Top ways the metaverse can help employers

Expert cites operational efficiencies, immersive experiences and safety advantages

Top ways the metaverse can help employers

Canada is well positioned to benefit from the metaverse.

With its globally recognized start-up ecosystem and diversity of highly skilled talent, Canada could see between $45.3-85.5 billion per year in additional GDP by 2035 thanks to the new technology, according to a report from Deloitte, commissioned by Meta. 

“This is obviously super important for economies that are looking for new ways to grow and new ways to deal with challenges of secular economic growth declines and stagnation,” says Kevin Chan, global policy campaigns director, Meta, in talking with Canadian HR Reporter.

To estimate the impact, Deloitte's methodology begins by estimating the potential global economic impact of the metaverse based on global metaverse investment scenarios. It then apportions this global total to obtain country level estimates.

And while the metaverse is still in its very early stages within Canada, there is greater awareness of it among businesses than among consumers.

Specifically, 82 per cent of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have heard of virtual reality (VR) devices and apps, and 56 per cent have heard of AR devices and apps, according to the Deloitte report. On the other hand, while 74 per cent of Canadian adults were familiar with VR, 43 per cent familiar with augmented reality (AR) and 30 per cent with extended reality (XR), only 37 per cent with the metaverse.

Finding value in metaverse

The movement towards the metaverse could bode well for companies, says Chan.

“Businesses really are looking at three ways of finding new value.” 

One way? By harnessing new revenue streams, he says. For example, a retailer that’s been selling physical goods can now sell “digital equivalents for people who want to use the same product or goods in a virtual environment”.

Employers can also use the metaverse to augment existing business models, says Chan.

“If you are trying to get people to buy something in the physical world… using augmented reality [can] make it more compelling for people. 

“[For] people who dabble in augmented reality, [it’s] giving you a sense of what would that furniture look like in your house, in your living room, without having to take the risk or the commitment of purchasing it right away.”

The metaverse can also bring employers operational efficiencies, says Chan.

“A lot of companies have manufacturing plants, they have distribution centers,” he says. 

The metaverse allows companies to “build what we call ‘digital twins’ in virtual environments that mirror a real environment” and allows them “modify and adjust things in the virtual environment” to ensure that their operations are yielding the benefits and the efficiencies in the real world.

The metaverse “is poised to be much more impactful than any technology we've seen emerge before,” says Michael Moerman, partner at Capco Canada, a technology consultancy, in talking with Canadian HR Reporter.

Immersive collaboration in metaverse

The metaverse will also enable workers to come together in virtual spaces and have real human interaction with each other, says Chan.

“Virtual reality and metaverse technologies will enable us to be more immersed in when we work,” he says. 

“So we can actually get to meetings that are virtual – you can stay where you are and I can stay where I am – but we actually meet in a virtual conference hall where we're going to be embodied in avatars, where you and I are going to see each other in a 3D environment, but actually feel we're actually next to each other. 

“We’ll have a sense of presence, and we will feel immersed in a different environment and really be with each other and actually be able to make eye contact and have facial reactions, and read body language.”

Chan cites a personal experience where he sensed – during a metaverse meeting – that one worker wanted to say something but was reluctant to speak up because the meeting was ending.

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of business leaders see the metaverse as the next stage of hybrid working, according to a previous Regus report.

Safety and the metaverse

Another aspect of work that the metaverse can positively impact in safety, says Chan.

Going back to the notion of digital twins – “This idea that you can build a virtual replica that allows you to do things in a virtual environment before you do it for real,” he says.

Different types of industries – like gas, mining, power and utilities – are “trying to figure out if it is safe to proceed with a certain process,” and asking questions like: “How do we do things in a way that's most energy efficient?” 

“Being able to build out a digital twin that models those things before you actually physically commit capital to it has shown really good promise,” says Chan.

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