The metaverse is not a futuristic scenario but an imminent reality of the not-so-distant future. What is the metaverse and how will it change learning and development in global organizations?
Imagine it´s a regular Monday at work in the not-so-distant future. You are in your home office, and after a few hours of individual work, you join a meeting.
You put on your smart glasses and enter a virtual, 3D replica of your company headquarters in the metaverse. On your way to the virtual meeting room, you see a colleague in the company lobby. You recognize her thanks to her avatar – an accurate, digitalized version of her real-life self. She is giving a tour to new employees joining from all corners of the world.
In the meeting, you plan a training session to improve a sales team´s negotiation skills. You will immerse them into a replica of a potential customer´s offices. They will have to present their offer and lead a tough conversation like they would in real life. Only in the metaverse, it is risk-free for business, more effective and doesn’t require travelling.
Afterwards, you take off your smart glasses for another few hours of focus work only to return to your company´s virtual headquarters. You join all your global colleagues in the virtual theater for an all-hands meeting. Welcome to the metaverse!
In the past years, corporate learning and development has broken out of the standard physical classroom.
Digitally-enhanced spaces, virtual or hybrid classrooms like Barco weConnect for remote or hybrid live training and learning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, Udemy or Coursera are common in global organizations.
The big tech companies are preparing the next great leap forward. They are working on advancing technologies that will converge into an immersive, virtual world paralleling our current one – the metaverse.
The metaverse is supposed to fundamentally transform how we work, collaborate and learn within a decade. To keep you up to date, we shed light on this topic and its impact on learning and development.
- What is the metaverse?
- Is the metaverse here already?
- Who is building the metaverse?
- Is there only one metaverse?
- How will the metaverse change learning & development?
1. What is the metaverse?
The metaverse is a set of shared, interconnected, persistent and scaled immersive digital worlds, accessed and experienced synchronously and continuously by an unlimited number of users.2
It promises a realistic, virtual world in which the experiences from our current life are not only possible but customizable: working, learning, interacting with people, playing, shopping, going out or travelling.
That also includes an economy of its own: creating, distributing, trading and consuming goods and services.
2. Is the metaverse here already?
Immersive virtual spaces already called ´metaverses´ where people meet, interact, play games and even attend concerts exist already, created by gaming companies.
Users access these spaces via virtual reality headsets, which in the future will evolve into lighter, more performant, smart glasses, and are represented in it by avatars – accurate, digital versions of their digital self.
The Metaverse at its full scale and potential, able to deliver virtual experiences almost as rich as the real-world ones, is years away. We will see steady progress and expansion of the technologies making up the metaverse in the decades to come, rather than a major, scheduled global launch.
That is good news for you and L&D professionals worldwide! While organizations are developing the metaverse, you can prepare for the future, inform yourself and bring that knowledge into your organization.
You can explore the applications of immersive technologies in your organization, build a use case and experiment.
3. Who is building the metaverse?
The metaverse is not a single platform or technology, nor is it being built by a unique entity or organization. Just like the internet, it´s not meant to be owned by anyone - organizations or individuals.
There are some hundreds of companies, including Meta, Microsoft or Apple, that are building or advancing different components of what will make it possible.
The metaverse will be based on current emerging technology that will need to be perfected for a fully-scaled, functional metaverse.
That includes, but is not limited to: increased computing power, better VR headsets, enhanced network capacity, advanced sensorial and haptic technology (technology that can replicate the experience of touch), blockchain for transparent and secure transactions or NFTs (non-fungible tokens) for indisputable ownership proof of digital assets, etc.
The metaverse is not here yet not only because technology still needs to evolve.
There are also fundamental questions that companies building it, as well as governments and society at large, must find an answer to.
Who will regulate and govern the Metaverse? What are the rules and laws regarding data, privacy and safety? Who will enforce them and how?
The metaverse should be one open, shared, virtual space where everyone is welcome.
But as competing entities such as Meta, Microsoft or Apple are building it, there is a possibility, at least at the beginning, of having different metaverses. To keep them separate, the complementary devices (think VR headsets) will be neither connectable nor interchangeable.
While the outcome remains to be seen, multiple existing metaverses are expected to converge into one single space eventually.
5. How will the metaverse change learning and development?
Major organizations are already starting to adopt technologies that will be the foundation of the metaverse to train their employees. In 2021, Accenture acquired 60,000 virtual reality headsets for this purpose.
One of our customers, INSEAD, a leading business school with four Barco weConnect virtual classrooms for executive education, also delivers virtual reality experiences for a wide range of programs, from leadership to strategy, marketing, operations negotiation, diversity & inclusion.
In the global organization, the metaverse will be perfect for improving soft skills and enhancing communication abilities: customer service, sales negotiations, conflict management, leadership, public speaking, mentoring, diversity & inclusion, etc.
Trainees can enter a simulation and practice with a trainer, a team member or even a digital AI assistant.
Onboarding and mandatory training programs will be made fun and interactive, turned into adventures just like video games. Imagine a cybersecurity quest in which you must protect the world´s most important database from evil hackers.
In the metaverse, training simulations will be highly customizable for a perfectly tailored experience: space design and environment, colors, sounds and visuals, characters etc.
Analytics will also be more advanced. Those will include biometrics (data related to human reactions) such as eye-tracking, face or voice recognition, even heart-rate sensors, which will enable more objective evaluations on skill acquirement.
Overall, the metaverse will make L&D more:
- Flexible. You will just have to put your headset on, click a few times and join your virtual training space from any place connected to the internet.
- Global. Bring together talents worldwide and deliver programs that transcend borders.
- Immersive. The space you join will be a realistic, 3D environment of shared physical space.
- Customizable. A digital space like the metaverse will allow a user to personalize the environment and features of their learning experience.
- Experiential. There will be more room (literally and metaphorically!) to acquire skills by doing, practicing and refining.
- Social. People will be able to see each other (via avatars), collaborate in-depth, create real connections and learn together in a shared space.
- Collaborative, not only at an individual level but organizational. Foster successful partnerships with educational institutions, other businesses or innovation hubs for enhanced learning programs.
- Gamified. Learning can literally turn into a game. An example? You will be able to design an internal sustainability training and make it a quest to save the planet from global warming.
- Risk free. The metaverse will provide a safe place to try and potentially fail with no risk of losing business and less stress.
- Accessible. Learning will be accessible to more people, regardless of their location and abilities.
Not ready for the metaverse yet? No problem!
The metaverse will take a while before it becomes a reality, but it is time to look at your organization and explore your options based on modern technologies.
Stay up to date with technology and bring that knowledge into your organization. Explore the applications of immersive technologies in your organization, build a use case and experiment.
Take the next step in your learning and development strategy and discover . Our technology will bring together your global workforces – flexibly and sustainably – in a live, first-class virtual or hybrid experience, whether that is a training session, a workshop or a town hall meeting.
It will help you engage your participants and immerse them in an experience that gives everyone a front-row seat, thanks to the multiple content streams and views.
Lastly, it will enable in-depth collaboration and forge meaningful connections in a measurable way as well as create quality interaction through polls, quizzes, live chat, whiteboards and breakout rooms.
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