Better uses of the metaverse for business

People as avatars having a business meeting in a virtual metaverse VR office
Image: supamotion/Adobe Stock

MIT AI pioneer Marvin Minsky coined the term “suitcase words” — words or terms that mean nothing by themselves but contain several ideas inside that you need to unpack, said Paul McDonagh-Smith, senior lecturer in information technology from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

“I think this is a good way to visualize the metaverse as a suitcase with a number of different technologies, principles and potentials packed inside,” said McDonagh-Smith.

The metaverse resides within the family of extended reality technologies that includes augmented, mixed and virtual reality as well as virtual worlds, telepresence, 360 video, filters, digital twins and more, according to McDonagh-Smith. In terms of key principles, the metaverse is shaped by concepts such as immersion, engagement, persistence, and personalization.

SEE: Metaverse Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need to Know (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

However, the real metaverse doesn’t exist yet. This is because it requires advances in areas such as interoperability, standards and protocols to allow its 3D virtual experience networks to interconnect to enable virtual experiences. Through these experiences, users can interact, work, learn, play, respond, react and reflect through personalized avatars that represent their identities as they wish to represent them, said McDonagh-Smith.

While the tools and technology available today allow people to create their own mini-metaverses, they are not connected to others, said Kelly Malone, chief business officer of Taqtile, a provider of an augmented reality and mixed reality job education platform. .

“Where I believe this ultimately becomes a true metaverse is when these things get interconnected,” he said. “You have a company here that builds their own digital twins with their own processes and procedures, but they just have their own mini-metaverse. Where it becomes a true metaverse is when you start connecting all of these things together so that you can access that data and that capacity in a more open and expansive way. This is the piece that is really missing.

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Commercial uses of the metaverse for business

So what exactly does the metaverse mean for business? While there are no clear cut answers, there are some informed guesses.

“What we have today are precursors or pre-metaverse offerings,” said Tuong Nguyen, senior principal analyst at Gartner. “The examples I like to use are based on augmented reality and virtual reality, because it’s the easiest way to show people what an immersive digital environment is with an immersive digital interface.”

Enterprise uses include frontline workers in heavy industries using AR for procedural tasks and remote guidance. In VR, it includes virtual meetings and conferences, product visualization and configuration activities, games, storytelling, design and collaboration activities, and training for better decision-making, he said.

Uses of the metaverse in healthcare

The idea of ​​a more accessible and equitable digital universe that runs parallel to our physical world is compelling, but organizations really need to see where these technologies can actually solve problems, generate value and work best together in synergy, said Justin Barad, CEO and co-founder of Osso VR, a virtual reality surgical assessment and training platform.

“In our healthcare industry, virtual reality is playing an important role in training and education,” Barad said. “By using virtual reality, companies are enabling doctors from around the world to practice procedures together, collaboratively, on a virtual patient.”

Barad said virtual reality for surgical education breaks down barriers by giving healthcare professionals the ability to:

  • Work in unison with all surgical team members from anywhere in the world to improve procedural efficiency
  • Serving more underprivileged communities where physicians do not have ready access to academic institutions for on-demand training
  • Train at any time schedules allow
  • Use platforms that offer localization, allowing you to practice your preferred languages

Gathering customer feedback in the metaverse

Technologies like VR headsets that create a more physical connection for users in the metaverse allow companies to capture valuable data points, said Jordan Edelson, CEO of TradeZing, a Web3 live streaming, social engagement and platform designed for millennial traders and of generation Z.

These tools can gather feedback on emotional responses and engagement as consumers engage in real time, giving businesses access to authentic reactions, he said.

“When users participate in activities, such as gaming and NFT trading, these experiences create an opportunity for unconscious brand exposure, imprinting the user’s memory and reinforcing awareness of a brand’s presence,” said Edelson .

Better customer experience and loyalty programs

The metaverse is about experiencing Web 3.0 in a rich way, said Ramanathan Srikumar, head of solutions at Mphasis, an IT services and consulting firm. It means that users own their assets, control them, decide how to use them, and choose who they want to share them with. For example, Srikumar said that trade in the metaverse will be token-driven.

“With the tokenization of loyalty points, consumers will be willing to spend $2,400 on a pair of virtual sneakers,” Srikumar said.

These decisions are driven by a close association with the brand and a strong understanding of how NFTs work for a brand’s digital portfolio. NFTs also bring consumers closer to the brand.

“Companies can use it to create unique experiences and drive engagement with token owners,” Srikumar said. “The transformation of the loyalty points system allows customers to use metaverse-specific cryptocurrencies or stablecoins as loyalty points. Customers can spend the cryptocurrencies received as loyalty points in their favorite metaverses.”

3D trade in the metaverse

The metaverse could dramatically increase the number of commerce transactions globally because it’s changing the supply of inventory, which could become infinite, said Robert Clarkson, chief revenue officer of Payoneer, a payment platform that connects businesses with customers to online payments. As a result, the way businesses pay for, invoice and receive goods and services will also change.

In particular, it will raise expectations regarding the speed of payment processing. In the metaverse, customers will expect instant transactions and millisecond delivery of inventory, and sellers will want to get paid just as fast, she said.

“We look at the metaverse as it moves into 3D commerce,” he said.

Traditional commerce, whether in a physical store or online, is 2D in the sense that it is tied into the physical world, either through a supply chain to deliver the final product or at the point of sale where the exchange occurs, Clarkson said.

“With the metaverse, you can create the supply instantly: the digital good that’s being purchased,” he said. “The actual positions of both the buyer and the seller have become completely irrelevant as the transaction takes place in this non-physical world.”

Because the metaverse is borderless, it doesn’t face many of the roadblocks that can make trade across geographic borders difficult. Trade enablers and the companies they serve should think of consumers in the metaverse as global rather than regional or local consumers.

“This presents a new opportunity to further democratize trade,” Clarkson said. “To fully get there, trade enablers must be prepared to facilitate an economy within the metaverse that doesn’t inhibit anyone’s participation based on their location. We need to remove physical locations from the equation.

Furthermore, the metaverse will constantly evolve according to the needs and behaviors of the participants. At some point, there will be a set of rules about what is acceptable within a metaverse for privacy, security, and safety.

“We consider this type of standardization extremely important to ensure equal access in the metaverse,” he said. “It is important that participation capabilities are broad and the same for everyone around the world. Transactions between countries and currencies are not an obstacle to conducting commerce in the metaverse. Rather, it will be a central pillar for accessing the economic opportunities and experiences the metaverse presents to people around the world.

The metaverse is creating an environment where there will be access to all payment methods, Clarkson continued. Being able to easily extend reach to non-fiat currencies will increase opportunities for small businesses to increase sales, but will also put greater pressure on the speed and flexibility of the payment system. Buy Now, Pay Later is just the beginning of new flexible payment terms to emerge in the metaverse.

“There will be much more fluidity in options and choices in the metaverse than there is today, because trading in it is not tied to the traditional binaries that dictate today’s payments, such as ACH, EFT, wire transfers or other major credit cards,” he said. said Clarkson. “This is one of the most exciting propositions for payments in the metaverse – will we be able to do away with wires and open up new possibilities that impact not only commerce in the metaverse but physical commerce as well?”

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