Mainstream would be the word to describe the recent relevance of the virtual world in current tech society. With games such as World of Warcraft attracting record numbers of people, to MTV's Virtual Laguna Beach and its ilk targeting a totally new segment of the population, it comes as no surprise that leading institutions will be capitalizing on the trend in some way.
The first reported case, being IBM. IBM has begun to use Linden Lab's Second Life, as a forum to host meetings, conduct breakout sessions and employee trainings, as well as utilizing the pre-existing tools developed by the virtual world, to conduct business culture experiments. In exchange for the use of the space, IBM has done free coding of various in-world features, and provided the rights to Linden Labs.
Note to Self: Go work for a company that hosts company outings in Naxxrammas.