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Trend 4
The Next Web

"With Web3’s influence, workplaces may look, feel, and operate in vastly different ways than we’re used to today"

- Zenyk Matchyshyn, Chief Architect for the Digital Enterprise, Capgemini Engineering

Welcome to the new virtual workplace

During Covid, business and social interactions automatically shifted to the digital space. Post pandemic, interest in virtual ways of communicating and collaborating are here to stay. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that developments in the metaverse are seeing an exponential acceleration.

 

Facebook, which changed its name to Meta Platforms and promised to invest $10 billion in its Reality Labs operation in 2022, has contribute to this enthusiasm. If it continues to evolve as anticipated, the metaverse will ultimately offer a collective, virtual shared space in which people can interact remotely and have multi-sensory experiences thanks to advanced Virtual Reality (VR) technologies.

 

This can change the workplace by pushing the remote experience a step further. Some start-ups have started offering metaverse worlds dedicated to corporates. In the “infinite office” envisioned by Facebook, the immersive virtual space offered in the metaverse will enable truly efficient remote collaboration and will allow people to better focus by having virtual spaces designed for their own needs. It will also transform professional training by allowing trainees to practice on virtual 3D models. Beyond that, specific applications for each industry should emerge, even if today few have already identified clear use cases.

90%

of executives see significant business value in the metaverse for their industry in the next one to five years

(Source: Gartner)

25%

of the world population will have adopted the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social interaction and entertainment by 2026

(Source: Gartner)

Blockchain redefines trust and ownership

In the emerging Web3 iteration, the networks (and the money exchanged) are decentralised, with blockchain technology replacing centralised intermediaries. Blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack or cheat the system.

 

Linked to the blockchain development, the NFT (Nonfungible Token) offers a unique and non-interchangeable digital certificate of authenticity of a digital asset. These technologies offer unique advantages in situations where ownership, transparency and security are needed.

As a result, major institutions, suffering from a crisis of confidence, are being challenged by blockchain-based solutions. The most obvious example is cryptocurrencies, which are challenging the utility of banks. The global cryptocurrency market is projected to reach US$ 32 trillion by 2027 versus US$ 1.7 trillion in 2021. Companies are also challenged by the emergence of DAOs (Decentralised Autonomous Organisations). These communities of users are formed autonomously to respond to specific issues and operate according to rules of governance written in the blockchain. As of March 2022, DAOs have more than $10 billion of assets under management. Beyond these examples, blockchain and related technologies are rapidly being adopted by a wide variety of businesses as they attempt to solve their data privacy and security issues or propose new digital-asset based business models.

80%

of companies are already using some form of automation technology or plan to do so over the next year

(Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)

86%

of AI experts agree that responsible AI should be a top management agenda item

(Source : 4 Day Week Global pilot program, 2018, worldwide)

83%

of CEO believe that blockchain is now a core aspect to stay competitive in the market

(Source : 4 Day Week Global pilot program, 2018, worldwide)

AI is becoming standard in all businesses, not just in the world of tech

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another key feature of Web3.  Unlike when it was still in the research project phases in many companies two years ago, the profitability is now being demonstrated and many applications have been deployed. Internally, it improves productivity, reduces costs and enhances human decisions. Externally, it enriches the customer experience and increases sales. However, its power is causing concern. The explosion of deepfakes has highlighted the risks of manipulation. Various controversies have questioned their fairness.

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Opportunities and challenges

For workers

Even more connected

By 2026, we will be wearing a VR headset at least 1h/day to enjoy an enhanced immersive experience, according to Gartner. The metaverse will bring new levels of social connection, mobility and collaboration. However, for workers, it could accentuate the pitfalls of remote work, such as the struggle to disconnect, and the «zoom fatigue» syndrome: a feeling of exhaustion felt after making a large number of video calls. In addition to fatigue, it has been shown that the brain does not retain as much information when not meeting in person.

25%

of the world population will have adopted the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social interaction and entertainment by 2026

(Source: Gartner)

Big brother

As methods used to collect data about employees are growing, so is concern about personal privacy: 64% of workers are concerned about how organisations handle employee data. Protests against workplace surveillance technologies, from algorithmic time tracking to «tattle ware» installed on their laptops are multiplying. Moreover, AI can create social and ethical challenges for the worker. It has the potential to replace jobs, restrict autonomy and freedom, control behaviour and exacerbate the already-existing inequality.

60%

of companies with at least 1,000 workers had adopted worker surveillance technologies by the end of 2021, compared to only 30% prior to the pandemic.

(Source: Gartner)

2in3

of French people are concerned about the use of their personal data, whilst 97% believe that companies should give them a right to control the use of their data.

(Source : Harris Interactive, 2019)

Always learning

The accelerating pace of technological change impacts the skills required to do work. More and more knowledge is being created at a faster rate whilst other knowledge is becoming obsolete. Therefore, it is vital for employees to update their skills to keep current.

 

To remain employed and employable, workers need to learn and train all the time. A recent McKinsey paper ranked ‘‘continuous learning’’ and ‘‘instilling a culture of lifelong’’ learning as the most important changes across all sectors for developing the workforce of tomorrow. Gone are the days when we were trained in schools or universities and then did more or less the same work throughout our lives. Training systems are emerging to support lifelong learning. In France, Maria Schools, offers schools dedicated to new kinds of jobs. In the US, Degreed (US, $153M raised) is a platform for employees to learn targeted skills with quick courses throughout their career

$700B

should be invested in virtual and augmented reality applications for training by 2025

(Source: Cap digital)

Picking the right strategy

To unleash the potential of these new technologies and maintain their firm’s competitive edge, leaders need to rethink multiple facets of their organisation.

 

Metaverse and AR/VR can not only enhanced virtual meetings and events, but it can also help maintenance/operational teams by providing digital twins or improving training and development through virtual scenario simulation.

 

Blockchain can support quality control, simplify operations and secure data. New business models have also been developed for monetising content of virtual assets, offering a trustworthy second-hand market and proposing enhanced loyalty programs. Virtual currencies allow HR to pay employees and freelancers on demand and without costly international commissions.

 

AI can help internally by facilitating the processing and interpretation of complex data and, automating repetitive tasks or even content creation. Externally, it can help customise the best customer experience or generate sales via automated chatbots.

 

The opportunities are endless and industry-specific. Leaders will have to ask themselves how these technologies can make their products, services, and experiences markedly better and more valuable for customers and employees.

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Security is becoming a top-priority issue

As work becomes more data-driven, the risk of cyber attacks targeting companies is increasing. In the UK alone, The British insurance company Lloyds estimates that cyber attacks cost UK businesses as much as $400Bn per year. Attack opportunities are becoming more frequent with the rise of hybrid work, due to data sharing via less secure networks and machines. Passwords are a top-priority concern, as 81% of hackingrelated breaches use stolen and/or weak passwords. Hackers are also using AI and especially deepfakes to go beyond the exploitation of technical flaws: they can trick employees into revealing sensitive data. Protection against cyber attacks is a topic for companies of all sizes. The boom in the data protection market is a preview of how important this subject will be in the coming years; it is expected to grow from $2.36 billion worldwide in 2022 to $25.85 billion by 2029. The design of applications will also evolve to replace passwords with biometric data, solving security issues while improving user experience.

85%

of managers say that cybersecurity is more important now than before the pandemic

(Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)

8%

of hacking-related breaches used stolen and/or weak passwords

(Source : 4 Day Week Global pilot program, 2018, worldwide)

One step closer to frictionless user experience

Consumers want products and processes that are fluid, intuitive and streamlined. Approaches that strip out complexity and focus on the essential will stand out in this overloaded environment as they provide clarity and reassurance. Businesses must therefore provide the simplest possible user experience in terms of product functionality, customer journey and clarity of their messaging.

 

The metaverse, AR and AI propose exciting new ways to offer a seamless user experience. AI can learn from the user’s behavior and personalise their experience without even being asked. VR and the metaverse should offer 3D experiences where users can interact with objects without having to be physically present.

330%

Simplicity performs: A stock portfolio of the simplest global brands outperforms the major indexes by 330%

(Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)

One step closer to frictionless user experience

In a low trust world fueled by disinformation and, broken commitments, companies are being pushed by their stakeholders to provide more transparency. Blockchain can help in this journey by encrypting the history of an object transfer. For example this will be useful to track which intermediaries a product has passed through in the supply chain.

 

Moreover, the growing demand for transparency in the use of AI and personal data raises new challenges around trust for companies. There will have to be clear rules and processes to ensure the client and employee data is used ethically at all levels of the organisation. This will be made more difficult by the fact that the legislation is relatively complex and continues to develop.

 

Some start-ups are already addressing these pain points. For example, CryptoNumerics (Canada, $3.3M raised) offers a data intelligence solution ensuring data confidentiality

Image by Shane Rounce.webp
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