In the late 70s and early 80s, we had lots of discussions about what the heck the internet was. My colleagues and I were all electronics engineers or software programmers, so we knew about the technology, but what was the real meaning of and use of the internet? What did it mean to society in general? There was no specific definition for it.
There is a similar discussion around the new term metaverse. The term is so ill-defined that most people cannot describe what comprises the metaverse. Is it just a fancy internet? Is it simply AR or VR or both? Wait, does it also include video
games? How about the equipment such as game consoles, computers, and VR headsets?
That and More
It’s all of the above and more. Many technologists would include digital currency in the mix and the overall change to a digital economy. So, as you see, the vague term leaves lots of room for discussion. It’s too soon to try and nail things down; the changes are coming at a dizzying pace.
Merriam-Webster defines the metaverse as “the concept of a highly immersive virtual world where people gather to socialize, play, and work.” And by that definition, all the infrastructure software and hardware is part of the metaverse.
What About Business?
In today’s world, every business is a technology business. Even if you do not use technology directly, your supply chain and customers use technology. So, the metaverse and digital transformation will affect your operations more as time goes on.
It isn’t difficult to imagine using immersive VR to sell products and services. We already use it for training, equipment repair and installation, entertainment, and gaming. In addition, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be part of the equipment we purchase for employee productivity and production.
It will become increasingly important for employees to be system thinkers. Solving problems and working across business functions will require understanding many AI-enhanced processes.
We based our education system on the business needs for the industrial age. However, the new era of intelligent machines and metaverse demands a new way of educating future workers. The challenge is that we do not know what jobs will be. Moreover, unlike decades past, change is happening at exponential rates. As a result, modern students will be facing the need to continue learning about the basics of applied technology throughout their careers.
Even the trades (electricians, plumbers, and carpenters) use technology today. From laser-based measuring instruments to tablet-based architecture applications, the trades are being automated. Of course, it will be many years before we develop “humanoid” robots that can climb under a kitchen sink to fix a leaking faucet, but there is no reason why we cannot automate other parts of the plumber’s job.
A major topic in the business community is the difficulty of acquiring talent to fill available positions. If we do not start training the workers of the future, talent acquisition will only worsen. We cannot depend on the education sector to solve this problem. Business leaders must define what we believe is the best education and then take the appropriate steps to ensure we get what is required.
Amazon is already piloting programs of that nature (https://www.sbsun.com/2019/04/19/with-support-from-amazon-these-cajon-high-students-are-receiving-a-crash-course-in-logistics/) It remains to be seen if this is the best way to achieve our needs. Perhaps businesses will have to provide continuing education as part of their business. Even so, the task remains to make sure that our public education systems provide the basics for our students.
What are your thoughts? How will you ensure that your talent needs will be met? Are you already investing in an “in-house university”?