What is the metaverse?
The term ‘metaverse’ has been around for 30 years, believe it or not! But most of us have only heard about it relatively recently and maybe only because Facebook rebranded to Meta in November 2021. The term metaverse refers to a virtual or artificial world that you might access through a virtual reality (VR) headset or special glasses, or on your computer. You may also have heard of augmented reality, where real world items are enhanced by computer-generated information, in real time - who hasn’t tried a SnapChat or Instagram filter or had help finding their way by Google Street View’s big blue arrows?.
With the metaverse predicted to become a $800bn market, there are sure to be exciting new opportunities for brands.
The metaverse has been hailed as the next big opportunity for work and play, but what does it mean for professional services firms?
Ian Khan, who describes himself as The Futurist, asks the question “Should Professional Service Businesses consider the Metaverse as a real thing?” He concludes that the technology won’t affect most businesses for 5-10 years but that they should be future-ready for whatever disruption the metaverse brings.
Microsoft has already developed avatars (virtual characters) and virtual meeting rooms, which will come to the Teams platform later this year. Having a bad hair day? The addition of an avatar will allow you to choose the virtual you, rather than turning your webcam on, and will use voice prompts to animate the character’s behaviour, so it feels more engaged. If you like computer gaming, you might feel the graphics are basic and clunky, but this is sure to only get better with time.
Virtual meeting spaces and rooms work best with a VR headset, and will allow you to network, socialise or collaborate on projects. Other platforms exist, too. This article highlights Spatial.io and EngageVR.io, both of which have free options, so you can create an account and see how it works. Time to learn teleporting!
What should I be doing to prepare for the metaverse?
Your business might operate in a global market – imagine attending a worldwide conference as the virtual version of yourself. Set up networking meetings, give a presentation, sponsor the event. All these will be possible in the metaverse.
Learn the terminology, have a go with the technology and be ready for what is coming. Hubspot agrees, saying that most metaverses are looking at ways to monetise the content, which might mean advertising opportunities for your business.
Keep abreast of the technology required – a strong, stable internet connection and decent computer, a VR headset or glasses, at the least.
Spend some time analysing your client personas to see if the metaverse is relevant to them and therefore worth the time and financial investment. Also, what will your target audience, including potential talent pool, look like in the 5-10 years predicted by Ian Khan? They are probably already very familiar with the metaverse through gaming and social media.
Given its fast-paced evolution, the metaverse cannot be ignored, making it important to keep up to date by following news stories and industry developments. As a few examples, TV chef Gino D’Acampo has launched a new game (well, his avatar has!) and Heineken’s tongue-in-cheek virtual beer probably isn’t as good as the real thing…
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