By Chris Copeland, Chief Technology Officer, Accenture Federal Services; and Kyle Michl, Chief Innovation Officer, Accenture Federal Services
Both the public and private sector embraced technology to an unprecedented level in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This created a period of “compressed transformation” that disrupted the technology landscape dramatically. For example, the wholesale adoption of the cloud is now more common. In the pandemic’s wake, a number of emerging technologies – previously thought only to be on the distant horizon – came into clearer focus. Early adopters including federal agencies are already deploying them for enterprise impact.
In our latest Accenture Federal Technology Vision, we explore the four most prominent of these technology trends, as they are poised to up-end federal operations over the next three years. We also look at the convergence of these trends into a “Metaverse Continuum,” a spectrum of digitally enhanced worlds and business models rapidly taking shape. And in many cases, we find that the public sector is leading the way.
Through the Metaverse Continuum, the real and the virtual will merge in ways we’ve never seen before. Consider: Military pilots are already enhancing training in the metaverse, connecting live aircraft to a common augmented reality environment, up in the sky, to perform a refueling training exercise with a virtual tanker.
Using augmented reality, caseworkers are developing new interviewing skills and learning to manage stressful situations by immersing themselves in virtual experiences – complete with frantic parents, distracted children, and ringing phones.
The Metaverse Continuum will transform how federal government operates and its building blocks are being laid today. Extended reality, artificial intelligence, blockchain, quantum computing, advanced sensors, 5G, the Internet of Things, digital twins, etc. – when combined, these technologies create incredible new spaces, rich in breakthrough capabilities. We expect the Metaverse Continuum to eventually play a key role in missions ranging from training and education to logistics and maintenance to citizen service, and more.
And federal agencies are more equipped to adopt and scale these transformative technologies than ever before. Post-pandemic, the federal government now has a deeper understanding of what technology can do to further missions, and how to effectively integrate it.
Yet, navigating the Metaverse Continuum will still require a careful approach. There are opportunities ahead but also significant challenges, particularly in the areas of cybersecurity, privacy, trust, regulation, and more.
In this era, Accenture’s Federal Technology Vision 2022: Government Enters the Metaverse provides a map for assessing and organizing the technologies of the Metaverse Continuum into a meaningful structure for your agency.
The report dives into four trends:
- In WebMe, we explore how the internet is being reimagined, specifically through the intersection of metaverses and Web3. Metaverses are 3D environments, imbued with a sense of place and presence, where moving from an enterprise system to a social platform is as simple as walking from the office to the movie theater across the street. Web3 can underpin these environments with a data framework that generates veracity, trust, and consensus — things we’ve long had conventions for in the physical world, but which have often eluded us in the virtual world.
- Programmable World tracks the increasingly sophisticated ways in which technology is being threaded through our physical environments. The convergence of 5G, ambient computing, augmented reality, smart materials, and more is paving the way for agencies to reshape how they interact with the physical world, unlocking an unprecedented fidelity of control, automation, and personalization.
- The Unreal examines the paradox of synthetic data. Synthetic data – which is manufactured data meant to mimic real-world qualities – is increasingly needed to train artificial intelligence and power the algorithms that are being embedded in our day-to-day experiences. At the same time, synthetic data is negatively impacting populations, with the rapid growth of deepfakes and misinformation leading people to increasingly question what’s real and what’s not. In this world, authenticity – not “realness” – must be the north star for federal agencies.
- Finally, in Computing the Impossible, we look at the rise of quantum, biologically-inspired, and high-performance computing. Next-gen computing promises to reset the boundaries of what is computationally possible and will empower federal agencies to tackle problems once considered unsolvable.
The Federal Technology Vision 2022 incorporates insight from a global survey of 4,660 executives spanning 23 industries and 24,000 consumers worldwide. It applies these findings to the unique challenges and demands facing the U.S. federal government, featuring in-depth analysis from more than 20 Accenture Federal Services experts and results of a survey of 200 U.S. federal government executives.
Learn more about how the Metaverse Continuum can transform your agency in the report.