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Verizon XR/Metaverse Case Study

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Verizon XR/Metaverse Case Study

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Verizon Communications Inc. is an American multinational telecommunications conglomerate. The company was formed in 1984 as ‘Bell Atlantic’, which resulted from breakup of the Bell System into seven Regional Bell Operating Companies. In 2000, after the FCC approved a US$64.7 billion merger between Bell Atlantic and telephone company GTE, and the new company changed its name to ‘Verizon Communications.’

In 2022, Verizon had annual revenue of $136.8 billion, which placed Verizon as the 26th largest firm on the Fortune 500 list. Verizon's primary source of revenue comes from providing telecommunications services to its customers. These services include wireless services, internet plans, television subscriptions, phone services, and accessories and gear for mobile equipment and PCs. Customers pay monthly for Verizon’s services, contributing to a healthy, recurring revenue stream. Verizon's mobile network is the second-largest wireless carrier in the United States, currently with 143.3 million subscribers.

Verizon, which has 1,600 retail stores in the US, currently employs 117,000 employees, the vast majority of which work in the US.

Today’s Verizon case study is special in that I will be discussing two sides of the same coin. One side of the coin is the impact of the Metaverse on Verizon — more specifically how Verizon is using XR/VR/AR in its day-to-day business. The other side of the coin is Verizon’s impact on the Metaverse as a potential co-creator of the Metaverse.

Verizon’s XR/VR/AR Experience

1. VR Training

For the past 3 years, starting in 2021, Verizon’s Learning & Development department (800 employees) began using VR training to build empathy and de-escalation skills for their customer service associates that work in Verizon’s call centers. Before deploying VR training, Verizon put on four-hour, in-person workshops and leaned on role play to deliver the de-escalation training. But they found role play fell short because it fails to replicate the emotional aspects of an escalating situation. Now, instead of role playing, customer service associates immerse themselves in a virtual world, where an avatar takes the place of the angry customer. Associates need to de-escalate this customer, who now has a ‘face’ versus being just a voice. Associates see, hear, and feel the customer’s frustrations more powerfully.

VR training helped Verizon associates gain the valuable experience they need in a safe, virtual environment. Many associates anxious to improve their skills found the immersive aspects of VR training to be rewarding, making VR training a win-win for both associates and customers. In addition to self-awareness, Verizon associates felt increased confidence in handling difficult customers since they were able to practice continuously using the VR training. Before deploying VR, in addition to the four-hour, in-person workshops, Verizon assigned pre- and post-work to business leaders across the enterprise to coach their teams around the content discussed in the course. All of this added up to almost 10 hours of training time that came at a cost to the business and employee productivity. VR training cut this time down to less than an hour, which delivered significant savings for the company. In addition to time and cost savings, customer service associates also felt that VR training made them feel much more confident because they were more aware of themselves and the way they were dealing with the customer.

Verizon next expanded their VR training to deal with ‘snatch-and-grab’ theft or even armed robbery within their retail stores. Traditional training in a classroom or using a video simply did not give employees the realistic experience they need to feel confident and act quickly when faced with a situation that can be unpredictable and emotional. For the safety of everyone in the store, it was critical that store associates know what to do when faced with such high-stakes, potentially dangerous situations. To deal with the heart-pounding rush of an armed robbery, but in a safe environment, Verizon’s Learning and Development department turned to VR ‘safety’ training. Building on existing security-camera footage from real, in-store robberies, in conjunction with new 360-degree filming for VR, Verizon built and piloted three safety VR training modules for employees; store leaders complemented these training modules who coached employees through the nuances of a proper response in these high-stakes situations.

2. Verizon’s Partnership with Meta

In March 2022, Verizon and Meta announced a strategic partnership to develop advanced Metaverse capabilities on Verizon’s 5G fixed and mobile connectivity. Meta will create virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR) apps that Verizon will deliver. This strategic partnership supports an innovative business model whereby the Meta apps will likely be tied to a connectivity subscription model with potential revenue sharing for both companies. The new strategic partnership will advance foundational Metaverse technology by developing a platform equipped to handle the core streaming and rendering capabilities needed for Metaverse applications.

This partnership supports Verizon’s network strategy to extend the company’s leadership position in mobility, capture a destructive share of the broadband market, and create new business models and ecosystems enabled by 5G and edge computing. Building what is referred to as ‘Multi-Access Edge Computing’ infrastructure and partnerships has been essential to Verizon as it enters its second phase of 5G, where Verizon continues to build out Multi-Access Edge Computing infrastructure for public use and on-premise for private use on its 5G network, while it delivers apps and services with an expanding network of partners including Meta. Verizon is likely to deliver significant advancements in network latency, symmetrical bandwidth and overall speed of networks which will help Meta realize its vision for more powerful Metaverse-optimized consumer and business apps.

3. Verizon’s Focus on Remote Expertise, Training, and Simulation

Earlier this year, Verizon announced a strategy of focusing on three proven enterprise use cases for AR and VR employing its 5G spectrum and multi-access edge computing capabilities. These use cases include remote expertise, training, and simulation to include the use of digital twins. The manufacturing and healthcare industries are leading the way in applying these three ‘horizontal’ applications. Verizon is implementing field trials for all three use cases acknowledging the key is to find the right combination of bandwidth, software, and glasses for each application while keeping the application simple to use.

Telcom Operators and the Metaverse

While Verizon continues to enlarge its use of VR training, has formed a partnership with Meta to develop advanced Metaverse capabilities on Verizon’s 5G fixed and mobile connectivity, and is focusing on remote expertise, training, and simulation use cases, I think Verizon’s biggest opportunity is to drive the future of the Metaverse by positioning themselves as co-creators of the Metaverse, rather than just participants.

Verizon (and other telecom operators) stand to benefit immensely by taking a leading role in delivering the Metaverse by enhancing customer experience, monetizing investments through adjacent services, and increasing operational efficiency. But for Verizon the Metaverse also presents a distinct opportunity to play a more assertive role in the Metaverse value chain. Alongside technology giants and online game developers, Verizon can leverage emerging technologies such as 5G, edge cloud, analytics, and artificial intelligence so they are no longer relegated to the role of pipe provider but rather are paving the way to becoming cocreators of the Metaverse. To succeed, however, Verizon must find their place in the Metaverse ecosystem and take advantage of the opportunity to position themselves as cocreators of the Metaverse, rather than just participants.

Here are 7 ways Verizon can help co-create the Metaverse (adopted from https://www.ey.com/en_us/telecommunications/seven-ways-telecom-operators-can-power-the-metaverse).

telecoms metaverse

1)    Drive the development of human interface hardware needed for the Metaverse

Verizon can seize this moment to collaborate with device vendors to drive their adoption, for example through selling bundled VR devices and connectivity services to consumers. Verizon can also invest in device innovation as well as execution of key levers to drive profitability, such as securitization, re-commerce, and insurance.

2)    Become the lead connectivity provider

The development of the Metaverse and the broadening of virtual worlds are directly tied to connectivity. 5G services deliver high multi-gigabits-per-second peak data speeds, ultralow latency, greater reliability, and a uniformed experience. As 5G networks get commercially deployed, these networks will help consumers and businesses enter the Metaverse. Around 2030, the telecom industry will witness a shift in wireless technology toward 6G services that provide even higher transfer speeds and lower latency.

3)    Provide edge computing services

With millions of people soon having continuous virtual experiences in the Metaverse in real time, today’s cloud technology will not be able to centralize and store all the resources involved. Due to latency requirements, this data will need to be distributed and made available closer to the point of consumption. This puts Verizon in a prime position to provide edge computing services and unlock more efficient data transfer, enhance perimeter security, and relieve network congestion.

4)    Leverage advanced analytics and AI capabilities to bolster revenues

Verizon has considerable experience extracting insights from call data. Participants in the Metaverse will generate a wealth of product, customer, and asset data. Verizon is uniquely positioned to augment this data through advanced analytics and AI, and to repurpose this data to improve decision-making and to create new Metaverse demand scenarios.

5)    Lead the way in terms of providing cybersecurity, privacy, and trust for Metaverse services

Today, consumers and businesses are increasingly concerned about their digital footprint and the integrity of their personal data. Identity authentication and management will become more important as Metaverse virtual worlds become more sophisticated. Verizon is for the most part trusted by consumers as data custodians and therefore have a unique opportunity to leverage their existing customer relationships to position themselves as identity management experts in the Metaverse.

6)    Develop Metaverse platforms

Many companies have and will launch their own Metaverse platforms. The success of these platforms depends on drawing as many subscribers as possible. The eventual global ‘Metaverse platform’ will be developed by gradually combining large and small Metaverses. To help build a deeper understanding of the demand scenarios and technical competencies shaping the global Metaverse platform, Verizon should be investing now in Metaverse platforms, possibly including their own.

7)    Be a key orchestrator of the ecosystem

As Verizon further refines their strategies to engage with the Metaverse, they should form new partnering frameworks to unlock growth. Relationships with device manufacturers and technology platform providers should pivot toward the long-term opportunities afforded by virtual and augmented reality. Relationships with industry vertical customers can also be strengthened by identifying new collaboration opportunities. Discussion with policymakers will also help operators position themselves as orchestrators of the Metaverse ecosystem.

The Metaverse creates a new frontier for people and businesses to interact, trade and play. At this frontier, constraints of the physical world will subside, and new levels of efficiencies and productivity will be reached. In addition to applying XR/VR/AR to their business, Verizon is in a unique position to co-create the Metaverse. Will the Metaverse become Verizon’s next frontier?

 

My Metaverse business partner, Tim Bajarin, and I are keen to assist healthcare companies at each step of the way to ensure their successful entry into the Metaverse. To read about additional healthcare and related Metaverse case studies, I strongly encourage you to visit ISM’s award-winning Metaverse Resource Center – www.ismguide.com/metaverse-resource-center  – where in addition to gaining access to more than 275 Metaverse case studies, more than 275 Metaverse articles, and more than 100 Metaverse videos, you can download ISM’s new ‘8 Steps to Do Business Successfully in the Metaverse’ White Paper, download ISM’s New ‘VR Training Guide for the Enterprise,’ learn about and sign-up for ISM’s complimentary 2-hour Metaverse Executive Bootcamp, and more. 

 

Barton Goldenberg (bgoldenberg@ismguide.com) is president of ISM, Inc. Since 1985, ISM has established itself as the premier strategic advisor leveraging leading edge technologies – the Metaverse, Digital Communities, and CRM – to create and implement customer strategy with a focus on sales, marketing and customer service. His thought leadership including creator of the ‘Business Success in a Virtual World’ podcast, creator of the award winning Metaverse Resource Center, and author of three business books including The Definitive Guide to Social CRM. He is also in high demand as a keynote speaker (www.bartongoldenberg.com).

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