The Metaverse and the Future of Work

In the interview, Anders Grand, regional general manager of Ciena, explains his vision for the metaverse. The world of work and network connectivity play an important role in this regard.

Ciena, a network systems, services and software company, recently surveyed professionals in Germany and a number of other countries and regions about their expectations for the business value of new immersive applications like the Metaverse – with surprising results. Dr. Jakob Jung, ZDNet, in conversation with Anders Grand, Regional General Manager of Ciena:

Anders Grand, regional general manager of Ciena:

1. Mr. Grand, Ciena provides networking systems, services and software for the most demanding communication needs. However, your survey is less about purely technical issues and more about the expectations of professionals – why?

At Ciena, our goal is to help our customers deliver next-generation mission-critical connectivity. It helps improve the way people live, work and play and keeps the world connected. For this reason, we also take the time to understand user expectations. Because only by understanding how end users are embracing the latest developments in network connectivity can we support these advancements. At Ciena, we strive to ensure that we have the technology and infrastructure to support the networks of the future.

It’s no surprise that the way we work is changing, and new immersive apps like the Metaverse will play a major role in that. It was therefore important for us to fully understand what business people expect in terms of network connectivity. One of the concerns raised by interviewees was that the network would not be able to support the high bandwidth demands of virtual collaboration environments.

This is also reflected in our survey. From the perspective of respondents, network performance is the top technical concern at 38% when introducing virtual applications into the business environment. In second place (35 percent) is the belief that the technology is not yet widely available. Third, the fear that companies do not yet have the necessary equipment.

  1. What benefits or applications do respondents expect from the metaverse in the work environment?

The collaboration is clearly up to expectations. Two in five respondents expect companies to start designing new VR-based work environments within the next two years. Here, Germany’s results barely deviate from the general average.

Skepticism about these new work environments is by no means prevalent. Overall, 71% of respondents can imagine that the Metaverse will be part of their future work environment. In Germany, however, the skepticism is somewhat greater, in Germany the value is only 60%.

  1. In what areas are people particularly open to working in the virtual world? Collaboration is a huge area, can you explain that in more detail?

In general, almost all survey participants are convinced that virtual meetings have advantages over traditional meetings – also in Germany. These benefits include lower costs, greater convenience and, of course, better opportunities for real-time project collaboration.

The survey also revealed that four out of five respondents (78%) would prefer an immersive experience like the Metaverse to today’s video conferencing tools. It is interesting to note that countries like India, Colombia or the Philippines reach a value of around 90%, which is more than double the value in Japan with 44%. For Germany, the comparative figure is 70%.

  1. In your study, you also asked how employees present themselves in virtual environments. These results are quite surprising!

At first, we expected many users to show up in a professional environment with their true selves. But this assumption is wrong. Globally, only about a third of people (35%) would present themselves this way, and a further 22% would present an idealized version of themselves. One in five would present themselves differently depending on the meeting, and 18% would choose either a celebrity, such as sports, music or TV, or an animal or something else.

The regional differences are interesting here. In this country, the percentages correspond roughly to the world figures. In Brazil, however, more than half (54%) would choose an avatar that matches them in the real world; in Japan, there are only half (27%).

So it will be exciting in the next few years, especially when we meet our colleagues from Japan, Brazil and other countries virtually in meetings. I can’t wait to see how we’ll all embrace the new connected world – I can’t wait to be there.

Mr. Grand, thank you very much for the interview.

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