Avatars to influence business

Gartner predicts behavioral guidelines for Avatars in the workplace

October 8, 2009

Gartner predicts behavioral guidelines for Avatars in the workplace

Avatars are creeping into business environments and will have far reaching implications for enterprises, from policy to dress code, behavior and computing platform requirements, according to Gartner.

Gartner predicts that by year-end 2013, 70 percent of enterprises will have behavior guidelines and dress codes established for all employees who have avatars associated with the enterprise inside a virtual environment.

Avatars are two- or-three dimensional objects that most often resemble a human and are often animated and controlled remotely by a person in a virtual or 3-D Internet environment. In a business setting they are used as visual representations of people.

“As the use of virtual environments for business purposes grows, enterprises need to understand how employees are using avatars in ways that might affect the enterprise or the enterprise’s reputation,” said James Lundy, managing vice president at Gartner. “We advise establishing codes of behavior that apply in any circumstance when an employee is acting as a company representative, whether in a real or virtual environment. Addendums, specific to virtual environments can be added as required.”

Gartner has identified six tactical guidelines that organizations can follow to make the best use of avatars in the business environment:

1. Help users learn to control their avatars.

2. Recognize that users will have a personal affinity with their avatar.

3. Educate users on the risks and responsibilities of reputation management.

4. Extend the code of conduct to include avatars in 3-D virtual environments.

5. Explore the business case for avatars.

6. Encourage usage and enterprise pilots.