Second Life can benefit corporation's real life

Some articles on Second life (SL) have been coming lately, highlighting the way companies are using the virtual space in a corporate way. Networking, hosting meetings or conferences and especially when travel is difficult this alternative not only saves time but allows geographical boundries to disappear. The National Science Foundation  highlights how many organizations see SL "as a win-win scenario, saving not only time and money but also carbon emissions".

 Mayo Clinic was recently recognized for the work we are doing too; so thank you Paypabak Writer, for allowing us to repost your blog post from Moonletters, January 29th to our own CFI blog. Since the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation is one of the places at Mayo Clinic that participates in SL, it only seemed fitting to share it here too. Enjoy!

Orignally posted on January 29, 2011
“Being in SL Is not a Stretch”, written by Paypabak Writer

It was a year ago, January 30 to be exact, that I wrote “Is There a World-Renowned Medical Institution in the House?” This weekend, I returned to the Mayo Clinic sim and found they have expanded! Three sims, two are public facing, the other requires Mayo Staff group tags. With two more sims on the way, Svea Morane, the Web Admin of Mayo Clinic and the estate manager of its SL presence, concluded his chat with me with this statement: “Mayo Clinic has a long history of innovation in patient care and other related areas, so being in SL … is not a stretch.” What came before this statement is a testament to the power of Second Life as more than a game but as a social network and education delivery platform.

Last year, as described in my article, Svea Morane (a Mayo employee's avatar) was completing the process of a proof-of-concept sim. It succeeded and has now gone into what he calls “pilot” mode, bringing Mayo staff on board for further exploration of ways it can be used to address various missions of the clinic. To date, close to 100 staff have avatars and at least twenty spend several hours a week inworld, doing work. For instance, the Nursing School of the University of Delaware is a strategic partner, having it’s own SL initiatives and groups. Virtual nursing education is a shared goal. Amazing!!

One of the big things Svea is proud to point out is that the budgeting of the work going on is not just out of his IT department but from five business units, meaning there is significant buy in. While there are plenty of skeptics at the clinic, serious stakeholders are putting their money where their mouths are. The main building we depicted in our article last year, the public facing part of the Mayo cluster of sims, was funded by the Center for Innovation. This serves as a place for orientation for any visitors and staff, a chance to virtually tour the main building before going there in first life. The book store that was in the lobby has been moved “down the hill” to another region and is now a resource center for purchasing books online (link takes you to Web-based bookstore for purchase; enter “2Life” code for extra 10% discount!) as well as perusing free materials and subscribing to a weekly newsletter.

Further down the hill is a conference center built across the border of two sims so it can readily accommodate 100 people. It is used every week. Working with Dusan Writer and Metanomics, they are involved with the SL community as well as building their own staff awareness and audience. (Paypabak Writer: I always try to claim that he’s my brother! Svea Morane: Dusan is a good guy…Canadian… In Unison: …but we forgive him.) Svea has been a Met volunteer for a couple years and that partnership is paying dividends. The conference center has five breakout rooms that are sound isolated so chats (voice and text) can be conducted without interfering with each other. Online medical education is conducted on a regular basis, including student nurse presentations.

Sandboxes above the simThe sim boasts a lovely park with a wide variety of flora and fauna. I saw that a breedable horse package was decanted, awaiting “birthing.” Svea and staff have chosen very nice sculptures to accent the park, in keeping with the clinic’s tradition of supporting the arts in first life environs. There are gazebos with swings and places to practice yoga and tai chi, with a very peaceful overall effect. Svea still uses the services of Oura Scribe in the design and building of all the new structures and habitats.

Mayo staff is learning and exploring the uses of the SL environment to meet the mission goals of the clinic. I put my WASP wings on and flew up to their staff lounge at 1040m, past a number of “sandbox’ areas where members are allowed to experiment without detriment to the public places. The lounge had a pool table, swimming pool, and dart board as well as a few offices. Essential to orientation is the ability to let people play and experiment. The result is a remarkable number of active staff, with numbers growing slowly but surely.

Publicity of what is going on has been very positive. Reports from The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune and MedCity News. Despite the positive publicity and the prestigious imprimatur of the Mayo Cinic, Linden Lab hasn’t contributed to this success story. When asked about this, Svea replied, “I was not expecting [much support] after the community development people were let go.” As mentioned, he has made excellent strategic alliances from within the SL community to get this job done. The blog article listed below is dated November of last year and marks the kind of progress Svea Morane envisions.

Missions

Finally, last year I wasn’t able to provide a landmark to what was really a sim for staff. Today I can. Do go and see what this world-renowned medical institution is doing in our virtual neighborhood!