Technology consultancy Accenture has launched a dedicated “Metaverse Continuum” business group to help companies build new experiences as “extended reality, blockchain, digital twins, and edge computing are converging to reshape human experience,” the firm said in a press release.
The metaverse ramped up its exposure in October when Mark Zuckerberg rebranded Facebook to Meta and shared his vision of an immersive virtual world where people interact as avatars. This idea of the metaverse has been around for decades in science fiction and in video game applications such as Second Life and dozens of massive multiplayer online games. Presumably technology, such as virtual reality headsets or quantum computing, would make the expanded and integrated metaverse experience “better” or “more immersive.”
According to Accenture, “Metaverse and Web3 are poised to reshape the internet; rather than it being a disparate collection of sites and apps, looking ahead, the metaverse will lead to a persistent 3D environment in which moving from one ‘place’ to another will be as simple as walking from one room to another.”
Accenture believes companies that lag on tailoring their offerings and experiences for the metaverse will be left behind in the proverbial digital dust.
“The next generation of the internet is unfolding and will drive a new wave of digital transformation far greater than what we’ve seen to date, transforming the way we all live and work,” said Paul Daugherty, CTO and group chief executive for technology at Accenture. “Our vision of the metaverse as a continuum challenges prevailing, narrower views and highlights why organizations must act today, or find themselves operating in worlds designed by, and for, someone else.”
Daugherty will lead the firm’s metaverse business alongside David Droga, CEO and creative chairman of Accenture Interactive, the firm’s digital marketing agency.
Droga says the firm is an early leader in the metaverse, with 600 patent filings and more than a decade of experience in the field. “Our new business group combines these capabilities with the creative strengths of Accenture Interactive, with teams of innovators and creators introducing new applications in the decentralized environment of the metaverse,” he said.
The business group brings together more than 800 metaverse-skilled professionals and Accenture’s capabilities in the area. The group will help clients design a responsible metaverse approach and explore industry and functional use cases; set strategies across a continuum of needs, including marketing, CX, digital products, and future of work; and build and operate metaverse capabilities for clients, including world-building, content management, extended reality, and trust and safety.
Accenture also has its own metaverse, “the Nth floor,” which it uses for onboarding, training, and socializing. The firm expects 150,000 new hires to work in the metaverse on their first day by the end of this fiscal year.
Despite the manufactured hype, the metaverse faces two intertwined and critical gaps – technology and viable use cases. The metaverse is only appealing if it has the technological foundation to deliver a truly transformational experience. Simply creating a Meta/Facebook-branded “Second Life of the internet” should not be especially enticing to consumers.
Plugging into a technically shoddy corporate avatar network isn’t revelatory just because technology leaders say it is. If it’s still easier, more effective, and accessible to use Zoom and slack for a meeting, then metaverse-pushers haven’t done a good enough job. The same can be said for blockchain applications that don’t provide better ROI than standard databases.
According to John Carmack, co-founder of id Software and former CTO of Oculus VR (a Meta firm), the current technology isn’t where it needs to be. Meta’s virtual reality Zoom rival – Horizon Workrooms – stutters with just 16 participants. Though cloud and quantum computing are promising, Carmack says huge costs and bandwidth limitations would prevent many people and geographies from accessing the metaverse in that context.