Get Ready for the Metaverse: 7 Milestones for Your Cloud ERP Roadmap

January 10, 2023
4 Minute Read

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the term “metaverse”? If it’s goofy avatars and geeky goggles, you’re not alone. Skepticism—and even snickers—are a common response. In (extended) reality, this emerging digital channel encompasses everything from virtual workspaces and digital twins to clinical research and cryptocurrencies. As these metaverse technologies evolve—and move from gimmicks and games to serious business—business-critical platforms such as your cloud ERP better be ready.

The Metaverse Is Closer to Reality Than You Think

The metaverse is an emerging digital channel underpinned by a blockchain ecosystem that leverages a mixture of virtual reality (VR) technology and augmented reality (AR). And the potential uses are vast, just like they were for the internet in the 1990s.

Like other digital transformation trends, the global COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the development of metaverse technologies. In 2022, immersive-reality technologies such as AR and VR made McKinsey’s list of top technology trends. The metaverse entered Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Tech, albeit with a 10-year horizon to reach its plateau. It’s expected to grow exponentially from $48 billion in 2020 to nearly $829 billion in 2028, according to Emergen Research.

To the virtual water cooler—and beyond.

Looking beyond the hype, one thing is certain: the metaverse and related emerging technologies will transform the way people and organizations work.

We’re already seeing the difference virtual collaboration tools can make. Cloud-enabled platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Smartsheet enable team members to continue working, even when they can’t work together in person. And RGP’s latest research found that great collaboration tools are one of the top success factors for executing mission-critical projects.

How Are Businesses Using the Metaverse?

In addition to consumer-focused ecommerce and engagement models such as immersive online shopping experiences, the metaverse also offers valuable business use cases in multiple industries and functional areas:

  • Healthcare: Clinicians can view enhanced diagnostics, expand access to patient care through telemedicine, and safely practice medical procedures in a virtual environment.
  • Financial services: Money and the metaverse are made for each other—from blockchain and cryptocurrencies to digital wallets and virtual bank branches, like the one JP Morgan launched in early 2022.
  • Engineering and manufacturing: Extended reality and digital twins enable teams to build and repair products without actually being on the factory floor. As a case in point, BMW and NVIDIA collaborated to build a virtual factory twin to support factory planning and simulate new workflows.
  • Supply chain and distribution: Retailers and others are using metaverse technologies to optimize processes and improve efficiency. For example, Walmart is using AR to accelerate inventory management in 4,500 U.S. stores.
  • Workforce training: From customer service to car repair, AR and VR are helping businesses like Grundfos fast-track training, while Accenture onboarded 150,000 employees.

All these examples involve critical enterprise resources—the people, processes and technology systems that keep your business running smoothly. And as the nerve center for any organization, your ERP system will inevitably be part of the metaverse ecosystem.

Getting Your Core Business Systems Ready for the Metaverse

While the technology is still evolving, we can be sure that the metaverse will not stand alone or be ring-fenced from core business activities. That means your organization will need to scale and securely integrate financial, fulfillment, sourcing, supply chain and, potentially, human resources transactions back to your ERP platform. And it will require your technology architecture to be flexible, cloud-based and able to connect securely to third-party services using standard microservices and/or APIs.

Historically, ERP platforms were monolithic, on-premises solutions and heavily customized to meet specific industry requirements. However, with the advancement of cloud-hosted solutions, we increasingly see organizations defining a hybrid IT strategy, implementing best-of-breed, cloud-based point solutions alongside cloud-based ERP systems.

This makes it possible to optimize business integration and processes and facilitate real-time communication across platforms, which, in turn, enables you to scale and innovate with emerging technologies such as blockchain as the metaverse develops.

7 Milestones for Your Metaverse Roadmap

To build the scale you’ll need to take advantage of this emerging technology ecosystem, define a value-based roadmap that factors in these seven key considerations:

  1. Define your organization’s strategic vision and goals with senior leadership engagement, ideally focused on a six-month to two-year horizon. This is imperative for any roadmap to succeed and to drive cultural change as part of the transformation.
  2. Undertake a “Process, People and Technology” review of your existing landscape and determine what the end user experience, organizational change and target landscape should look like. This is particularly important, as innovative technologies provide opportunities to streamline and/or automate certain repetitive process. This should then enable you to move people to more project-based roles supporting mission-critical strategic projects.
  3. Assess what is required—and what changes are needed—to achieve your strategic business objectives. Start by defining the target operating model, followed by the underlying technology capabilities required to achieve the objectives to define the target future state or “north star” vision.
  4. Define the target state for both the operating model and underlying technology change, considering grouping the changes into phases from short- to long-term timelines:
    • Quick wins: 0–3 months
    • Short-term: 3–6 months
    • Medium-term: 6–12 months
    • Long term: 12–18/24 months
  5. Perform a competitive system selection. Since moving to cloud-based solutions restricts your ability to customize the platform, this selection process should identify platforms that can be configured to meet your business requirements, how data is managed and mined as well as the technical security, performance and interface requirements that enable communication with third-party services. (Learn more: Choosing the Right Cloud ERP System to Support Your Business)
  6. Create a short list of vendors. Then, invite the finalists to perform a targeted proof of concept or solution demo using your actual scenarios and data. Ask the vendor how they will integrate securely with emerging metaverse solutions and whether industry-standard interfaces are available.
  7. Engage continuously with your senior leadership throughout the entire journey—and get them involved in the decision-making to help clear obstacles that will slow progress.

Navigating a Smooth Journey to a Metaverse-Ready Cloud ERP

Even before the pandemic, 83% of companies struggled to meet their goals for digital transformation initiatives such as cloud ERP or emerging technologies (Gartner). And it’s only become more challenging, as companies manage hybrid project teams that work from home and in the office, as well as teams with members from multiple organizations.

In fact, RGP’s latest research found that only about one in six companies consistently achieve the key goals of their mission-critical projects. The primary ways to overcome these challenges are strong project leadership and great collaboration tools.

RGP has supported hundreds of organizations with their cloud ERP and other technology transformations, helping them define their roadmap, select the right system, and successfully execute the implementation.

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Anil Mohinani

Senior Director, Business Technology
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