Does the Metaverse Have Potential in Pharma?

The metaverse is expected to have far-reaching applications in sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, education/job training, and communications. What is the metaverse exactly, and what technologies and functions are in play?

The metaverse is expected to have far-reaching applications in sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, education/job training, and communications. What is the metaverse exactly, and what technologies and functions are in play? 

The metaverse and business
The term “metaverse,” referred to as Web 3.0, refers to the evolution of the Internet to include online 3-D or virtually integrated environments that provide users access to virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. According to a recent analysis by Accenture, the metaverse offers new opportunities and ways of doing businesses with the use of technologies, such as extended reality, blockchain, digital twins, and edge computing, which can reshape human experiences.

Accenture recently released a report, Meet Me in the Metaverse: The Continuum of Technology and Experience Reshaping Business, to examine the role that the metaverse will play in transforming business models, operations, and how business is conducted. As part of the report, Accenture surveyed more than 4,600 business and technology leaders across 23 industries in 35 countries. At this early stage, 71% of executives believe the metaverse will have a positive impact on their organization, and 42% believe it will be breakthrough or transformational.

“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, Group Chief Executive, Technology, and Chief Technology Officer at Accenture, a management consulting firm. “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.”

In a separate report, Technology Vision 2022, Accenture identifies four key trends that companies will need to address as it relates to the metaverse. The report based from research that included gathering input from its Technology Vision External Advisory Board, a group comprising more than two dozen experienced individuals from the public and private sectors, academia, venture capital firms, and entrepreneurial companies. In addition, the Technology Vision team conducted interviews with technology and industry experts, as well as many Accenture business leaders. In parallel, Accenture Research conducted a global survey of 24,000 consumers and 4,650 C-level executives and directors across 35 countries and 23 industries. The key trends identified by business leaders with respect to the metaverse are outlined below.

Computing the Incomputable. The report points out that the emergence of a new class of machines is allowing organizations across industries to stretch the boundaries of what computers can solve. Tools, such as quantum computing and biology-inspired computing, are allowing businesses to solve problems that may be too expensive, inefficient, or not feasible impossible for traditional computing. Nearly all (94%) executives agreed that long-term success will depend on leveraging next generation computing to solve seemingly intractable challenges.

Forward-looking companies are simultaneously navigating the uncertainty of today’s markets while beginning to compete in the Metaverse Continuum. For example, working with Microsoft and Accenture, Mars is embracing digital twins, which is one of the foundational elements of the metaverse, to reduce waste, increase speed and capacity, and allow its employees to make real-time decisions across its supply chain. Mars is now extending this concept to product development with digital simulations factoring in variability, such as climate and disruptions, and maintaining greater visibility from the point of origin to place of consumption.

Making Data Authentic. The Accenture report points out that businesses and environments are increasingly supported by artificial intelligence (AI)-generated data that convincingly reflects the physical world. AI is becoming more of a tool for both industrial and consumer-based businesses as companies and consumers shift away from considering what is real versus fake, to what is authentic, not just in terms of a company’s content and algorithms but its entire organization. Ninety-six percent of executives report that their organizations are committed to authenticating the origin of their data and genuine use of AI.

Programmable and Personalized World. The report points out that as emerging technologies such as 5G, ambient computing, augmented reality and smart materials advance, digital environments will be increasingly woven into the fabric of the physical world. These environments will reshape not just how people engage with worlds, but also redefine everything built in it, how people sense and interact, and the control they have over it. Ninety-two of executives agree that leading organizations will push the boundaries of the virtual world to make it more real, increasing the need for persistence and seamless navigation between the digital and physical worlds.

WebMe and the Metaverse. The report points out that enterprise strategies are built for the Internet of today, a digital world where platforms often lack interoperability and data portability. 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. Ninety-five percent of executives believe that future digital platforms need to offer unified experiences to enable interoperability of customers’ data across different platforms and spaces.

For its part, Accenture also operates its own metaverse, the Nth floor, where the company’s people participate in new hire orientation and immersive learning or meet and socialize as teams. This fiscal year, the company expects 150,000 or more new hires will work in the metaverse on their first day.

 “As the line between people’s physical and digital lives further blurs, organizations have the opportunity and obligation now to build a responsible metaverse—addressing issues like trust, sustainability, personal safety, privacy, responsible access and use, diversity and more,” says Accenture’s Daugherty. The actions and choices they make today will set the stage for the future.”

Accenture also launching the Accenture Metaverse Continuum business group to guide companies in the metaverse. The new group will be led by Paul Daugherty, Group Chief Executive, Technology, and Chief Technology Officer at Accenture and David Droga, CEO and Creative Chairman of Accenture Interactive.

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