By Duncan Roberts, Senior Manager at Cognizant
Despite being hailed the ‘Next Big Thing’ at its launch, the metaverse has come under fire lately from those who believe it is aiming too high and failing to live up to its potential. But these people might be too quick to judge. The metaverse’s development has only just begun and is evolving quickly. The global market size is now projected to grow from $100 billion in 2022, to a staggering $1,528 billion by 2029,
meaning the metaverse will likely only further saturate the tech space in time.
Though the metaverse is still in its infancy, companies would be prudent to start making the most of its concepts and technologies today, to make a head-start before usage becomes mainstream throughout the business world.
The metaverse has high potential when it comes to improving customer engagement and collaboration among employees and clients, as well as streamlining operations.
rom 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.
Strengthening connections with customers
By 2026, it is predicted that a quarter of people will spend at least an hour in the metaverse daily, presenting companies with a substantial opportunity to meet and interact with new customers virtually. Businesses can digitally place their products in the hands of customers using virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) tools. Users can then obtain a tangible impression of the touch, feel and scale
of their potential purchases.
For example, rather than merely measuring furniture and spaces in their home to see if they fit, customers can now see how their rooms would 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 make discovering new products an accessible, modernised, three-dimensional experience.
Demonstrating sustainability initiatives
As the climate crisis intensifies, consumers are becoming more conscious of sustainability, and consequently more demanding of companies they purchase from to have proactive
sustainability measures. According to a study, almost three-quarters (72%) of those surveyed stated that they based their purchasing decisions on a brand’s values. Businesses must therefore
be able to show their consumers that they’re making efforts to be more sustainable and socially responsible – but being able to display 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 the customer, 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.
Facilitating the future of work
Since the pandemic, working from home has become commonplace for many workers. However, it does have its drawbacks, including decreased social interaction, which makes it more challenging for employees to bond with colleagues and work collaboratively. However, by implementing metaverse concepts and technologies, companies can support their personnel remotely with virtual training and social interaction, which can help lessen these issues.
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 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 programs.
Time to upgrade operations
When machinery malfunctions, businesses incur huge expenses, from issues such as stalled production to the cost of dispatching specialist engineers to identify and fix problems. This can be avoided, however, if real-time maintenance monitoring is adopted. Through IoT devices and creating digital twins, workers can instantly see the condition of machinery, and if any components are starting to fail. By pairing this information with augmented reality, engineers can diagnose problems and show workers on the ground how to solve them virtually, saving the business both time and money.
By displaying information in this visual way, machinery and employees are in the best position to work to the best of their ability. Managers can become more proactive in maintaining their physical capital, as they are given the ability 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.
Getting a head start
With the metaverse offering so many possibilities for improvement, it can be difficult for businesses to know where to begin. The metaverse is evolving rapidly, and businesses need to adopt a pragmatic approach to the unregulated world of the metaverse to ensure long-term success.
Businesses should begin by determining what internal issues they have that could be resolved, or experiences that could be improved in their current ecosystems and platforms, and then consider how metaverse solutions could improve them. By doing this, businesses can avoid investing in inefficient, overly costly and non-cohesive individual solutions. Scalability needs to be considered, as well as how each metaverse component would work with other applications to provide the optimal user 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.
By taking full advantage of the benefits that the metaverse presents today, businesses can become more efficient and improve user engagement. In the long run, this will. help them stay well ahead of their competitors.