Every year, our Accenture Technology Vision research explores the tech trends reshaping our world. This year, there was one topic on everyone’s lips: the metaverse.
We hear most about its use in retail, branding and virtual events. But the metaverse also has big implications for defence. In fact, it’s already on the main agenda. Our research found that 70% of public service executives think the metaverse would benefit them. Almost half say it would have a breakthrough impact within the next four years.
Getting into the metaverse
So, what do we mean by the metaverse? We see it as a continuum of new technologies, experiences and digitally enhanced worlds. It’s set to transform how we work and interact. It’s a powerful evolution of defence’s proven skills. Namely, skills in modelling, simulation, and virtual reality. Extended reality, blockchain, digital twins and edge computing converging at speed. We’re rushing towards a very different future.
That’s the big picture. But how can the defence industry use the metaverse to drive new value? We’ve identified four main areas:
- Attracting and retaining talent
- Training and simulation
- Command and control
- Procurement and supply chains.
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Attracting and retaining talent
Defence organisations worldwide have real concerns about their talent pipelines. That’s no surprise, as recruitment and retention of in-demand skills has become increasingly challenging. They should innovate to appeal to recruits in new, meaningful ways. The metaverse could provide an exciting pathway. It allows for hyper-personalisation of recruitment to drive engagement.
Imagine being able to give a potential recruit a taste of what military life is really like. Compelling experiences could help attract potential recruits. This could, be similar to Accenture’s “Nth floor” virtual campus. It provides employee onboarding, learning and teamwork through an immersive experience.
In parallel, AI could help broaden the talent pool. AI can recruit people from different communities and demographics. This is the so-called “hidden workforce.” Intelligent search could be the key to help defence compete for top talent.
The other half of the equation is to improve staff retention and enhance the work environment. One example? Right now, armed-forces personnel often work across multiple systems simultaneously. That might mean using one system to see what’s going on in the field. Then using another to diagnose equipment failures, order parts, and track repairs. The metaverse could combine these scenarios in a single, unified, and compelling experience. This in turn could help drive employee engagement and retention.
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Training and simulation
The defence industry has been using virtual reality for decades. Usually, it’s in small virtual environments designed for a specific purpose (like training someone to operate a plane, tank or submarine). But although these simulations have outpaced developments in many other sectors, they’re neither integrated nor immersive.
The metaverse could take these simulations to the next level. It could empower organisations to create a highly realistic virtual world that would better prepare personnel for challenging scenarios. Take our Accenture Virtual Experience Solution (AVEnueS), for example. Organisations could use that to transport trainees into simulated realistic situations or create common synthetic environments for individual or group training. Both would offer powerful ways to prepare recruits for difficult situations.
Another opportunity to create common synthetic environments comes from our tactical training vehicle simulation solution. It could help recruits build situational awareness in individual training. Or it could help personnel train together in tactical-level units or multi-domain collective exercises.
Harnessing the metaverse could also help break down the legacy siloes between land, air, sea, space and cyber defence. This could strengthen national security like never before. And by ensuring seamless interoperability, the metaverse help organisations collaborate more effectively with their allies.
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It’s time for defence organisations to act. They can capitalise on their previous investments in simulation and VR, bring these together and extend into the metaverse.
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Command and control
The metaverse can help commanders make the right decisions at the right time and reduce operational risk. How? By simulating and assessing all possible scenarios.
Say, for instance, a defence organisation is due to receive a new kind of plane in 18 months. Ahead of delivery, it could use the metaverse to simulate the impact on its broader defence capabilities. Similarly, if the organisation suspects an adversary has a new weapon, it could determine the likely impacts and then mitigate them. When planning an operation, the organisation could simulate hundreds of scenarios extremely quickly to predict outcomes and decide on the best course of action.
Beyond this, defence organisations could use the power of the metaverse in high-risk situations to better integrate intelligence from multiple sources. The aim? To ensure each commanding officer has highly personalised insights at their fingertips every time they make a decision.
Procurement and supply chains
The metaverse also offers great potential to procurement and supply chain operations in defence. A few examples? It could be used to help ensure security of supply through holistic scenario planning. It could help organisations trial and select equipment. Or it could help them optimise equipment allocation.
That’s not all. We’ve seen many cases of defence organisations being unable to tap into valuable data because it’s held by their suppliers. Web 3.0 and blockchain can help organisations access that data, verify its provenance and unlock its value.
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It’s time to act
Our Accenture Technology Vision 2022 research reveals that 97% of public sector executives now believe their organisation's long-term success would depend on next-generation computing, including quantum and bio-inspired computing. The reason? These immensely powerful new technologies should help them to solve intractable problems that can’t be addressed with existing approaches.
This next generation of machines is central to the “metaverse continuum”. Ultimately, in fact, it powers many of the new capabilities described in this blog. In other words, defence organisations can’t afford to underestimate its potential.
It’s time for defence organisations to act. They can capitalise on their previous investments in simulation and VR, bring these together and extend into the metaverse. This unlocks new experiences, efficiencies, and ultimately mission readiness.
We’d love to hear your thoughts. If you’d like to talk about the short-term actions that can help you seize the long-term opportunities presented by the metaverse, please get in touch.