2022 Marks the Advent of the Metaverse Continuum

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The metaverse will result in the creation of digitally enhanced worlds, realities, and new business models that will revolutionize companies in the coming decade, Accenture predicts in its “Technology Vision 2022” report.

The metaverse continuum, the firm says, includes the cloud, blockchain, edge technologies, and more, and will continue to develop as companies expand on their technologies, capabilities, and use cases.

To position themselves for this changing business environment, companies need to start making decisive technology investments if they haven’t already done so, the report says. “At a minimum, they need to prioritize the remaining gaps in their digital transformation, from delayed cloud migrations to sidelined data and analytics programs,” it states.

If a company has started its digital transformation, it needs to build on that digital foundation, according to Accenture. That means using artificial intelligence in more visible and collaborative ways. “Only with a mature and well-oiled digital engine will enterprises be prepared to participate in (or build) new environments and worlds.

“We stand at a unique precipice,” the report says. “There are new technologies to embrace, but competing in this next decade will require something more than tech and innovation skills. It will require a truly competitive vision—both for what these future worlds will look like and for what your enterprise will need to become to succeed in them.”

The report notes that companies have been building on digital capabilities for nearly 20 years, but in the future, companies will need to address an online world as well as augmented reality, virtual reality, and the physical world, the report says. “The internet is being reimagined, and enterprises need to be ready for what comes next.”

With the metaverse and Web 3.0 innovations transforming the fundamental underpinnings and operation of the virtual world, enterprises need to envision a persistent 3-D environment that presents a tremendous opportunity, according to Accenture. “The last time the internet went through a shift of this magnitude, Amazon, Netflix, and Google went from narrow businesses to internet titans. The table is set for the next dominant players in every industry. Early efforts show a new vision of the future of the internet, with the creation of immersive digital-only worlds as well as a deeper blurring between digital and physical.”

There are already companies using the metaverse to evolve their businesses. BMW is using Nvidia’s Omniverse platform to build digital twins of 31 factories. The models employ real-time data to re-create a 3-D environment with everything from the machines on the floor to the people working at stations. The German automaker uses this environment to train robots to navigate the factory, while designers experiment to improve the efficiency of individual tasks with new line layouts and training simulations.

Web 3.0 will change the way companies treat data, building trust by empowering consumers to securely authenticate their identities on their own, the report maintains.

Accenture offered several recommendations for firms to be successful during the advent of the metaverse continuum, including the following:

  • Explore the potential of new products and services and train executives on the technologies that will soon be foundational to their businesses.
  • Start identifying and building Web 3.0 and metaverse skills and capabilities. Enterprises will need 3-D artists, game designers, and platform and blockchain experts.
  • Form new partnerships.
  • Work toward “full stack” programmability.
  • Improve the foundational, connected layer. With 5G rollouts still in the works, businesses can experiment and pilot new use cases so they can hit the ground running when 5G is more broadly available. Additionally, 5G comes with security and privacy enhancements for which businesses can prepare.
  • Look at unexplored areas. Leading retailers are developing virtual dressing rooms using AR filters and 3-D avatars and enhancing physical dressing rooms with improved lighting and interactive screens.
  • Partner with startups and universities at the forefront of innovation.

But at the same time, an unrelated report from Forrester Research notes that U.S. companies are already buying into the metaverse hype. Even as 34 percent of U.S. online adults express excitement for what the metaverse will offer, 76 percent of U.S. B2C marketing executives plan to invest in metaverse-related activities this year.

Forrester believes that the metaverse will manifest itself over the next decade, in stages. For the metaverse to become a reality, it must support an immersive experience of interoperable and interlinked environments delivered via a variety of devices—from smartphones and virtual reality (VR) headsets to other form factors not yet conceived. The metaverse also requires regulatory standards, privacy codes of conduct, and inclusive and compelling user experience (UX) design, the firm says.

Forrester offers its own list of considerations for business and tech leaders who are evaluating their investments in the metaverse:

  • Chief marketing officers should learn how consumers want to engage with extended reality. Currently, Forrester finds that only 14 percent of U.S. online adults feel companies should deliver branded experiences in the metaverse.
  • Chief information and technology officers should develop a strategy to assess, manage, and prioritize key technologies for enabling the metaverse. According to Forrester, 58 percent of global business and tech professionals with metaverse and virtual world knowledge say their organizations will adopt metaverse or virtual world solutions over the next 12 months to support workplace collaboration.
  • Customer experience leaders should explore the metaverse’s potential for a new generation of customer experiences. 

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