15 Apr The future of the metaverse for businesses: what we know so far
In 2021, the term metaverse emerged strongly within the ICT ecosystem, appearing on many forums, in many debates and in many analyses. This metaverse ‘fever’, which continues to this day, is motivated more than anything by the decisions of Facebook and Microsoft to heavily invest in developing this technological breakthrough – it’s estimated up to 10 billion dollars will be pumped in over the coming years.
While it’s already clear the key to developing the metaverse is blockchain technology, there are still many questions and unknowns surrounding the topic. Above all, in terms of the role technology companies and other sectors will be able to play looking to the future. What will their involvement look like? Will there really be viable business models and sectors in the metaverse? What will the integration process be like and how long will it last? Will we need to invest in new technologies?
Different concepts of the metaverse
Not all the experts are aligned in their view of what exactly the metaverse is and what it could become in a ‘technical’ sense. The most optimistic outlooks in terms of the possibilities the metaverse could bring involve a parallel, entirely virtual reality where life – and all the social and economic aspects that go with it – run alongside the physical world. Others, however, picture the metaverse as more of a succession of virtual spaces where massive volumes of users can be accommodated but only a relatively limited number of activities can take place.
This second view is perhaps more honest and closest to reality today, at least with the data and technological developments currently available to us. In fact, we can already look at gaming communities and how they interact with video games as a clear example of the proto-metaverse. Lots of brands are already developing ways of selling their products and services exclusively in these ‘bubbles’ for niche groups interested in virtual entertainment and everything related to their favourite games.
Although everything points to both versions of the metaverse ending up united as one eventually, it will still take several years for technological advances to come about, new devices to be developed, and habits in terms of usage and consumption to make it possible to start talking about a fully implemented metaverse.
Short-term opportunities for companies in the metaverse
Until the moment the metaverse and what it means is really settled, there are plenty of opportunities that can already be explored and exploited by various companies, regardless of their sector. With some real vision and entrepreneurial spirit, we can find plenty of open doors in the following areas:
- Advertising: Ads will be omnipresent in any incarnation of the metaverse, so companies have to start thinking about more intense and personalised forms of interaction with their customers – similar to what’s already happening on social media, but with far greater ambition –, as well as new strategies and products that only fit within virtual environments.
- Renting virtual properties: Virtual property will also be prevalent in the metaverse, at some point… We’re talking here about spaces analogous to those that already exist in the physical world, such as theatres, homes, performance and entertainment spaces, etc. Their owners would be responsible for ‘building’ them in the metaverse and could then earn money by renting them out or selling them off.
- Workspaces: The jobs market can also be conditioned by the metaverse. You’ll be able to hire people, work, exchange goods and services, meet others and develop a professional career, entirely within a virtual environment. This also paves the way for companies in the cybersecurity and cryptography sectors, events organisers, business management and human resources executives, for example. Physical work won’t disappear altogether, of course, but it may be noticeably displaced and there will be plenty of opportunities – at least, for those willing and able to take advantage of them.
Though the metaverse may represent a significant paradigm shift, this sea-change won’t happen overnight. It could take another ten years or more. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to position yourself ahead of time, leaving no room for improvisation when the time comes. In both the metaverse and in real life, strike while the iron is hot…