With much speculation surrounding the Metaverse and how it will develop, Duncan Roberts, Senior Manager at Cognizant, explores the many ways businesses can utilise its potential and why now is a good time to start familiarising ourselves with its capabilities.
The Metaverse, initially dubbed the ‘Next Big Thing’, has been subject to criticism lately by those who think it is aiming too high and falling short of expectations. However, the Metaverse, which is still in its infancy, is rapidly developing and is projected to only further infiltrate the tech space. In fact, the global Metaverse market size was valued at more than US$100 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow to US$1,528 billion by 2029.
Despite its early stage, companies would be wise to start generating value from Metaverse concepts and technologies today, giving them an advantage when usage becomes mainstream throughout businesses.
The Metaverse has high potential when it comes to improving customer engagement and collaboration among employees and clients, as well as streamlining operations. From employees being able to work on projects while based in different locations together, to utility companies who can create detailed simulations and digital twins to develop and test renovations or modifications remotely before they are turned into reality, there are endless ways that businesses can look to utilise the Metaverse to benefit their business operations.
Building stronger customer relationships
Estimates suggest that by 2026, about 25% of people will spend at least an hour a day in the Metaverse. This presents a huge opportunity for businesses to meet and engage with new customers. By using Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) tools, companies can put their products into the virtual hands of consumers. This way, users can get a concrete idea of the touch, feel and scale of potential purchases.
For example, rather than merely measuring furniture and spaces in their home to see if they fit, customers can now virtually see how their rooms will look with the products already inside. The convenience of seeing the product virtually versus having to go through lengthy processes of measuring, buying, delivery times, returns and more will improve customer relationships and in turn increase sales. The Metaverse makes discovering new products an accessible, modernised three-dimensional experience.
Showing sustainability with AR
Consumers are becoming increasingly sustainability-focused, consequently becoming more demanding of companies to demonstrate their sustainability measures. A study showed that 72% of those surveyed indicated that a brand’s values affected whether they purchased something or not. Therefore, companies need to be able to show consumers that they’re being more sustainable and socially responsible – but displaying that kind of information can be difficult.
Using the Metaverse, it’s easier to do this. For example, information about product origin, its journey to you and its overall carbon footprint can be visually presented. This allows consumers to physically engage with the information and gain more in-depth information if they want. In this way, companies can show the steps they are taking and position themselves as environmental and social leaders.
Improving working from home
Working from home has become a norm for many companies since the pandemic struck. However, it does pose its problems, such as decreased social interaction which makes it more difficult for workers to connect with their colleagues and work collaboratively. The Metaverse can help reduce these problems, with companies being able to support their staff remotely with virtual training and social interaction.
For example, employees in the Metaverse can experiment with digital twins, a virtual representation of an object or system, and apply that knowledge in the physical world. Spaces can be set up on a real scale in the Metaverse before it takes place in the physical world so that staff can familiarise themselves. This makes training sessions more in-depth and interactive and means sessions can be ‘replayed’ on demand for workers who couldn’t make the original time.
The Metaverse also sets itself apart from other online learning platforms by incorporating social interaction, meaning employees can learn from one another and remote instructors can guide new hires in supercharged employee onboarding programmes.
New levels of maintenance
Businesses can face huge costs if machinery fails, from stalled production to the cost of sending specialised engineers to identify and fix the problem. However, using real-time maintenance monitoring, this can be avoided. By pairing IoT devices and creating digital twins, it becomes possible for workers to instantly see the state of machinery and whether components are beginning to fail. When this information is paired with Augmented Reality, engineers can diagnose issues and show workers on the ground how they can fix them, saving valuable time and money for the company.
By displaying information in this visual way, it ensures that machinery and workers can always work at their best. Managers can become more proactive in managing their physical capital, as they become able to assess in real-time what machines are working, where problems might be starting and where parts need to be replaced or reassigned – creating a more efficient system overall.
Next steps for businesses
With so many ways that a business can utilise the Metaverse, it can be difficult to know where to start. The Metaverse is evolving rapidly and businesses need to take a pragmatic approach to the unregulated world of the Metaverse to ultimately be successful.
Businesses should start by identifying internal problems that could be solved, or experiences that could be improved in their existing ecosystems and platforms, and then how they could be improved with solutions from the Metaverse. This will avoid investing in costly, inefficient and non-cohesive individual solutions. Businesses should also think about scalability and how each Metaverse component is going to work with other applications to create the best experience.
Arguably, the most important step for businesses looking to make use of the Metaverse is to put privacy, security and ethics at the forefront of their attention. The Metaverse is still developing and regulation is still to come, meaning it’s important for businesses to make sure they’re preparing for all potential issues that could arise as the Metaverse continues to develop and is readily adopted by more consumers.
Businesses that seize the benefits that the Metaverse offers today will create a more efficient and engaging business. Ultimately this will keep them ahead of their competitors in the long run.Click below to share this article