When Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook announced his intention to bring the metaverse to the masses, it was probably the first time many people had ever heard of it. But the idea of a metaverse, an online virtual world that allows people to meet, interact and so on using virtual avatars, has actually been around for a while.
Snow Crash, a 1992 science fiction novel by author Neal Stephenson described a world where avatars of real people met in a realistic 3D environment, and is credited with creating the term metaverse to describe it. However, that doesn’t really tell you much about what the metaverse is, and what it can do for businesses moving forward.
But with Microsoft and other major technology leaders also announcing their involvement with the metaverse concept, this is clearly going to be a significant technology moving forwards. For businesses, this raises several questions, what is it, what can you do with it, and is it going to be a platform for the future?
The Covid-19 pandemic shone a bright light on how vulnerable business processes can be when it suddenly becomes difficult to meet and interact with other team members, clients, partners and customers. But it also showed how resilient business can be with the right technology. In the space of a month, remote teams and working from home became the norm, with surprisingly little impact on overall performance, and in many cases, increased productivity.
Remote working has been so successful that today, a hybrid work model is becoming part of the employment strategy for companies all over the world, and that trend shows no sign of slowing. As businesses seek more intuitive ways of allowing teams and customers to interact across distance, new technologies have been embraced, with virtual reality proving valuable in a wide range of industries and applications.
The metaverse is a way to take that virtual reality experience to a new level. It blends the immersiveness of VR with augmented reality, that brings its own real-world familiarity into the experience, creating a unique, flexible avenue to connect with others regardless of locations.
In the metaverse, each user would be represented by an almost lookalike avatar within the immersive 3D world, where users can meet, talk and so on. With the tools being put together by many technology leaders, with the ability to create virtual conferences, educational environments and any type of collaboration, incorporating video, text and other files into presentations and meetings, the metaverse could have the only offices some companies will ever need.
Experiencing the metaverse
By creating a visual experience that blends VR and real world in the way it does, users get a feeling of belonging to the environment, making it feel more intuitive than current VR, video or other technologies we are using to maintain contact while remote working.
The advantages of this for business is obvious, an intuitive environment that gives a more immersive and tactile experience. Whether it is teams working together on a project, training sessions or holding client meetings and product showcases, the metaverse provides a more effective way to connect, communicate and collaborate from remote locations.
However, while the metaverse itself has incredible potential, it is not the first new technology to promise such a revolution. Training, technology and maintenance represent a significant investment in any technology integration, so why would the metaverse be worth adopting when some others have fallen short?
Is the metaverse here to stay?
The key difference with metaverse is that it is being supported by global technology leaders, who are putting huge resources into the concept. Facebook alone is hiring ten thousand employees to build metaverse, but the shift to this virtual world doesn’t stop there. Metaverse is an extension of VR technology, and with Accenture buying sixty thousand Oculus VR devices, and Bank of America currently training fifty thousand employees in VR, the broader adoption of metaverse is supported by global brands.
With Microsoft already trying to support metaverse through hologram meetings as well, there is no doubt that the metaverse is where the needs of remote collaboration will be met moving forwards. While it has been a concept for a long time, and indeed games such as Minecraft can be seen as a test of the idea, the involvement of so many global brands and technology leaders means that it is not something to ignore.
Facebook alone has close to three billion users. Microsoft has an 87% share of the computer operating system market globally. With such high profile supporters, metaverse has the backing to make it the de facto standard for virtual connectivity.
Why does this matter?
With a hybrid work model here to stay, and in many cases a completely remote solution that allows business to build teams across continents, hiring the best people regardless of location, the tools they use to interact, both with other team members, management and clients is crucial.
The ability to offer training to employees even working from home, to help a team collaborate together from disparate locations, and connect with management and other stakeholders as required seamlessly is central to the effectiveness of the hybrid work model. As metaverse becomes the go-to solution through its established user base and software support, having a team trained to use the metaverse to its fullest extent will be advantageous.
Aside from that aspect of the metaverse, there is also the importance of it as a technical tool. It is a next step in VR connectivity, and it seems set to provide the very best platform for training, meetings and more. Metaverse is not only something you will need to understand because it will be used everywhere, but it has the potential to be the very best platform for remote working as well, making it a sensible choice regardless of popularity elsewhere.
Metaverse is no longer a concept, with so many resources being invested into the platform, it is the new technology today, but with so much potential for our new hybrid work strategies, it is one to be embraced.