One of my first thoughts in the morning before I meet with someone to conduct an interview is: what am I going to wear? Before I met with Accenture executives on the Nth floor, the firm’s enterprise metaverse, I had to think of how I’d dress my avatar. I chose to be creative.
Wall Street thinks the metaverse will be worth trillions. And companies are finding innovative ways to join the virtual space. Accenture, a global IT services and consulting firm, which has about 700,000 employees globally, is using the metaverse for onboarding new hires in a virtual campus environment. This fiscal year, 150,000 new hires are working in the metaverse on their first day—up from just 11,000 last year, according to the firm.
CFOs have the challenge of trying to figure out how much (if any) money to allocate to building out metaverse projects. Accenture worked with Microsoft to establish their metaverse. The firm is not publicly disclosing the costs, an Accenture representative told me. But Accenture has purchased over 60,000 Oculus headsets for new employees to use, and “we believe what we’ve created, and are operating in the largest enterprise metaverse in the world,” according to the representative.
Accenture also offers the option of a version of Nth floor via a laptop or desktop to ensure accessibility for all employees. Since the company ranked No. 6 on Fortune’s 2022 Best Companies to Work For, I wanted to take a peek at the onboarding experience.
Accenture loaned me one of the Oculus headsets. Getting set up requires using your Facebook account. It was my first time in the metaverse, so prior to my interview, I took some practice runs and had an instruction session from a team member. When I got a grasp for operating in VR, like learning how to dress and style my avatar, using my controllers correctly, and remembering to silence my cell phone, I was ready to meet Accenture’s Jason Warnke, digital experiences lead, and Allison Horn, global talent lead.
When deciding on whether or not to enter the metaverse, Accenture had to decide: “Was it just a technology for the sake of technology, or was it truly a meaningful improvement on what we’ve been doing to date?” Warnke told me as we stood in the lounge area. “And, then, along came Allison and her team with a pretty magical and fundamental use case.” The team approached leadership in March 2021 about “the opportunity to reimagine how we did onboarding,” Horn says. During the first two days of onboarding, employees now learn about the company, the culture, and values in interactive ways, she says.
‘Technology is the easy part’
Change often doesn’t come without challenges. “I think we went into this, all the way up to our CEO, knowing that we were in the early days of this, and that there would be challenges, friction, and tough things that we’d have to overcome,” Warnke says.
“There would be new policies and procedures that we’d have to figure out for this technology,” he says. “And often, I’ll say, once you step back from all of that, you realize that the technology is actually the easy part of the whole thing. It’s the change management and the people and the process that actually takes more work and is tougher to get through.”
“So, there is that human tendency to shy away from things that are uncomfortable and new,” Horn explains. “But we have all kinds of optimism that even the folks who are looking at this and saying, ‘You know, not for me, not yet,’ will eventually come along because of the promises that it holds.”
Accenture also uses the metaverse for learning opportunities and has hosted more than 1,000 community events in the space. Any advice for companies thinking about joining the metaverse but may have doubts? “Find one little pocket of your organization and start to flex the muscle that you’ve never flexed before around using extended reality in the metaverse technologies,” Warnke says. “And you’re going to learn a whole lot, and then you’re going to determine where you need more skills and where you need new processes to people to make it happen.”
If you’re wondering how our conservation looked and sounded in the metaverse, you can find a video here. What do you think about the future of work in the metaverse?
See you tomorrow.
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