August 22, 2007 22:00 ET
IBM to Staff Virtual Business Center 24 Hours Five Days a Week With Addition of Live Sales Avatars From Australia, Singapore and Malaysia
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, and KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA--(Marketwire - August 22, 2007) - IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that live sales avatars from Australia, Singapore and
Malaysia will staff its virtual IBM Business Center at
This team will also help clients from New Zealand.
They join others from North America, Latin America and Europe who started
working there in May.
This means the center, which has had 10,000 visitors since it opened,
offers visitors the opportunity to connect with a real IBM representative
24 hours five days a week.
The virtual Business Center offers a place for IBM sales people, clients
and partners to meet, learn, collaborate, and conduct business together.
It has six areas: Reception; Sales Center; Technical Support Library;
Innovation Center; Client Briefing Center; and Conference Center.
Accessible through Second Life, it is 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
If someone wants to buy hardware, software or services or needs help
solving a business problem, the IBM sales avatar will either help them or
ensure that they are connected with the right IBM expert inside or outside
of Second Life. Signing contracts, paying, or exchanging sensitive
information would take place by telephone or through the web.
"There has been a huge surge in the popularity of the web activities like
social networking. People are very accustomed to meeting each other on-line
socially. We've just applied that concept to the business world," said
Paula Summa, General Manager, ibm.com, the company's decade-old telephone
and web sales organization.
"Social networking and virtual world participation is skyrocketing in Asia.
Asia is, after all, a hotbed for 3-D gaming. Why not 3-D business, too?"
"Although this started as an experiment, it has resulted in sales leads,"
Summa added. "This is a new and exciting way for clients and IBM to do
The combination of 3-D virtual experience, its existing 2-D web site, and
real IBM people to conduct business is designed to make customers' business
experiences more effective.
The virtual center is staffed by ibm.com employees who speak one or more of
the following languages: Bahasia Malaysia; Cantonese; Tagalog
(Philippines); Mandarin; 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 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.
"This is just one of several major steps IBM has taken to improve the
overall online experience for its clients," said Summa.
The news today follows an IBM web site, www.ibm.com, upgrade that started
rolling out worldwide in June. The ibm.com web site in Australia now has a
flashier home page and dynamic navigation which allows most visitors to
reach relevant information in half the clicks it took previously. The
change will take place in Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand later this
IBM's web site has three million pages of original content, the equivalent
of all the pages of the books in a small town library.
IBM has recently been recognized for giving its clients a positive online
In March, ibm.com was ranked the number one web site of any
U.S.-headquartered company and seventh worldwide by the FT Bowen Craggs
Index. To view, visit http://www.bowencraggs.com/ftindex
In May, small and medium businesses ranked IBM number one in the online
experience it offers, according to industry analyst firm Compass
Intelligence. It analyzed 40 web sites including those of major information
technology companies including Dell, HP, and Microsoft.
IBM has five thousand employees in the Virtual Universe Community. Its
employees are also visiting and working in other 3-D places like Active
World and There.com.
*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." Second Life has more than nine million
registered users up from one million in October 2006.
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 approximately 50 other
virtual islands in Second Life for purposes such as research, onboarding of
new employees, developer support and IBM internal and client meetings.
For a related video go visit
To see the May 15 press visit
IBM developed this center with NMC Virtual Worlds, a virtual services unit
of the New Media Consortium. For more information visit www.nmc.org.
*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