Upon hearing the word “metaverse,” many people think about gaming, virtual commerce, attending a sporting event, or other consumer applications. However, the enterprise metaverse—not the consumer space—has a greater incentive to take the plunge and invest in virtual solutions. This is because several substantiated use cases of the enterprise metaverse have already been demonstrated on the market. Spanning everything from employee training to enhancing virtual conferences, and improving remote work to customer experience, the metaverse is not short on benefits for the enterprise. In this article, I will point out five of the most compelling use cases of the metaverse in enterprise settings.
1. Collaboration Platforms
While the shift back to full-time in-person work is underway for many companies, a lot of organizations have decided to make remote/hybrid work a mainstay. A recent Gallup survey reported that 77% of U.S. employees plan to work under either a hybrid or exclusively remote model beyond 2022.
To solve the workflow inefficiencies that can go hand-in-hand with these work models, the metaverse promises enterprises a giant leap in terms of teamwork—in the form of immersive collaboration services. These services go far beyond the familiar voice, video, and text support that firms have come to expect.
One attractive feature is an advanced whiteboarding platform using Virtual Reality (VR). These visual productivity platforms promote a positive synergy among hybrid work teams by letting users work together on projects, schedule and track progress, and include workflows across the enterprise. Whiteboarding platforms also organize past projects so users can quickly retrieve the information they seek via search (e.g., automatic metadata tagging).
Collaboration within the scope of the enterprise metaverse also encompasses more complex solutions like Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC), Building Information Modeling (BIM), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), and digital twins/simulations. In fact, as enterprises look to create digital twins and use simulation software, more revenue will be generated in the enterprise metaverse than in immersive collaboration.
To get a better idea of the expectations for metaverse software and services revenue, check out the chart below.
2. Virtual Offices
Virtual Headquarters (HQ) is a digital “office” environment that helps remote/hybrid teams feel more connected. For those engaging in remote work, these virtual spaces have the ability to match the physical world (e.g., building structures, rooms, and other real-world equivalents). A great example of this enterprise metaverse use case comes from Walkabout Workplace’s Two-Dimensional (2D) replicas of offices. The company creates a virtual office replica by matching a real-world work environment's floor plans (office assignments and rooms). These one-on-one building matches for virtual offices will become more and more common, especially as Augmented Reality (AR)/VR adoption increases and enterprises become comfortable with collaborative virtual spaces.
To date, hybrid workers in the metaverse communicate with colleagues with digital avatars, which aren’t all that realistic. However, companies can expect digital avatars to become more lifelike in the future. Not only will the avatars be a better visual representation of an individual, but they will be better integrated into the virtual workspace. For example, having a large interactive display in a break room would make it possible for in-office employees to casually engage with virtual co-workers.
3. More Immersive Virtual Events
While virtual events, which require VR headsets, have become more widespread in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, these experiences are expected to remain popular for the foreseeable future. A recent survey from Vimeo revealed that 72% of respondents stated that they will attend the same number or more online events in a post-COVID world as they had been during the pandemic.
These experiences can be vastly improved with the metaverse. Virtualizing trade fairs, presentations, webinars, or other promotional events removes geographic constraints and can host unlimited participants—two key ways to engage with more people. Metaverse virtual event platforms are used to mimic the same immersive experiences that would be fulfilled at an in-person event by creating interactive 3D virtual environments.
For example, the events platform Touchcast enables enterprises to create engrossing Mixed Reality (MR) experiences for customers. Companies can use various customization options for aesthetics, design, storytelling, and other engaging features to captivate audiences. Touchcast provides numerous templates that look just like real-world auditoriums, theaters, and arenas—where digital attendees can “sit down” and watch the presentation as if it’s happening in front of them. To the benefit of the host, there’s an analytics platform to extract critical insights about the virtual event and its attendees. These enterprise metaverse platforms bridge the physical and digital worlds to dazzle attendees and keep them returning.
Figure 1: Digital Theater for Metaverse Virtual Events
If your company has an upcoming event, let us know about it.
4. Digital Humans
The enterprise metaverse will also be used to take customer service and marketing to heights that many people don't even realize are possible. Everyone is already familiar with generic chatbots included on various company websites. These solutions are used to generate leads and provide customer service without needing a human worker. However, the next evolutionary step with this form of automated customer service will be in the form of "digital humans."
Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based digital humans, like the ones developed by UneeQ and Soul Machines, are lifelike avatars that communicate with customers in a very human way by being Natural Language Processing (NLP) agnostic. Indeed, these platforms can pick up on social cues, such as facial expressions and voice changes. These AI models will even change their facial gestures based on a shift in tone. Brands can give their digital humans a unique backstory and personality, and at some point, integrate the avatar with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform.
As these technological solutions become more sophisticated and more people are in the metaverse, AI can potentially be used in the entire customer experience within virtual environments, from automating initial outreach to sales follow-up, and everything in between. Using these digital humans can free up many resources for adopters while boosting customer loyalty. Moreover, these metaverse features will create immersive experiences for the consumer.
Figure 2: Retail and Marketing Metaverse Timeline
(Source: ABI Research)
5. Enhanced Employee Training and Upskilling
Training is one of the most effective ways for enterprises to use immersive technologies today. Human Resources (HR) professionals can use Extended Reality (XR) learning platforms like ARuVR to engage employees with training material better. For instance, ARuVR partnered with metaverse company Virbela to create a platform that uses VR, AR, holograms, and virtual worlds. This innovative training solution allows users to interact with 3D objects with Six Degrees of Freedom (6DOF).
Given the interactive nature of VR learning, company employees will retain information more thoroughly and be less likely to get distracted. While the initial investment in immersive VR learning platforms may be high, the benefits are attractive. A PwC survey found that VR learners are 275% more confident in applying their new skills and 3.75X more emotionally connected to content than classroom learners. And as per a global survey from Ipsos, 2 out of 3 people see virtual learning as a metaverse application that will impact their lives.
Organizations are, at least for the time being, a more promising segment to target for metaverse solutions than consumers. That’s because, as outlined with the examples in this post, there are already proven use cases for the enterprise metaverse. Merging the physical and virtual worlds greatly benefits hybrid or remote work and radically transforms how brands interact with their audiences.
Below is an infographic that breaks down the enterprise metaverse, including use cases, a map, key insights, and essential stats.
To learn more about the use cases of metaverse solutions in the enterprise, including digital twins, simulations, retail, and workplace collaboration, download ABI Research’s Evaluation of the Enterprise Metaverse Opportunity research report. Or check out the company’s Metaverse Markets & Technologies Research Service, where our analysts share their expertise in enabling features (e.g., NFTs, crypto, Web3) and provide a breakdown of promising market opportunities and ground-breaking moves by industry players.