The new wave of the internet is here — or at least it’s in the making.
Discussing the Metaverse with someone out of the technology loop can be painful, and the fault isn’t on them. It’s like describing a color they’ve never seen before or a concept they’ve never experienced. It’s like creating a guide to the internet before Bill Gates made the personal computer. Is it a game? A chat room? A concept?
Alternatively, describing the Metaverse to someone who’s already been living in the virtual world of the internet is a totally different story. For that person first in line for the newest VR headset or an entrepreneur caught in the heat of cryptocurrency investing, they’re not just excited.
They’re ready, but is their business ready?
Here’s all you need to know about the latest Metaverse developments, plus five tips on how you can modernize your business so it’s Metaverse ready.
What is the Metaverse, exactly?
The Metaverse is a 3D virtual world where users can customize avatars, trade collectibles, shop, socialize, and play games. It can also be a virtual world that lets users buy and sell digital land, explore travel destinations, create non-fungible tokens, watch live concerts, and even attend employee onboarding training.
The virtual world can include a variety of landscapes and destinations including neighborhoods, parks, shopping malls, dance clubs, your work’s conference room — you get the idea.
It is intended to be a virtual mirror of real life, combining a host of existing technologies in its creation.
Right now, there are multiple metaverses. They are on different platforms with different ways to access. Common points of access include a pricey variety of AR and VR headsets and goggles, websites, software programs, gaming platforms, and cryptocurrency platforms.
Joining a 3D work meeting through Microsoft Mesh? You’re in the Metaverse. Logging into Decentraland to play poker on your avatar? You’re in the Metaverse.
“Metaverse” is an umbrella concept, and it can be used in most ways that refer to a platform that allows you to interact with 3D cyberspace.
The virtual worlds available right now aren’t all created equally. More importantly, most of what futurists envision for the Metaverse hasn’t fully been realized yet. We are still a decade or more away from the full technological development.
History of the Metaverse
The Metaverse as a concept isn’t new. First coined in Neal Stephenson’s 92’ science fiction novel Snow Crash, it described a virtual universe controlled by avatars as a predecessor to the internet. It wasn’t without problems just like the internet today. In fact, it became a parallel to the dystopian world it developed from. Coincidental?
Following that, the modern-day Metaverse began by operating on a much smaller scale via different gaming platforms. To give one example, let’s take a look at a gaming company still trending today.
Activision Blizzard launched the MMORPG, World of Warcraft, in 2004. It entailed a fully immersive, fantasy world with an in-game economy affected by real-time buying and selling. By 2010, World of Warcraft broke record-breaking numbers becoming the most popular MMORPG of its time with over 12 million global subscribers. Video games like Minecraft, Roblox, Second Life, and Fortnite offer similar simulation experiences.
Just this year, Microsoft bought Activision Blizzard in a whopping $68.7 billion deal. Satya Nadella, the tech giant’s CEO, said that gaming platforms would be the building blocks to the Metaverse.
Check out what Nadella has to say about the future of the Metaverse.
Innovation and Business
Moreover, Nadella was also quick to mention the Metaverse in his comments on the acquisition. He also commented on how it will transform remote work life for both companies and employees.
Introducing Mesh for Microsoft Teams, the software company has already launched its version of what the metaverse looks like in the workplace.
“The metaverse is here, and it’s not only transforming how we see the world but how we participate in it – from the factory floor to the meeting room.”
Mesh is a virtual work platform that employees can access from their phones, tablets, laptops, PCs, or AR/VR headsets. It allows people to share experiences and collaborate within a 3D immersive setting, no matter where they are in the world.
The AI and biometric technology allow you to feel the physical presence of your coworker. The fluidity of movement is supposed to let the guise of virtuality fall away. Although, how immersive that experience is without the $6,000 headset is relative.
Education and Entertainment
Similarly, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced the rebranding of his social media parent company Facebook Inc. to Meta Platforms Inc. This solidified the company’s vision of moving from a social media company to a metaverse company.
The over hour-long keynote video that launched at the Connect 2021 conference envisioned a virtual world that goes beyond playing video games and dressing avatars. Featuring fancy holograms that enable a fully immersive, first-person experience, this vision spans a variety of industries.
In the first scene, a girl transports her holographic self to a live concert across the country that her friend is attending. They’re able to make eye contact, physically reach out to one another, and attend an after-party together — all from their living room couch.
In another scene, a girl prepares for writing an Astrophysics paper by entering the Metaverse with VR glasses. The grandeur of our solar system is presented before her eyes as she seamlessly waves through different planets and constellations, surrounded by 3D ice particles so real she has to reach out.
Zuckerberg’s keynote video can seem more like a CGI-fueled fantasy, but it’s worth giving it a watch to see what the future might hold.
Cryptocurrency, E-commerce, and Embassy
The Metaverse has an entirely digital economy, and users must use cryptocurrency to make purchases. There has been increasing Metaverse hype in the last few months as well.
Accordingly, cryptocurrencies connected to virtual worlds have gained massive attention. Keep in mind, “users” do not necessarily mean individual people. Companies and even countries are also showing interest in staking a claim in the Metaverse.
In particular, one of the most popular metaverses right now is Decentraland. This is a virtual reality platform on the Ethereum blockchain supported by its’ cryptocurrency, MANA. Out of Decentraland’s 90,000 plots of land, one sold for an incredible $2.43 million in MANA cryptocurrency.
The purchasing company, Metaverse Group, made a statement claiming the land will be used to host digital fashion shows. The shows will feature work from high-level designers in the fashion industry like Gucci and Dior, while also further supporting e-commerce.
In other news, the Caribbean nation of Barbados signed an agreement with Decentraland to open the first diplomatic embassy in the Metaverse this year. Following the move to ditch the U.K. monarchy, Barbados ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, H.E. Gabriel Abed, claimed this was just the beginning. He is on a diplomatic mission to purchase lands and build structures on a variety of Metaverse platforms.
“The embassy is a small thing. The big thing is what governments can do together when land is no longer physical land and limitations are no longer part of the equation.”
Modernize Your Business for the Metaverse
Whether you’ve been waiting for the Metaverse or have been rolling your eyes at the hype, one thing is clear. This trending hot topic in the tech world has become more than just a buzzword. With new technology being developed every day and big-name companies investing cash, it’s not a matter of if the Metaverse gets here but when it gets here.
Even though we’re probably a decade away from experiencing the Metaverse in its full glory, business owners should keep up with the times as technology progresses.
Here are five tips to modernize your business for the Metaverse:
1. Optimize the mobile experience for the consumer
If your business or website is not easily accessible from a mobile phone, you’re most likely turning consumers away without realizing it.
Statistics show that more than 50% of people will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. As the seconds lessen, so does that percentage of people.
Paying attention to these metrics and using best practices for web design will increase your returns while also making your business look more professional.
Another way to optimize the mobile experience is to consider making a mobile iOS or Android application for your business.
The primary reason is that people can’t put their phones down and are always looking for a virtual way to engage. It can be useful to determine whether your business can capitalize on this. Your application does not have to be complex. It can offer a simple rewards program, contact information, or an FAQ chatbot that sets up appointments.
Preparing for the Metaverse means maxing out your 2D applications so that people can seamlessly switch to 3D when it’s developed.
2. Create an aesthetically pleasing website that keeps people engaged
Looks matter. In the Metaverse, they’ll matter even more.
Make sure your business has an aesthetically pleasing, modern-looking website.
Consider hiring a web developer to professionally design your website or to give suggestions on industry design practices. Keep subcategories easy to find for the consumer and always give them an opportunity to reach out.
Build a blog section on your website that gets updated regularly. Adding quality, written content to your website will increase credibility in your field and keep people engaged.
In the Metaverse, people will be able to physically walk into your virtual business like they visit your website. The question is: how long will they stay there? Giving them great value in content, information, or customer service will increase that time.
3. Get the latest software and technology for your business
Whether it’s a new POS system in your storefronts or the latest cloud storage software in your home office, staying updated with technology and software is a must. Look into the details of how your business operates from the front to back end, and choose the most important areas for improvement.
Determine whether you can automate processes, increase communication and workflow, go paperless, or update physical equipment on the work floor.
The companies that make business-related software will most likely be some of the first programs integrated into Metaverse work life. Get familiar with them while you can.
Here are some examples if you don’t know where to start:
- Streamline accounting with the newest Quickbooks
- Collaborate with your team on Slack
- Manage workflow and task tracking with Trello
4. Create a social media presence
If you’re behind on the social media train, now might be the time to jump on. Marketing is still built on customer relationships, so it’s important to be more than just a brand name. Refocus on what your brand message is and the personality behind your logo.
Create a strong social media presence that allows you to spread brand awareness and meet your consumer where they are. The Metaverse will be interweaved with social media, advertisement, and social commerce.
Prioritize conversational relationships, not transactional ones.
5. Keep up with industry trends
Lastly, as the landscape of the internet continues to be reimagined the most important thing you can do is sit back and watch it unfold.
Keep up with the latest developments in the tech industry and your business niche. Pay attention to trending topics and see how your audience feels about transitioning into a digital world. Spend time to learn about Metaverse platforms, VR and AR devices, blockchains, cryptocurrency, new business software, and social commerce.
As the Metaverse continues to develop, the first companies and people to jump in will be the guinea pigs.
With this in mind, instead of jumping into the unknown — let’s plan for success.
Modernize, watch, and learn first.