Well it seems the fashion industry (with the help of IBM) is leading the way in using Second Life as a platform for collaboration in their PLM efforts. It seems the discrete manufacturing industry is lagging here, still mostly looking at SL as a place to recreate their web sites, have parties and connect with a ‘younger’ demongraphic.
From the article
The Fashion Research Institute (FRI) in conjunction with IBM is developing a product lifecycle management solution for the fashion industry that specifically addresses the industryâ€™s unique needs, cutting time to market. Designers will be able to access 3-D tools from within SL or Open Sim to create their fashion product. The 3-D models of the design can be shown in a virtual showroom. Everyone who has a share in the product will be available to review the design: product managers, designers, design directors, merchandizers, costers, executives, sales staff and show room managers. After the creative vision has been finalized, factory specifications are created that will enable the item to be manufactured in real life.
It will be interesting to see how this develops. I have no doubt they will run in to their fair share of issues, but the idea of being able to design something collaboratively in a virtual environment has obvious attraction. Now let’s just hope that people in RL don’t start dressing like their avatars in SL!