The Metaverse. It has been heralded and even called transformative by leaders in every industry. It’s pretty amazing, especially considering that most people haven’t quite figured out what it is, what it looks like or how it will work – at least not to any concrete degree.
In fact, we know enough to make the metaverse enticing. Far from our 2D internet limitations, the metaverse promises a way to interact online in 3D formats. In addition, it is hoped that along with the emerging web 3.0, users will have more control over their data thanks to blockchain technologies.
But the real question for businesses is simple: Where do businesses fit in? More specifically, how can companies plan to differentiate themselves and take a stand in an environment that is still in its early stages of evolution?
Get ready for marketing, commerce and branding in the metaverse
If you’re struggling to chart a course that will take your business into the metaverse, you’re not alone. Even the most intrepid marketers and salespeople are trying to iron out all the details of becoming and staying relevant as the fabric of the web changes. One thing is for sure though: it would be best if you started having discussions about the metaverse sooner rather than later.
Does this mean you have to dive right in like Nike and Louis Vuitton have? Not necessarily. But you should follow these early adopters and mark their metaverse successes and misses. Learning from other people’s trial-and-error strategies is an excellent way to see how the metaverse can work for your business.
As you take notes based on what works (and what doesn’t) over the coming years, you can begin fleshing out your metaverse initiatives. Below are some recommendations to help guide your way.
1. Try to quantify the company’s concrete benefits and costs.
Remember the trusty SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis? It’s worth dusting off when considering moves that will push your company into the metaverse. That way, you can maintain financial and operational control over your metaverse exploration.
For example, let’s say one of your company’s goals is to improve retention. You may decide that the easiest way to achieve this goal with a metaverse-skewed angle is to leverage non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The NFTs can be positioned as rewards for employees who reach different stages of employment, thus serving not only as badges, but as owned brands with real value.
Software company Devsu explored the link between offering workers the opportunity to own a custom-made, company-branded NFT to increase engagement. In an overview of the low-cost NFT experiment, Devsu noted, “The custom backgrounds encouraged a sense of community in our company culture, and they also gave our employees a choice of branded backgrounds for internal or external meetings.” An added benefit to the program was that it introduced workers to digital wallets and cryptocurrency, both believed to be essential in the metaverse.
For best results, be sure to set up KPIs to help you measure your metaverse approaches. Tracking metrics let you see if your efforts to speed up web 3.0 are working. If they aren’t, you can adjust based on the trends you see.
2. Test different metaverse technology applications.
While NFTs may be the most accessible entry into having a metaverse presence, they are far from the only applications you have access to. Depending on your industry and how it morphs and changes, you have countless opportunities to expand into the metaverse in potentially relevant ways.
Wipro Limited Chief Technology Officer Subha Tatavarti leads the company’s transformation team. Based on her expertise in technology, she sees education and manufacturing as two sectors ripe for metaverse-style immersive learning and digital twins.
“The digital twin is one of the first innovative concepts,” says Tatavarti. “When you use a digital twin, which is immersive, you can create training and learning, perform product design, perform production and testing in an immersive and digital environment to iron out all problems, and finally start production in the physical world.”
When it comes to the classroom, Tatavarti sees digital twins and immersive experiences as a game changer to democratize learning for all.
“Our primary way of learning is 2D, and our path to teaching method is often through 2D modeling,” she says. “But when we expand this into an immersive and interactive medium and use the metaverse to expand the scope, this can start a revolution in learning. Suddenly you’ll have this ‘aha’ moment and realize how it should be done.”
No matter what field your business falls into, you can likely gain an advantage by offering real-time 3D experiences. These can be made available to your customers, prospects, board members, investors, employees, suppliers, etc. The point is to take a creative, always-learning approach rather than feeling limited.
3. Check (some of) the risk aversion at the door.
Allowing your business to lean into risk can be difficult, especially now. The economy is in flux, spurred on by inflation and changing consumer behaviour. You may have to put some of your natural risk aversion aside when exploring metaverse possibilities.
The good news is that you don’t expect to set up a metaverse moonshot. You have time. By 2026, Gartner predicts that around a quarter of people will spend an hour a day in the metaverse. If the prediction turns out to be accurate, you can be sure that percentage will only increase as the years go by and everyone gets used to a World Wide Web in its 3.0 iteration.
How much of your budget should you spend on the metaverse? It’s hard to say and totally up to you and your team. Bloomberg said the metaverse market could be worth $800 billion by 2024. While much of the expected revenue is likely to flow into the coffers of technology, entertainment and social media companies, your business may be able to tap into that revenue stream.
Boldly enter the metaverse
The point here is that lollygagging and aversion based on historical risk aversion can end up destroying your competitive advantage. While it wouldn’t be a good idea to put all your eggs in the metaverse basket, you should only put a couple in this one. Sure, some can crack; however, others may mature and distinguish your organization as a metaverse innovator.
Right now, imagining the metaverse is a bit like imagining Mars. We have a general idea of the composition, but we can’t be sure until we get there and dig in. Fortunately, it’s much easier for your business to land squarely – and safely – in the metaverse than on a distant planet. Just make sure you do your launch preparations now.