The Metaverse is a revolutionary development that aims to become our world, but virtual. This can be a replica of our physical world, or it can be a virtual world with features never seen and impossible in reality.
The Metaverse market is predicted to be $800 billion by 2024 (Bloomerg), backed by tech giants like Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, Apple, and Google, who are investing a lot of money to make it a reality. Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2026, 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the Metaverse.
How does the Metaverse arise?
The term Metaverse was coined by author Neal Stephenson in the 1992 novel Snow Crash. In his book, it refers to an all-encompassing digital world that exists parallel to physical reality. Until 2022, it is not yet certain if the metaverse can evolve into something similar. For now, it can be thought of as a 3D version of the Internet and computing in general. Generating spaces to “spend digital life”. Where through an avatar, it is possible to interact with other people and live experiences in a life parallel to everyday life.
In recent years, there have been some factors that have catapulted the vision towards the metaverse. Among the technological factors is the advancement of technologies such as virtual reality and blockchain, which are now a reality. In the case of blockchain, cryptocurrencies and NFTs (non-fungible tokens), can make it possible to own and transact virtual items and real estate in the Metaverse. All these are factors that encourage new horizons within the virtual world.
In the corporate sphere, the big players’ decisions in the internet industry have given clues that bet on an opening towards the business expansion to the meta world. The purchase of Oculus, in 2014, by Facebook was a clear indication of Marc Zuckerberg’s commitment to the future of his developments. We know that late last year, Facebook underwent a rebranding to Meta, to focus its mission on the Metaverse.
The potential of the Metaverse is still in the discovery phase.
To get a complete picture of the potential of this development and its adoption by the consumer, there are still some technological challenges to solve. Within these, the hardware accessibility that is required, the interoperability that allows taking virtual items from one platform to another, and the legal and commercial restructuring that leads to the design of a whole new digital regulation system.
So far, there are 3 elements that make up a Metaverse experience: the virtual interface, the digital property, and the avatars. However, neither of them is essential for idea development. The general objective is to create a graphically rich space, with a certain degree of verisimilitude where people feel that they are really inside the digital space, where they can work, play, socialize, buy, in short, all the activities that people like to do with the community in real life.
This exists in one way or another in video games. This concept of collaboration and immersion that has been achieved through gaming experiences is what supports the commitment to expansion to other consumer activities, as well as its future vision of this new technology.
- Walmart Experience in the Metaverse
Metaverse applications as a business opportunity
The applications are endless, although we will still have to wait to see the success stories of the first to venture into generating experiences in their sector. Let’s look at some possibilities:
- Immersive Entertainment: Entertainment in the Metaverse can be a strategy for attracting younger consumers, who are probably responsible for driving the success of this technology. There are already the first concerts in the Metaverse, in 2021 the artist Ariana Grande bet on the Fortnite universe. These initiatives open the opportunity to provide new immersive entertainment experiences.
- Commercial operations: Now we can see the application of Augmented Reality to improve processes in terms of operations. A fully functional Metaverse environment can empower collaboration and data sharing. Operations workers will be able to have more immersive experiences and use this technology in their fieldwork, with greater coordination power.
- Customer experience: The Metaverse will have the power to transform how, when and where companies interact with their customers. The Metaverse platforms will allow companies to offer new experiential experiences to connect with their target audience and provide information or new sales channels. Companies like Nike are experimenting to position themselves in this virtual space.
- Operations with Digital Twins: Creating an interactive and experiential digital environment, is the perfect space to enhance Digital Twins applications. The possibility of running tests and scenarios in a parallel environment promotes an unprecedented openness to new developments while promoting the profitability of R&D.
- Work virtually and immersively: Tech companies that focus on developing the metaverse, such as Meta and Microsoft, are developing the next version of video calls, or “virtual meetings.” It is intended that through avatars will be possible not only to meet but also to collaborate actively to execute collaboratively.
- New digital products: The Metaverse will become a space where everything real is simulated. This opens a scenario, where the style and status needs of the avatars will have to be met. Companies can take advantage of this by selling digital products, from clothing to software applications. A world full of new customer needs opens between the physical and digital.
The future of the Metaverse is not clear, possibly in a few years we will be immersed in our second digital life or, on the contrary, we can remember this initiative as an attempt that has fallen by the wayside.
What we know is that this technology is driving new waves of digital transformation in different industries. The bet has growth potential, like many other technologies, that we thought would take years to see the light and that are a reality today.
We must keep track of it, we cannot disconnect from its evolution since the business possibilities it generates are endless.