Last year, Match Group – which operates online platforms like Tinder, Match.com and Hinge – shelled out $1.725 billion to acquire Hyperconnect. This was a play on the metaverse.
Unfortunately, Match had challenges in making the strategy work. In the latest shareholder letter, Match CEO Bernard Kim noted: “I’ve instructed the Hyperconnect team to iterate but not invest heavily in metaverse at this time. We’ll continue to evaluate this space carefully, and we will consider moving forward at the appropriate time when we have more clarity on the overall opportunity and feel we have a service that is well-positioned to succeed.”
This is not a one-off. Even the giant Meta has had its own problems. This is despite the company’s enormous resources and global user base. During the past year, the stock price has plunged from $378 to $178.
The metaverse clearly faces some challenges.
See also: How Revolutionary Are Meta’s AI Efforts?
First-mover Opportunities in the Enterprise?
The metaverse’s early challenges should come as no surprise. It’s never easy to launch new technologies.
But for the metaverse, the first-mover opportunities may actually not be in the consumer space. Surprise: They may emerge in the enterprise.
“Businesses today are already leveraging the metaverse to drive new interactions,” said Matt Barrington, Principal of Digital & Emerging Technologies, EY. “These experiences are driven by both existing technology stacks and Web 3.0 technology stacks, bringing in new business models and ways to create, store, and exchange value. We are seeing mass experimentation across the market as companies explore business-relevant use cases and assess the impact of the metaverse on their business and customers.”
So let’s take a deeper look at the enterprise opportunities in the new virtual world of the metaverse.
When it comes to the consumer metaverse, the types of use cases are limited. It’s really about gaming-type experiences. In terms of monetization, there is the purchase of digital items, subscriptions, and sponsorships. Interestingly enough, there are various brands that have purchased virtual real estate on the metaverse.
But as for the enterprise, there are seemingly endless applications. In fact, each industry can have its own set of metaverses.
“Consistent with the findings of our recent Metaverse surveys, using metaverse environments for purposes of delivering new experiences to the workforce for training, onboarding or recruiting are immediate use cases,” said Emmanuelle Rivet, Vice Chair, U.S. TMT and Global Technology Leader, PwC. “In addition, metaverse environments provide a place for connecting and engaging with a dispersed workforce including front line workers who may feel detached from the ‘center’ or ‘corporate.’ This is interesting but it also provides the opportunity for employees to be exposed to the metaverse, get familiar with it and effectively be up-skilled by experimentation, providing a platform for innovation and development of more use cases for companies.”
There are also interesting use cases with digital twins of physical environments that can be made hyper realistic and physically accurate.
“The physical environment to be replicated may be natural, or it may be something that was constructed, such as a building or other type of structure, an industrial operation, or a transportation network,” said Andrew Blau, Managing Director, U.S. Leader, Eminence & Insights, Deloitte Consulting. “Humans, robots, and AI agents can work together inside these digital twins to plan, design, and test—accelerating innovation and planning cycles for a variety of business needs.”
Also read: The Metaverse: Catching the Next Internet-Like Wave
The playbook for the metaverse is still in the early stages. Mistakes will be inevitable. But there are some guidelines that will help.
“Employees and customers are both looking for new experiences in the metaverse – and that means ensuring that virtual avatars, augmented reality and other forms of interaction are user-friendly enough to make collaboration and training simpler than it is in real life,” said Adrian McDermott, CTO of Zendesk. “You need to prioritize immersion.”
And yes, there will need to be much due diligence of the tech stacks. They can be expensive and complicated.
“Firms need trusted technology partners that build, or vet and collaborate with, the best-in-class technology, as well as the means to plan, deploy and manage the technology so solutions that accelerate business today don’t become a roadblock tomorrow,” said Vishal Shah, General Manager of XR and Metaverse, Lenovo. “This also requires an open solution to always make the best hardware and software components for the use cases. … The fact is ‘Open’ always wins and will again in this new world.”
Another part of the strategy – which can easily be overlooked – is finance transformation. Without this, the chances of success decline precipitously.
“Organizations will need to develop completely different approaches to finance, accounting, risk and compliance processes to sustain all of the major innovations coming with the metaverse, including monetization and metaverse economy innovations such as crypto currency and NFTs,” said Brajesh Jha, SVP & Global Head of Media, Publishing and Entertainment, Genpact.
Don’t Get Left Behind
The temptation for enterprises, though, is to take a wait-and-see approach with the metaverse. But this could mean falling behind competitors. And it may be extremely tough to catch up.
“The metaverse presents a significant opportunity for business,” said Mike Storiale, VP, Innovation Development, Synchrony. “This is potentially a new dimension of commerce that we haven’t seen since the late 1990s with e-commerce.”