Virtual reality (VR) presents exciting opportunities for transforming consulting. Only by realising the full potential of this technology, however, can consultants hope to improve their methods and outcomes, writes Abigail Pease.
Last year, Meta (formerly Facebook) announced plans for its very own ‘metaverse’, a virtual space for people to socialize, learn, and collaborate. The news ignited a global discussion on the future of VR, and the ways it can transform online experiences. It also sparked my interest in exploring how this technology can be used to enhance my life, and more specifically my workspace.
VR is a computer-generated 3D experience accessed through a headset. Augmented Reality (AR) offers users a similarly immersive online experience that can be accessed through a smartphone or computer screen. Whereas VR operates in a fictional world, AR enhances real world experiences. Fit with personal avatars, and set in the online space, this virtual world can be understood as the metaverse. I first experienced VR whilst interning with the Danish tech company Labster. Their mission was to use this technology to teach students all over the world about topics such as medicine, geology, and microbiology. Ever since I have been fascinated with VR, and whether it will ever enter the mainstream.
As companies like Meta start embracing the possibilities that VR can offer, this future seems closer than ever. Looking towards this virtual world, I explore how VR can help consultants like myself alter their ways of working – specifically, how this technology can expand product knowledge, increase global collaboration, and enhance immersive training.
As consultants, we aim to be disruptive, collaborative, and customer-driven. New technologies fuse these elements, inevitably forcing us to change the ways we work. The cloud, for instance, has transformed how companies process data by providing alternative storage platforms.
VR has the potential to offer a similar fundamental shift, elevating our operations by enhancing both our methods and outcomes. As we move towards conducting business in a virtual world, therefore, it is important to stay ahead of this technology, and explore the ways it can transform consulting.
Below are the three key ways I believe this can be achieved.
1. Connecting the customer and the product
VR can encourage an experience-centric focus throughout a project, from the initial engagement with the customer to the testing phase of the final product before go-live. Offering an immersive insight into the product using a headset allows the customer consistent access to the product as it is developed. It can also bring to life very abstract products through providing a more visual experience. Using VR, consultants and clients can therefore produce products that are better aligned with the needs of the customer. This can streamline the experiences of consultants, clients, and customers along the project lifecycle.
2. Global collaboration on projects
VR can connect teams on projects that span different locations – the ability to hold a 3D meeting allows teams to meet in a far more personal and immersive way than via current platforms such as Zoom or Teams. This immersion can encourage collaboration and engagement. Companies such as Gather, Teamflow, and Virbela are already building virtual offices. Teamflow advertize their services by insisting “it's easier to work together, when you’re together.” Companies using this workspace support this statement, arguing that Teamflow’s virtual and augmented offices boost creativity, productivity, and wellbeing.
3. Accelerated learning and training
VR can help accelerate training at each stage of a project’s lifecycle. The immersive nature of this technology provides a platform with endless possibilities for training. Just as companies such as Labster have been utilising virtual simulations to bolster the educational experiences of university students for years, consultants can use virtual reality to upskill in a multitude of areas. VR can act as a window into the intricacies of Confluence, the future of blockchain technologies, or the lived realities of agile practices.
As highlighted above, VR can transform consulting by enhancing both communication and creativity. Most importantly, it can offer consultants like me a range of fresh approaches that elevate their methods and outcomes. Through harnessing VR, consultants can expand the reach of their projects and transform their ways of working. In addition, they can use this technology to kickstart collaboration and engagement, surpassing the challenges posed by large global teams. Finally, they can utilise VR to boost training, offering an immersive environment for consultants to experience a deeper level of learning. These insights provide a vision for harnessing VR and a clear roadmap to navigating the virtual world.