The term ‘metaverse’ became a buzzword recently because Facebook changed its name to Meta. The change was an effort to improve Facebook’s reputation and reflect Mark Zuckerberg’s strategic focus on the next digital frontier called the metaverse.
What is the Metaverse?
The easiest way to understand the basic concept of the metaverse is to share an example of technology that you already use today and look at how things might change. Think about joining a Zoom or a Microsoft Teams meeting; you see your co-workers or classmates in these little boxes with their video feed. Now imagine that you are all in a shared 3D environment, where you are all 3D avatars that move around and convey your facial expressions.
I like how Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, describes the metaverse as an entirely new platform layer. He says, “In a sense, the Metaverse enables us to embed computing into the real world, and the real world into computing, bringing human presence into any digital space.”
Migration to the Metaverse
Consider the evolution from mainframes to desktops, to the web, and to mobile computing. The next step to the metaverse is not far-fetched.
Author Neil Stevenson coined ‘metaverse’ in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. He combined the Greek word meta, which means “next” or “beyond,” with the word universe. He envisioned humans using goggles to connect to the metaverse. People became lifelike avatars who met in realistic 3D buildings and other virtual reality environments.
It’s 30 years later, and even though VR goggles still aren’t as in-demand as other electronics like smartphones or smartwatches, manufacturers will ship about 15 million goggles to consumers in 2022.
Metaverse Means Business
The Metaverse has the world’s attention, and many tech leaders theorize about how it will change our world. Some experts believe the metaverse can be much bigger and more effective than the physical world. Zuckerberg predicts that the metaverse will transform businesses, work, and socializing by the end of this decade.
Employee Engagement & Productivity
In the metaverse, employees will have their virtual workspace where they can attend meetings, work, and collaborate. Users can make virtual presentations and take part in brainstorming sessions. The Metaverse will create a more interactive environment than just virtual meetings. It will connect people worldwide to attend global summits and conferences. For Human Resources, the metaverse will facilitate interviewing candidates, training new employees, maintaining corporate culture, and supporting diversity and inclusion.
Simulation, Logistics & Manufacturing
The metaverse may reduce wastefulness and increase productivity. Industries can save materials, money, and time by simulating the design and logistics of manufacturing products. Some businesses are already using the metaverse to create digital twins of their operations and products to run tests and scenarios. A digital twin can be as small as a manufacturing part or as big as an entire manufacturing campus. Just think, instead of looking at a camera on the factory floor, you can be on the floor.
Monetizing the Metaverse
As the hype around metaverse expands, many tech giants are investing in metaverse solutions including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Intel, Nvidia, Unity, Shopify, Roblox, Qualcomm, and more.
To understand how the metaverse may change the future of your business, it may help to understand the digital platforms providing the foundations on which metaverses are built. Facebook is designing its metaverse as a closed walled garden, meaning that it will own and profit from all user data generated from it. Alternative forms of metaverse are being developed, which will be open, decentralized, and protect the rights and privacy of those individuals who will inhabit and use the technology. The distinction between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ is important in understanding how the internet will evolve and change work’s nature.
Current business models may be disrupted. Companies will need to think about how they deliver value to customers in a world where ownership of virtual items, virtual services, and intellectual property are distributed across members of metaverse communities. We may see a new incarnation of the internet, which means we’ll need to prepare for new job roles that do not exist.
Minding the Metaverse
There will be many competing metaverses transforming our experiences. Leaders are starting to understand the profound ways this new technological paradigm is set to impact the future of work. We’re likely a decade away from this idea manifesting into ubiquity. However, it’s worth thinking about what opportunities exist here because of the tendency of tech-fueled changes to sneak up on us more quickly than expected. At iTelecom, we think about the technologies you need for your business right now and what you may need way into the future.