A common principle of business: Be where your customer is
So, where are they?
The metaverse. Well, some are, and eventually we all will be.
What is it?
The metaverse has multiple definitions, but to put it simply the metaverse is our digital lives overlayed across our physical lives. It is, in essence, the connected experience.
Essentially, we will all have a digital twin. Not just of ourselves but of our entire existence – places, businesses, products…literally everything. Oh, and they have infinite possibilities.
You might think this sounds far off in the distant future. But the metaverse has already started to take hold:
- Concerts: Music lovers are attending live performances in digital environments and worlds i.e., Travis Scott on Fortnite – watch it here
- Fashion: Designer brands are offering digital only collections with a new path to consumer being developed Direct-to-Avatar. For example, a digital-only Gucci bag sold for over $4,000 more than the real-life version…
- Travel: Many are adopting virtual travel, visiting visually stunning places from their homes, some are even going on dates. ‘Visit Xbox’ was a campaign built around this trend. And Microsoft’s flight simulator has now been made public (previously this was only used for training pilots) with access to real-world journeys for people to explore the world.
- Real estate: We are in a property boom with many buying up virtual property and plots in the metaverse on platforms such as Decentraland, a plot even sold for a staggering $913,000 in June 2021. Decentraland allows for virtual property development with the same rules as the real-world property market – with only a finite amount of land available. Users are then monetising the land just as you would in real-life:
- Art galleries where owners showcase and sell their digital NFT (non-fungible token – a unit of data on the blockchain that represents a unique digital item and not interchangeable) art
- Casinos, where players can win MANA (cryptocurrency of Decentraland)
- Brand-sponsored content, such as the recently announced Atari arcade which will feature games that can be played within Decentraland
- Music venues where DJs and musicians play music and hold concerts
As you can see today’s consumer is already experiencing and existing in the beginnings of the metaverse, and they are willing to spend there too.
On average, consumers would be willing to pay:
- $76,000+ for a digital house
- $9,000 for original digital art
- $2,900+ for a digital designer handbag
So, why is the metaverse important for businesses?
You might think this all sounds a bit too farfetched and futuristic to affect the B2B world, but as mentioned the metaverse is a digital replica with the infinite possibilities of our real world. Meaning it is going to encompass everything and take it further – which includes business.
You could liken it to how social media revolutionised the way we work and interact with people and consumers from a business perspective – the metaverse will be like that but bigger…much bigger.
And some brilliant use cases have already been seen:
Nvidia have created a precursor to their vision of a ‘metaverse for engineers’ in the form of an Omniverse. A platform that connects engineers and allows for the running of manufacturing processes as a digital twin. Essentially allowing companies to test, learn and optimise production before implementing in real life. BMW are designing their factories of the future, bringing together engineers and robotics and then simulating the entire process virtually before implementing in real life.
Microsoft is developing the ‘enterprise metaverse’ which Anheuser-Busch InBev is utilising to track every bottle through the manufacturing and distribution process. This digital twin of their production is mapped to their physical brewery and understands the relationship between equipment and natural ingredients. Enabling the brew masters to make adjustments and monitor their whole supply chain to run as efficiently as possible and reduce emissions too.
Events will change too and some already have. We’ve all attended virtual conferences over recent times, this isn’t going to disappear – but don’t worry they will get better. Event organisers are looking at the metaverse for ways to offer experiences that are literally out of this world.
For example, South by Southwest created a virtual replica of Austin with augmented game-like elements. Attendees created avatars and these 100,000 avatars (attendees) could visit film screenings, rooftop drinks, performances, and keynote sessions – they even offered axe throwing.
And SK Telecom (mobile carrier) in South Korea unveiled Ifland, a metaverse for social VR, virtual meetups, and events. SK Telecom believes Ifland will be a rich virtual space for businesses to market themselves and a place to meet with consumers.
Revisiting the virtual travel trend from earlier businesses could also use this as a wellbeing initiative. Some have highlighted the potential benefit of instant virtual travel experiences that can be used to disconnect from work for a brief period. For example, Brown and Hudson (luxury travel brand) envision that “a company might buy a cubicle that immerses all of the traveller’s senses: sea smells, sand under your feet, the sun’s heat on your head.”
I’ll be heading to Barbados at lunchtime.
Finally, companies who aren’t directly involved in the metaverse’s development are still getting onboard with new laws being introduced. Reed Smith law firm released a legal guide to the metaverse in May 2021. Also, Roundhill Investments and Matthew Ball have launched a metaverse investment fund with holdings in metaverse focused entities. And the Metaverse Group announced plans to launch Metaverse REIT, a real estate investment trust for virtual assets.
One thing is for sure experience is essential for businesses today, and the metaverse is the biggest experience out there. So, how are you going to prepare?