The metaverse is not only finding its way into everyday exchanges across the web, pop culture, and mainstream news media discourse, but also into closed-door corporate discussions as industries ruminate on if—and how—to be an early adopter of this modality. This understanding it represents a seismic shift that will challenge technological and cultural paradigms.   

While the global industry at large is still in the learning, planning, and development stage of the metaverse, these immersive technologies—along with artificial intelligence (AI)—are already notably impacting one business area in particular: corporate e-skills training and development.

The economic impact cannot be overstated. In fact, forecasts indicate that 23 million jobs will be impacted by virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) by 2030, potentially boosting the global economy by $1.92 (£1.4) trillion. Why? One simple reason revolves around the idea that immersive technologies applied in the metaverse minimize the disconnect between theory and practice.  

“Metaverse mixed-reality learning experiences represent disruptive innovation that can significantly optimize training, development, and real learning,” says Ed Beltran, CEO of Fierce Conversations, a global leadership development company that’s pioneering new e-training and communication paradigms. “With companies increasingly moving to remote or hybrid workplace environments, executives not only appreciate the need for, but are wholeheartedly embracing, new approaches to train, sustain, and develop their teams in order to stay agile and competitive.”

It is certainly no surprise that, in the industrial aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global eLearning market is anticipating phenomenal growth, from $185.26 billion in 2020 to $388.23 billion in 2026. 

According to Beltran, the metaverse can supercharge corporate eSkills training in several key ways. Beltran shared those he considers most significant in a recent interview.

Merilee Kern: How do you see the metaverse’s applicability for improving internal staff conversations, and can it lead to demonstrable operational improvements in key areas like corporate culture and productivity? 

Ed Beltran: The answer to this begins with the understanding that conversations are universal. The appropriate words can be translatable to all situations, creating a successful engagement between two or more people that allows them to learn. Using the wrong words has the opposite effect, leading to anger and toxicity that can easily spread to team members. So, the goal with training and development lies in creating customized solutions that foster a rich human connection.

This can be achieved through the development of metaverse techniques that allow teams to engage in any environment, any situation. It could be giving feedback or requesting it, confronting a problem, or asking a question to learn more. Conversations improve culture and, in fact, we’ve found that companies providing feedback—whether positive or negative—have a 15% lower turnover than those not providing any kind of feedback. Even more surprising is our finding that 47% of people leave their jobs not because of money or duties, but rather because of poor communication and company culture. Developing the solutions needed to improve conversations and corporate culture and enhance productivity must include teaching teams how to deal with issues as they arise while keeping stress levels at a minimum. Remember that lower stress equals better conversations, happier employees, and better returns.  

MK: Can the metaverse replace traditional staff training and development and better appeal to an ever-changing workforce?

EB: The metaverse provides fresh, interactive engagement methods vis-a-vis 3D VR, AR, and XR training, which allows people to learn faster, retain information better, and actually enjoy the process. One study showed that employees who trained in VR simulations learned four times faster than classroom learners and twice as fast as eLearners. Plus, relative to resource allocations, classes were shorter, at just 20 minutes compared to one hour. Metaverse modalities can deliver immersive and more collaborative approaches that not only better appeal to employees, but also directly influence operational bottom lines. Instead of simply teaching theory, teams get genuine people-practice with customized solutions that can be readily scaled for companies of any size—assuring the training remains in sync with company growth or shifts.  

In the infinite metaverse, varied modalities can be created to simulate real-life scenarios that teams experience in their unique and exacting roles, allowing them to develop and design outcomes as they learn. People learn in unique ways, and mixed reality offers evolving workforces numerous opportunities to learn, sustain, and change the way they work—all without going off-line for hours at a time and with greater impact.

In addition to a significantly quicker pace of learning, virtual reality training has also been shown to promote greater focus, giving employees better knowledge retention and improved understanding. In fact, in most instances, we’ve found that extended reality and immersive learning modalities increase retention by more than 75% over traditional training methods. Plus, in 3D/XR/VR environments, team members can be immersed in a variety of scenarios, learning in a safe environment—one that allows them to try again when needed.   

MK: What about the impact on ongoing training opportunities? 

EB: The metaverse uniquely offers continuous, perpetual training opportunities to team members throughout the course of the year in a far more flexible and convenient manner. The application allows teams to use conversation techniques in a wholly customized environment using situations that are unique to their workplace. This, while learning from real, tangible, and relatable examples. The learning mechanisms of the metaverse are also easily sustainable for companies over the long term. In addition, metaverse learning solutions can be designed for a variety of employee types within any organization to ensure everyone receives critical eSkills training suited for their needs and bandwidth. This is particularly helpful for those staffers who can’t be offline or indisposed for days or even hours at a time for training.  

Given the significant extent to which metaverse mixed-reality learning modalities can enhance staff and leadership development, and the extreme fiscal upside, it’s no wonder that the corporate eSkills sector is leading the technology shift charge. In business, remote eLearning is already a key catalyst ushering in a brave new virtual world. 

Merilee Kern, MBA, is the founder of and serves as chief strategy officer for The Ascendant Group.

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