the use cases are specified in the collaboration

With its 3D virtual universes, the metaverse is encouraged to rethink remote collaboration by offering an engaging and immersive user experience. So far, the offer is modest and the functionalities basic.

Will the metaverse be able to recreate the social bond that has expanded since the generalization of telecommuting? Alone in front of his screen, the collaborator connects visios without moments favorable for informal exchanges between colleagues. The famous coffee break, which is crucial for the cohesion of a collective, will become a distant memory. By immersing the employee in a virtual universe, the metaverse holds the promise of a more engaging and user-friendly employee experience. Purpose: find online the sense of presence that is specific to the physical world. It reproduces the slice of life in the office and allows you to meet a colleague at once before joining him in the meeting room.

A number of HR use cases are already appearing in the metaverse, such as conducting a job interview remotely, creating an onboarding process (the recruit discovers that his future work universe has been recreated virtually), holding immersive training or organizing team building events. The collaborative dimension, on the other hand, still seems to be embryonic.

The market offer is in fact still on the way. If Meta unveiled its Horizon Workrooms solution this summer, Microsoft is playing with the times. Unveiled in November 2021, its Mesh offering for Teams is expected “during 2022”. Meanwhile, pure players, mostly Americans, such as Engage, Virbela, Engage or Glue, are taking the field. Their worlds are very similar, populated by avatars that, while “customized,” look like video game characters. At best, contestants’ faces are pasted onto these Sims-style silhouettes from passport photos. For more realism, we will have to wait for the integration of holographic technologies, which Cisco is considering with its Webex Hologram solution.

A wow effect that falls

As for Horizon Workrooms’ avatars, they reproduce their owners’ gestures well, but Meta’s metaverse requires wearing a virtual reality headset for this. Equipment that can be cost-prohibitive at an enterprise scale, but also for the user experience. Seasickness, loss of bearings in space… The immersive experience becomes physically demanding after half an hour. Meta does offer to participate in a meeting in virtual reality via a video call, but the experience is obviously no longer the same.

In terms of functionality, the above-mentioned platforms offer ready-to-use or customizable universes consisting of rooms in different formats, from the individual office to the amphitheater and of course the meeting room. Video stream, whiteboard, screen sharing… The essential functions for remote collaboration are present. However, for the manipulation of 3D objects (a use case that manufacturers have been waiting for), it will be necessary to wait for the integration of mixed reality technologies such as Microsoft’s HoloLens.

For Arnaud Rayrole, managing director of the Lecko company, the wow effect surrounding the collaborative metaverse has already worn off. “Based on feedback from our customers, this is clearly not their priority and the user experience is not as smooth as advertised. It is clear that use cases above all appear within events to organize seminars for example. On the other hand, holding recurring meetings in the metaverse still seems futuristic”, analyzes the consultant.

“No matter what we say, the metaverse will fit into our daily professional lives through the porosity of common public use”

According to him, the topic is above all pushed by big tech and does not correspond to the expectations for work in hybrid mode. “Managers have a desire to improve social ties, to reduce the distance between employees, and this does not seem to involve collaboration in virtual universes,” Arnaud Rayrole points out.

While the leitmotif of this back-to-school period is energy sobriety, the development of particularly hyper-energy intensive immersive universes also goes in the opposite direction of history. Faced with the rise of the cyber threat, data security does not seem to be a priority for platform publishers.

However, Arnaud Rayrole says he is curious and on standby. “No matter what we say, the metaverse will become part of our daily professional lives through porosity with common public uses. If I had been told a few years ago that animated GIFs would appear in social networks d “enterprise, would It seemed inconsistent to me. Same for the metaverse, it’s only a matter of time. You have to take an interest in the subject, experiment even if you don’t immediately see any use cases”, analyzes the day-to-day manager of Lecko.

A 2D retrogaming universe

As a specialist in corporate social networks, Jamespot already offers its customers the opportunity to gradually increase their power in virtual universes. In late June, the French publisher launched, the company’s metaverse. No need for additional hardware or software, its 2D interface, powered by the open source WorkAdventure rendering engine, runs on any terminal.

The learning curve is particularly steep. In this universe that takes retrogaming looks and codes up, the arrows on the keyboard are enough to move your avatar forward in the village, in the cafe, in coworking spaces or private offices. You meet a visitor, chat bubbles open, you enter a meeting room and a “video” session begins.

“It’s a question, like the coffee machine, of provoking random meetings between, for example, a system administrator and a marketing manager”

With this first version called to enrich itself, Alain Garnier, founding president of Jamespot, intends to “demystify the concept of metaverse, which can carry negative projections with embodied universes and the mandatory use of a virtual reality helmet.”, on the contrary, aims to reconnect by offering a common space where employees meet.

By allowing people to wander from one space to another, Jamespot also wanted to reconnect with the logic of informal meetings. “It’s like the coffee machine for instigating random meetings between, say, a system administrator and a marketing manager.” A company can appropriate the space by choosing a base card that symbolizes its indentation, zen, nature or futurism.

In the coming months, Jamespot will enrich its metaverse with dynamic features such as a Kanban board or screen sharing. The publisher will also open an amphitheater space to organize events with external speakers. “Unlike Meta, we start by offering private and secure spaces before gradually opening up to the outside world,” concludes Alain Garnier.

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