What to Expect from the Enterprise Metaverse

Author: Michael Inouye

Upon hearing the word “metaverse,” many people simply think about gaming, virtual commerce, attending a sporting event, or other consumer applications. However, it’s the enterprise metaverse, not the consumer space, that has a greater incentive to take the plunge and invest in virtual solutions. This is because there are already several substantiated use cases of the enterprise metaverse that have 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.

Enterprise Metaverse Infographic

Below is an infographic that breaks down the enterprise metaverse, including use cases, regional forecasts, key insights, and important stats.

Infographic on the enterprise metaverse. Key stats and research include immersive collaboration, virtual headquarters (HQ), virtual events, regional forecasts, and more.

 

Workplace Collaboration in the Metaverse

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 standard 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 as they let users work together on projects, schedule and track progress, and include workflows across the enterprise. Whiteboarding platforms also organize past projects so that 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.

 

Chart Source

The Enterprise Metaverse Introduces a New Kind of Office

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 the floor plans (office assignments and rooms) of a real-world work environment. These one-on-one building matches for virtual offices are going to 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.

Virtual Events Just Became More Compelling

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 an unlimited number of participants—two key ways to engage with more people. Metaverse virtual event platforms aim 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 have an array of 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 key insights about the virtual event and its attendees. These enterprise metaverse platforms bridge the physical and digital worlds to dazzle attendees and keep them coming back.

Figure 1: Digital Theater for Metaverse Virtual Events

(Source: Touchcast)

Metaverse virtual event theater from Touchcast

 

If your company has an upcoming event, let us know about it.

Customer Service on Another Level

The enterprise metaverse will also take customer service and marketing to heights that many people don't even realize is possible. Everyone is already familiar with generic chatbots included on various company websites. These are helpful in generating leads and providing customer service without the need for a human worker. However, the next evolutionary step with this form of automated customer service will be an exciting metaverse use case.

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 enterprise technologies become more sophisticated and more people are in the metaverse, AI can potentially benefit the entire customer experience in virtual environments, from automating initial outreach to sales follow-up, and everything in between. Using these digital humans can free up a tremendous amount of 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)

Retail and marketing metaverse timeline

Besides the impressive benefits of an AI-enabled digital human “employee,” the enterprise metaverse can also help human customer service and sales representatives do their job effectively. In the future, you can expect to see more public-facing companies—like banks and retailers—install booths with displays that enable remote representatives to assist customers during busy hours. Or as another example, a retail customer representative could virtually demonstrate a product or service application/modification in a real-time, 3D presentation for a customer residing in another country or territory/state. In this scenario, the employee would be in-store and the customer would be checking in remotely.

How the Metaverse Enhances Employee Training and Upskilling

Training is one of the most effective ways for enterprises to use immersive technologies today. Human Resources (HR) professionals can make use of Extended Reality (XR) learning platforms like ARuVR to better engage employees with training material. For instance, ARuVR partnered with metaverse company Virbela to create a platform that makes use of 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 compared to 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.

Final Word about the Metaverse and How ABI Research can Help

Organizations are, at least for the time being, a more promising segment to target for metaverse solutions than the 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 the way brands can interact with their audiences.

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.