The last two years spurred enterprises to explore new modes of digital experience and pushed people to live virtually to an extent they never expected. Now, the metaverse is emerging as a natural evolution of our digital world that reconciles how the internet is designed today with what we would demand from it going forward. This is “WebMe”—an evolution that is taking place on two fronts: the metaverse as a re-platforming of digital experiences and Web3 as the reinvention of how data moves through that system.
As with any major technological—and cultural—shift, this trend will present chemical companies with new challenges, but also new opportunities. We are already seeing exciting use cases emerge among our chemical clients in areas such as digital twins and digital workforce enablement through AR and VR, among many others. In fact, our research found that chemical executives report that their organizations would expect AR technologies to bring them improved operations (93%), talent-related benefits (85%) and increased revenue/cost savings (35%) in the next three years.
Consider digital twins, which are software models that represent the attributes and operating behavior of physical assets and processes. Chemical companies can use digital twins to mimic their production lines. With this technology, companies can explore ways to automate processes, optimize uptime, increase capacity utilization, rethink logistics workflows and many more aspects of production without replacing any existing systems. For example, they could assess the value of replacing a certain part in the production line: determine the replacement time, test operations with the new part, run scenarios and view the implications on production all within the software, before implementing any physical changes.
Typical use cases for the digitally enabled workforce utilize AR technologies to provide “over the shoulder” technical support for maintenance personnel or create simulations for on-the-job training in handling dangerous materials—without putting the employee in harm’s way. For example, Accenture worked with an ingredient solution provider to identify and design ways to use Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality smart glasses with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides as an immersive learning tool. This engagement produced three mixed reality guides: one for virtual safety training based on 3D models, another that gives the company’s customers an innovative and effective way to learn about its products, and a third that helps employees learn about various pieces of equipment and their different settings.