Can the metaverse enhance the future of work?
Before the metaverse became a platform that can enhance the future of work, employees were either working remotely or in a hybrid working environment. While most businesses were eager to have their employees back in the office, many still felt that production was not heavily disrupted by a change in working methods.
However, things began to make a change when Meta announced its metaverse last year. Compared to remote, hybrid, or even working in the office, the metaverse was basically a virtual platform whereby users can go in to do anything they want, including working in the metaverse.
As the idea of the metaverse continued to spread across the globe, more companies also started showing interest in it. For tech companies, the metaverse would provide them an opportunity to develop more tools and products which can be sold to improve the experience in it. This included haptic gloves, VR goggles, and such. The metaverse would also see a growing demand for 3D animation, especially with the whole platform being augmented in three dimensions.
In fact, as augmented reality (AR) technology continues to improve to enhance the metaverse experience, it will become a gamechanger for organizations. The global enterprise AR revenues are also set to grow from US$ 1 billion in 2021 to US$ 77 billion in 2030, according to GlobalData.
Soon, more tech companies began announcing plans to develop metaverse platforms to enable more use cases. But the reality is, do businesses and employees really want to work in the metaverse? Do they want to have meetings in the metaverse or just do it over a Zoom call? Would they rather attend a virtual briefing or event in the metaverse or do it physically on location?
To be frank, the metaverse isn’t much different from remote work. The employee would still be physically away in some remote location and accessing his work in the metaverse. The only positive thing about it is that employees can have their own avatars and perhaps have a bit of fun while working in the metaverse.
But what about organizations? Is the metaverse really something worth investing in? Will it see a productivity improvement, and will it help solve problems of burnout and mental fatigue?
The growing interest in the metaverse for the future of work
Research from Global Data showed more than 40% of companies mentioned metaverse in their company filings documents quarter-on-quarter. The data and analytics company’s ‘Company Filing Analytics’ database reveals that mentions crossed the 500 mark in Q1 2022, on par with Q4 2021.
According to Rinaldo Pereira, Business Fundamentals Analyst at GlobalData, the main contexts for metaverse mentions included virtual avatars and improving experiences for remote workers. Client engagement and collaboration to improve buyer experiences via the metaverse also caught firms’ attention.
“While a mainstream B2B metaverse will be at least a decade away, companies are taking smaller steps to improve employee onboarding and experience. A rising tide lifts all boats, so identifying specific B2B use cases such as digital twins in the metaverse could help companies, particularly manufacturers to improve productivity. Such technologies could help companies draw up alternate go-to-market and production strategies with the pandemic causing a shift towards remote workflows,” commented Pereira.
GlobalData’s Filing Analytics database also reveals that ‘Mega Cap’ companies (companies with a market cap of more than $200 billion) often paired the metaverse with keywords such as ‘Invest’, ‘Investing’, ‘Clients’, and ‘AI’. Some key examples were Accenture, which expects to continue investing in the metaverse, and Microsoft, which is discussing gaming-related metaverse investments.
Rupantar Guha, Principal Analyst in GlobalData’s Thematic Team, added that enterprises are the prime market for the metaverse in 2022. Guha pointed out that new use cases are emerging, like Nvidia, Microsoft, Meta, and HTC bolster their metaverse capabilities and startups develop specific solutions around data visualization, collaboration, and training. He added that technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, and digital twins that enable the future of work will converge together to help create the enterprise metaverse.
“Consequently, market competition will intensify as the tech titans battle for market dominance, and non-tech brands track their progress for potential revenue and operational improvements,” explained Guha.
At the end of the day, while some businesses are looking toward the metaverse, implementing the technology is not going to be an easy process. There are still many aspects in the metaverse, including cybersecurity that needs to be addressed before businesses can be assured that the metaverse is a safer working environment.
At the same time, if the metaverse is going to provide the same experience as remote working, is it really worth the investment for organizations for the future of work? The reality is, that employees will still eventually prefer working remotely in some way or another — even if it was in the metaverse.
5 December 2023
5 December 2023