Accenture PLC’s North American CEO sees a wealth of opportunities in the metaverse.
For the past year, the Irish company, with nearly 700,000 employees across the globe and around 65,000 in the United States, has used a virtual environment it built with Microsoft to onboard new employees and get them immersed in the company’s culture — and has distributed more than 60,000 Oculus headsets to do it. In fiscal 2022, the company expects 150,000 new hires to be working in the metaverse on their first day, up from just 11,000 last year.
“I have drunk the metaverse Kool-Aid,” Accenture North America CEO Jimmy Etheredge said in an interview with The Playbook. “The feedback I get is because it’s so immersive your sense of connection with other people that you are meeting versus the two-dimensional video screen is greater. Your retention is greater.”
Accenture is one of many businesses large and small that have been laying the foundations for the metaverse — a growing collection of interconnected virtual-reality and digital platforms with online personas, real estate and businesses. Some companies are already betting hundreds of millions of dollars on virtual real estate. Alphabet Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOGL) subsidiary company Youtube is floating the idea of watching gaming events in the metaverse.
We recently wrote about a global accounting firm that built its own virtual headquarters in metaverse virtual platform “Decentraland.“
Accenture’s virtual campus, called the “Nth floor metaverse” is “always open” for the first few days of onboarding and includes interactive exhibits as well as learning games designed to showcase what Accenture does. It has also built replicas or “digital twins” of physical offices in Bangalore, India to Madrid, Spain and San Francisco in order to provide familiar environments for people to meet, collaborate and network.
Accenture also built a metaverse environment for the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland as a “global collaboration village” where people of different nationalities, languages and time zones could meet and contribute to the broader discussion, Etheredge said.
Another area where he sees a lot of potential with the metaverse is for companies to create a “digital twin” in which it can test out new ideas virtually and see how that impacts operations.
“I already see companies, including Accenture, looking at how to apply it to white-collar, back-office processes.” Etheredge said. “I think that’s where you are going to see some serious practical application.”
Accenture is also helping companies navigate a new world of brands and non-fungible tokens, and how to tie in their logos and products into the metaverse.
“We are working with a number of the largest brands in the world about how they are going to use their brand and NFTs in this metaverse world,” Etheredge said.
Ultimately, the metaverse has a lot more to offer than “avatars running around and talking” and Etheredge believes that the metaverse will eventually become an integral part of every business.
“I believe every business will become a metaverse business. It’s just going to be at a different pace,” he said.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) the parent company of Facebook, made headlines when he introduced his vision for a “metaverse” and even changed the company’s name in 2021 to reflect what he thought was the future of interpersonal interaction. And more and more companies are placing bets on the metaverse. Ukrainian crypto exchange Qmall is set to launch its own metaverse. Hot Wheels, Barbie and Mattel will add their metaverse avatars to Cryptoys, a platform for playable NFTs.
But experts say the metaverse should be approached with caution, and small-business owners need to be savvy about it.
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