. In addition to the cost of repairs, I'd want to know what it would take to add native support for mobile devices, a browser-based client, export of inworld objects to 3D printable form and an evaluation of current and emerging standards that could facilitate partnerships and various levels of integration.
2. Do the work needed to understand who my customers are and what life looks like from their perspective. This involves defining key communities of interest and creating detailed user personas through surveys, focus groups and one-on-one interviews with community leaders. The captured data would be used to define the specific groups, but I was thinking of categories like these:
- Socializers who spend their time hanging out and meeting new people
- Artists who create sculptures, images or video using the Second Life platform
- Fashionistas who enjoy shopping and showing off their looks
- Role Players who participate in organized games or informal communities
- Entertainers who play music or participate in theater, dance or comedy performances
- Educators who use Second Life as an extension of RL classes
- Patrons of the Arts who visit galleries and art exhibitions, listen to live music, attend theatrical performances, etc
- SL Merchants who create and sell products or services
- Land Developers who acquire, improve and rent land
- Professional and Semi-Professional Content Creators who create and sell products
- Explorers who spend most of their time visiting new places
- Bloggers who write about Second Life
3. Refocus development of the Second Life platform and client based on priorities of key user groups, balanced by the cost/benefit/risk ratio of the changes. I would assign a product manager to represent the voice of key user groups. Using Agile methodology, the software would be developed in short iterations with frequent delivery of small updates.
Of course, there are many other important areas of considerations, but I see these as three foundational requirements that would be well worth the effort.