Disruption is exhilarating for entrepreneurial business and technology leaders who see an oasis forming through their VR (virtual reality) goggles. On the other hand, for executives leading entrenched businesses, it can feel like fogged-up sunglasses on a cloudy day. The next big disruption — the Metaverse — is coming in hot. And the Metaverse is garnering serious attention and interest from both entrepreneurs and business titans.
Like the Internet, cloud, artificial intelligence, and crypto that came before it, the Metaverse is both slathered in potential and full of land mines. For investors, the Metaverse is the next big gold rush to figure out. For executives, there are endless questions. Is Metaverse just another Second Life or Farm Zoo? What’s our Metaverse strategy? Do we play offense, defense, or both at the same time?
What Is the Metaverse?
First, let’s define the Metaverse in practical terms. As my Acceleration Economy colleague, Kieron Allen states in his piece “The Metaverse Explained: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?”:
“Essentially, the Metaverse is a replica of the physical world in virtual form. It’s a digital space that bridges the two and enables you to virtually carry out the same real-life activities and experiences. The easiest way to perceive it is as the next wave of the internet. The first wave of the internet laid the foundations, linking various websites and providing search functionality. The second wave made it possible for third-party apps, like Facebook, to function on these foundations. The third wave will enable wide-spread, 3D, immersive online experiences.”Kieron Allen, Acceleration Economy Metaverse Analyst
Taking Advantage of the Metaverse for Business
The excitement around the Metaverse starts with the creation of virtual experiences for people, teams, and communities to work, connect, interact, play, and even buy. From a business lens, the Metaverse has the potential to accelerate trends already surging around buying products and services directly from social experiences. Dubbed “social commerce,” this market segment reached over $36 billion last year.
The Metaverse promises to follow this same approach, turning community platforms into marketing platforms by attracting large plus segmented audiences. From a business model and cost point of view, the Metaverse has the potential to reduce the requirement for line items that drag on EBITDA such as real estate, travel expenses, manufacturing, and distribution costs, etc.
The potential for new revenue in the Metaverse exists as well. Companies can sell re-imagined existing and new products and services as immersive experiences through the Metaverse as a channel. As with today’s Internet-connected smartphones and televisions, tomorrow’s Metaverse-powered products will be always-on, available on multiple devices, and ready for 24/7 customer use. This all aligns well with the high-growth subscription and user models that are thriving today.
Potential Business Applications for Metaverse
As is the case with the first and second generations of the Internet, gaming and entertainment are two logical ways to get the Metaverse into the hands of consumers and developers. Businesses and investors are teed up to follow, as these groups are investing in companies and products with high subscriber and user growth rates.
Also, as with all disruptive technologies, the Metaverse offers multiple ways to make (and lose) money. To open our minds, let’s explore a few business applications:
1. Smart Supplier of “Picks and Shovels”
No matter who wins or loses in the Metaverse business landscape, one proven way to thrive is playing the role of the “picks and shovels” provider. Infrastructure, software tools, chip technology, and Virtual Reality (VR) experience hardware and accessories, to name a few, power and support the Metaverse.
For example, Microsoft, Nvidia, Amazon, and many other blue-chip providers are readying their software for this new world. This Metaverse commitment also translates into hundreds of thousands of software development jobs. To see the types of roles firsthand, check out job listings on Facebook, Google, and the growing list of Metaverse-committed startups.
2. Re-Imagine Customer and Buying Experiences
Marketers are excited as the Metaverse environment allows prospects and customers to experience products and services in new ways, even before they buy (the new demo?). Offers and promotions delivered in context to purchase naturally follow. This provides a new go-to-market channel, especially for native digitals who prefer digital interaction.
3. Generate New Revenue and Extend Distribution Channels
There are many angles here. The obvious one is developing new products and services specifically for the Metaverse. In addition, many Metaverse believers are working on how to re-imagine existing product offerings. Both strategies will be expected from native digital customers who are increasing their buying power and brand influence as mainstream consumers.
4. Energize and Attract Talent for a Hybrid Workforce
The future of a virtual workforce will undoubtedly reside in the Metaverse. This will include the ability to collaborate on development, marketing strategies, new business ideas, and more. Training sessions for your team and even your customers are potential applications that will move to the Metaverse. For the future workforce, college degrees and skills certification can happen here, too.
What Business and Tech Leaders Can Do Now to Prepare
Optimistically, the Metaverse is the next iteration of how humans use the Internet to connect, communicate, and transact. As with all disruptive technologies, business leaders need to unleash intellectual curiosity to uncover and explore the potential and move into test-and-learn mode. For companies still waiting on the sidelines, it is important for each brand to find its place and balance the risk-reward equation.
Learning from past disruptions, here is tried and true advice to capitalize on disruptive technology and trends:
- Be actively curious — form a small team to get smart on the Metaverse.
- Listen and be immersed in the Metaverse — follow the trends, including usage and adoption numbers.
- Test and learn — dip your toe in the water to experience the Metaverse yourself.
- Time your Metaverse market entrance — pick a few products and markets to experiment with.
See you in the Metaverse!
Want to compete in the Metaverse? Subscribe to the My Metaverse Minute Channel: