What is the Metaverse? The opportunities for companies

The Metaverse is currently one of the buzziest tech trends of 2022. According to new statistics by Sensor Tower, 552 mobile applications now incorporate the term “metaverse” in their titles or descriptions. This is in an attempt to pique consumer interest in the web’s next evolution, Web 3.0. 

Not just tech corporations, but also startups and small businesses are eager to be part of this movement. 

In this article, you will discover how enterprises can leverage the Metaverse, various companies working in the Metaverse and potential risks and challenges.

What is the Metaverse?

The Metaverse is an amalgamation of virtual reality and augmented reality experiences, also called mixed reality. Users, in the form of digital avatars, can not only meet and talk in a shared virtual space but also work, play, and shop.

Is the Metaverse the same as web 3.0?

Although people have been comparing Metaverse with Web 3.0, there are stark differences between the two. Metaverse, on one hand, centres around the idea of how users will experience the internet of the future. Instead of talking to your co-worker through video conferencing tools, you can engage with them in a shared virtual space. 

On the other hand, Web 3.0 focuses on establishing a decentralised web based on blockchain technology. We are already seeing the elements of Web 3.0 like NFTs. This allows artists to own and monetize their digital collection, and decentralised web browsers, thus making it susceptible to hacking and phishing attacks.

The origin of the Metaverse

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The term “metaverse” was initially coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash”. Neal envisions the Metaverse as a digital space for people to move and engage freely.

In 1999, the movie The Matrix was partially based on the idea of the Metaverse. In this movie humans are controlled by powerful machines. Later in 2003, the invention of the online video game platform, Second Life, allowed people to create their own avatars, Because of this people could have a second life in the virtual world. 

Fast forward to 2021, and we are seeing an upgraded version of the Metaverse. This version is powered by companies from Facebook to Microsoft, Roblox to Decentraland.

Which Metaverse platforms are there?

There are a handful of platforms like Decentraland, Sandbox, Horizon on which people can join and interact with each other. Most of these platforms require crypto wallets like Metamask. However, you can either enter as a guest or login via your social media credentials.

How to enter the Metaverse

Although many see VR/AR as the medium to experience the Metaverse, considering the level of immersion that these technologies provide, the Metaverse is device agnostic. This means people can explore the digital worlds using smartphones, laptops, or desktops.

Create an Avatar – Unlike in social media where users have their own digital handles. In the Metaverse, users are represented by digital avatars. These avatars are customizable and manoeuvrable. 

Start exploring – People can not only roam around and meet their friends but also buy digital goods in the Metaverse. These goods are just like NFTs, using cryptocurrencies, protected via blockchain technology.

MetaVerse for Business - why should you care?

Analysis from Bloomberg Intelligence shows that the Metaverse revenue opportunity could reach $783 billion by 2024, up from $478 billion in 2020. Although the gaming segment is expected to seize up a bigger chunk of the Metaverse, enterprises have jumped at this opportunity. 

Apart from the growing market, consumer adoption of immersive technologies and digital assets has been increasing year on year. According to an investment advice company, The MotleyFool.com, people spent $41 billion on non-fungible tokens. People are also equally enthusiastic about buying virtual properties in the Metaverse. 

As per a global survey commissioned by Lenovo, 41% of working adults are willing to work in the Metaverse as they believe it will improve their work productivity.

How can companies use the MetaVerse?

Onboarding and training in the Metaverse

Current training solutions through classroom or digital learning are flat and encourage rote memorization. With the use of Virtual Reality Training programs in the Metaverse, employers can go beyond the boundaries of traditional training and allow employees to experience life-like scenarios in a safe, controlled and non-hazardous manner. 

Metaverse allows businesses to create a digital replica of their office environment and introduce new joinees to existing employees in a much more immersive way. Moreover, using the digital environment, enterprises can better serve their clients and get them acquainted and comfortable with their products and services.

Events in the Metaverse

The possibilities of hosting events, seminars and conferences in the Metaverse have immensely increased. This is due to the creation of virtual 3D spaces along with different online platforms for accessibility.

As a business owner, organising events in the Metaverse comes with its own advantages. It significantly reduces logistics and transportation costs. Moreover, with customised or pre-built stages, enterprises can expedite their product launches.

Additionally, you  get valuable insights into customer behaviour and event success.

Because the metaverse is still in its infancy, an event can also become a big flop, for example at a VR event of the ‘Foo Fighters’. Many people had technical problems and could not enter the event.

Sales in the Metaverse

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many retailers have been struggling to keep up with consumer demand and behaviour. In order to enhance customers’ experiences and ensure business continuity, the metaverse could be an opportunity for retailers to create real-time 3D-rendered stores. This allows the expansion of product catalogues and providing a more social and immersive shopping experience.

Product Testing in the Metaverse

Enterprises can make use of the Metaverse to test their products before launching them into the market. By deploying a virtual prototype in a shared space, consumers can experience the product and give their feedback. The feedback can in turn help companies reduce production cycles.

What companies are doing with the MetaVerse?

Accenture: Last year, in 2021, Accenture, an IT consulting company, acquired more than 60,000 Oculus Quest headsets. Accenture did this to develop onboarding programs for new recruits and get them familiar with the company’s policies, culture, and responsibilities.  

Gucci: Gucci, one of the leaders in the fashion industry, rolled out its Gucci Garden experience in the Roblox Metaverse. One exclusive digital Gucci bag was sold for 350,000 Robux, or approximately $4,115. 

Dyson: In November last year, Dyson unveiled an advanced virtual reality experience for consumers, Demo VR, allowing customers to try, test, and understand Dyson products in an immersive, online environment. 

Nike: The footwear and apparel giant is gradually making its way into the Metaverse. Last year, Nike acquired RTFKT, a digital design studio creating trainers that can be worn in the Metaverse. With the acquisition, Nike aims to accelerate its digital footprint and prepare for the launch of Cryptokicks, or Nike’s virtual sneakers.

PricewaterhouseCoopers: Back in December, the auditing and accounting firm, PWC’s Hong Kong unit, purchased a piece of land in the Sandbox. With that, the firm wants to leverage their expertise to educate the clients who wish to be part of the Metaverse and familiarise them with its applications. 

Discover more about the what companies and brands are doing in the Metaverse.

Challenges and Risks of the MetaVerse

Interoperability – Many evangelists view the metaverse as a single entity. However, looking at the existing metaverses, it is yet to be seen how companies set up a standard for interoperability to make the experiences more appealing. This ensures that people can move within the metaverses.

Privacy and Security – According to a study, 20% of virtual reality experiences can generate 2 million unique data sets. Businesses interacting with consumers in the Metaverse need to be transparent with the consumers about what data is collected and where it is being used, or how it is being used.

Excess Hype – Metaverse seems to be more of a marketing term than a full-fledged concept. The current form of the Metaverse lacks infrastructure. Currently, game platforms like Roblox and Fortnite are being rebranded as the Metaverse, which doesn’t excite general users apart from niche gaming communities.

The future of the Metaverse

The Metaverse is still in its infancy and evolving rapidly due to technological advancements. Whether you are an e-commerce company or a construction company, you can start experimenting by visiting any of the Metaverses as mentioned in the article. It is also possible to create a custom simulation to test new products or train employees. 

Whether the hype will continue and whether it really will be the future remains to be seen. What is certain is that, as a company, you have to keep a close eye on the developments, because you don’t want to be too late.

Tim Nijland
Tim Nijland
Enthusiasm, knowledge and a lot of passion. My main focus is everything XR related but anything in the realm of new technology makes my heart beat faster. I love to share my thoughts and talk about the many use cases of XR. Feel free to contact me at tim@vrowl.nl

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