Westpac checks out of Second Life

Westpac checks out of Second Life

Australia's Westpac has pulled its presence in Second Life and ditched a number of high profile Web 2.0 pilots in response to poor user uptake and changing business conditions.

Westpac worked with IBM to set up a presence in Second Life in November 2007 for employee induction purposes.

Speaking at the Future Exploration Network's Enterprise 2.0 conference in Sydney, the bank's former chief technology officer and now general manager of application development, David Backley, said that the although the application had proved useful, maintenance and investment costs had proven too expensive and the project had stalled when a key sponsor left the bank.

"Failures can become expensive," Backley told the conference. "We do massive systems rollouts and we expect huge paybacks."

For some projects, says Backley, the bank was ahead of its time. An early foray into blogging was shelved as risk-averse bank management and staff shunned the technology.

"Parts of the organisation were too scared to put comments in because they didn't know what the consequences were," he told delegates.

Other experimental projects - such as the introduction of desktop videonferencing - failed because of internal re-organisation and the introduction of more efficient workflow processes.

Backley says big organisations such as banks need to be able to move faster when a project takes off, and quickly pull the rug from others if they fail to get traction.

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