The Future of Virtual Worlds in E-Commerce

The Future of Virtual Worlds in E-Commerce

William G. Burns (Andromeda Media Group, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-808-7.ch017
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Abstract

The future of the evolving, collaborative communications structure will be impacted to an enormous and ever increasing degree by the merging of e-commerce and virtual worlds. Such media outlets will bring new and innovative methods by which to interact with clients and customers, as well as business to business. As these technologies continue to evolve, bringing higher definition, realism, and the power to manipulate potential customer experiences, increasing numbers of people will come to the realization that virtual worlds and similar environments are an essential part of an online communications experience. Evidence of this paradigm shift can be noted in the multitudes of brand names which also inhabit these virtual environments through countless offerings and marketing campaigns.
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Entrepreneurship does not just guide the process of having an idea and then building a business. A true entrepreneur has to predict the future.” - Dustin Curtis, The Science of Entrepreneurship

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Introduction

Street lights grasp at the darkness of the city as the advertisements flicker in and out of focus to the passing patrons. Above, a floating sentinel scans each passer-by with mechanical precision, displaying each person's identification via holographic display to those who care to see. Some women, some men, various ages and demographics light up the display, as well as various species.

Further along the dimly lit street, digital screens scroll through social media displays from various accounts, showing an information stream unending. Elsewhere, a crowd enjoys the nightlife at a popular club floating in the sky, miles above the mainland. Clouds wisp past the balcony enticing those who dare to take flight with drinks in hand. Like some fantastic dream, these patrons do not fall to a gruesome death, but instead glide carelessly across the air. A message displays on a H.U.D. from a friend asking to join at the current location, and within an instant, another person materializes nearby.

This is the future of electronic commerce and virtual environments. It takes place in a space which blends fantasy and reality, comprising a hybrid reality of streaming information, targeted marketing, and the ability to sell to anyone, anywhere, at any time. It is the culmination of digital evolution, the ideas of many brought to existence through pure imagination and executed in real time. This information stream will be ubiquitous and come from countless sources, including sources from businesses wishing to reach a demographic target within an ever shortening time frame. In a world of accelerated progress and shorter spans between paradigm shifts, how will businesses manage the information overload that will be part of everyday life going forward?

In the future there will be no compulsion for a business to submit manually the same information to many places. Instead, information will increasingly be integrated into what can best be described as a “many to many” approach of real time communication. This form of publication will evolve from today’s traditional “one to many” approach as an RSS feed would solicit response from whatever media form it is embedded in (Web, Mobile, Virtual World), regardless of where such feeds are displayed digitally and physically. Details and examples of this type of many to many networking are prevalent today in infancy as the proliferation of high-end brand names continually creates virtual environment offerings to extend marketing reach and offer a tailored environment to potential clients within a high technology setting.

Technology is continuing to improve by leaps and bounds, as too is the rate of this improvement. Thus, it is safe to say that the abilities of virtual environments will also improve at an ever increasing rate, being directly based on the enhanced technologies which were present prior to current offerings and soon to reach into a realm of hyper realism. Businesses can no longer afford to be passive with their approaches to e-commerce and virtual worlds, nor can businesses be passive in regards to social media. While it would be assumed that these types of technologies would require separate tactics, the future of these technologies will exhibit a seamless merger whereby the data and services of one sector will be readily and easily available to other services and technologies through cross integration.

The rate of data proliferation is consistently increasing by orders of magnitude over smaller lengths of time. Instead of ‘more of the same’, the new challenge becomes how to integrate this vast and continually growing storehouse of information into trending knowledge to aid businesses when, how, and where it is required.

If any business is going to be successful going forward, that business must embrace constructive ways to avoid metaphor shear. Consumers will have a shorter window of opportunity to interact with any one business, so businesses must endeavor to capture interest not by shouting louder than any other, since consumers will increasingly tune this deafening noise out, as possibilities explode outwards. Instead, a business will thrive in the future by utilizing smarter and more targeted approaches. In this chapter, specific examples will be explained in order to clarify the fine line between passive and aggressive marketing tactics and how each affect the consumer in a positive or negative manner.

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