Going Beyond with Extended RealityGoing Beyond with Extended Reality

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Transcending the real world

As more people are embracing the virtual world to better connect, a continuum of technologies and experiences are growing in popularity—and offering huge potential for future ways of learning and working. Accenture is recognized as an early leader in this space, applying technologies, such as extended reality (XR) and digital twins, to deliver breakthrough solutions for more than a decade.

With the belief that physical and virtual experiences will co-exist in future ways of working, Accenture is moving boldly into the metaverse to create workplace experiences, where our people can participate, contribute and feel like they belong, regardless of where they work.

Working closely with Microsoft, Accenture started this journey pre-pandemic by building a virtual campus called the “Nth floor” for people to gather and participate in community events. Soon after the pandemic hit, Accenture began building on these capabilities for onboarding new employees and then extended them to serve learning and collaboration needs within the organization.

Accenture’s metaverse: The Nth floor

A new era of digital change is being ushered in by the metaverse—a convergence of physical and digital worlds that enables people to move beyond “browsing” to “inhabiting” in a shared experience. Enhanced by advancements in 3D, AR and VR, it’s where people can meet and where digital assets—land, buildings, products, and avatars—can be created, bought and sold.

Accenture’s enterprise metaverse, known as the Nth floor, refers to the virtual environments we have created to bring Accenture people together to meet, collaborate and learn. Whether hosting meetings or socializing, the metaverse is a versatile, scalable solution for bringing a geographically distributed workforce together.

In addition, Accenture has created digital twins of many of its physical offices, from Bangalore in India to Madrid in Spain and San Francisco in the United States to provide familiar environments for its people to meet, collaborate and network.

Onboarding new hires

The first few days as a new employee are crucial to talent retention. However, a Gallup poll found only 12% of employees reflected favorably on job onboarding experiences – and that was prior to the pandemic. These experiences crucial to shaping the path forward for an employee.

Within our Nth floor metaverse, a virtual campus called One Accenture Park is helping new employees personally connect with the culture and plant the seeds of professional relationships. This type of immersive experience enables new hires to experience “orientation” in a more personal way and meet many more people doing so. This year, 150,000 new hires are working from the metaverse on their first day at Accenture.

Learning

As we continue to invest in our people, this VR program enables us to use new ways of connecting with each other to practice soft skills, such as sales conversations and orals, giving and receiving feedback, as well as coaching and mentoring. There’s also growing evidence to support immersive VR instruction. In the latest Accenture report, Meeting the New Reality: Immersive Learning, we found that a majority of learners (70%) forgot training content within 24 hours and virtually all (90%) forgot after a month. Interestingly, a study also found immersive VR instruction offered a path to achieve 33% higher learning retention when compared to video.

Taking this idea enterprise-wide, Accenture has started introducing new learning content in VR this year. For example, our new “VR Cybersecurity Adventure” course provides a gamified experience that takes users through an immersive journey set in both real and fantasy environments. The training asks users to defend themselves against hackers, scammers, fraudsters and cyberbullies as the user’s knowledge of safe cybersecurity practices is put to the test using select VR headsets.

Virtual events

Since the pandemic began, Accenture has held hundreds of community gatherings in immersive spaces where people can connect, learn and better collaborate because they’re in the same place together. For example, at an annual strategy meeting with our client account leaders, we created a virtual lounge using a combination of avatars and realistic meeting spaces to provide a deeper sense of connection. The result: more than 150 managing directors in 25 countries enjoyed face-to-face time from their own locations.

XR excellence foundation

Our strategy is grounded in using XR to develop a sense of community and enhance our culture. It focuses on three foundational pillars: experience, adoption and infrastructure.

As we look to the future, the introduction of new platforms—such as the platform Microsoft Mesh that’s designed to make app creation easier—offers the promise of new forms of mixed reality collaboration in the metaverse.

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