by Dr Mythili Kolluru, Oman
Summary: Technology has empowered the expression of thought and enabled richer world experiences. The digital environment is poised for incredible economic growth. It is expected to reach $2.5 trillion by 2030. Most technology giants envision it as the future of the internet. In this article, Dr. Mythili Kolluru reveals the length and breadth of the new digital universe, the metaverse.
The evolving Metaverse
All the technological revolutions the world has experienced have had significant implications for individuals and commerce. In the earlier days, the internet was called the information super way. That was called Web 1.0, which connected the world to information. Then came Web 2.0, where the internet-connected people with each other via various social media like Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Snapchat. We are presently at the end of Web 2.0 and the beginning of Web 3.0 – this is about connecting people, places, and things. The world has moved forward in the continuum of innovation and digital transformations from the internet of data to people to places and now to the internet of digital ownership. Metaverse brings to the world a series of virtual and physical experiences. Unlike viewing a screen, people can now have an immersive experience—a feeling of greater sense of the shared screen. Metaverse presents a spectrum of experiences. It is beyond looking; metaverse has the potential to make the time we spend on-screen richer and more natural.
The metaverse ecosystem
The metaverse is still abstract with enormous potential. So, there is no specific definition of metaverse. It is still in the nascent stage of development. It has a deeper integration of our physical lives and digital spaces. The experiences can happen in the physical and virtual worlds. The metaverse will connect people, places, and assets. The metaverse will be enabled with different technologies like; Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), 5G, Edge technologies, voice cloud, Blockchain and many more emergent technologies. A confluence of these technologies will make our virtual experience richer and more authentic. Blockchain is the building block of the metaverse because it is the technology that enables people to have digital ownership of digital assets. The metaverse is an ecosystem that is constantly changing. The basic concept of the Metaverse involves; avatars, home-space, teleporting, goods and natural interfaces, marketplaces, interoperability, crypto, and NFTs. Some of the key members of the metaverse are:
Marketplace: a place where value is exchanged. Some famous marketplaces on the metaverse are Nifty gateway, Opensea, ARI Exchange, and Known Origin.
Currency: currencies on the metaverse are cryptocurrencies represented as coins. They are volatile and fluctuate based on the ecosystem. The most significant currencies are Manna, Axis, SAM, and Gala.
Creators: They are the artists who create virtual fashion, digital art, virtual goods, and virtual worlds.
Collectors: are the people who want to invest and buy into the digital assets being created.
NFTs: They are called non-fungible tokens. They have gained popularity since 2000. An NFT is a unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a digital ledger such as a blockchain. It represents links to distinctive pieces of digital media, which can be art, text, video, or even a bit of code. It is released as a drop and can be sold again and again in the secondary market.
Avatar: an avatar is a virtual version of the real you. An Avatar is both unique and inspirational. It is an individual’s online representation. And, what we wear matters a lot, especially to Generation Z and Alpha. We can also purchase virtual accessories and clothes and choose how our Avatar looks. In the future, Avatars will move from one platform to another and socialize, interact, play, and work.
Leveraging the metaverse for competitive advantage
In the metaverse, space content is persistent and comprises vast amounts of information on activity that stays anchored. It is steady, dynamic, shareable, and 3D machine-readable. The revolution of print produced the age of digital marketing. Now it is the age of a digital ecosystem called the metaverse. Metaverse will reach a market potential of $800 billion by 2024. Metaverse will affect how we socialize, work, play, and even shop. The Metaverse platform or gateways have been gaining traction since 2020. Corporates can use metaverse in many verticals like engineering, manufacturing, education, and tourism. Metaverse has a broad scope. Companies can use the metaverse in customer service and customer meetings. Metaverse will be necessary for companies, cities, nations, and the people. Metaverse companies are at the forefront of transforming the digital world with immersive experiences in the future. Meta, NVIDIA, Epic Games, Microsoft, Apple, Decentraland, Roblox, Unity Software, and Snapchat are the leading companies developing metaverse technologies. These companies are focused on empowering businesses with the supply of software, advanced tools, and technologies for the metaverse.
During the pandemic, Accenture hired over 1,50,00 employees. They had a virtual campus called Accenture Park for induction and capability building. The company distributed 60,000 headsets for all the new recruits. They have also extended the metaverse experience to customers. The textile giant Zara has chosen Zepeto as the metaverse to launch its first collection of virtual garments. Zepeto is a South Korean metaverse, one of the fastest-growing virtual environments. Samsung has launched its space in Decentraland. The Samsung metaverse space is like the Samsung 837 store in New York only. Facebook tops the list for highest investment in the metaverse. Mark Zuckerberg has rebranded the social network Facebook as Meta.
Facebook believes that meta will become the 3D space where you can interact, learn, collaborate, work, and play in ways unimaginable. Facebook plans to invest 30% of its revenue in the metaverse. It believes that the metaverse will create over 10,000 more jobs in the Europe market. Facebook is working on horizons for the metaverse. They are building horizons, homes, worlds, and workrooms for collaboration and communication with friends across layers of technologies. Recently Nike, McDonald’s, Dolce, and Gabbana have entered the metaverse. Decentraland is a decentralized metaverse platform owned by the users who get to vote on how the platform operates. Currently, the cheapest plot of land costs $11,000, and Samsung has bought digital real estate for their virtual stores. Roblox is a global gaming giant. It has an ecosystem with 42.4 million daily users. Consultancy firms have also joined in to take a share of the evolving metaverse. Deloitte is one of the major consultancy firms that has launched an initiative to assist companies in navigating the metaverse opportunities. The leading research firm Gartner has stated that by 2026, 25% of the people will be spending at least one hour on the metaverse. Warner Bros launched a virtual party on Roblox to market its movie” In the Heights.” Walt Disney, a leader in imagination, is branding their metaverse projects. In 2020, Disney announced the launch of theme park metaverse, which will be the convergence of physical and digital worlds for immersing the visitors in the metaverse experiences. Gucci and Nike have also created their playground in the virtual world. Nike and Ralph Lauren have collaborated with social platforms like Snapchat to provide wardrobe options for their users’ avatars. Our Avatar will allow us to express our online identity. The pandemic has lunged us all into the online culture. Organizations, especially marketing and communication professionals, must watch the metaverse keenly as it is the next frontier in online interactions.
The exploration of the metaverse is going to continue in new ways as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IOT) the underpinning technologies mature and increase interconnectivity. A full-fledged economy and world where hybrid and digital co-exist and collaborate are not yet fully realized. The metaverse is one step towards realizing a fully functional and thriving digital ecosystem. Commerce is happening at unprecedented speed and scale inside the virtual worlds. The metaverse is a developing and happening opportunity to be leveraged by companies. Time alone will reveal how the metaverse will emerge as the next internet.
Dr. Mythili Kolluru is an Assistant Professor at the Undergraduate and Professional Studies Department, College of Banking and Financial Studies, Oman, with teaching and research experience over diverse areas of Strategic Management, Organizational studies, and International Business. She has obtained a doctorate in strategic management, focusing on the relationship between strategic management and leadership. She is a certified Strategic Planning Professional. She is the Chief Strategy Officer of Funkeyb a London based Management Consultancy firm. She is the author of the framework “The strategic Thinking Wheel”. She has over two decades of experience in academics and the corporate world, spanning the USA, India, and the Middle East. She has supervised over 100 Masters and undergraduate research projects. She has published actively in ABDC, Elsevier, Emerald, Scopus, Q2, peer-reviewed journals, edited book chapters, and a book on strategic management. She has presented at both national and international conferences. She is a reviewer, editor, and presenter at various platforms. She actively participates in outreach initiatives nationally and internationally through her active involvement in Knowledge Oman and the Association for Strategic Planning. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.