Embracing disruption: Getting ready for the metaverse,
In Neal Stephenson’s book called Snow Crash, as the world crumbles around them, people flee into a virtual world called the ‘metaverse’. In the Star Wars movie franchise, holographic avatars of characters appear to provide advice and instructions. With Facebook’s recent rebranding to ‘Meta’ and Mark Zuckerberg’s talking about the metaverse, debate has erupted on whether we are hurtling towards a dystopian future or whether there is really a business case for the metaverse.
But, what is the metaverse?
While there is no single definition of the metaverse, it is loosely defined as a combination of multiple immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and video. It will be a coming together of our current physical reality and the digital universe to create seamless and immersive experiences.
How will the metaverse change the way we consume content?
Meta means ‘beyond’ and ‘verse’ comes from the ‘universe’, meaning that the metaverse will be like the next generation of the online universe as we currently know it. While the pandemic has certainly accelerated the adoption of digital technologies, the metaverse will take it even further and make it much more immersive.
Advocates of the metaverse claim that it would fundamentally change the way we live with users being able to work, play, and interact with friends and even able to attend music concerts or take virtual trips around the world.
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What are some of the industries that will see maximum disruption?
There is no clear and definitive answer to that, but as the last two years have shown us, disruption can come from unexpected quarters. Industries such as media and social media, gaming, fashion, and movies have been at the forefront of using immersive technologies such as AR and VR and are better equipped to migrate to the metaverse.
However, ‘traditional’ industries such as manufacturing, oil & gas, travel and transport, and aviation are likely to see a significant change in how they use the metaverse.
With business leaders already exploring ways to integrate VR & AR into existing workflows, aspects such as design and prototyping, user testing, and user training are the most likely to see disruptive change and use cases that bring in strong RoI.
What can companies do to stay ahead?
The first step would be to realize that the metaverse is not a passing fad. With tech giants such as Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon and others betting big money on it, every company needs to get a move on and decide how they are going to use the metaverse.
Some avenues to leverage the power of the metaverse could be:
- Sales: Like what Gucci recently did, avatars in the metaverse can purchase virtual ‘goods’ and add to a new sales channel for your company. There also are travel companies providing complete virtual holidays to exotic destinations.
- Marketing: Much like influencers in the ‘real’ world, companies can invest in metaverse influencers using branded products or even virtual versions of holiday locations etc.
- Training: For industries such as mining and oil & gas, training can be an expensive as well as dangerous proposition with failure coming at heavy human cost as well as financial impact. The metaverse could lead to advanced simulations that train users in dangerous scenarios, which could be inaccessible in real life.
- UX design: By simulating the user experience, industries whether they are into banking, retail, customer service or others can create huge impact and build better customer experiences. For example, Disneyland could figure out how to prevent people from getting annoyed due to long lines during holiday season. Or a retail store could change their store layout based on metaverse feedback.
The metaverse is here to stay
Unlike the internet, which is a digital space that we enter after switching something on, the metaverse is likely to be an amalgamation of the physical and the digital spaces with seamless changeovers. In the next few years, as technology advances down its inevitable path, ignoring the metaverse will not be an option. Companies need to start thinking of the future now, and the writing is on the wall – be there or be left out.
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Embracing disruption: Getting ready for the metaverse was originally published in AR/VR Journey: Augmented & Virtual Reality Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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Author: Yushau Sodiq