It would not be the first time the suggestion has been made that games programmers hold at least one key to the future for business systems development. But IBM's latest research project - a "secret island" within the confines of Linden Labs' Second Life massively multi-player games environment - brings that possibility a whole lot closer.
The basic premise is to exploit the multi-player and graphics capabilities at which games programmers now generally excel to create an on-screen virtual analogue of a business.
Even Big Blue's catching on to future-making tools
not entirely secret.. an IBM alum blogs on the existence of IBM's Almaden Island here. There may be another, more secret island housing projects in the works, but this one is freely navigable without restriction to all SL residents and has some pretty neat displays of in-world innovation to boot.
[EDIT] It seems there is a more secret island housing even more wonderful things!
For those following the story in Second Life, the name of this island is Hursley Park.. but don't go searching for it, because it won't show up. The only way to access it is by having a landmark and only then if you are a member of their group.
However, guarded as the island itself may be, its goings-on are regularly reported-on Ian Hughes and other members of the real-life Hursley Park team (IBM UK) on a wonderful group blog called eightbar (the company's nickname for it's logo composed of 8 horizontal lines).