Accenture, the 60,000 helmets and the metaverse

Do not try to shorten a meeting with Marc Carrel-Billiard on the meta verse. Do not try to force the director of innovation at Accenture, at the head of a team of the size considered a trade secret, to speak French, which is worthy of the French academy. In a rapidly changing world, those who have lived in the United States for a long time are hybrids: one foot in reality, one foot in the metaverse, one foot in the United States, one foot in Europe, one foot in French, one foot in English. And above all, passionate.

Metaverse, a buzz word that will be emptied by itself?

Marc Carrel-Billiard. – “It’s not going to be emptied. The metaverset is here and it will evolve. There’s a huge buzz around this, but it’s been around for a while.

I still have an account on Second Life …

“Namely! We’ve been working in it for 15 years, but we did not have all the ingredients we needed.

What were we missing?

“The bandwidth was not good, the ‘devices’ were not level and are not yet exceptional. There will be a development of units.

Glasses? Smartphones?

“There will be more devices. The experience will be in augmented reality with the smartphone, which will be a mix of realities and hybrid devices for making virtual reality. A worker working in a mine or a refinery. He wants to do immersive learning. We will put a virtual reality helmet on him and he will learn to work in the mine or refinery.Afterwards, once he has understood everything, we will parachute him into the platform where he will have extended glasses where he will recognize the environment he trained in with additional information.

It’s a use. But which ones do you believe in and which ones do you not really believe in?

“There are plenty of them! Customer-driven or business-driven. The latter is all about the ‘workplace’ of the future, ‘immersive learning’ and more generally about ‘digital twins’. What interests me is to see how I can remote control a factory using a digital twin.I have to put on a virtual reality helmet, I have to immerse myself in the factory, I have to face the twin of a machine with handles and buttons.There will be views and activation of the machine. If it smells burnt and it breaks, I have to smell it.

The other important thing is ‘scenario planning’, using the modeling of complex systems. To take another refinery, I will make some scenarios. What’s broken, I have a lack of this, what’s going on? Etc. It allows me to optimize my environment and upload everything to the right machine as if it were programmed for all scenarios.

From industry 4.0. Not from the meta verse as this buzz word …

“I think the business part is more important to us. More than any consumer part, entertainment. Not everyone will be able to see the Eiffel Tower. Instead of clicking on pictures or a website, people put on glasses and walk around to see what it looks like. This will be important for merchandising. Or to test new stores. We worked with Procter & Gamble on planography. You are in a store and you want to know what will sell. It is best to put these products at the head of the gondola. You have a product card. It allows you to decide what you want to wear or not. Today, to test it, we send people to place the products and we see what happens. Tomorrow we do it in the metaverse.

I heard you use the meta verse to welcome your new recruits. In Luxembourg we see that the big four immortalize the arrival of hundreds of “new carpenters” …

“Yes! It’s a bit my fault! For a long time I digitized our seven laboratories in the world. I told myself that it was not always normal to have to take a plane to go somewhere else, and that when a client sees a laboratory, he can not see the second, the third or the fourth.How to see four or five laboratories a day? Why not digitize the laboratories? With 3D scanners.In the end we can make the demos, we take our customers there, and they visit. We had more visits during the pandemic than before in our laboratories. During the pandemic we recruited 150,000 people. How do we ‘board’ them? Usually they go to the Q-Center in Chicago, which is a kind of our academy. We explain them , what Accenture is. We thought we should make a One Accenture Park. People will come. We want seniors like me to explain to them. They want samples, all those things. And we did. 60,000 helmets. It’s one of the largest VR projects in a company.

I’m fresh at business school, what’s going on?

“You receive a helmet at home. For the price of a headset, it’s cheaper than a laptop … You have a first step with someone explaining how you want to use it, the joysticks, the approach … and you want different types of sessions, educational or fun, where we celebrate. We also hold meetings with customers. Even our CEO, Julie Sweet, uses this technology.

But human interactions … You know those interactions that are hurled by those who are generally against teleworking, what do you do with them?

“It’s still very important! The corporate culture is very strong here. A face-to-face culture where people help each other. It was a bit like Accenture’s secret sauce. We’re not going to lose it. You have to empower people and we’re pushing. much on ‘responsible metaverse’ .We have a person dedicated to this topic who refers directly to the CEO.They are told not to expect everything from the metaverse.We invite people to come back to the office, at least in part. The people are self-seeking, I had so many meetings in Teams, it’s depressing!

What is this leader aware of?

“How inclusive! Everyone can have access to it. That it is ‘safe’.

Safe, what does that mean in the metaverse?

“There can be insults, people attacking you. Even in the meta-verse, there are people who influence and you have to react. It is also necessary to manage this notion of anonymity. Companies have to explain who they are, what their visions are. , what their responsibilities are.We also work with Goodwill, with the Association for Inclusivity, with the World Economic Forum on issues of governance, standardization, policy.XR Association and XR For All.We are 710,000 people at Accenture and we must put the right thing basis.

Among the challenges, I imagine that the emergence of a self-sovereign identity that will belong to every European is changing the ecosystem of metavers, right? Where it was possible when you were a young man to take on a very muscular avatar …

“Yes, but in the real world we all have passports, identity cards. There are people who cheat. There will be people cheating in the meta-verse. This is the law of large numbers.

Interoperability is also a challenge with more than 200 metavers …

“265! There will be convergence. It’s hard to say how much. Will there be a Chinese metavers, an American metavers and a European metavers? Mystery. But we have no choice. It’s so frustrating to buy an ‘asset’. in a metaverse, say a sword and not be able to take it elsewhere! Many games can be moved to multiple metavers.

So do you understand that companies, says Gucci, are embarking on a metaverse with the risk that their assets currently cannot move there?

“They do not want to wait and see, but rather test and see how they can take advantage of it. We go back to the 1990s, when people made their own website, their own website …

What do you recommend companies?

“Two things. We need to work on two use cases that are not too risky and that give employees and employers the opportunity to understand the interest in the meta-verse. ‘The workplace of the future’. How we can expand your workplace, have a little more scalable Zoom with a little metaverse or a Teams with mesh or something like that.And see how the employees feel about it.Before working on real discussions about the proportion of metaverse versus face to face site, the different devices.The other thing is in-depth learning, to train through the meta-verse. Retention is much better, also understanding. Many people want to learn crafts. We have a large company that we worked on repairing electric poles with, and even the elderly immediately took the trick. But there will always be people who will not support it.

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