December 1, 2021
Whether you’ve been excited by the concept of the Metaverse since 1992, when speculative writer Neal Stephenson first coined the term in his novel Snow Crash, or you’re just now exploring the idea thanks to the news surrounding Facebook’s rebranding, one thing seems certain: the Metaverse is not only here-- it’s here to stay.
And if you’re still thinking of the Metaverse in terms of popular online multiplayer games like Fortnite or Roblox, you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle. Way more than fun and games, the Metaverse is poised to become vital to enterprise applications, with capabilities encompassing video conferencing, training, virtual event sponsorship, and much more.
Savvy companies won’t get caught short: remember back in the early 2000s, when many thought social media was merely a craze and unwisely left it up to interns to launch and manage their corporate social media accounts? In addition to the tsunami of embarrassing typos and inappropriate GIFs that ensued, most interns simply didn’t know enough about the companies or their audiences to create meaningful, strategically useful content. The net result: missed opportunities, lost revenue, and sometimes even reputational damage.
So, if you’re tempted to think of the metaverse as a passing fad undeserving of your attention, think again.
More and more companies are using virtual reality (VR) technology to build brand portals that allow prospective employees to take office tours, learn about corporate culture, and access resources that will guide them through the application process. Once hired, many employees have found virtual onboarding and training processes more flexible to schedule, with lower risk than physical scenarios in certain dangerous industries. Moreover, self-paced virtual lessons have been found to be up to four times as effective as in-person training, at much lower costs.
Many of us became used to meeting virtually during the pandemic, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The metaverse encompasses the convenience of video conferencing while encouraging the effectiveness and immediacy of physical meetings by means of digital conference rooms, where employee avatars can interact just as they would in real life.
Smart retailers are already using augmented reality to allow potential buyers to experience products without visiting a brick-and-mortar location, whether that’s “trying on” an outfit via app instead of a harshly lit dressing room or seeing how a new piece of furniture would look in a customer’s own den, in 3D and at full scale. AR can greatly aid in the decision-making process and turn browsers into buyers.
Anything consumers need or want in the real world can have its counterpoint in the metaverse, and while an average wager-earner might only dream of owning a flashy car or speedboat, they could find digital versions of those big-ticket items within reach to enjoy in the metaverse.
Metaverse applications are already boosting operations at some major companies, thanks to the use of “digital twins,” exact virtual models of manufacturing plants and supply chains. The digital versions sync up in real-time with the physical environments and allow for quick and easy trouble-shooting and quality control, without costly shutdowns.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) allow consumers to purchase unique digital products and experiences, with ownership details recorded in the blockchain. The growing acceptance of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies, as well as the fact that most metaverse platforms run on blockchain technology, means businesses can participate in an entirely new economy that some experts predict might even exceed that of the physical world one day.
There is, admittedly, still some skepticism among the general public about the staying power of the metaverse, but with major companies like Facebook, Adobe, and Nvidia placing their bets, most businesses will at least want to investigate the ways the metaverse can help them grow and thrive.