The rise and rise of hybrid working, and/or the third workspace, has meant a reimaging of the tools that firms depend on to do their business. Increasingly, these have included immersive technology, and a study commissioned by Ciena has uncovered just how ready business professionals are to collaborate in the virtual world.
The research surveyed 15,000 business professionals, including1,000 in each of these countries/regions: the UK, Germany, Norway, the Middle East, Australia, Denmark, Japan, Colombia, India, the US, the Philippines, Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia. The study showed that as many as 96% of the 15,000 business professionals surveyed across the globe recognise the value of virtual meetings, and more than three-quarters (78%) say they would participate in more immersive experiences, like the metaverse, versus current tools, such as video-conferencing.
According to the respondents, the top two benefits of virtual meetings are improved collaboration and convenience. And when it comes to selecting their avatar for the virtual world, 35% would choose one that reflects their real-world self, 22% would choose an idealistic version and only 10% would pick a pop culture figure. Globally, 71% of professionals said they could see the metaverse becoming part of existing work practices, and 40% think their business will move away from traditional/static collaboration environments to more immersive and virtual reality-based environments in the next two years.
Despite the fact that appetites are undoubtedly growing for the new digital world, barriers to widespread business adoption of immersive technologies still exist. Unreliable network performance was cited by 38% globally as the top concern holding organisations back, proving a bigger concern than the belief that immersive applications/tools are not yet widely available.
And while the data reveals a significant push toward more digital and immersive platforms on a global scale, there are regional differences. Globally, 87% of business professionals said they would feel comfortable conducting HR meetings in a virtual space. But at a country level, this ranged from 97% in India and 94% in the Philippines down to 57% in Japan.
“Clearly, the business world is ready to move to the metaverse and start using enhanced reality tools for collaboration and innovation,” said Steve Alexander, senior vice-president and chief technology officer at Ciena.
“Network reliability may be seen as a barrier to making this possible today, but service providers know the demand is there and are already investing and testing to make networks faster, smarter and bring them closer to the user.
“We will continue to hear talk around what the metaverse is or could be in the coming months and years, but none of the exciting use cases can be achieved without a robust underlying network, laced with the latest and greatest technologies that support the ultra-low latency and high bandwidth that enhanced reality demands.”
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