IBM and Linden Lab (creator of Second Life) have teamed together to develop open standards that will enable virtual avatars to travel between virtual worlds.
A quote from Technology News Daily:
IBM and Linden Lab plan to work together on issues concerning the integration of virtual worlds with the current Web; driving security-rich transactions of virtual goods and services; working with the industry to enable interoperability between various virtual worlds; and building more stability and high quality of service into virtual world platforms.
Creating standards for a virtual world that help secure transactions, stability, and interoperability are key attributes that will appeal to businesses.
The Universalization of avatars (BBC) seems like a progression in technology that was waiting to happen. First there was e-mail, then SMS, then the presence services of today, and now the human being is going wholly online.