How PwC is building the business metaverse for our people and our clients

Innovation grounded in trust

To achieve business success in the metaverse, there’s no need to believe (or disbelieve) the hype, or to believe anything at all. Instead, take action to discover the concrete opportunities available for your company.

Tested strategies exist. Even if the metaverse has only recently gained widespread attention, its building blocks have long been business relevant. More than a decade ago, PwC identified these technologies as the ones driving business innovation and change. Ever since, as we’ve been developing and applying them, we’ve also been planning for their convergence into further, major business opportunities — the metaverse results from the convergence of many of these technologies. Now that the metaverse’s moment has arrived, we have years of preparation and experience to draw on.

It’s this early investment in metaverse technologies that has propelled us to be a metaverse leader, with pioneering work for hundreds of clients in dozens of countries. In all this work, as well in our collaboration with the companies and multilateral organizations shaping the metaverse’s architecture and rules, our approach is human-led and tech-powered. We start with strategy and experience design, build on our digital and cloud capabilities, and embed cyber, privacy, risk management and risk assurance. It adds up to a metaverse-in-a-box framework that marries trust and innovation and can apply to almost any company or industry. When a luxury apparel company decided to participate in a metaverse fashion week, for example, we used this framework to help them:

  • Consolidate their business idea
  • Create a virtual pop up store to sell physical and digital merchandise
  • Design the lifecycle management of four different kinds of NFTs
  • Secure their wallet for cryptocurrency transactions
  • Evaluate organizational, tax and legal impacts
  • Protect their intellectual, industrial and data property
  • Review, manage and consolidate contracts with suppliers

In PwC’s Innovation Hub and Experience Centers, more than 500 developers and experience designers in the US are makers of the metaverse. Thousands more, working in our Acceleration Centers in Bangalore, Kolkata, Shanghai and elsewhere, are also developing and deploying metaverse and related technologies and experiences. We use these tools in-house and with our clients every day, and we continuously test new ones, exploring new proofs of concepts and bleeding-edge capabilities. We’re looking to the metaverse for growth, because business as a whole is too. In our recent metaverse survey, over 82% of business executives told us that they expect metaverse plans to be part of their business activities within three years.

Based on this experience, we’ve identified four strategies that can help you drive tangible commercial and societal value in the metaverse today and for years to come.

1. Bring your people into the metaverse

When you build your own metaverse space for recruiting, onboarding, training, team building and workplace collaboration, you can accomplish two objectives at once. You can provide these services effectively and cost-effectively while your people engage with the metaverse and learn to understand its power. That’s what our Global Metaverse Campus does for us, and since we’re a global network of firms, it’s especially empowering to have hundreds of our problem-solvers from all over the world work together in an immersive, 3D space. Depending on your priorities, you can also create metaverse spaces for specific upskilling and engagement. At PwC, we also have specialized metaverse campuses for tax upskilling, university recruitment, digital transformation skills and other applications. Like the metaverse more broadly, these platforms can all be experienced either through virtual reality or augmented reality (VR / AR) devices, through personal computers or through mobile phones.

Workers who do experience the metaverse through VR or AR can find far more than virtual classrooms or collaboration spaces. VR offers highly realistic simulations to teach hard skills. A pioneering PwC study also confirmed what we see in-house, that VR can be used to train employees in soft skills (ranging from resilience to inclusive leadership) faster than traditional methods while increasing their confidence, focus and emotional connection. When done right, all these benefits can do more than just build the office of the future. Giving your workforce new experiences in a metaverse environment can help them imagine the art of the possible.

2. Grow your business in the next evolution of reality

Companies today generally use the metaverse in-house, according to our recent survey. But that may not be not enough, since both consumers and business customers are ready for more. Often the way to get started on growing revenue or extending your brand in the metaverse is to expand existing operations and lines of business into this new virtual world — while reinventing the experience.

To take just a few examples, our Operations Transformation group creates virtual supply chains (powered by digital twins) in the metaverse. Our Customer Transformation specialists create metaverse consumer profiles and engagement strategies. Our Cyber, Risk and Regulatory team advises companies on how to help identify and manage metaverse-related risks. Our Workforce Transformation practice provides clients with metaverse-based recruiting, onboarding and training (through virtual reality). PwC UK’s Health Consulting team has helped a national government map out the potential for extended reality in healthcare. Our Tax specialists are advising clients on intricacies of metaverse sales and use taxes locally and internationally. And all of PwC’s lines of business offer metaverse spaces where our clients can simulate solutions to challenges in sales, productivity, human capital, and more.

For a global consumer packaged goods company headquartered in the US, we helped bring a suite of iconic brands into a virtual, 3D world with branded, immersive micro-scapes that gamify the buying experience. We helped a global bank based in Europe to strategically approach the metaverse, identifying priority initiatives both for digital assets and metaverse experiences. We created a proof of concept for a new three-dimensional experience that the bank could offer to engage Gen Z, offer personalized bank credit cards in the form of NFTs and enable virtual recruitment. In the Middle East, as part of our strategic collaboration with the Dubai Future Foundation, we supported the inaugural Dubai Metaverse Assembly. Around the globe, PwC Raise / Ventures is spotting, vetting and working with metaverse-related startups worthy of venture capital investment.

3. Help architect the future of the metaverse

The metaverse is a work in progress. Many of the key concepts in our metaverse framework — such as interoperability, governance and identity — are still far from fully realized. Still, business leaders see the potential. In our survey, the majority of respondents said that the metaverse will either revolutionize business or become the internet’s next incarnation. Since we’re still in early stages, you may be able to help shape the metaverse to align with your values and purpose.

One option is to take an active role in the associations crafting metaverse rules and standards, as we’re doing in the Metaverse Standards Forum and the World Economic Forum’s Defining and Building the Metaverse initiative. You can also create joint business relationships with companies working on the underlying technologies — as we’ve done with Arthur, Meta, Microsoft, TaleSpin, Virbela and others. If you engage with the creator community, you can mobilize and incentivize them to develop metaverse-related apps, tools and services for your company and customers. Or bring together the people imagining and building the metaverse, helping to educate yourself and your stakeholders.

4. Build trust and manage metaverse risks

Like any fast-changing set of technologies, the metaverse can pose fast-changing risks. But since nearly all of these technologies have been in progress (or in use) for years, there are leading practices for how to manage them — and build trust.

We’ve identified and are applying (for ourselves and clients) mitigation strategies for the main metaverse-related trust and risk considerations. Examples include new controls for metaverse transactions and digital assets more generally; approaches to data risk and privacy that cover data gathering, governance, analytics and security for interoperable metaverse platforms; cyber security and compliance for a decentralized, three-dimensional digital world; blockchain-based credentialization and metaverse versions of multi-factor authentication; new protocols and controls for a safe, trusted user experience; and independent teams to audit smart contract code as well as underlying hardware and software.

We’re paying attention to the societal implications too, helping to create a digital world that can help drive environmental sustainability, provide societal benefits and be responsibly governed. That’s why PwC is also studying the ESG impact of the metaverse and related technologies, such as virtual reality and blockchain — and working to help make that impact a positive one. One example of how the metaverse can help is through a climate metaverse experience, which brings to life the urgency of climate change action and some of the solutions that technology offers.

Start or accelerate your metaverse strategies today

The metaverse’s final form is unknown, but there are plenty of advantages for getting in on the ground floor — and you can apply all four of our strategies in ways that support both near and long-term ROI. Here are three guidelines to start or accelerate metaverse business value that’s built on innovation and trust.

  • Start with outcomes. The metaverse has already progressed beyond the “dip your toes in” phase. You can set concrete business goals — whether related to employee engagement, customer loyalty or revenue growth — for specific metaverse initiatives, then measure and report on them.
  • Embed trust by design. Rather than first building an application and then identifying and mitigating risks, design trust from the start into your approach to metaverse data, transactions and experiences. This approach should help drive long-term cost efficiencies while mitigating risks upfront.
  • Stay true to your purpose and brand. As in the physical world, your purpose and brand can define you in the metaverse. Assess your metaverse activities for a consistent brand message, and remember that customers may trust your metaverse presence more if it’s guided by a corporate purpose that matches their values.

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Are you taking the right approach to the metaverse? Contact us to learn more about this evolving technology and what these opportunities can mean for your business.

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Roberto Hernandez

Chief Innovation and Global Metaverse Leader, PwC US

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Angela Lester

Partner, PwC US

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Scott Likens

Partner, Trust Technology, PwC Labs, PwC US

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Emmanuelle Rivet

Vice Chair, US TMT & Global Technology Leader, PwC US

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