While the word metaverse might conjure up the use of VR, AR and IoT in gaming, it has already made clear inroads into business applications. Called the industrial metaverse, it’s defined as a "connected whole-system digital twin with functionalities to interact with the real system in its environment, allowing decision makers to better understand the past and forecast the future.”
In a new report, “Exploring the Industrial Metaverse in Manufacturing,” Deloitte and the Manufacturing Leadership Council (MLC) examine the opportunity for manufacturers to build on the concept of the smart factory to expand further into the industrial metaverse.
The industrial metaverse could transform manufacturing.
The outlook for continued adoption of industrial metaverse infrastructure appears strong. The report found nearly two-thirds of respondents believe the industrial metaverse will fundamentally transform how organizations do business, interact, collaborate, or have value-added virtual experiences over the next five years.
- Nearly 4 in 10 organizations surveyed are planning substantial growth in their use of metaverse technologies.
- Executives expect the metaverse to transform research and development, design and innovation, and enable new product strategies.
- In the near term, the industrial metaverse appears poised to offer new ways to solve challenges such as attracting and retaining top talent and building supply chain visibility and resilience.
The industrial metaverse features four ecosystems.
Applications for the industrial metaverse span across production (34%); customer interaction (21%); supply chain design (21%); and talent (17%), each with unique use cases.
Nearly all manufacturers are already in the metaverse.
92% of companies are experimenting with or implementing at least one metaverse-related use case, and on average they are running six or more. Many use cases began as smart factory initiatives, such as data analytics (91%), cloud computing (86%), Internet of Things (78%), 5G (59%) and Artificial Intelligence (62%).
Pacesetters are steps ahead with implementation and strategy.
A cohort of companies, “pacesetters,” are likely to have a higher number of metaverse use cases in play; are committing larger investments to their metaverse initiatives; and are more likely to look towards external partners to help deploy metaverse initiatives.
Cost is both a benefit and a hindrance.
Though many see reduced cost of operations as a key benefit of metaverse adoption, on the other hand, cost to implement is a primary barrier for others (51%).
Risks remain top-of-mind for those yet to adopt.
- According to the study: cost, talent and interoperability are viewed as key challenges among respondents, while cybersecurity concerns stand out as a top potential risk.
- For metaverse-enabled technologies, cost savings were identified in the study as a key benefit.
- Surveyed executives rank barriers to adoption as: implementation cost (51%), lack of talent with the right skills and knowledge (50%), and integration with existing technology platforms and systems (45%).
- Respondents are most concerned with the cybersecurity risks associated with implementing metaverse-enabling technologies (72%), risks around data protection and IP (55%), brand and reputation risk (49%), and privacy of personal information (37%).
- The study suggests manufacturers believe the value it will deliver outweighs the cybersecurity risk, especially with the right mitigation strategies in place.
“We are at a crossroads of digital transformation as new technology and existing industrial applications converge,” said David R. Broussel, executive director of the MLC, in a statement. “These leading-edge applications are set to transform the manufacturing industry amid labor shortages and supply chain disruption. Metaverse-enabled technology presents an opportunity for manufacturers to address these challenges through immersive experiences and advanced analytics to drive innovation.”