The Metaverse is a highly relevant and developing area that has received a lot of attention both inside and outside of IT. It has the potential for significant impact in many areas of industry and can allow consumers to be innovative and create their own solutions. However, the CIOs expressed disappointment in the lack of implementable progress in this area and were concerned with what could be done to accelerate growth as well as how Accenture and university academics could support enterprises during this progression.
The discussion largely focused on the degree of accuracy required for industrial over consumer use. Many companies, particularly manufacturing groups, consider the lack of precision as a major limiting factor for Metaverse as the associated level of risk is high. Balancing precision and cost is imperative, with some companies requiring such high accuracy for simulations that Metaverse does not appear feasible to them in its current state. Others, however, suggest that exact digital replicas are not needed for the Metaverse to provide benefit. There was also focus on the importance for collaboration and decomposability with the Metaverse in order to unlock its full industrial potential, and the importance of planning and agility in adapting to technological advancements and disruptions, especially for legacy companies that may struggle to embed developing technologies into their culture, where the risk is somewhat unknown.
The session highlighted that the Metaverse is still in its early stages of development, with gradual progress expected to continue for now. Exponential growth could happen at any time but we do not know when due to aforementioned limiting factors. Collaboration, leadership support, and building blocks from platform providers were mentioned as necessary for advancing the Metaverse and integrating it into the production pipeline, as well as combining it with the use of AI.
The final voting indicated divided opinions on the mindsets of the participants. Overall:
“The metaverse is not only about technology, it’s about mindsets.”
15 agreed with the statement. 14 disagree. Remainder undecided
“Not gaming or entertainment but industrial production is the big driver of the metaverse experience.”
19 agreed with the statement. 10 disagree.
“People totally underestimate that the state-of-theart is about metaverse”
16 agreed with the statement. 14 disagree. Remainder undecided.
Long Read: Presentation
Hosted at eDreams ODIGEO in Porto. Presented by Tobias Regenfuss from Accenture (German Speaking Region) and Dr. Arthur Langer from Northeastern and Columbia Universities.
Most commonly known area of the Metaverse is the Consumer Metaverse. The presentation begins by showing a short film which details how Accenture has brought the Ocean Race to the Metaverse. This has created a new experience for sailing fans, providing them with access to real time info and footage as well as information on sustainability. Users are able to follow the teams as they compete to sail across the globe from within the Metaverse. Opens new levels of reach and allows thousands of fans to be immersed in the race.
Accenture sees even more traction in the Corporate Metaverse. The current opinion on the Metaverse is that it has not delivered what was anticipated, and progress is slow. However, massive evolution is expected in industrial enterprises re the Metaverse.
What is the Metaverse? The Metaverse is based on:
- Advances in AR, VR and XR. Much more immersive experiences in 3D high definition rendering. This can be via a headset, mobile or engaging and immersive experiences over a browser.
- Internet of ownership. Through trading digital items, such as NFTs, artwork that only exists in VR. Users can purchase digital items for their avatars, possessing unique, identifiable virtual goods that can be represented in the blockchain. This allows for digital ownership.
- Internet of place. Provide places that we can inhabit in the Metaverse. Consumers can go and meet with others, interact with objects or buy virtual land.
- Trend and need to combine individual platforms into uniform. Interoperability hurdles between platforms presents a challenge. Partnerships in the Metaverse are essential. Items ought to be able to be taken from place to place within the Metaverse, rendering in equal quality. Physical items can also be reflected in the Metaverse as digital twins. A vision for the future involves immersive Metaverse experiences where the process of buying a not yet manufactured car is rendered in a 3D game-like environment such as those provided with Unreal engine, consumers can then follow their purchased vehicle along the production line.
Many of these points are already happening, and we see each of these gradually evolving. Perhaps as the next step in digitisation.
Metaverse technology can allow for the decomposition down to reusable parts – like LEGO blocks. With these parts consumers can become more innovative and creative about what they want. Notion of consumer revolution. 5G has also provided speed and the ability to do more providing consumers with more access.
With Metaverse, universe of reach increases – price may come down due to reusability but reach will grow.
The Metaverse has uses as:
- Consumer Metaverse: a more immersive shopping experience, services on products can be conducted in a virtual space.
- Public Metaverse: learning and education based. Education can be provided to the workforce and allow them to engage with material in more meaningful ways. Onboarding experiences in the Metaverse have shown to be more efficient. Eg. a meeting can be held virtually and immersively whilst in numerous different places.
- Industrial Metaverse: digitizing the production process through production simulations. Includes component design and maintenance, product testing. Simulates and tests new product flows and can be used to train both bots and employees (particularly those which are deployed in hazardous areas or where there is a level of personal risk).
- Change happens gradually and the Metaverse hasn’t brought digital revolution yet, what is holding us back?
- One theory: Metaverse reality can only create (for example) 95% accuracy in relation to reality, that’s okay for us as consumers but is this good enough for an industrial environment? For industrial simulations we have to be much closer to 99%.
- Where would you see the current status in this area and what is the next step before this really takes off?
- High definition depends on use cases. Crashes will need to be much closer to reality but this may be an isolated use case. Agree that we are at the bottom of the development potential of the Metaverse. Pare being deployed at relatively low cost along product lines CIO need to look at how we can gather more data in real time in order to deploy more accurate representations of reality.
- What additionally needs to come together for this to be exponential? What are the mechanics? Expresses disappointment in the Metaverse.
- The challenge is Legacy organizations. Protecting stock prices and pressure to preserve what you already have whilst improving and doing new things is a challenge. Linear development is a result of not taking these risks. Fedex example, who retire and rebuild whole systems in order to catch up with current trends. Where is the risk module for digital production? Where does that money come from? RII of digital companies is flat. Amazon effect, lose money before you make money whilst building up the infrastructure. Private equity allows innovation very quickly. New places can quickly disrupt in certain areas legacy companies and can happen very quickly. Need to balance being bold.
- Argues that Metaverse does not have to be about mimicking reality. Does a ball in a game have to travel at the same rate as Earth? Mimicking behavior fully is a limitation. Do we need to be so precise, a twin can not be exact. Metaverse philosophy can be used to create a general replica. Many cases in industry where similarity down to such small parts is not required and this needs to be reflected.
- Yes, digital twins of toxic substances or flight simulations are going to require an accurate replica when training handlers but use in the Nutrition industry may require less precision. Also, when replicating the classroom experience for example, it is not about creating a digital copy but looking to change and understand how people learn. Consumers and industries have different perspectives and see the world differently. Experiment with parts. Private equity model is interesting – 1 out of 80 success rate but level of eventual success is high/
- Old business models, completely different mechanics, cannot always work on new things. Higher chanch of survival for non-legacy companies.
- S curve keeps shrinking. How do we at the same time invest in new things?
- Emotion component. Consumer companies are rooted in consumer experience. Oculus feels unpleasant to wear for long times and can be a barrier, which technology is leading and how do we test them out?
- Agreed that end user device needs improving. But highlights that Metaverse is not limited to just the 3d virtual reality, browser interface, mobile phones are all new ways to engage with customers compared to classical user interface in the past. Not just goggles.
- What is the definition of metaverse? 3D immersive experience? Interact with the environment and social content. Clear on the difference between industrial metaverse.
- Trend to bring user experience forward in all spaces. Enterprises need to think about how this opens up for new interactions for consumers and the workforce. Can we use an immersive learning experience to train faster?
- What is the limiting factor at the moment? Previously discussed the lack of 3D data, due to need for accuracy, in some industries. What support can we expect from digital leaders such as Accenture? What is coming from universities?
- Universities as institutions do not work together. Need corporate and governmental support to make progress. The system is detrimental to collaborative academic support. Where is the leadership supporting this? With the right leadership in technology we could do a lot of things.
- Teaching universities need to facilitate learning. Metaverse should help us look at issues in our real world in a different way. Digital twins should be considered in a looser way. Not cost effective to make it a 100% accurate replica in most use cases. Full immersion VR is not feasible. Smaller part of many worlds helps us in specific instances where 100% precision is not required.
- Work with companies to determine what is possible today. Metaverse Operating Module helps industries create building blocks from existing data. Global collaborative village – drive this forward. Platform providers need to supply building blocks to make digital twin space accessible for industries.
- How to prepare today for what may be relevant in 5-10 years? What is Accenture offering?
- Evidence that planning is very difficult. Can you create an economy and culture in a company and respond fast enough? Be Agile. Black Swan events such as Covid can really disrupt organizations. Resilient companies have historically proven to do better economically. Invest in building AI-based models and combine with a good enough digital twin for a good enough cost. Only do real tests when necessary. Cost and speed need to be minimized.
- Planning process – major mistakes are committed early on.
- No real predictor, the beauty of the digital twins.
- Focus a lot of resources not on potential value. How can we create network effects/scaling effects in the Metaverse? Non linear effects.
- Digitisation increases reach with low cost.
- Transfer and networking logic is needed.
- Every public board should have three technological capable people on the board. Supply is nowhere near there. Boards don’t understand technological issues and don’t have the capacity to explain it to them.
At the end of the discussion, the participants were given three statements and voted whether they disagreed or agreed regarding the Metaverse in which there was a reasonably even split between participants.