There is no singular definition of metaverse and it is not a destination. It is an evolution, not a revolution made up of not one virtual world, but many.
However, metaverse can be broadly defined as immersive experiences that blend the physical and digital worlds. Current examples of the metaverse in practice include augmented reality, mirrored worlds, LifeLogging and virtual worlds.
For businesses that embrace metaverse, there are a myriad of benefits:
- Benefit 1: Employee Experience
When harnessed to its full potential, metaverse can help to build company culture. It can be incorporated into employee onboarding programs, while helping to create greater connection and collaboration in immersive spaces, particularly where remote and global colleagues are concerned.
- Benefit 2: Tackling digital fatigue
Secondly, adapting experiences to be more immersive and lifelike could also help to reduce digital fatigue. Recent research from Infosys uncovered that just one third of workers found tech empowering at the end of 2021 compared to almost two thirds in 2020.
- Benefit 3: Customer experience
Thirdly, immersive metaverse experiences can help businesses to deepen customer engagement by adding more humanity to digital experiences. More lifelike experiences can set businesses apart, and leading brands are exploring this.
For example, Gucci partnered with Roblox to recreate a virtual version of the Gucci Garden in Florence that includes a Gucci Store, Gucci Museum, and Gucci restaurant. In addition, IKEA offers a mobile app that allows shoppers to see how pieces of décor would look in their homes.
- Benefit 4: Visualising ESG
Finally, demonstrating ESG commitments and impact to investors, partners and the community in an experiential way, can help simplify the complexities around ESG communication. For example, given that there are no clear standards for monitoring and reporting ESG, visualising and building immersive reports can better engage audiences than a standard PDF document.
Five challenges to overcome include:
- Challenge 1: Technology
There is a need for more standard interfaces and APIs for the core technology that allows us to build metaverse experiences to simplify integrations and reuse of core components. Immersive experiences require higher capacity and bandwidth, so scalability is essential to optimising performance.
- Challenge 2: Commercial infrastructure
This means greater integration and interchange between Fiat and Digital Currency, as well as digital assets between metaverses. It also means creating frameworks for risk management and security for operating in a decentralised and autonomous environment.
- Challenge 3: Regulatory and legal considerations
Regulations and governance that enforce compliance, enable the right level of security, and provide stability and integrity certifications are important elements for building trust. Furthermore, frameworks and standards are needed to address gaps in accounting, taxation and reporting.
- Challenge 4: Social concerns
While we can see the value of digital experiences, how do we monitor antisocial behaviour like cyber bullying, harassment and fraud? We have seen mental health negatively impacted by digital dependence, and with the move to more simulated reality digital experiences, there is a greater need to monitor this impact. Strong governance, continually evolving privacy and security standards are essential as complexity increases.
- Challenge 5: Change effort vs. cost
Building metaverse experiences can be confronting and many organisations may not be able to justify the upfront investments and the skills needed for specialised platforms. This highlights the importance of building partnerships or joining consortiums that bring together specialist innovators from diverse fields to access these development platforms and skills.
There is great potential for organisations looking to explore how metaverse experiences can impact employee and customer experience, however being able to experiment in co-creation environments with lower upfront costs is key.
Organisations that seek out opportunities to explore possibilities and test ideas can differentiate themselves from competitors.