How Bank of America is mastering the metaverse
For many employers, the metaverse has been a source of stress and confusion. Yet for others, it’s an opportunity with some indisputable results.
The metaverse refers to a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with each other using avatars. In 2022 alone, the metaverse reached an all time high of 400 million monthly users, according to consulting company Metaversed.
For business leaders, that kind of adoption is making it increasingly difficult to deny the role virtual reality will play in their future. In fact, according to a recent report commissioned by telecommunications company Ciena, more than three-quarters of professionals said they would rather participate in the metaverse, as opposed to companies’ current remote work tools.
At Bank of America, taking advantage of the metaverse’s capabilities started out with some experimentation, but the benefits have been well worth the effort, says Mike Wynn, the innovations and solutions design executive for the academy at Bank of America. Wynn has spearheaded most of the bank’s recent metaverse integrations since 2020.
“When we first went down the journey of virtual reality we were unsure whether or not this was going to be successful,” he says. “We knew we needed to get some feedback from small groups as we piloted our rollouts, but one thing that we saw and heard immediately was excitement. The positive feedback was jumping out of people’s mouths.”
Since then, Bank of America has incorporated a number of different immersive tech options for workplaces. First, the bank started small: using VR technology to replicate classrooms for training. When that gained traction, they piloted an immersive team-building experience, where employees wore VR helmets and worked together to solve a puzzle in space. Now they’ve expanded into workplace wellness, offering a metaverse integration employees can use specifically to meditate or take a break from work without moving from their desk.
“You can get people to feel and to communicate in various ways,” Wynn says. “It’s one of the many ways that we’re going to help make employee engagement better.”
Wynn recently sat down with EBN to discuss how Bank of America was able to navigate the complexities of the metaverse — and how other companies can, too.
When did you realize that investing in virtual reality and the metaverse was a good idea?
When you think about training in general, nobody is really excited about training. Nobody is saying, “What an amazing, engaging training I took today, let me let me tell my peers about this.” But when we put people in a headset, that all changed. Suddenly everybody wanted to tell everybody what they did. And it wasn’t just their direct reports, or their partners or their peers; it was family members, too. They were talking about it at the dinner table! That was huge for us. We said there is something here that we need to continue to explore. And that helped us move the needle to getting a little bit more serious, which is when we really started to put a program together to truly try to lead in the virtual reality training space. Now, this year we’re building 20 additional modules to add to our library of 15, which just goes to show how committed we are to doing this.