After Facebook rebranded as Meta, everyone’s attention was drawn to the metaverse. Aside from gaming, the metaverse offers an unprecedented opportunity to meet and collaborate with people staying far away. But can board members present while wearing a headset with avatars and VR? Will the dialogues in the metaverse be taken seriously? Experts weigh in.
ResearchOpens a new window by Boardable found that the traditional boardroom’s C-suite executives are now more geographically dispersed than ever before. Simultaneously, emerging technologies such as the metaverse have created virtual reality tools to link board members digitally. Organizations have initiated debates on how the metaverse can become a potential major venue for social and business gatherings over the coming years. However, board meetings are mission-critical for companies and demand participation and collaboration from all to stay effective.Â
Can board members present while wearing a headset with avatars and VR that isolates them from the outside world? Will the discussions in the metaverse be taken seriously? Or could it affect the whole essence of the virtual meeting? Let’s hear from experts.
Running Board Meetings in the Metaverse â€“ The Present & Future
Can metaverse maintain the gravity and interest that board meetings command?
â€œMetaverse is inevitable,â€ believes Ashish Agrawal, co-founder of Lepasa. â€œThis thought is getting more and more acceptance across the world, be it corporates, financial institutions or brands dealing in the luxury category.â€ He thinks every company is currently figuring out a metaverse strategy that could work for them. The reason being the last couple of years of social distancing has made virtual meetings even more frequent and relevant.Â
â€œParticipants of such meetings have already started taking such meetings as seriously as personal meetings. The recent developments around VR are focused on even better immersive experiences where your VR would be able to reflect your facial expressions through your avatar,â€ Agrawal mentions.
Farheen Ahmad, founder & CEO, Interality, thinks that the level of collaboration required for mission-critical board meetings is far greater than the ordinary organizational interactions between managers, employees, and peer groups. â€œAnd this is exactly where the relevance of metaverse and its immersive technologies comes into the picture.â€Â
She believes that the new-age technology allows C-suite an effective platform to meet remotely yet closely collaborate and engage to take important strategic decisions related to the company’s affairs.
Metaverse offers multidimensional interaction capabilities that help board members ideate, plan, and execute projects with desired efficiency and effectiveness.Â
â€“ Farheen Ahmad, founder & CEO, Interality
â€œFurther, real-time monitoring and tracking capabilities offered by metaverse in interactive 3D paradigms ensure that the top echelons of companies take insightful decisions even amidst fast-changing business environments,â€ she adds.Â
Does presenting through a headset with avatars and VR sound realistic?
Roadcast’s co-founder, Rahul Mehra, says, â€œThe metaverse coming into play and the world pivoting towards digitization across work culture is the future. Several companies are experimenting with the metaverse for meetings as well. With the increased ease and connectivity that metaverse offers, board meetings and employee interaction from orientations to training are predicted to find a place in the metaverse.â€Â
The Metaverse will take some time before it materializes. It is currently in a very nascent age, Mehra adds.
Anshul Agarwal, co-founder, XR central, believes that board members or employees won’t be disconnected from the world around them, thanks to the capabilities of 5G and the data processing power of the metaverse. â€œMetaverse will help the board members see their surroundings, interact with employees and colleagues in real time and even, in time, touch, taste and smell while engaging via virtual reality.â€
According to Ahmad, the metaverse technology today has evolved to such an extent that Digital twins of board members can be easily created and interactions can be done with the digital avatars of C-suite members in a completely smooth and seamless manner. â€œThese avatars and proxies of board members can be used to channel the flow of information and with the help of real-time conversation capabilities, metaverse platforms can help these top executives to present and participate remotely in discussions and deliberations of strategic importance.â€Â
However, the real question is whether an organization has access to these new-age capabilities. If yes, then there’s no stopping it from making the most of these digital avatars in remote meetings and interactions, she avers.
Is it preferable for companies to take the hybrid route?
Agarwal points out that it is important to learn about the new features and use cases of the metaverse, so a hybrid or virtual board can be part of knowledge creation and invest in extended reality solutions in their workplace. It isn’t easy to convince technology-phobic people to invest in new technology. Still, with education and advocacy, they can be quickly made to see the high ROI of metaverse technology adoption.
Thanks to the interactive and immersive experience it offers, the metaverse will change the face of our work culture in the coming years, including how C-suite executives work and collaborate, says Ahmad.
â€œThat said, the importance of a hybrid board will remain intact and in cases of decision-making that require very close coordination and collaboration, virtual boards will continue to find their engagement. Also, the functional procedures and operational mechanisms which require continuous monitoring and tracking on a real-time basis will also help virtual boards to maintain their relevance amidst the growing footprints of metaverse technology.â€Â
Ahmad thinks organizations will continue to have opportunities on both fronts. By optimally dividing board members into completely virtual and hybrid teams, they can have the best of both worlds.Â
A lot more needs to be addressed, discussed and agreed upon before the work culture can completely shift to the metaverse, thinks Mehra. â€œCompanies need to have practice runs and help the board members understand the key steps of going online in the metaverse.â€ It needs to be a safe place for everyone while ensuring there is no loss of communication/interaction in the virtual reality of the version. Besides this, one of the major bottlenecks is the active presence of employees in virtual meetings. Board meetings are crucial for the collective good of a company. Laying down certain rules beforehand and ensuring activities that call for enhanced attention engagement are a few ways to ensure successful board meetings in the metaverse.
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