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  • April 11, 2022
  • By R "Ray" Wang, founder, chairman, and principal analyst, Constellation Research

Understanding the Metaverse Economy

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Much has been made about the metaverse, but few organizations have fully grasped the impact it will have on experiences and engagement inside the enterprise. More than just gaming worlds or hardware devices, the metaverse economy brings new opportunities for enterprises to bring their physical presence and 3-D digital presences together in one unified offering to their stakeholders—customers, employees, partners, and suppliers.

Constellation Research predicts that advances in the metaverse economy will provide a critical element of the “Great Refactoring” ahead and a $21.7 trillion market by 2030. The metaverse stack comprises five key components that provide the platform for sell-side creator economies and buy-side consumption models and digital networks. Constellation sees 22 use cases for CX (which we’ll go through in a future column).

Layer 1: Interfaces Grant Physical Access to the Digital World

Today’s access to digital worlds often requires immersive headsets, hardware devices, or haptic suits. Key technologies such as augmented, mixed, and virtual reality allow individuals to use digital representations of themselves across worlds via avatars, bots, and other digital surrogates.

In the near term, companies and enterprises should focus on understanding the potential and limitations of the metaverse experience. In the future, hardware will be optional as gestures and tracking replace devices.

Layer 2: Metaverses Deliver on Digital Experiences and Worlds

This network of three-dimensional virtual worlds can come from gaming universes, gaming software companies, movie studios, sports franchises, and brands. Metaverse platform companies and tooling technologies will give enterprises the ability to design, build, manage, and monetize digital assets that will be deployed across a multitude of worlds. Similar to the rush to the web, there will be land grabs in the metaverse as certain worlds attract certain types of enterprise, governmental, and consumer participants. Constellation expects both walled (closed) models and open models to coexist during the early days of the metaverse economy.

Layer 3: DAOs Provide the Governing Frameworks Among Stakeholders

Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) allow for decentralized governance via an automated system and a crowd-sourced process. As with a sort of venture capital fund, investors could send money and receive tokens for benefits such as voting rights and ownership stakes. DAOs typically keep track of participants, establish rules, assign responsibilities, and determine the value exchange of effort by means of a distributed ledger technology. Members can earn tokens or value via participation, time, talent, energy, or money. Constellation predicts that future DAOs will resemble digital analogs to existing organizational and governmental structures rather than today’s decentralized digital collectivist communes.

Enterprises will want to build their own DAOs as both organizing entities and fundraising vehicles, with the goal of attracting both the creator economies and participants.

Layer 4: Blockchain and Crypto Technologies Power Value Exchange and Tokenization Models

Blockchain and crypto technologies provide the mechanism for value exchange, identity, tracking, and digital ownership. Blockchains provide a decentralized ledger for all transactions among stakeholders in a classical peer-to-peer network. This technology provides the underlying capabilities to enable value exchange via cryptocurrencies and the creation of digital assets such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and coins.

Enterprises can expect that metaverse spaces will each have their own versions of value exchange. Value exchange among cryptocurrencies, fiat currencies, virtual-world coins, and even loyalty programs will emerge as the norm as physical and digital worlds collide.

Layer 5: Web 3.0 Forms the Foundational Technology and Technology Principles

The idea of Web 3.0 is to allow data portability among users and across services without today’s centralized walled gardens controlled by a handful of digital giants. Users should be able to bring information with them across app platforms, devices, and worlds, with decentralized computer networks validating users via blockchain technology. Web 3.0 should put the power of ownership back in the hands of a community instead of a large corporation.

With the metaverse, where we work, how we learn, who we engage with, what we buy, and who influences us will all be massively transformed. As physical and digital worlds converge, the metaverse economy provides a frame shift from the 2-D digital world to a 3-D digital world and impacts the future of CX and commerce.

In this time in which individuals, organizations, and governments reassess their priorities and technologies to advance what individuals can achieve, a great refactoring of our plans has arrived. The metaverse is an exponential technology that will be used to empower our ambitions. And as with any new exponential technology, the end for which it is used is entirely up to us. 

R “Ray” Wang is the author of the new book Everybody Wants to Rule the World: Surviving and Thriving in a World of Digital Giants (HarperCollins Leadership) and founder of Constellation Research.

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