Cut through the hype: Practical guidance for business in the metaverse

  • Posted on June 20, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 6 minutes

There’s a lot of confusion, speculation and skepticism around metaverse and the future it promises. But we’re here to separate fantasy from reality with some practical ways you can start thinking about the metaverse’s impact on business and steps you can take to begin realizing value from early use cases. But first, what exactly is the metaverse? And why does it matter?

We think about it in a way that focuses on business value, even as the concept continues to take shape. This is how we define the metaverse right now: An evolution of the internet, but a revolution in the making for business. The metaverse spans physical places and digital spaces, enabling us to collaborate and exchange value through shared interactions and experiences. It represents a new approach for how businesses build and deliver products and services, completing the shift from web to mobile.

At Avanade, we believe that this next evolution of the internet represents a huge opportunity for business — and a great risk, if ignored. We’re helping organizations navigate the early unknowns by investing wisely to set themselves up to realize the potential of a fully integrated metaverse of the future. We’re working with clients for sustainable change that explore new extended reality applications, experiences, connects and reimagines data intersections, and prepares for new considerations emerging with the new metaverse business applications. We’ve identified three areas where you can start taking incremental, concrete steps now to build that foundation.

1. Create experiences of the future
It’s 2027. You’re in Boston and are meeting with your financial adviser in Hong Kong in an hour. Once the meeting starts, you both put on your augmented-reality glasses and join the session from your respective offices. You can see your financial information arrayed around you — your mortgage, bank accounts, insurance policies, stock portfolio, college savings for your newborn.

All these materials come to life — as shapes with mass and motion, not just numbers on a spreadsheet — and you can intuitively understand their relative sizes and how they interconnect. They update in real time, and you can see them shrink or grow as you rewind or fast forward by months, years or decades. You ask your adviser, “What happens if we try this strategy? Or that?” And you see the results play out around you, giving you more understanding and confidence than you ever felt from a static statement.

This might sound like a scene from a science fiction film, but it’s actually closer to a page out of your life in the not-too-distant future. How will this kind of virtual visualization and virtual collaboration be possible? All this – and more – will be made real by the metaverse.

The continuum of experiences and extended reality technologies that we associate with the metaverse is evolving quickly — including visiting digital worlds, buying goods and services and interacting with people in new ways, using everything from head-mounted displays and augmented-reality devices to laptops and phones.

The work that we’ve done with a wealth management firm centers around creating these kinds of collaborative augmented reality experiences. To help the organization build client loyalty and engagement and demonstrate its commitment to innovation, we created an immersive interaction that imagines how a financial review might unfold 10 years in the future. A client and adviser use HoloLens 2 devices to view financial information together, based on the client’s digital profile. The adviser calls up a timeline and uses machine learning to predict potential outcomes before generating recommendations. Alternatively, in single-user mode, a virtual agent can guide the client through a similar process.

2. Make the most of your data
The metaverse’s effect on business will change the way we explore, understand and relate to data, supercharging data visualization and collaboration, and bringing new dimension and clarity to complex systems. It represents not just a shift from paper-based processes to digital processes, but a jump to experiential processes made possible by massive amounts of data that take physical shape in the virtual world. Organizations can use this “data in context” to enhance everyday work processes, integrating those processes with a cloud data platform that lets them do more, faster with data while minimizing friction.

Investing now in IoT, edge and digital twin technologies will provide a data foundation that supports agility and ongoing innovation. We’re doing just that at a steel producer, helping the manufacturer enable increased situational awareness of — and insights into — its manufacturing process through visual representation of operational data. We’ll work to create models of production lines at one of its plants to build a 3D representation of the steel-making process.

The solution will allow multiple people to work together remotely to solve issues within the plant. Users will be able to see status and operational data embedded and highlighted in the digital twin 3D visual app. The platform created in the pilot will enable near-real-time insights into operational status, with the ability to increase scale or expand capabilities in line with the company’s roadmap.

3. Account for new considerations and ethical implications
For ethics of the metaverse to engender and encourage trust — and for it to intersect with our physical and virtual lives in safe, inclusive ways — we need to carefully consider all the factors that go into building and maintaining it. Accessibility, inclusivity, privacy, security and emotional behaviors – all within an ethical framework of oversight and accountability – should be top of mind.

We’re already seeing stories in the news about companies struggling with these kinds of considerations. Take Roblox, the popular gaming platform, which just announced a partnership with Akili Interactive, the creator of the EndeavorRx video game that’s FDA approved to treat ADHD in children 8 to 12. Roblox users will be able to unlock badges, pets and avatar customizations and receive rewards for using medicine and hitting milestones.

While the investment Roblox is making in mental health is encouraging, the company has received criticism for encouraging young users to spend too much time in the platform. There’s also been pushback from advocacy groups accusing Roblox of deceiving players by failing to clearly distinguish between marketers’ promotional “advergames” and regular gameplay. With more businesses looking to invest in advertising and building experiences in the Roblox metaverse, it will be critical for the gaming company to put the right policies in place to address these issues in an ethical and transparent way.

Helping you become metaverse ready
As the definition and boundaries of the metaverse continue to take shape, it’s essential that you have a trusted pair of hands to help you navigate this brave new virtual world. Working with organizations like Accenture and Microsoft, we’ll help you develop the business case for achieving your strategic goals in the metaverse by determining where you stand to benefit the most – evaluating use cases against potential gains in efficiencies, new insights and new experiences.

Leveraging our expertise in data and experiences and our strong alliance with Microsoft, we’re helping clients build proofs of concept and pilots that realize the opportunity of metaverse business applications — for businesses to be and do more, and to find value in all the new ways that we’ll relate to places, data and each other.

Learn how we can help you get started on your journey to the metaverse:
  • 1 hour – Let’s chat over lunch or set up a meeting in the metaverse.
  • 1 day – Let’s get together with a few of your colleagues and explore the potential of the metaverse for your organizational needs.
  • 1 week – Let’s build a metaverse roadmap and strategic plan together.

To learn more, visit this page, read our full perspective or contact us to start your journey into the metaverse.

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