At its most basic level, the Metaverse is a more physical, persistent manifestation of the internet that offers a parallel reality in which we can engage and be engaged by. As a result, the Metaverse will change how businesses and their ecosystems work and provide value for their customers and employees. This future shift goes far beyond the technology currently used and ventures into a recasting of business models across many industries, including for the services ecosystem. This analysis will discuss how the services ecosystem will deliver on the promise of the Metaverse while preserving the value that independent partners bring to solutions at the enterprise level.
Shifting Customer Expectations
Today many firms have partnerships for service technicians for in-home or in-business service calls. These very same businesses are struggling to have enough technicians to provide these services in a timely manner in our current underemployment environment. This is where a new technology-led approach can truly come into play; things that were previously unsolvable due to real-world limitations can be addressed and solved by deploying a Metaverse-first strategy.
We’ve all been there: Your washer stops working, and it takes a week plus to get a service tech to your home, and then they must order a small part that always breaks on these machines just to fix yours. Said part won’t come in for another week. The result? A bad customer experience.
Enter the Metaverse. Soon, several appliance manufacturers will begin to ship appliances not just connected to the internet but also with VR, mixed reality, XR, and AR devices, including glasses and gloves, that make the consumer their own repair person by walking them through the steps to identify the issue and replace that pesky part, which will, of course, be included in the home repair kit since they know that it is one of the top parts that break.
The result? A good customer experience and some new partnerships will help to create this new way of providing customer repairs. This is where the Metaverse shines in the near term, by augmenting issues, in this case repairs, with internet-provided solutions that blend the physical world and the virtual Metaverse capabilities to fix what is broken, all while using savvy partnerships with the right ISVs (independent software vendors), digital, and technology partners to deliver the innovation that growth-oriented firms need to defy their growth limitations.
The Retail Experience
Let’s use another example, retail, an industry that has long relied on partners to deliver everything from websites to POS (point of sale) solutions and as dealer networks to best serve local customers. In the Metaverse, there are some involved in retail who are calling for the creation of virtual shopping sites, but this is uninspired thinking. To merely take dated industrial-age shopping models and recreate them in the Metaverse would be both unprofitable and uninspired. The potential of the Metaverse allows stale old business models to break free from the old way of doing business in physical retail stores and move decades beyond even the most lauded digital-shopping experience available today.
Why would you create a replica of an REI outdoor store in the Metaverse when you could create a mountaintop experience and allow people to go on a climb guided by an expert and experience the usefulness of the very products being sold? In this type of Metaverse, the shopper can gain a first-hand experience of a coat’s ability to protect from the elements and then have it sized, ordered, and delivered anywhere in the world. In essence, every product offered in retail can be offered as an immersive experience that improves customer experience and enhances customer loyalty.
Merchandisers, operations, marketing, and everyone in retail will have to begin to think in a whole different way about what retail delivers. This will create the need for an entirely new ecosystem of partners that can create experiences, understand virtual worlds, and knit together the physical and virtual into a truly improved experience.
The Partner Opportunity
Over time we will spend more and more time in the Metaverse. Shopping, learning, working — the use cases are endless. As that happens, and as we envelop ourselves in the virtual world, we’ll find that status symbols like the virtual neighborhood you live in, your virtual possessions, and your virtual appearance will become important, or even more important, than your real-world possessions and appearance. Consumer brands will embrace this new demand by creating an ever-widening assortment of virtual products, often at real-world prices. While this may be years or even decades off, it is where the future is taking us, and sometime soon the majority of us will not be able to imagine our lives without the Metaverse the same way we cannot imagine our lives without our mobile device today.
For now, the Metaverse will focus on helping those firms that today have an issue that the technology and a fresh look at processes can solve. For firms that are struggling today with staff shortages, shipping delays, cost to serve, and other issues that delay or impact their growth, the Metaverse can be just the solution they are looking for.
How does your firm capture this opportunity? I would start by taking a good look at who I could partner with to understand and plan for solutions. Which partners could you bring in that would be able to help you not only have the right technology but also challenge your processes and how they might be fixed using the metaverse? Have a partnering day, sit at the table virtually or live and discuss the business growth inhibitors that are vexing your firm currently. Ask the partners to go away and solve those problems by extending the internet to the physical world.
Some of the solutions won’t be near-term, but they will help you plot your plan for a Metaverse future that is just now beginning to exist.
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