Let’s make no mistake; the Metaverse, like Thanos, is inevitable, and it’s going to be a huge factor in how we do business, spend our relaxation time, and live our lives. If you are a business that is heavily internet-driven, then it is imperative that you start planning its integration. You might consider it early in the development of the next iteration of online business activities, but as this fast-paced world has shown, things change quickly so expect to hear increasing news about the Metaverse and, ideally, business integration is going to need a metaverse-savvy strategist to help you through it. If your head is spinning from that collection of statements and notions, let’s start at the beginning and define what the Metaverse is.
A portmanteau of the words meta, meaning ‘beyond’, and ‘universe’, it describes an all-encompassing virtual world where people can meet and integrate, and a company can further its business interests. Originally envisaged by Sci-Fi writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash”, the Metaverse is seen as a virtual shared place that is made available to the public over the worldwide internet network and projected onto virtual reality goggles from wherever the user is. The notion is that, unlike the Internet, the Metaverse will be a construct that becomes something we exist and work in, rather than simply dip into for work or entertainment. It is the next iteration of the digital environment, and is likely to be a long-term development. If all this sounds like a preamble to an inception of a Matrix-style existence, it probably is; VR headset one day, liquid-filled pod the next.
Obviously, a leap of technology like this needs a proper implementation rather than something that the user just dips in and out of. In the Metaverse, people can build virtual environments and use them for work or play, or just to exist in. They can create realistic-looking avatars and interact with others in a fully virtual world. Rather than being the next stage in the Internet, the Metaverse is intended to be a fully-immersive experience that will alter how we live and do business. Rather tellingly, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta (there’s a clue to his aspirations in the new name), in the speech in which he changed the company from its Facebook origins used the term ‘Metaverse’ over 80 times in his ninety-minute speech, so we can see where he intends taking his future business.
With a company of that size driving it, the Metaverse – in whatever form it finally takes – is likely to be a reality in just a few years, so now would be a good time for businesses to prepare and get ahead of their competitors. To do that, you are going to need a strategist who understands the potential of the Metaverse, and is able to help steer your company through it. A strategist would be the person with the understanding and background to ease a company into this potentially difficult new world, and help management devise an approach to it.
Zuckerberg, who is driving the race towards this ultra-immersive environment, is excited about it and its potential. In his keynote speech, he talked lyrically about how it would become a shared virtual environment where “you’re gonna be able to do almost anything you can imagine—get together with friends and family, work, learn, play, shop, create—as well as entirely new categories that don’t really fit how we think about computers or phones today.” Exciting stuff indeed. So, while we don’t really know what the Metaverse will be, you can be sure that it will be important for social interaction and business alike, and if you don’t embrace it, you may well miss out on what is likely to become a way of life.
So, there is no question that you shouldn’t have a strategist in your business, but what skills should they have?
Plainly their skills are going to need to span a range of business and creative factors, and a strong background in business marketing as well as more than a passing interest in technologies such as VR, AR, and the development of virtual environments. This kind of role is definitely a cross-over between technical and business orientated and will need someone who can imagine the potential for Metaverse applications in your company, but can also be instrumental in driving those changes through the company. That’s a pretty tough call for anyone and will require both quick and broad thinking, and a lot of imagination.
A strategist should be able to do just that – create a credible and achievable strategy for implementing something that is not yet well-defined into your business operations. They should also be able to consider the financial and technical properties of starting to integrate into the Metaverse and create credible plans for senior management to consider.
To a business, the notion of the Metaverse is only of any worth – and point – if it helps the company promote itself or its products, or drives the company forward in some way. If it does none of these things then it is little more than an immersive gaming system or simple entertainment.
When the internet first emerged as a resource, many businesses of the day didn’t see the potential and were slow to take it up as a means of doing business. Today, most businesses can’t do without an online presence and in years to come we will probably be saying the same about the Metaverse. It is coming, and it is going to be big, so start thinking about getting the resource that you need to ease you into using it.