The term “Metaverse” is a combination of the words “meta” and “universe.” Primarily, it refers to an anticipated future iteration of the Internet, often referred to as Web 3. It is likely to see the rise of integrated 3D environments online, giving users access to virtual and augmented reality experiences to encourage social connections. The Metaverse was first mentioned in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash, which described it as a shared “imaginary realm” accessible to the public via a global fiber optic network and projected onto virtual reality goggles. Today, the Metaverse is poised to impact future customer experiences and business operations.
It will not be a digital space but multiple spaces combining the physical and virtual worlds. Web 3.0 does not currently exist. It is still in the early stages of development. Some of the best-known technology companies, including Amazon, Google, and Meta, are actively working on how to integrate current and future technologies to create this virtual or augmented reality.
Zuckerberg addressed this in his October 28, 2021, founder’s letter (when he changed his name to Meta), stating, “The defining quality of the Metaverse will be a sense of presence as if you were directly with another person or in other to feel truly present with another person is the ultimate social technology dream.” In the Metaverse, we can do almost anything you can imagine: meet with friends and family, work, learn, play, shop, create, and have entirely new experiences that don’t fit how we think about computers or phones today.
Entering the future
Once companies master the technology, consumers and businesses alike will enter a world that was once considered the realm of science fiction. Operating in the Metaverse will change customer behavior and buying habits, including (but not limited to) the use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrency. The Metaverse will create more openness and trust between customers and businesses as technology will decentralize enterprises. Transactions will occur in real time, negating the need for third-party proof of confidence.
The Metaverse will be permissionless, distributed, open source, and without a central authority controlling it. Examples of the potential benefits of the Metaverse could be virtual reality doctor visits. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, there has also been a significant shift in people moving from larger cities to smaller, more affordable cities. In the Metaverse, there could be 3D virtual tours of houses with a real estate agent for buyers and sellers. This would be particularly beneficial for those moving abroad and selling their home, packing, and moving. However, they still need to look for a suitable property after arriving in their new city.
Consumers are already willing to use their smartphones when they visit Amazon’s website to virtually “place” a piece of furniture in their home to see how it fits and looks. As for the use of cryptocurrencies and NFT tokens, there are already open-source tools for these currencies that allow them to be used for transactions in the Metaverse. Customers today make purchases using cash, check, debit, or credit cards. Looking ahead, companies are beginning to ask themselves, if you explore and embrace these options now, people will find it easier to accept that the Metaverse exists and that it is possible to sell products in it. “Real” money will not be viable in the Metaverse, so the virtual currency is required.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, people’s thoughts, behavior, and behavior changed. People have become accustomed to doing more online, from attending company meetings and school classes via Zoom and other platforms to using clubhouse and cloud-based services. Voice services like Alexa or Google Voice Additionally, this shift has translated into even greater reliance on online shopping for everything from groceries to furniture, with customers limiting in-person visits to stores. For this reason, it makes sense for companies to consider bringing their businesses to the Metaverse.
To take advantage of this radically new way of doing business, however, people need to learn how to use the latest technology while becoming comfortable in an environment that will likely include virtual reality headsets, digital glasses, and smartphones where consumers can see virtual realities in 3D. While there are now many 3D video games or exercise classes that use various iterations of virtual reality techniques, it’s one thing to put on a headset to hit a ball or perform a dance move; it’s another for humans to feel comfortable entering virtual doctor’s offices, banks, or open-door inspections and interacting with account managers in these environments in real-time.
Another primary concern is security. Companies and those who do business with those companies need to know that their information is secure. According to a study by software company NordVPN, while 66% of Americans think the Metaverse could eventually replace social media, the media worry it’s too easy for hackers to impersonate others; 47 percent do not trust the legal protection of their identity, and 45% fear more data could be collected and used against them. At this stage, when the technology is just emerging, there is no way to estimate the potential security implications that might result.
Facing the future
While the Metaverse is still in its infancy and has obstacles to overcome, it will become part of society’s future. According to Garter analyst and Vice President Marty Resnick, by 2026, 25% of people will spend at least an hour a day in the Metaverse for work, shopping, education, social media, and entertainment. The gaming industry has already embraced virtual and augmented reality, and NFTs and cryptocurrencies are already up and running. The innovation of a virtual currency similar to NFTs and cryptocurrencies usable in the Metaverse and the acceptance of a much more extensive customer experience creates an exciting future. At the same time, these innovations must be tempered with the knowledge that there are still many unknowns in these early stages of how the Metaverse will work, so it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks in this brave new world.