One of the hot topics buzzing around the internet is the metaverse. Supposedly the metaverse is the future and will change everything, but what does that even mean? What is the metaverse and why should you even care about it? Or is it just some fad that will pass like silicone bubble pop or POGS?
Most of that confusion comes from people using the buzzword metaverse which isn’t very descriptive to the common person. So, let’s clarify.
The term “metaverse” is used to describe a collective virtual shared space where users can interact with each other and with virtual objects in real-time. The term metaverse was coined in a science fiction novel in 1992.
Metaverse should not be confused with “Meta”, which is the Facebook company. Yes, Meta is spearheading the current metaverse push as we know it, which involved augmented/virtual reality, but they are far from the first to create a metaverse experience. Adobe Atmosphere and the more popular Second Life come to mind as similar ventures from 20-ish years ago.
However, technology is different today and more apt to handle the immense processing power required, especially for a 3D world environment. Dare I say, as a society we are mentally more accepting of a virtual world. The Gen-Z “zoomers” of the world are filling the workforce. This is an entire generation of digital natives that have never known a world without the internet or online communities and communication. They will embrace the metaverse gladly.
The metaverse is coming, and soon. Microsoft expects younger workers to do some sort of work in the metaverse within the next 2 years. With partnerships between big tech, it is sure to have a major impact.
How will the metaverse impact your business?
Anecdotally, this is my personal litmus test for the metaverse. Follow the money! If companies are pouring their ad funds into the metaverse then that tells you how viable it is. The metaverse represents a brand new channel to advertise in, and in brand new ways.
Think about how the internet changed advertising compared to print and how social media evolved internet ads. If the metaverse is a new 3D way to engage with people, companies, and brands, then it would be the next stage of that advertising evolution.
There was a time when phone calls and snail mail were the only way to interact with a company. That evolved into email and contact forms. Those methods are still well and good, but social media has become a viable way to engage with your customer base.
In fact, according to marketing companies, 79% of consumers use social media to contact businesses. More importantly, they expect a quick response. 76% of them expect a response within a day, and 13% expect a response within an hour.
Businesses have responded with strong social media touch points, using it for both marketing and handling inquiries from customers. With such high expectations and engagement rates, the same will likely hold true for the metaverse and brand presence there.
If ads and consumer engagement is going on in the metaverse, you can surely bet that there will be stores as well. Again, it’s analogous to the advent of the internet and the birth of e-commerce.
The metaverse will most likely be an additional channel to conduct sales in, creating a more interactive shopping experience for their customers.
Virtual Training & Education
While we can imagine the 3D internet of tomorrow and what it will be like to sell and advertise, I think the earlier adoptions will be more specific to training and learning.
What does training for your business look like today? Imagine what an immersive 3D world can do for it. Instead of reading a handbook or watching a video, they can do the work hands-on. Instead of them shadowing a worker and then having somebody shadow them as they work, they could have a sandbox to work in that won’t affect any daily business if they make a mistake. You can gamify it too, making it like a game rather than a test. The possibilities are huge.
It’s a great way for people to learn. So the next step would be to have education move towards that realm.
Overlapping with training and education would be events. Events could be of any kind.
I imagine virtual trade shows, conferences, and live performances. This would allow businesses to reach a wider audience and could potentially save on costs associated with physical events, such as travel and venue rental.
Immersive Team Collaboration
As remote work and hybrid work has grown, so has the need to collaborate effectively and efficiently. Video conferencing and messaging groups are great methods to connect, but what if you could meet “in person” via the metaverse?
You could actually “go to work” while still remaining at home. You can meet with and interact with your co-workers virtually the same as if you were together in the same room. As an added plus, your avatar will give you the look you want to convey so it doesn’t matter if you have a bad hair day or forgot to put the laundry in the dryer.
Are you ready for the metaverse?
The next digital transformation is coming, and as I mentioned all the big tech companies are on board with their support. The question is, are you going to be ready for adopting a new tech for your business?