By Tonika Bruce, CEO of Lead Nicely, who helps startups, nonprofits and leaders WIN with unique & innovative marketing and business strategies!
Business leaders must first understand the “metaverse” before diving into its possibilities for their businesses. The Metaverse refers to a shared online virtual world, similar to video games like Second Life or Pokémon Go. It is a realistic, three-dimensional environment where people can explore and interact with others in real time.
The exciting part of this is that as tech giants carve the path for virtual business, this next digital transformation helps deal with the challenge of distance existing in the current digital applications. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted in his speech at the Ignite Conference 2021 about the gaming industry, people will not just play with friends but also be in the game with them.
It follows that this may very well shape business activities and personal interactions both physically and online post-pandemic into what is being called the digital singularity.
Business And Leadership Areas To Explore In The Metaverse
Since the announcement by Facebook in October 2021 about changing its name to Meta, the world has been rife with discussions on the implications for business.
The whole concept of the Metaverse appears ready to transform various business sectors through wearable devices that can transport users to a virtual world separate from the physical.
With 3-D technology, the Metaverse could open up new opportunities for online businesses and retailers. These changes are poised to take the entire selling process to the next level—from online purchasing to customer service, engagement and marketing. For example, companies could create virtual storefronts and product demonstration areas. Customers could try on products and make purchase decisions in a realistic, immersive environment.
Some brands have already set the pace for this with partnerships with virtual worlds such as Roblox and Fortnite. For instance, Nike is set to sell virtual sneakers with their recent acquisition of RTFKT. Gucci also created an exclusive digital pair of sneakers dubbed Gucci Virtual 25 that can be worn in apps like Roblox.
At the onset of the pandemic, the music industry was hit hard with the cancellation of live shows and other entertainment venues shutting down. Now, virtual music performances and events have garnered positive reception. Since the highly successful live virtual event by Marshmellow via Fortnite in 2019, more artists, including big names like Travis Scott and Ariana Grande, have taken turns testing the waters here. This success opens up future entrepreneurial opportunities for those with an eye for art and music.
The current state of work in the pandemic world has created an easier transition to hybrid workplaces where employees do not necessarily have to be in a physical office to carry out their duties.
Collaboration and meetings will likely take a new shape. Companies have already become accustomed to holding meetings online over Zoom and other video conference tools, making VR meetings a step away from materializing. Bill Gates echoes the sentiment, painting a picture of businesses using avatars to attend and interact in virtual company meetings and projects in two to three years.
The shift from 2-D camera video to 3-D cameras with avatars presents a new platform for businesses to collaborate and hold meetings. With avatar technology, people could interact with each other in an immersive, meaningful and realistic way from anywhere in the world.
The possibilities here would be more than a handful. Imagine running company operations and team management in virtual reality. That would also imply a shift in job search avenues to those that deliver beyond the current LinkedIn or Upwork—a hybrid hire solution that includes virtual meeting rooms.
Another area that business leaders should explore is real estate. Real estate is a key sector of the economy in the physical world, and as Meta seeks to replicate physical activities in the virtual world, real estate seems to be no different.
According to a New York Times article, there is a boom in the virtual real estate business as investors grab these pieces of digital representations of real estate that range from shopping malls and entertainment venues to other properties.
While the notion of virtual real estate is still highly speculative, it is creating more than enough interest for different groups.
Businesses have become more realistic about their extended digital footprints, and it’s becoming evident that physical locations are no longer adequate for customer interactions, especially when most of those customers spend more time online. The Metaverse offers an enticing solution to this need for expansion by providing an expansive digital space where businesses can lease real estate, sell products and hold interactive events.
As talk of digital transformation and the Metaverse intensifies, so do the possibilities of doing business in a virtual world. The potential business applications for the metaverse range from gaming and entertainment to marketing and even real estate. However, business leaders must be careful not to get caught up in the hype and instead focus on areas where the Metaverse can provide real value for their businesses.