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Extended reality technology in global business services

The metaverse may be our next destination

As extended reality technology reaches new heights, the metaverse is opening new opportunities to enhance the work experience and expand the scope of shared services for global business services (GBS). Explore the use-case opportunities for extended reality in business, from training to prototyping, and learn how you can prepare for an xR future.

The promise of extended reality for business

Remote work is here to stay. In Deloitte’s 2021 Global Shared Services and Outsourcing Survey, 87% of approximately 600 respondents reported an intent to retain a mostly remote or fully virtual workforce model over the next three to five years. Now, given increased Zoom fatigue and an ever-sprawling workforce, rapidly advancing extended reality (xR) technology brings new possibilities for businesses to both enhance the everyday work experience and expand the scope of shared services in a global business services (GBS) setting.

Today’s features give us an idea of how these capabilities can be applied to future extended reality use cases in business. One example might be to leverage extended reality technology to conduct virtual field visits for GBS site selection, enabling a fully immersive experience that is dramatically more inclusive to the innumerable individuals involved in the decision-making process. As this technology reaches new heights, it may be time for GBS leaders to envision the art of the possible, through the lens of an extended reality headset.

Extended reality in global business services: The metaverse may be our next destination

What are the three components of extended reality?

Extended reality technology includes a spectrum of at least three digitalized environments. At the most immersive end of the spectrum, virtual reality (VR) creates a digital environment that completely replaces the user’s real-world environment. By wearing an enclosed headset the user is transported into a fully immersive and interactive digital scenario.

Similar to VR, augmented reality (AR) builds on a real-world environment with a digitally created layer, much like Google Glass and Ray-Ban Stories, to create a semi-immersive experience. Mixed reality (MR) introduces a tactile recognition between the user’s hands and an object within the user’s view.

Spectrum of extended reality

Augmented reality

Overlays digitally created content onto the user’s real-world environment.

Mixed reality

Blends digital content into the real world, and creates an environment where both can coexist and interact.

Virtual reality

Creates a digital environment that replaces the user’s real-world environment.

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What is extended reality technology like right now?

Commercially available apps generally fall into the following categories: gaming, viewing, and collaboration. A headset can cost under $500 and with a Wi-Fi connection and a small amount of space (if you plan to roam in the metaverse), anyone can pop on a headset and get started.

Deloitte’s own Global Business Services practice tested multiple apps, focusing on collaboration apps, while using a VR headset. In one situation, a team of ten reviewed a PowerPoint presentation, with half using headsets and the other half joining by desktop. Here’s what we found:

  • The virtual environment makes it easier to “read the room.” Avatars can intentionally face each other, so it is clear who is addressing whom within the virtual room.
  • Wearing the headset blocks out all distractions.
  • Wearing the headset also creates a natural time limit to the virtual session, due to the finite battery life and the eventual need to take off the headset, such as to check the time or just to get a break from wearing it.
  • Apps that allow joining by desktop are by nature more inclusive to those who do not have headsets.

What are the business use cases for xR?

The immersion, collaboration, and haptic capabilities bring a wide array of use cases to the table. Let’s deep dive into three potential examples below.

Considerations for xR in business

While xR brings together a wide range of exciting new capabilities, there are additional technology development, extended use, and infrastructure limitations that need to be considered.

Deloitte’s own Global Business Services practice tested multiple apps, focusing on collaboration apps, while using a VR headset. In one situation, a team of ten reviewed a PowerPoint presentation, with half using headsets and the other half joining by desktop. Here’s what we found:

Considerations for xR in business

While xR brings together a wide range of exciting new capabilities, there are additional technology development, extended use, and infrastructure limitations that need to be considered. Deloitte’s own Global Business Services practice tested multiple apps, focusing on collaboration apps, while using a VR headset. In one situation, a team of ten reviewed a PowerPoint presentation, with half using headsets and the other half joining by desktop. Here’s what we found:

Among the key considerations laid out above, organizations are dependent on leading companies in the VR domain to enhance and scale existing technology. There are aspects that organizations will need to consider in order to best prepare for this emerging technology.

What can organizations do to better prepare?

  • Enhance existing IT Infrastructure: IT organizations will need to determine technical requirements for xR software and hardware to ensure existing infrastructure can integrate with the new technology.
  • Strengthen data management and governance policy and processes: Due to xR enhancing the availability and type of data being collected, companies need to ensure there is a rigid data governance methodology in place.
  • Identify functions, processes, and activities ripe for XR technology: It will be imperative for companies to begin identifying, down to the activity level, which areas will be enhanced by xR based on predefined criteria.
  • Identify community-building opportunities enhanced by XR: Organizations will need to identify and prioritize community-building initiatives for their virtual employees to take advantage of the many opportunities to collaborate through xR.
  • Build a business case to support xR enhancements: As organizations identify uses cases specific to their own companies, it will be imperative to ensure a business case (qualitative and/or quantitative) to support leveraging xR.
  • Deploy a thorough yet flexible change management strategy: As with any new technology, deploying an effective change management strategy with change agents will be imperative to integrate xR technology.

xR technology is very much a topic to get excited about. With advancements underway each day, it’s only a matter time for the metaverse to become the next best location for a future GBS center. Connect with our team to learn how your organization can prepare for the future of extended reality.

Get in touch

Kort Syvorson
Principal, GBS practice leader
Deloitte Consulting LLP

Tara Nicholson
Senior Manager
Deloitte Consulting LLP

Valerie Liu
Senior Manager
Deloitte Consulting LLP

Adam Kapasi
Senior Consultant
Deloitte Consulting LLP

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