The metaverse can be an intimidating term conjuring up visions of some futuristic virtual world, but it’s perhaps best viewed as virtual experiences brought to the internet, something akin to an interactive video game.
There are huge obstacles to creating a larger world that spans individual virtual platforms, so for now it’s perhaps best to view the metaverse as a challenge for businesses to create more virtual, interactive customer experiences.
The metaverse potentially offers small businesses a way to reach new markets and customers that they wouldn’t be able to reach in the physical world. Small businesses can create their own virtual spaces and use them to promote their products and services. They can also use avatars (virtual representations of themselves) to interact with potential customers in a way that is not possible in the physical world.
Training and customer service are other potential applications for the metaverse, areas many companies come up short in now.
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For now, the metaverse’s benefits for small businesses are largely theoretical, but they could be significant:
- Increased visibility: Small businesses can use the metaverse to increase their visibility and reach a wider audience.
- Improved customer engagement: The metaverse provides an immersive and interactive environment that can help small businesses improve customer engagement.
- Lower costs: The metaverse can help small businesses lower their costs by reducing the need for physical infrastructure.
- Greater flexibility: The metaverse offers greater flexibility for small businesses, allowing them to experiment with new business models and strategies. The metaverse presents a unique opportunity for small businesses to gain a competitive edge. By leveraging the advantages of the metaverse, they could potentially level the playing field with larger businesses and compete on a global scale.
Metaverse Use Cases
The metaverse has a number of potential use cases for small businesses. Here are three examples:
- Marketing and advertising: Small businesses can use the metaverse to create immersive, 3D marketing experiences that grab attention and engage potential customers in new ways – ways customers are ready to embrace.
- Training and education: The metaverse can be used to create training simulations that allow employees to learn new skills in a safe and realistic environment.
- Collaboration and networking: The metaverse provides a unique platform for small businesses to collaborate, as well as network with potential partners and customers.
One example of the metaverse in action is Hyundai’s campaign for the Roblox platform. A bit of experience programming games can go a long way in the metaverse.
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How Businesses Reach Customers in the Metaverse
So how do businesses actually reach customers in the metaverse? There are as many ways.
- Hosting events, conferences, meetings, and meetups in virtual spaces
- Connecting with potential customers through social media, discussion forums, and blogs
- Leveraging virtual reality (VR) to create interactive, immersive and engaging marketing campaigns
- Creating digital versions of familiar physical products that can be consumed in virtual worlds
- Creating virtual locations and marketplaces for products and services
- Prioritizing customer feedback and rewarding customer engagement with virtual coupons and promotions
Businesses should choose the type of metaverse they integrate with based on what it was created and intended for, its use cases. As an example, a metaverse created for retail may not work well for an outdoor fitness niche business.
Preparing for the Metaverse
There are a few things companies should be doing to prepare for the opportunities the metaverse will bring. First, they should start thinking about how they can use the
metaverse to improve their customer experience. Second, they should begin to experiment with creating metaverse applications. And third, they should think about how the metaverse can be used to create new business models and revenue streams.
The good news is that metaverse opportunities should work their way down market quickly, as often happens with technology.
One example of IT vendors coming together to make this happen is last week’s announcement from Capgemini and Unity to create “use cases where the digital customer or employee experiences will benefit most.”
The companies cited a number of industries where they’ll be focusing their efforts: consumer goods & retail, manufacturing, life sciences, telecommunications, media & technology, energy & utilities, financial services, and public services.
“Metaverse and immersive experiences open a whole universe of possibilities for our clients across industries, from enabling more emotional connections with consumers, and reinventing employee experience and collaboration, to optimizing engineering, manufacturing and operations using digital twins,” stated Pascal Brier, Chief Innovation Officer at Capgemini. “Shaping sector-specific use cases and developing them at scale will require expert technical and operational capabilities. We are thrilled to partner with Unity, one of the major engines of the metaverse, to enable our clients to realize its real business value.”
“Unity’s real-time 3D solutions will bring many new companies into the next generation of the internet, or metaverse, helping them achieve greater engagement with their customers,” said Marc Whitten, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Unity Create Solutions.
Opportunities for Service Providers
For service providers like Capgemini, there’s a big opportunity to help clients navigate the metaverse and get ready for this new way of doing business. Some of the ways they can help include:
- Helping companies create avatars and 3D representations of their products and services
- Training employees on how to use the metaverse and its various features
- Creating custom applications and solutions that help businesses take advantage of the metaverse
- Providing support and maintenance for companies using the metaverse
- Helping customers navigate the many platforms and options for creating metaverse experiences
When exploring the business value of the metaverse, businesses should be mindful that the metaverse is still in its early stages of development, so there is a lot of potential for change and uncertainty. There is a learning curve associated with the metaverse, so businesses will need to dedicate time and resources to learn how to use it effectively.
Despite the uncertainties, the potential benefits of the metaverse for small businesses are significant. In addition to providing a new way to interact with customers and employees, the metaverse can also be used to create immersive experiences that can promote your brand and drive sales, so time spent understanding the metaverse and developing applications may turn out to be a great investment.
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