How to ensure your business is metaverse-readyHLB Thailand
What is the metaverse?
Imagine being able to hold a meeting with virtual versions of your colleagues, enable a customer to view a product or property without them leaving their home, or conduct complex repairs on a piece of equipment completely remotely. Such is the promise of the metaverse.
The term has been gaining traction in tech circles for several years now, but what exactly is the metaverse, and what impact will it have on business?
The metaverse is basically a 3D Internet that harnesses technology such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence, 3D avatars, and video, through which people interact using equipment such as headsets, wearables, and sensors.
While in the metaverse you would be able to travel to a virtual store and examine a product, talk to virtual sales staff, and make a purchase. You could also create digital twins – virtual replicas of complex real-world systems – to see how they might work in real life, saving huge amounts of money on prototyping.
Staff could interact in meetings the way they do now on Zoom or Microsoft Teams, but in far greater depth to the extent that it feels like everyone is in a room together, even if they are in different parts of the world.
Whatever way you look at it, the technology could have huge implications for virtually every aspect of business.
How businesses are already embracing the metaverse
Some industry experts believe that by as early as 2030 we could be spending more time in the metaverse than in the real world with people applying for jobs, studying, working, socialising, and shopping remotely. Traditional workspaces will also be redesigned, with surfaces that provide new interfaces and new virtual connections.
JP Morgan has opened a virtual branch in Decentraland - one of the world’s most popular metaverse platforms. It's not hard to see why it took the plunge, having estimated that the metaverse will soon be worth more than $1 trillion in annual revenue to businesses.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg claims the metaverse will be “the biggest opportunity for modern business since the creation of the internet” and has outlined plans to spend $10 billion developing new virtual reality tech for it. This commitment was further reinforced last year when Facebook changed its name to Meta.
Microsoft has also been laying the groundwork for staking a claim in this new virtual economy. Microsoft Mesh and HoloLens, Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure IoT and Azure Digital Twins are among an ecosystem of technology it has earmarked as the foundation for its metaverse apps.
How to ensure your business is metaverse ready
We believe the full metaverse is still a decade away. But once it is here and starts to fulfill its promise, business will need to be able to hit the ground running. Here are some ways to ensure that companies are ready to embrace the new world of the metaverse.
Companies will have to keep up to date with new technology designed to assist the effective implementation of the metaverse. Your IT department will have to be prepared to assess the hardware, software, cloud, 5G and other technologies necessary to support metaverse experiences.
Keep ahead of the curve. AR and VR technologies are becoming more accessible to consumers. The immersive tech market will continue to open new doors for more businesses and strengthen the foundations of interaction with the metaverse.
Every company needs a strategy for how it will incorporate the metaverse into its offering, regardless of its size. Companies will need to identify gaps and long-term opportunities to build from the metaverse to ensure they have the right mix of skills and technical infrastructure to provide the business with a metaverse experience, when it is needed. Begin forming a point of view on how your brand should present itself in the metaverse and when it might make sense. Think about the tests available now to put in place to enable you to get your brand exposed to the metaverse comfortably?
Recruitment and upskilling
In order to be fully ready for this new world, companies will need to make sure they have the right tech expertise onboard, as well as sales and operations staff who can get to grips with technology. Firms will need to invest in upskilling and recruiting to close skills gaps, as well as adopt new approaches to data and business relationships.
Businesses must understand and have a policy around cryptocurrencies, as the virtual world will have much greater need for virtual currency. It is important that if this is to be the case, companies will have to think about adjusting their business models to grow alongside immersive technology. This may involve accepting new payment methods like cryptocurrency. As well as things like Bitcoin, NFTs (non-fungible tokens) could enable the ownership of virtual items and real estate within the metaverse.
Privacy and security
As will all new technology, there are potential pitfalls alongside the myriad of opportunities. Companies will have to understand and prepare for the challenges around cybersecurity, privacy rights, regulatory compliance, brand reputation, and anti-fraud efforts.
Embracing the here and now
The metaverse is still a new concept but much of the technology which underpins it already exists. With the momentum generated by powerhouses such as Microsoft and Meta – formerly Facebook – the metaverse is beginning to take shape.
Companies should be laying the groundwork now for how they will utilise the metaverse – both in how they use it to interact with customers and clients – and how they use it internally for everyday operations. But caution is also called for in terms of how it could impact privacy, cyber, and data security.