The Metaverse is a new frontier of opportunities for business

Yogi SchulzRecent headlines about the metaverse haven’t been encouraging. That’s quite a reversal after Facebook changed its name to Meta not so long ago and announced ambitious plans to enter the metaverse. Recently, Meta has laid off 11,000 employees as its metaverse bet isn’t paying off. The layoff occurred after Meta’s stock plunged 60 percent in 2022 due to falling advertising revenue and US$36 billion in expenses for metaverse development.

Many business leaders mistakenly believe the metaverse will primarily impact social media and entertainment. “The metaverse is experiencing an explosion of interest akin to the Cambrian explosion of early life forms,” says Kevin Collins, Managing Director, Software & Platforms Industry at Accenture. “Many clients are exploring the metaverse concept and experimenting with various business applications.”

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This article describes metaverse use cases that CIOs should consider to show leadership in demonstrating there’s beef in metaverse applications.

Metaverse application opportunities

Metaverse applications have the potential to transform how:

  • Businesses interact with their customers, suppliers, and perhaps the government.
  • Many aspects of work are performed.
  • Companies determine what products and services to offer.
  • Products are made in collaboration with suppliers.
  • Products are distributed and sold geographically and by channel.
  • Companies operate their geographically distributed organizations.

The top five enterprise applications where companies are implementing metaverse concepts today are the following:

  • Marketing campaigns to build brand awareness and engagement.
  • Professional development for employees and supplier staff to improve learning.
  • Internal meetings to enhance employee commitment and retention.
  • Hosted events or conferences to engage customers and suppliers while eliminating the time required to travel.
  • Product design using digital twins to shorten development times.

“Just because the metaverse recently experienced the skeptical portion of the typical hype cycle, no one should think that the metaverse is going away,” says Kevin Collins. “Many organizations, including Accenture, our peers, AWS, Meta and Microsoft, continue to invest, experiment and launch metaverse prototypes.”

The best way to view the metaverse is as the next web era. The metaverse advances online experiences beyond the traditional 2D web of text, graphics and video. In the metaverse, end-users experience a connected 3D, immersive virtual world where they intuitively engage through virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other interfaces.

Metaverse applications by function

Metaverse applications provide immersive experiences that improve the following business functions:

  • Routine operations run better and faster when your teams collaborate seamlessly and feel more connected.
  • Marketing can orchestrate your customer journey with a richer, immersive brand experience that inspires action.
  • Sales are accelerated by immersive experiences that captivate your audiences to close deals.
  • Human Resources can invigorate your team and reinforce company culture to build thriving workplaces by enriching employee experiences.
  • Product Development teams can collaborate to develop your next big product or service and host a virtual launch party to share advances with the world.
  • Customer Service can elevate what your customers experience with new ways to capture feedback and connect after the sale.

Metaverse applications by industry

Metaverse applications provide immersive experiences in the following industries:

  • In healthcare, the metaverse supports delivering services such as mental health, virtual physical therapy, and remote elder care.
  • Surgeons use augmented reality to advance procedures currently performed with robots’ help.
  • In most industries, the metaverse reduces accidents by providing realistic virtual reality safety training.
  • In manufacturing, the metaverse enables facility design for optimized work in progress, reduced elapsed time to completion and more consistent quality.
  • In real estate and construction, the metaverse offers prospects a more immersive and realistic experience for interacting with the properties of interest.
  • In fitness, the metaverse facilitates virtual coaching and exercise classes.
  • In tourism, the metaverse delivers more immersive virtual experiences, even for inaccessible or dangerous places.

Through metaverse concepts, these applications improve product or service quality for customers and staff productivity.

Metaverse implementation challenges

Companies do not have to build an entire virtual world to achieve metaverse value. However, various challenges must be overcome to use metaverse applications widely. These include:

  • Consumer interest and acceptance. The metaverse must promise sufficient value to achieve adoption beyond early adopters of anything new.
  • Technical constraints such as compute power of end-user devices, bandwidth consumption and server software complexity. Experience and technological advances will lessen these constraints.
  • Business models to achieve a return on the investment required to build and operate metaverse applications. The models will likely include subscription fees, virtual product purchases, virtual real estate fees and advertising.
  • Cost for end-user devices, bandwidth and server computing. The trend in improved price performance will ensure acceptable costs.
  • Policy issues such as the role of law, respect for privacy, identity management and appropriate content. We can expect decades of discussion to develop policy and regulation solutions.
  • Lack of interoperability standards across end-user displays and various virtual world implementations. Stakeholder collaboration and some regulatory nudging typically address this problem.
  • Lack of maturity of software development tools. Advances in Integrated development environments (IDE) and reusable software libraries will address this limitation.

“While technical and organizational challenges to successful metaverse implementation are real,” says Kevin Collins. “they should not cause organizations to avoid or defer experimentation.”

Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of information technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, the need to leverage technology opportunities, and mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy and project management.

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