IBM has hit my radar a few times during the past months, most recently around their decision to move from Second Life to using Garage Games’ Torque engine to build out virtual training environments. I felt it was worth noting since it represented the first significant defection from Second Life I’d heard of, but thought little more of it. Then, while conducting research on metaverse business metrics for a book I’m working on Big Blue came up again, this time with a handful of white papers that really help size the market for serious games and learning simulations. Their Virtual, Worlds Real Leaders website and white paper (PDF) provide an excellent introduction and overview:

Management fads and business leadership books come and go. But the Internet, and the changes it is forcing upon business managers of all stripes, is here to stay. The days of closely knit teams working on long-term strategy in close quarters are gone, replaced by virtual teams that constantly reinvent the business in multiple time zones the world over. And the business world is in desperate need of a new model for leadership befitting the Internet Age.

Fortunately there is already a window into this rapidly changing world. In the realm of online games, specifically massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs), leaders emerge that deftly navigate the motivational, emotional and social needs of their direct reports in a highly competitive, distributed, virtual environment. And there are many lessons to be learned (continues here).

They have also posted a more in-depth report detailing some of their experience using online simulations in another report Leadership in a Distributed World: Lessons from Online Gaming:

Globalization is placing new demands on today’s corporate leaders. As organizations continue to expand and operate in a more virtual environment, executives are being asked to provide guidance and direction to teams working across time zones and distances. In addition, the competitive environment is requiring leaders to make sense of increasingly disparate sources of information and make decisions more rapidly. In this changing environment, where can organizations turn to see the future of leadership? How can they determine the skills and tools that leaders will need to be successful? We believe that online gaming provides a window into the future of organizations and the leadership capabilities necessary to guide enterprises to success (download the complete white paper here).

All three white papers — particularly this last — are highly recommended background reading to get a handle on the corporate/enterprise segment of the rapidly developing serious games market.