Are you ready for a metaverse you?
- Posted on November 23, 2021
- Estimated reading time 6 minutes
The metaverse is poised to change the shape of business and technology experiences
What if your business could identify patterns and unforeseen problems before they occur, model the solution and implement that solution in the real world before the problem occurs? Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen a continuing evolution of consumer engagement spilling over into the business sector, driving innovation and impacting experiences. Consumers who’ve played video games know it’s easy to get caught up in the experience of creating a lifelike avatar, selecting gear and outfits to represent the “real you” in virtual space. On social media, Instagram offers this in various forms and even creates shareable, customized avatar GIFs to reflect conversations you’re having with others.
The notion of avatars as virtual “me/you/us” in virtual environments – enabling us to be part of another world – is poised to enter our business applications and platforms. This is where the Microsoft technology stack is headed, with its latest announcements on the metaverse at Microsoft Ignite last week. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared how the Metaverse, fueled by Azure Cloud, allows organizations to “embed computing into the real world, and to embed the real world into computing.”
As you start to imagine an immersive experience within the Microsoft world, many business scenarios quickly emerge. As seen in Satya’s post, Accenture highlighted how employees could meet with each other in a virtual onboarding experience. Let’s look at some of the remote working, front-line, digital twin and other scenarios that will emerge.
Mesh will reset the concept of “place” in the workplace
As soon as next year, Microsoft Mesh will enable people to join avatar- or holograph-driven workplace experiences delivered through Microsoft Teams – providing a mixed-reality virtual space where meetings and collaboration can become more personal and more engaging. Mesh empowers a new era and form factor for communication and collaboration, simulating real-world experiences in a persistent virtual environment.
One of the most obvious use cases for Mesh is collaboration. Microsoft has showcased Mesh’s ability to provide a new dimension for collaboration, literally – transforming experiences for colleagues dispersed across the globe. Beyond basic avatar-initiated interaction, Mesh will support the drive to unlock innovation in the hybrid era by providing an engaging and customizable virtual environment. Teams will be able to review data faster, discuss concepts and arrive at more informed decisions.
Mesh will also provide the ability to shape more compelling moments that matter across the employee experience lifecycle, for every type of worker: on the factory or hospital floor, in a delivery vehicle, in an office or in the field. From learning and development through to recognition, onboarding and offboarding, Mesh enables you to reshape your EX in a virtual environment. At Microsoft Ignite, we heard how Accenture’s Nth Floor concept is being used to elevate the onboarding experience in the hybrid era – with tens of thousands of new recruits gaining a more immersive first experience of their new job thanks to Mesh.
Finally, Mesh enables a much richer experience when engaging customers, partners and other stakeholders. It empowers employees to interact with customers in a virtual environment that can be tailored to their context. And it enables teams to share perspectives and relevant data with external stakeholders to solve problems and make decisions collaboratively.
AI and IoT embed intelligence everywhere
In the metaverse, organizations will use solutions like Azure Digital Twins to map, model and rethink their workspaces, from the factory floor to the virtual office. Virtual replicas of all kinds, populated with data from Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, will give businesses a near-real-time view of the interactions among people, resources, workflows and outcomes. The Avanade Smart Building Accelerator offers clients a solution built on digital twin and IoT to create a human-centric workplace – a critical consideration as the emerging metaverse creates more seamless, virtual ways of working.
With digital twins, business leaders in the metaverse will have more robust data than ever to optimize workflows and automate processes. They can model and assess macro impacts before changes are made. Executives in the banking industry, for example, are already exploring digital twins to model the potential impact of organizational transformation and help assess risk levels in lending scenarios. In manufacturing scenarios, digital replicas and IoT data enable predictive maintenance and remote-assisted support powered by augmented reality.
As the metaverse expands, organizations from all industries have an opportunity to better model, virtualize, automate and innovate business-as-usual, infusing intelligence throughout.
Proactive supply chain management and customer care
Combining the metaverse with robust digital operations platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365 can provide business benefits and efficiencies, enabling operations teams to improve how they understand supply chain complexity, predict supply chain needs and assess risks. Not only will supply chain planners see what happened in the past, but they’ll be more forward thinking. That ability to accurately predict – instead of react – will accelerate informed decision-making. These logisticians can "watch" their whole supply chain and drill into the cost effectiveness at each level. With an intelligent supply chain in the metaverse, they can see productivity and define models to predict slowdowns, disruptions, and prepare for spikes in demand and reroute or make changes accordingly.
For customer service agents and technicians, the metaverse will offer opportunities to better meet customer needs. Today this is aligned to how organizations like MV Transportation use Dynamics 365 Guides and HoloLens for remote assistance in 3D, in-person-like experiences. In the future, there will be even richer collaboration between seasoned experts and new workers, across locations and languages thanks to mixed reality and Microsoft Teams. Imagine a digital twin of the entire customer experience, across channels and more. The outcomes? Empowered employees who drive by data, personalize experience, improve first-time fix rates and service call resolution, increasing efficiencies while improving customer satisfaction.
The metaverse benefits can also extend to engineering and product design – improving collaboration, insights, and predicting future customer needs through voice of the customer data and AI-projected service scenarios. Product teams will be able to create more customer-centric products faster.
Embrace continual change in a secure, cloud metaverse
It might seem obvious, but the metaverse is enabled by the Microsoft Cloud. From digital twins powered by IoT sensors and bidirectional data flows, to edge devices, advanced analytics and AI enabling the prediction of future scenarios, leading organizations will be able to merge the boundaries between the physical and digital worlds.
Digital replicas of physical environments and assets will become increasingly common, as simulations of the real world and mixed reality overlays enable greater resilience across industries, all powered by Microsoft Azure. But risks and exposures will still be present, and organizations will need to continue focusing on securing data, identities, devices, infrastructure and applications as well as Microsoft 365 security controls.
What if your business could identify patterns and unforeseen problems before they occur, model the solution and implement that solution in the real world before the problem occurs? As we head into the metaverse, it will all become possible. Check out the Microsoft Ignite announcements to learn more.