According to a report jointly published by Nokia and Ernst & Young (EY), companies that have already adopted industrial metaverse applications are reaping more substantial rewards than those still in the initial planning stages.
The study, titled “The Metaverse at Work,” examines the present status of company and industrial metaverses.
It surveyed 860 business leaders across six countries and highlighted that the industrial metaverse is poised to surpass expectations by delivering significant advantages. Notably, the reported benefits include reducing capital expenditure by 15 percent, improving sustainability by ten percent and improving safety by nine percent.
The results indicate a strong belief among companies in the transformative potential of the metaverse, signaling its long-term significance. Only two percent of respondents perceive the metaverse as a passing trend or mere hype.
In comparison, 58 percent of companies with future metaverse plans have already initiated the deployment or testing of at least one metaverse-related use case. Meanwhile, 94 percent of those who have yet to embark on their metaverse journey intend to do so within the next two years.
Companies emphasize that the industrial metaverse is generating substantial business value. On average, 80 percent of those who have integrated metaverse use cases already anticipate a significant or transformative impact on their operational methods.
Around 96 percent of respondents recognize that the metaverse’s amalgamation of physical and virtual applications provides added innovative capabilities. They perceive that this integration will enable them to expedite the implementation, adoption, and monetization of Industry 4.0 for their businesses.
The metaverse’s potential to unlock new possibilities is highly regarded by companies, further solidifying its importance in driving future growth and success.
Regarding geographical distribution, the United States (65 percent), the United Kingdom (64 percent) and Brazil (63 percent) are at the forefront in terms of deploying or piloting industrial or company metaverse use cases.
Germany follows closely with an average of 53 percent. In comparison, the progress in the Asia Pacific region is slightly behind, with Japan and South Korea both standing at 49 percent.
When asked about the use cases with the highest potential to deliver transformative value, companies anticipated extended reality (XR) implementation in training programs, enabling efficient onboarding and upskilling of their workforce.
Among the four industries surveyed, three identified virtual research and development (R&D) as a promising avenue to enhance product design and refine processes.
When it comes to deploying metaverse use cases, companies demonstrate a clear understanding of the importance of robust infrastructure and advanced analytical capabilities.
The respondents stress the critical role played by key technical enablers that serve as the foundation for meeting the demands of such service cases. Cloud computing took the top spot in terms of significance, with 72 percent of respondents recognizing its vital role. Following closely behind, 70 percent acknowledged the importance of AI/ML, while network connectivity garnered a similar level of recognition at 68-70 percent.
As companies navigate this stage of metaverse implementation, they recognize the need for additional technical expertise. To address this, companies are forming partnerships with a diverse range of experts and service providers. By leveraging these collaborations, organizations can bridge any capability gaps and effectively deploy their metaverse use cases.
According to Vincent Douin, the executive director of business consulting and business transformation at Ernst & Young LLP, industrial and company metaverses have a notable presence.
“The industrial and enterprise metaverses are here, this study shows the clear appetite for these technologies such as extended reality and digital twins to achieve business goals,” Douin said.
Douin said his company is witnessing a significant number of organizations surpassing the planning stages and reaping tangible benefits from their initial implementations.
Thierry E. Klein, the president of Bell Labs Solutions Research at Nokia, expressed his enthusiasm, saying, “It is great to see that companies clearly believe in the power of the Metaverse for business value creation in both enterprise and industrial use cases.”
He said it aligns strongly with their vision. “Informed by more than 8 years of research at Nokia Bell Labs, that the Industrial Metaverse is an extension of Industry 4.0.”
According to Klein, companies that have already implemented mission-critical communications networks for Industry 4.0 are in a favorable position to reap the advantages of the metaverse, as evident from the experiences of certain companies.
Gathering insights from industry representatives
The study gathers insights from 860 company representatives across four industry sectors in the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and South Korea. These sectors include automotive, industrial goods and manufacturing, transportation, supply chain and logistics, as well as power and utilities.
To support the findings, 22 in-depth interviews were conducted with experts and leaders in the field of metaverse across the four industries mentioned. Additionally, interviews were conducted with leaders in public safety and defense. These interviews took place in March 2023.
In the case of automotive companies, respondents from operations and production functions were classified under the industrial goods & manufacturing industry due to the similarities in manufacturing processes. However, respondents from other functions within the automotive sector were considered part of the automotive industry.
The report defines the metaverse as the convergence of the digital and physical realms. Within the company context, the metaverse emerges from the growing need for improved digital collaboration and communication tools. It encompasses the essential productivity applications that drive business operations and enables advanced virtual connections for the next generation.
The industrial metaverse combines physical and digital elements to enhance industrial applications. It creates digital representations of real-world industrial environments, systems, processes, assets and spaces. Participants can control, monitor and interact with these digital counterparts, boosting human capabilities in the industrial realm.
Metaverse as a new hype
In recent years, the metaverse has garnered immense interest, particularly within the gaming, social and consumer realms, resulting in amplified hype. According to the study, the metaverse and its associated technologies are here for the long haul.
The market is now undergoing a readjustment phase, shifting the focus towards tangible use cases that can effectively test the metaverse’s true contributions and real-world value.
The recent shift in focus has reinforced the presence of the industrial and company metaverses, affirming their ability to deliver tangible and enduring value, extending beyond mere hype.
These metaverses empower companies to leverage their ongoing digitalization endeavors and achieve enhanced efficiencies, sustainability and safety improvements.