What is it that first comes to your mind when you think of the Metaverse?
Is it that there is a bunch of undiscovered business and technology opportunities, or is it that it is still a weird universe full of senseless capabilities?
No matter your current perspective, let’s dive in together to learn more.
According to Accenture, “Metaverse will transform how businesses interact with customers, how work is done, what products and services companies offer, how they make and distribute them, and fundamentally how they operate their organizations.” fascinating, isn´t it?
Before jumping into the Metaverse itself, let’s understand a little bit more about how the web has been evolving from a static and centralized approach to a decentralized platform where users own their data and other digital assets and can exchange them without the need for third-party verification.
In Web 1.0 (1990 – 2005) we were delighted with the “democratization” of information and we suddenly had the world in the palm of our hand. With websites like Wikipedia, GeoCities or Myspace, we were able to get to know a lot about other people and different cultures, and we started to discover that there was a lot more to it than what we thought we knew. Now, it is possible to have access to the news in almost real time but the real gamechanger was the fact that we exchanged libraries, newspapers and limited data sources for a soon-to-be infinite fountain of heterogenous knowledge and resources.
Do you remember the first time you uploaded a photo album to Facebook? It was incredible how easy it was to share feelings, activities, events and even letting someone know that you were open for a relationship. Then Web 2.0 (2006-Today) surprised us with a lot of features and capabilities that basically made us part of the internet itself. Now we were not just information “static consumers“ but we also had the power in our hands (literally).
Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and a lot of other platforms allowed us to create accounts, set preferences, and pick what type of users and content we wanted to interact with. One important thing that we need to keep in mind is that in order for these platforms to be profitable, we had to agree to their terms and conditions, granting access to a lot of information that was used in their business models. These web companies hosted our data, making the web highly centralized.
Information such as names, addresses, preferences, habits, search logs and a lot of other items were shared with third party companies (such as online retailers) so that they could match our internet avatars with their product niches. We could spend all day talking about sales funnels and how they work, but we’ll leave that one for another time.
Let’s consider Web 3.0 (Imminent) and its promise of decentralization. With technologies like blockchain and smart contracts, users will gain control over their information because there won’t be (at least theoretically at this stage) any need for some third party to verify the information or ownership of digital assets. The end of an era is upon us. No longer will a third party or an intermediary be needed in order to provide a service such as a banking loan or a house registration. With information spread all across the blockchain nodes, services such as cloud or on-premises storage might in some contexts be replaced by the features and capabilities of emerging protocols such as the IPFS (Interplanetary File System).
It is because of web 3.0 that users cannot only read, edit, or share but also own digital assets. Bitcoin and crypto currencies are a great example of how a user can have control over his/her assets with no one in the middle. This is indeed uncharted territory for a lot of services and industries such as banking, insurance and real state. A quick look into the DeFi protocols will blow your mind.
Now that we know what’s under the hood for Web 3.0, let’s jump into the Metaverse!
According to Gartner, “Metaverse is a persistent and immersive digital environment of independent, yet interconnected networks that will use yet-to-be determined protocols for communications. It enables persistent, decentralized, collaborative, interoperable digital content that intersects with the physical world’s real-time, spatially oriented and indexed content.”
If we want to understand or try to define the Metaverse, at this point it is necessary to consider the anthropological background behind this concept. Yuval Noah states in his book “Sapiens: A brief history of humankind” that “One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations.”
This can be interpreted as the human need across ages to find new pleasures. Eventually some of those pleasures will become commodities via democratization and inevitably those commodities will unlock new business models.
But what does it mean in the technology context?
It is also very important to define what the Metaverse is not. Even though it is a relevant part of it, the Metaverse is not limited to virtual reality second worlds and is not something that can only be experienced via a VR headset. Let’s think of the Metaverse as the next generation place for human interaction at every level. Let’s also remember the huge amount of technology initiatives that were triggered every time that there was a new communication device available, or that there was an IT revolution (I.E. Going from Web 1.0 to 2.0).
Going from pagers to IRC channels to interactive IM clients such as Hotmail messenger and having the capability of real time video calls to almost every spot in the planet gives us a hint of what we could see in the future. Apart from the interaction capabilities that will be unlocked, we should not lose focus on the gamechanger: Decentralization.
Users will be able to create their own ecosystems. Crazy ideas such as having your own country (probably DAO-based) with your own economic system (probably crypto-based) and your own legal system (probably based on smart contracts and oracles) can now be real with Web 3.0 capabilities.
Finally, we want to share some interesting takeaways for technology decision makers:
- According to Gartner, by 2026, 30% of the organizations in the world would have products and services in the Metaverse, up from negligible now.
- Significant development and usage of the Metaverse should occur by 2023 or 2024. This will require AR cloud, spatial anchoring, sensor fusion, spatial orientation and indexing, multimodal UI, advanced virtual assistants, such as display independence, interoperability, data integration, 5G, distributed ledger, IoT, DNNs and AI application.
- According to Accenture, 98% of executives believe continuous advances in technology are becoming more reliable than economic, political, or social trends in informing their organization’s long-term strategy.
- 95% of global executives believe that future digital platforms need to offer unified experiences, enabling interoperability of customers’ data across different platforms and spaces.
The Metaverse is here to stay. It is a great opportunity for IT organizations and early adopters if they are wise enough to determine where their participation will generate the most impact and boost users engagement. Professional services and product organizations (Both B2B and B2C) will need assistance to enable them to join the game. Time to market will be crucial.
Intellectual Capital Director