Business in the Metaverse: Opportunities and Real Use Cases
Since Facebook, now Meta, unveiled its ambitious plans to create the metaverse, mentions of this topic have multiplied. Big and small brands around the world have begun to explore the new trend and look for ways to take advantage of it. So what exactly is the metaverse and how can businesses benefit from it? Let's delve into this topic.
Understanding the Metaverse
Comprehension of the metaverse gets complicated because we still can’t perceive it as something tangible. It is still being confused with all interconnected technologies like Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G, and so on. These technologies are evolving and scaling, and the metaverse has turned out to be the catalyst for their convergence. Submitted in the form of interlocking pieces, mentioned technologies will form a whole new world full of digital 3D virtual spaces.
Metaverse is a series of interlinked digital spaces that allow people to interact with each other and do something impossible in the physical world.
The intensive metaverse development opens up unprecedented business opportunities fostered by Mark Zuckerberg announcement. Zuckerberg's idea is to introduce metaverse technology – virtual reality simulation users can enter via devices and gadgets. And according to the European Business Review, AR/VR technologies will play a crucial role in developing this digital space.
The metaverse that taps the potential of the social interaction is still in the development phase, yet a few components of Meta that benefit businesses have already been defined:
- l Horizon Home replaces Facebook Home, representing the user base where friends may be invited for hanging out, watching videos, and playing apps or games. You can even visit a live concert together without leaving your own home. But what does all this have to do with business? Actually, there is a direct connection as far as companies may welcome this type of engagement with employees and clients. For example, the Horizon Workrooms app available in beta version allows colleagues to use VR environments for remote work, connection, and collaboration in dedicated spaces. Notably, the app works across VR and the web, providing teams with mixed reality experiences: employees can bring computers, physical desks, or compatible keyboards into the VR spaces with them. For primary input, users apply hands instead of controllers, which brings the mix of digital and physical experiences.
- l Quest for Business – a suite of features available for business. It implies using Quest 2 headset and a work account to communicate with colleagues, run applications like Horizon Workrooms, and get access to crucial functions in the working environment, including single sign-on (SSO), account and third-party devices management. The full-fledged launch of Quest for Business is planned for 2023.
Attempts to develop the metaverse had already been made previously by Microsoft, Nvidia, Roblox, although Facebook’s enormous investments reveal the potential of the technology. Just think of it and try to read between the lines: Facebook is pouring money into Reality Labs to develop the metaverse – the company spent $10bn on it in 2021.
Facebook’s investments perpetuate the perception of the metaverse as a new stage in the development of the Internet. At this point, a question arises as to the limits of technologies that fuel the metaverse. VR devices are expensive and not always eligible for long-term use, so the technological focus might shift to AR solutions accessible from smartphones. And augmented reality development agencies will boost the process of metaverse implementation, being useful for companies all across the globe.
General Benefits of the Metaverse for Business
Digital spaces enable customers to interact with the products offered by businesses more efficiently, including a three-dimensional view. It’s the first step towards a new online marketplace introduction – virtual storefronts will significantly improve user experience.
New currencies may be introduced and scaled easily, thus boosting business growth, which is proved by the fact that blockchain technology lies at the core of the metaverse platforms. Non-fungible tokens, blockchain games, cybersecurity, and decentralized finance will be developed in parallel with the metaverse platforms.
Practical applications and digital products improve communication in the metaverse through VR and AR implementation. Employees will obtain communicative tools of the new generation where videoconferences are combined with physical meetings in digital rooms, providing users with the effect of presence and making the conversation more authentic. This format is more effective than existing webinar tools we've been using.
With metaverse platforms, businesses can introduce applications for the healthcare industry, in which diseases are diagnosed quickly and accurately (doctors and other healthcare specialists will have a chance to interact with patients remotely, using the virtual reality of the metaverse).
Businesses involved in esports may come up with immersive applications that provide training via Virtual Reality.
Companies operating in the metaverse will generate employment. For instance, new jobs may be related to architecture or the creation of new objects that do not exist in the real world. With the help of NFT certificates, objects will be assigned to specific owners. New job opportunities in the metaverse also imply video games, where commentators, trainers, or even gardeners like in Minecraft are required.
The Metaverse Use Cases
The metaverse is going through the formative and development stages, so it’s difficult to cover all aspects of the application and use cases. However, enterprises can benefit from the metaverse, unlocking new marketing opportunities. The overall digital ad volumes in Europe increased by 6.3% in 2020 demonstrates the readiness of companies to invest in the online presence of the brand.
For example, Anzu, an Israel-based in-game ad platform, has already introduced advertising solutions for different gaming platforms, including Roblox. Ads imitate real life and are embedded in the plot of the game. This whole thing is quite creative since branded clothing and even billboards with advertising appear in the games. Global companies reach Roblox’s audience via this ad solution.
Facebook’s evolving nature has always been the reason why this platform is on the top list for marketers. Marketing prospects of the metaverse look appealing for brands as well since with its help they can build connections in the blink of an eye, targeting Millennials and Gen X who may be interested in their offerings. Vans has already created a virtual skatepark to promote its brand. The level of engagement is astonishing: 46 million users visit the online skatepark daily. Vans can involve the target audience of 13 to 35 years old.
According to Reuters, Boeing, known as an active user of digital technologies, including VR and AR solutions, plans to use the metaverse to design aeroplanes. The overarching plan is to create a digital ecosystem that would comprise services operations, product design, and production. Boeing’s mechanics all across the globe will use HoloLens headsets for daily work and interaction, and the robots will be involved in the 3D design creation.
BMW was working in close cooperation with NVIDIA to create virtual space, a variety of the omniverse where multiple users are simultaneously working on the same design project. Teams here are collaborating to test everything before the real-life release.
Mentioned metaverse use cases are just examples of business approaches, so let’s take a look at some specific industries that can benefit from the metaverse trend.
Improved Communication for Work and Education
Virtual work and learning spaces refer to one of the most notable use cases for the metaverse. The reason for this is that the pandemic has increased the popularity of video conferencing, remote work, and online classes, requiring new ways of interaction besides traditional audio and video communication. Thanks to avatars and a sophisticated virtual environment, the metaverse takes user experience to a new level. Colleagues or teachers and students can communicate through the virtual reality environment, applying their own avatars.
As for virtual workspaces, this looks also like a very good story, but there are some concerns related to surveillance and adherence to the norms of interaction. Should it be possible to visit someone’s office without invitation? What about the allowable distance between avatars? Companies have to prescribe rules into policies. Employees may be worried about the obligation to be in the virtual space full-time and surveillance in the metaverse where they are easily tracked by employers. At the same time, an average employee is comfortable with using applications for work that include VR or AR functionality. Such apps are considered to be complex projects: app development cost starts from $300 000.
The future design and functionality of the online store can’t be fully anticipated, yet a movement towards the metaverse has already started. To understand what the future holds for eCommerce, we can analyze existing trends. Unique user experience is one of the key things: visiting an “underwater” diving shop or communicating with football stars while buying a new pair of boots in the store – these scenarios are becoming possible.
Digital stores will enable virtual shopping, merging online and offline experiences. They may also include gamification elements that encourage visitors to earn bonuses and discounts and spend more time in the store. For example, Nike has already launched NIKELAND on the Roblox with a great personalisation and high level of community engagement.
Tying it All Together
To summarize, the metaverse brings us to the doorstep of tech innovations, so businesses can benefit from its implementation. It will help remove physical constraints and introduce a hyper-personalized user experience allowing brands to scale.
Augmented reality and virtual reality will contribute to the development of the metaverse as well. Since VR implies more complex and expensive solutions for users to enter the new Internet, it is AR technology that can become a real catalyst for the development of the metaverse in the coming years.