Everyone is talking about the Metaverse, the next level of interaction between the virtual and physical world, which allows people, through immersive experiences, to eliminate the boundaries between the two universes and either enrich experiences in the physical world with digital elements (mixed reality) or create completely immersive experiences simulating the physical world or creating entirely new worlds (virtual reality).
The future is being written every day. If analysts' predictions correct, the future will bring the Metaverse closer to our daily lives. The report “Building a Digital Future: The Metaverse”, by the Gartner consulting firm, detected that the gaming market will grow 25% in 2025 due to Metaverse-related technologies, that most CMOs of B2C companies will have a budget allocated to digital humans by 2027, and 10% of workers will regularly use virtual spaces by 2025 (this figure barely reached 1% in 2022). In addition, 25% of e-commerce retailers will have completed at least one proof of concept for tokenized assets using Metaverse technologies.
The big challenge is understanding how companies' investments in the Metaverse will make business sense in the short term as there are plenty of opportunities. The virtual worlds can provide strength and notoriety to a brand and position it as an innovator in the short term. This will be a trending topic for customers and employees. At NTT DATA, we took employee onboarding to the Metaverse. The benefits were threefold: we improved onboarding results by reinforcing the acquisition of content with the visual capabilities of virtual reality; we generated a proud culture of belonging; and we became more attractive as an employer brand.
Making the impossible possible
Another opportunity to gain value from the Metaverse is immersive experiences, both in corporate activities and fundamentally, in training activities, thanks to the potential of virtual and augmented realities. This adds visual enrichment to learning proposals and enables training that could not be done in another way. For example, an airline that needs to train operators on the ground cannot afford the cost of grounding a plane to complete the training. It is also key to reducing risks and costs associated with travel or insurance payments in mining, oil and gas industries, or other sectors with potentially hazardous facilities or heavy equipment.
Looking ahead, Metaverse takes remote meetings to a new level. It's no longer about a 2D video call, but about feeling that the whole team is in the same room, even if everyone is based in another part of the world. The Metaverse is also beginning to impose new business models and digital economies supported by blockchain and crypto finance. Financial institutions willing to take advantage of the Metaverse must be present in these alternative universes.
All these opportunities are just the tip of the iceberg. The Metaverse is also an opportunity for companies to rethink and transform their processes, generate digital models of their physical facilities to simulate or work with them remotely, launch new business models, or develop new journeys and unique experiences for their employees and customers. For example, in some countries, physical advertisements are prohibited for property sales. Therefore, there is only one way to locate available properties other than going to the location in person. With augmented reality, it is possible to enable the site and take an immersive tour, allowing the user to "visit" different properties in a single afternoon.
Challenges and barriers
The Metaverse journey has just begun; therefore, there are some barriers. The wearable metaverse devices are not yet as comfortable and usable as mobile devices. This is not an obstacle that will remain for long as large companies are making substantial investments to overcome it, and Gartner predicts that in 2026, spatial computing glasses will be in their second or third iteration. At the same time, speed and capacity limitations will be addressed, mainly because it is a system with enormous data consumption.
Governance and ethical issues are other points to discuss. For example, how will crimes in the Metaverse be resolved? What laws will apply such as those that involve the individual's location, the servers, or the service provider company? The significant limitation is there are many Metaverses that do not interoperate. Unlike the standardized and widely accepted protocols of the Internet, in the Metaverse, a user can have an avatar with specific characteristics or own an asset in a location, which may not be transferable to another.
Everyone is talking about the Metaverse, and the companies that succeed in taking action as soon as possible will win.