The metaverse presents a virtual world of possibilities for enterprises. Companies that can master the metaverse can reap business benefits by exploiting the power of shared virtual environments. This paper shows you how to get to the metaverse and what outcomes you can expect once you make the enterprise metaverse a reality.
What is the metaverse? The metaverse is a persistent shared virtual environment where you, as an avatar, can meet and interact with other people and engage in a wide array of virtual activities. The metaverse can be used to work, play, learn or all three — and its applications in the enterprise are limitless.
"The people are pieces of software called avatars. They are the audiovisual bodies that people use to communicate with each other in the Metaverse."
— Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
The emergence of the metaverse
The term metaverse originated as the name of a virtual world populated by user-controlled avatars in Snow Crash, a science fiction novel by Neal Stephenson published in 1992. Virtual environments started being used primarily in gaming settings, especially MMOs (massively multiplayer online games) and more recently, large technology companies and enterprises have been taking advantage of what the metaverse has to offer. The metaverse is associated with digital realms such as augmented and virtual (AR/VR) reality. AR/VR goggles may be part of a metaverse experience, but they don’t have to be.
In the enterprise, the metaverse is all about bringing people together via a rich virtual experience that far exceeds videoconferencing. The business climate over the last two years has accelerated the emergence of virtual work environments. There’s a growing consensus that the metaverse will have a significant role as employees settle into hybrid and remote working patterns.
The metaverse can serve as a forum for collaboration, staff meetings, training and other events, and also for those water cooler moments that are psychologically important for employees to experience. A metaverse environment provides participants a sense of place and togetherness, because you feel like you are in the same location as the other avatars you are meeting.
As employees’ avatars navigate through the office metaverse, they may experience what we like to call unplanned social collisions and opportunities to say “hi“ or chat — perhaps about topics that can lead to further discussions on creating innovative products or improving productivity. In fact, the freedom of movement that characterises the metaverse makes it easier for some disabled workers to spontaneously meet and interact with their colleagues.
More metaverse applications
The metaverse and virtual worlds are being applied in numerous other business settings. Businesses are beginning to see that the metaverse provides opportunities to engage with customers in new ways. Companies ranging from Benetton to Nike to Walmart are exploring the e-commerce metaverse, where shoppers’ avatars can enjoy immersive, visually striking experiences with opportunities to do things like “try on” apparel, and purchase physical or virtual items. Media and entertainment companies are expanding beyond the gaming world to offer social experiences and events such as virtual concerts — Taylor Swift’s 2020 Folklore concert, for example, or more recently rapper 24kGoldn’s El Dorado Concert Experience that included pre-show activities such as a scavenger hunt.
Manufacturers can create digital twins of their factory locations, processes and physical products, which can be used by production teams to watch virtual assembly lines to see if a new product design will function with the existing manufacturing structure. At DXC, we have a banking customer interested in opening a virtual branch where avatars of its advisors would be available 24/7 to assist customers wherever they are located, providing a far more connected experience than talking to someone over the phone.
Attendees at DXC's EMEA sales conference in DXC Virtual World
Virtual first company sees virtual success
At DXC, as a virtual first company of 130,000+ colleagues, we are pioneers in bringing our own enterprise into the metaverse. Different parts of the business are using our DXC Virtual World platform for team building and allocating private space. We have also invited customers to virtual workshops and created a career building and leadership program where new hires in our UK offices can meet and get to know their colleagues in a virtual world environment. We’ve had parties in the metaverse too, such as our company-wide New Year’s celebration. We've also recently welcomed 20 journalists to join us in the DXC Virtual World for a media briefing and to experience the metaverse firsthand.
In early 2022, DXC hosted a virtual conference for our Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) sales professionals with more than 1,300 attendees. The 2-day event had nearly all the familiar features you would see at a real-world on-site conference, including keynote presentations by industry leaders and an expo hall with more than 50 exhibitors, including some of DXC’s global partners.
The planning for our virtual EMEA sales conference was much like the preparation that goes into a real-world event. Signage was designed for virtual expo booths, where accommodations were also made for showing videos and holding private conversations, for instance. There was a bit of gamification too, as a scavenger hunt was conceived to add fun to the overall experience. An impressive line-up of speakers was arranged, both executives from DXC customers and our own sales leadership team — some presented as avatars on stage and others via live streaming video or video recordings on the presentation board.
A big success at the conference was the opportunity for attendees to randomly bump into other attendees. Those unplanned social collisions provided opportunities for attendees to schedule follow-up meetings and increase collaboration.
Of course, it’s not unexpected for a few hiccups to occur whenever new technology is stress-tested for the first time, especially on such a major scale. We had some people struggling to control their nascent avatars, and the auditorium control panel and Q&A functionality need to be further refined; however, we were generally able to fix issues as they occurred.
Feedback received from conference attendees was universally positive. DXC employees enjoyed the virtual experience, especially interacting with colleagues they had not seen for a long time. Participants who found the most pictures and objects in the scavenger hunt were delighted to receive special prizes. At the end of the event, a sales awards ceremony was held, with winners’ avatars coming forward to accept their trophies and give acceptance speeches — just like they would do in the real world.
Real benefits from virtual worlds
An obvious benefit of holding a virtual event in the metaverse is the tremendous cost savings it provides. Imagine the travel, flight and hotel costs for getting more than 1,000 employees to a physical conference, not to mention the catering and facility rental fees. Today’s workers are becoming accustomed to conducting business virtually and doing so with avatars in a metaverse environment can make the experience more interesting and fulfilling.
It's good news that to enter a basic virtual world, enterprise users do not need $300 VR headsets. For many platforms, users need only a standard desktop or laptop computer, access to the software platform the virtual world is operating in and training.
"The metaverse evolves, fractally and forever."
— Vortex by Robert Charles Wilson
So what virtual world platform should an enterprise use? There are plenty available, and the list of players keeps growing. Leading technology companies have entered the metaverse space, with Microsoft introducing Microsoft Mesh and with Meta (previously Facebook) offering enterprise-facing products such as Horizon Workrooms. Notably, Virbela is emerging as a leader in providing platforms for enterprise metaverse solutions, including virtual events, meetings and remote learning.
DXC is vendor-agnostic when supporting enterprises’ virtual world endeavors. As a software platform for our sales conference, we used Virbela's mature virtual event platform. We benefitted from the support Virbela provided for the event and augmented that with our own experts.
A view of the DXC Virtual World
How DXC can help
DXC is an early pioneer in the metaverse. We have developed DXC Virtual World as a key capability within our Modern Workplace Intelligent Collaboration offering. DXC Virtual World is one of the most advanced business metaverse environments designed to enhance workforce collaboration, add an exciting 3D dimension to virtual meetings and host large-scale events with up to 2,500 simultaneous users.
DXC provides scale, handles complexity and offers customisations for business metaverses (from building new spaces to creating 3D assets like desks and chairs), as well as training, onboarding and service desk and support services. DXC Virtual World offers a myriad of meeting spaces across 20 floors including expo hall, auditoriums, classrooms, soccer field, beach, theatre and music venue.
With almost unlimited potential to add new buildings and spaces at the click of a button, the DXC Virtual World can grow instantly in line with business requirements, saving millions of dollars in event costs and helping to reduce a company's carbon footprint.
We're living in exciting times. A new virtual world of opportunities and possibilities awaits in the metaverse.
To learn more visit https://dxc.com/au/en/services/modern-workplace/intelligent-collaboration