People are excited for the metaverse, but like any innovation, it’s going to take time and an immense amount of effort to make a fully immersive multi-platform digital world a reality.
Sure, Fortune 500 companies are not regularly conducting meetings in 3D virtual reality environments nor are every Tom, Dick and Harry frequently buying NFTs with cryptocurrency. But this doesn’t mean that companies should take a wait-and-see approach. It’s at this nascent stage when investing responsibly in and planning for the metaverse presents a significant opportunity to benefit today and lay the groundwork for future success.
Consumers, Business Executives are Excited about the Metaverse
According to a recent PwC survey, two-thirds of top executives in the US report that their companies are actively engaged in the metaverse in some way. These businesses are building proofs of concept, testing use cases and even generating revenue from metaverse platforms or (more commonly) the underlying technologies. Eighty-two percent of executives expect metaverse plans to be part of their business activities within a few years.
Taking advantage of the metaverse opportunity will require foresight, patience and a tolerance of risk taking. Here are four things that organizations should be doing today to get ready for the metaverse and maximize your initial return on investment:
1. Define your metaverse strategy
Half of executives say the metaverse will either be the next incarnation of the internet, or it will completely revolutionize business as we know it. Meanwhile, the majority of consumers are excited about the metaverse, yet less than 10% currently use a metaverse environment. Keep in mind that despite the hype, metaverse adoption will be more of an evolution, taking place over years with different components maturing at different times.
Strategies should balance a long-term vision with a practical path for investing in the required technologies, skills and use cases that deliver value today. Working toward the future in a phased approach allows you to gain experience in the new platforms and better anticipate customer needs when a fully immersive metaverse becomes a reality.
2. Build metaverse foundations
Technology is just an enabler. Organizations need to prioritize metaverse hiring, customer research and upskilling as much or even more than their technology investments. Nearly one-third of companies plan to hire or appoint a metaverse leader, and more than half have already designated roles that focus, at least in part, on metaverse activity. It’s important to plan for today’s limited capabilities while keeping an eye on future innovations.
You should also embrace flexibility in your technology investments — such as cryptocurrency — that can be used outside the metaverse. And you need to go beyond just replacing digital or physical worlds by completely rethinking ways of working, engaging with customers or strengthening brand presence in an all-new, immersive digital world.
3. Address metaverse risks
As with any new technology, it may be difficult at first to assess risks, set priorities and decide how best to jump in. Organizations that are active in the metaverse need to act quickly to build trust and decrease risks to protect intellectual property, financial transactions, customer data and the customer experience. This may require new processes to better meet evolving compliance challenges, complex tax requirements and risks associated with blockchain, cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
Rather than adding these measures after the fact, build them directly into your metaverse applications from the beginning of the development cycle and engage with various stakeholders across the company — such as the security team, compliance specialists and tax experts. This will allow you to mitigate risks upfront, reduce expensive tech debt and create efficiencies down the line.
4. Drive metaverse outcomes
Simply embracing a technology because it’s the next big thing is a bad idea. Like anything new, adoption has to be aligned with business outcomes. Stay true to your brand by creating personalized metaverse storefronts, token-gated communities, and immersive experiences as a way to enhance, not replace, current marketing and loyalty programs. Introduce new metaverse-specific pricing strategies to encourage and entice engagement to build momentum. And capture and analyze data from metaverse interactions to enhance customer 360 strategies that identify and anticipate needs and preferences across physical and other digital channels and interactions.
Be Relevant. Be Useful. And be Purposeful.
The metaverse is the future, but it’s also the present. Companies need to build a metaverse foundation today that is agile and adaptable for whatever tomorrow brings. Business leaders need to make sure their organizations are developing the necessary skills and business processes, properly assessing the risks, and aligning metaverse strategies to business outcomes. You may not be reading this on a digital magazine in a virtual reality environment above Niagara Falls just yet, but you should lay the groundwork now for the day when we can all feel that cool, refreshing mist on our faces.