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The metaverse at work research

The work metaverse is
here to stay



From manufacturing to the enterprise, our recent ‘Metaverse at work’ research, in partnership with EY, revealed 58% of those surveyed have either piloted or deployed at least one metaverse use case. Discover how this rapidly expanding landscape demonstrates the exponential potential of networks across the breadth of industry.

Jane steps out of the lift onto the open plan floor. The office looks quiet and calm, save for a single spiral of smoke emerging from the back of a computer monitor by the window. Then she hears it: a whoosh of flames. She has just minutes to unleash the fire extinguisher and sound the alarm.

This is a gamified training exercise in the metaverse. It gives Jane the chance to familiarize herself with a disaster in a safe environment. And by showing what hazard really looks like – in her actual office – it means she’s genuinely prepared for the worst.

Today 58% of organizations have trialed a metaverse at work

Our recent ‘Metaverse at work’ research proves that the metaverse is in use in many business settings right now, with 58% surveyed stating that they have either piloted or deployed at least one metaverse use case. More critically still, these are demonstrating real transformative value.

In the enterprise space, the top touted real-world use to deliver transformative value is “XR onboarding and soft-skills training”. This translates to the “use of immersive digital environments in enterprise-level HR, onboarding and training processes”.

This research defines that a use case can be purely virtual or combine virtual and physical elements. But what matters – and makes it unique – is the application of a metaverse technology, not the technology itself.

So, in the case of onboarding and training in the metaverse this could mean anything from safety scenarios, like Jane’s, to proper practice dealing with difficult customers, or immersive ways to educate employees around diversity, equity and inclusion.

Metaverse could tackle $64BN ‘soft problem’

One clear example of this type of education could be helping employees overcome unconscious bias. This may deliver a lot of value to enterprises because bias is hard to quantify – one stat from some years’ back places the cost of employee turnover at $64BN annually but this is obviously only a fragment of the bigger picture. And while organizations have worked hard to overcome this problem, bias is extremely difficult to tackle practically without incurring great expense or causing unnecessary offence.

You can’t, for example, walk up to a real-world minority colleague and honestly rate your innate prejudice against them. The use of actors is complicated and prohibitively expensive. But a virtual encounter could provide a realistic, ringfenced, and scalable panacea to understand and overcome prejudice in multiple settings.

Immersive techniques stretch deep into industry and go far beyond cars

The enterprise is just one part of our research with EY though. The study also looked at four additional industries – automotive, manufacturing, transport and power and utilities – and the most cited transformational application across the board was “virtual R&D, prototyping and testing”.

Virtual R&D clearly means different things in different industries but as the report explains, the overarching definition is designing or redesigning a raft of things – like products, components, and equipment – in a virtual environment to enhance processes. These techniques incorporate AR and mixed reality as well as VR.

So, while the image of 3D replicas of cars worked on by designers in VR goggles has become commonplace in recent years, it’s easy to see similar scenarios played out in other industries. For example, in manufacturing, AR combined with digital twins could assess the production readiness of a new piece of equipment. In transport, mixed reality could be used to test the performance of new trains. And in utilities, vital safety scenarios could be run on critical power infrastructure in VR to fully uncover any underlying issues.

Nokia and TUM train robots to see the world like humans

The infant work metaverse is already delivering value for 80% surveyed

This research proves that modern organizations – from large household names to global industrial firms – all see pragmatic uses for the broader metaverse in their business.

This has powerful implications for the future workplace as, even in its infancy, the workplace metaverse is garnering impressive results. In fact, on average 80% of those respondents with experience of implementing a metaverse use case already believe that what they’ve tested will have a significant, or even transformative impact, on the way they do business.

This impact is only likely to increase over time as the metaverse is still just a baby. The term barely became commonplace in 2021. And this work-focused study was conducted as early as something as practical as this could be. Yet it reveals a business landscape in a rapid state of development, where the sheer power of data-intense networked technologies are becoming ever more critical.

Today it might be rare to hear about gamified workplace safety conducted as standard in a business metaverse, but this is unlikely to remain the case for long. Because these experiences transport employees, like Jane – or manufacturers with a billion-dollar product on the line – to the center of situations that they absolutely must be ready for.

And there is literally no comparison between yawning your way through a dull, compulsory, corporate video… and seeing the equipment in your workplace burst into flames, smashing the safety glass on that alarm yourself, and wielding the fire extinguisher with your own hands. Real experiences trump everything and today the virtual world has provided a way to make them easily accessible.

The metaverse at work surveyed 860 business leaders in the US, Brazil, the UK, Germany, Japan, and South Korea across four key industries: automotive, industrial goods and manufacturing, transportation, supply chain and logistics, and power and utilities. Conducted by EY teams in collaboration with Nokia, there are five reports available for download, covering the global findings along with one for each industry.

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