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BullCaster #14 | Transforming Human Connection with the Metaverse
BullCaster #14 | Transforming Human Connection with the Metaverse

Imagine the world where you can connect with anyone, from anywhere, in real time. The Metaverse opens up new channels for socialization, business, and entertainment. This new exciting frontier will fundamentally change how we experience human connection in today’s digital age.

 

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How would you define the metaverse?
The way that we at Accenture define it is the next evolution of the Internet. And the key piece here is that it allows us to go beyond browsing as consumers and as workers to actually actively participating or inhabiting various worlds and immersive experiences. Now, just to double click on that participation element, we consider the metaverse to include everything on the decentralized side, the blockchain, crypto, et cetera, as well as the XR side. So if you think about XR and blockchain, mash them together, that's kind of how we think about it as a continuum. And you can access that continuum through a variety of different ways. I mean of course your headsets, but doesn't have to be that way. Your PC, your mobile, even heads up displays or smart goggles, internet of things. There's so many ways to kind of access this new world and participate in it through shared ownership with NFTs and digital assets and other tokenized opportunities.
What does the metaverse bring differently compared to this Zoom meeting or Teams video conferencing?
Accenture is actually one of the largest users of AltspaceVR, which is Microsoft's platform that allows you to kind of come in with avatars, interact, et cetera. So the way that we use it doesn’t include all types of meetings, but certain meetings, especially when you want to have a fun event. We just had a Halloween meetup where we built out this virtual space with spooky ghosts, pumpkins and a scavenger hunt. So it's really a way for those meetings where you want to make it not linear where kind of one person talks at a time, but really make it an experience where you could break off with certain people and have those side conversations. You could have that experience of the scavenger hunt or somebody could be playing in this area and somebody in that area. It's really the way I like to think about it that you're almost re-creating that human-in-person experience to a certain extent with these platforms or you're using digital technology to recreate that very human experience. And that I think is what's very exciting and there are a lot of barriers to entry.
Are you also able to share the ways in which enterprises have successfully used it to communicate with their employees? Customers?
One of the things we like to do is actually take our clients into some of our spaces and show them around and get them into headsets and see how these types of meetings can work. And meetings are just one tiny use case of everything that you can do. For example, we help clients with training a lot of times.We were just talking with one client about safety training. And they spend thousands and thousands of dollars, almost millions to actually get people trained up around their facilities. Even though that's a very small use case, building out just that safety training actually created real ROI for them because they didn't have to get the equipment. It was something where people could do it sometimes on their own or sometimes guided by one person that was streaming across many different sites. That's another example where you can get real ROI savings, and that's what we always try to drive toward.
Can you tell us what the challenges are to adoption and how enterprises are overcoming them?
There's been a lot of negative press about metaverse and especially lately with the FTX situation. So there is quite a bit of skepticism, but what we try to say is let's look at what the challenges are of the client. We always like to start with the business problems that they're trying to solve. Then we take a look at our entire spectrum, and I mentioned decentralized blockchain all the way to kind of immersive experiences and see what are some of those even small ways that we can start to get some utility from these kinds of technologies. Then how can we build on that and ultimately create a strategy for clients that is multi-year, longer term, so that they can really participate in this kind of a space. I like to say the Metaverse train, despite the negative publicity, it's moving, and if people are not on the train, they're gonna get left behind. That's both from a client enterprise side. Also from a professional skills side, if people personally are not building the skills to be able to work in this kind of environment, they're gonna get left behind. And we always say they're gonna be living in a future that's shaped by somebody else. So for us, it's really bringing it back to their challenges, making sure that there's meaningful ROI attached to those use cases, and not just kind of a quick one off thing that gets the press release.
What are some ways to stay on top of this area of the metaverse?
I think that Accenture's metaverse tech vision from this year is a really great place to start to kind of really get a sense of what the consumer use cases are and what the employee use cases are. The industrial and operations use cases within a factory or kind of a set of factories; how is data going to be used by both on the industrial side but also on the personal data side. I would say that's definitely a place to start. And by the way, in 2013, Accenture put a stake in the ground and said every business will be a digital business going forward. And a lot of our clients had skepticism. We've seen today that digital permeates every single business regardless of what kind of business you are. And this year we made the same bold stake in the ground. We said every business will be a metaverse business going forward, so it will be playing in some element of the metaverse continuum essentially. So that's why it's important for everyone to understand what that continuum looks like and really find ways to start getting ready for it.