Accenture launches metaverse design and consulting practice

18 March 2022 5 min. read
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With the mounting business hype surrounding metaverse technology, Accenture has become the latest consultancy to make its entrance to the burgeoning market. The company has unfurled a dedicated consulting wing, advising clients on their presence in the metaverse, and adapting their technology accordingly.

JP Morgan became the first bank to establish a presence in the metaverse in February 2022, eyeing a market opportunity of $1 trillion in ‘virtual real estate’, while many more financial services operators are tipped to join the firm. As more users enter the metaverse – and look to accrue ‘virtual real estate’ – they anticipate a chance to profit from in-platform lending facilitating that activity.

Recent sales for Sandbox, for example, have seen ‘undeveloped’ LAND go for about $10,000, according to blockchain data – and one tract of virtual land in the metaverse reportedly sold for $4.3 million in November 2021, so lending in such transactions might yield new value for banks struggling to raise income at present.

Accenture launches metaverse design and consulting practice

And as is the case with any market, if businesses are out to make money from it, consultants will surely roll out services to advise them how to do that more successfully. At the turn of the year, this saw PwC construct a Web 3.0 advisory hub, to facilitate a new generation of professional services, including accounting and taxation, in the metaverse. Now, Accenture has unveiled plans to similarly adapt its services for the burgeoning market.

Paul Daugherty, Chief Technology Officer at Accenture, explained, “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… Our vision of the metaverse as a continuum challenges prevailing, narrower views and highlights why organisations must act today, or find themselves operating in worlds designed by, and for, someone else.”

The new Accenture Metaverse Continuum business group will be led by Daugherty and David Droga, former founder of Droga5 and present CEO and Creative Chairman of Accenture Interactive. According to Droga, Accenture is already recognised as an early leader in metaverse-related capabilities – noting the firm has filed 600 patents in the sector, and accrued more than a decade of experience in the developing technology.

He added, “Our new business group combines these capabilities with the creative strengths of Accenture Interactive, with teams of innovators and creators introducing new applications in the decentralized environment of the metaverse.”

In recent years – before and during the pandemic – Accenture has been investing in the digitalising of its own onboarding experience; particularly in relation to the use of VR and AR in training. To that end, Accenture operates its own metaverse, called the Nth floor, where the company’s people participate in new hire orientation and immersive learning or meet and socialise as teams. By the end of the current fiscal year, the company expects 150,000 or more new hires will spend their first day working in this metaverse.

Daugherty believes this is just the start – for Accenture, and the wider economy. Recent Accenture research spanning 23 industries in 35 countries found that even at the nascent stage of metaverse development, 71% of executives believe it will have a positive impact on their organisation, and 42% believe it will be breakthrough or transformational.

To that end, he concluded, “As the line between people’s physical and digital lives further blurs, organisations 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. The actions and choices they make today will set the stage for the future.”

Explaining the metaverse

A metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection. For years, a term mainly connected with science fiction, it has long been imagined as a hypothetical iteration of the Internet – with the global network finally manifesting a single, universal virtual world.

The idea has taken on particular prominence in the last year, thanks to Facebook’s rebranding as Meta – a Metaverse company. As the world’s social media and digital companies reach the point where there is little further room to expand their followership – and this exponential growth was what enabled their meteoric rise in the first place – they are turning to the concept of the metaverse as a magic bullet, where they can find new ways to profit from the provision of social digital infrastructure.

With large companies already throwing even larger amounts of money at the project, the metaverse is increasingly becoming viewed as a watershed opportunity in the privatisation of social interaction. With the deployment of mechanisms such as blockchain and NFTs, users are compelled to spend money to buy into interactive spaces such as the Sandbox metaverse, where their interactions are recorded as ‘transactions’ in a permanent, and publicly available ledger.

Whatever the security and privacy concerns this has stoked up, many businesses view this as a major opportunity to open up new revenue streams.