The metaverse is here and with its fully immersive and augmented virtual experiences far superior to anything we have witnessed before, the boundaries between our physical and digital worlds may gradually collapse for good.
It is the most-debated topic in technology and manifests itself in different ways to different groups of people, from being a digital playground for interaction to being a platform that can change the way we do business and engage with stakeholders. Wipro’s interest in the metaverse is centered around creating enormous economic value for our clients by being early adopters of this disruptive technology and shaping its future.
We are helping enterprises look at the metaverse through two specific lenses — as a platform for creating experiences unlike any other, and as a new business opportunity and revenue stream that did not exist before. In fact, in a recent study we conducted with our top 520 clients across industries in the U.S. and Europe, more than half of executives said they believe that in 10 years’ time, the metaverse will be viewed as the next generation of the Internet.1 Further, 80 percent agreed that the metaverse will enhance business operations by making them more immersive, and 60 percent said it’s a game changer that will profoundly transform business.1
While the concept and related technology of the metaverse continues to evolve, we believe it’s critical for businesses of all sizes and industries to begin looking at the potential of the Metaverse and exploring its applications to their unique environments. We are helping early adopters and leaders get started in their journey while encouraging others to realize the potential and move quickly in this direction. One thing true across industries, is that the journey of adopting the Metaverse starts with a good use case that is core to the business. It involves design thinking to reimagine experiences and potential revenue models.
Let’s look at some industry sectors and horizontal use cases where the Metaverse is making an impact.
Entertainment and Consumer Industries:
As we all know the gaming and entertainment industry has been at the forefront of the metaverse revolution. Interactive movies and storytelling are emerging themes that are gaining traction. Virtual concerts and events with audiences of several thousand participants closely resemble real life concerts and events. Metaverse tourism and sports industries are also taking shape. Even casinos are looking to launch experiences in the metaverse.
Virtual stores another reality. A metaverse could be used to create virtual representations of physical stores, allowing customers to browse and shop in a fully immersive online environment, moving retailers to the edge of what is possible by allowing consumers to lead, design, interact, and engage the way they want with brands. The possibilities of personalization are endless and would be key in driving consumer adoption of the technology. Luxury brands like Gucci are experimenting with this concept, launching an interactive art- and fashion-inspired virtual world called the Gucci Garden where visitors can buy virtual clothing with their traditional currency.
The metaverse could be used to allow customers to virtually try on clothes, makeup and other products, helping them to make more informed purchasing decisions. Companies like Peloton are designing the new world of immersive fitness experiences by leveraging the metaverse to create a unique value to motivate consumers to buy and — more importantly — continue using their products. This could easily pave the way to newer revenue streams of subscription models and fitness-as-a-service. Imagine Peloton charging for exclusive experiences like cycling on the Great Wall of China, for example.
In the manufacturing industry, organizations will be able to set up twin supply chains to assess the operational execution of X model versus Y model. The cost of a mistake in manufacturing is significantly higher than any other industry; however, if you can analyze variables in two operational models via digital twinning, you're able to create dynamic new cost architectures, job training and learning opportunities for specific job functions in real time.
The metaverse can provide added benefits in healthcare delivery, patient engagement and remote health. It offers a range of options to make healthcare more efficient, accessible and effective. The metaverse can help improve the efficiencies of clinical trials and research; improve learning and development in medical schools; and improve the quality of testing in pharmaceutical manufacturing and supply chains.
Digital twin models can be leveraged to train doctors and nurses on post-care and emergency services by simulating physical environments where they can delve into immersive learning sessions with specialists. Metaverse adoption in clinical trial journeys will also enhance the patient and caregiver experience. Augmented reality and virtual reality have been used for various physiotherapies and mental-health treatments like loneliness.
Cross-Industry Use Cases
Learning and Development:
Enterprises adopted VR for learning functions several years back, targeting on-the-job skills training, dangerous environment safety simulations and expensive machinery maintenance. The metaverse can take it to the next level by bringing in leadership and soft skills development through the infusion of immersive learning for inculcating behavioral skills where traditional in-person learning sessions were not viable.
Immersive learning can be valuable for enabling diversity and inclusion in training, interviewing, etc., where potential employees need to operate in virtual/hybrid work environments. Immersive 3D content and virtual simulation of behavioral traits with role-playing avatars will have a profound learning impact, especially for the digital-native Gen Z crowd.
Collaboration and Innovation
Imagine product design, testing and manufacturing in an immersive and digital environment to help companies iron out production issues in the physical realm. The bottom-line efficiencies that result will have far-reaching impacts on costs.
Sustainability is a tricky conversation when spoken with respect to the metaverse today. On the one hand, the reduction in carbon emissions due to moving from physical to virtual products and environments stands to be immense. The simple action of performing a single Ethereum transaction consumes 60% more energy than 100,000 credit-card transactions (Bitcoin consumes 14 times more energy). However, these companies realize that they need to be more sustainable. Ethereum has changed its fundamental verification process recently, reducing emissions by 99.992%.
Overcoming Adoption Challenges
While the metaverse brings about many innovations for good, several challenges need to be addressed to enable mainstream adoption and acceptance. Some potential pitfalls of the metaverse include:
Reputation, Identity and Asset Ownership: Proof of trust and legitimacy requires new verification methods for decentralised identity management. Instituting security best practices for open identity management is a key success factor to ensure strong metaverse governance protocols are in place. Within the creator economy — where users participate as “value exchanger” or “value creator” — the recommended approach is to verify that the creation of digital assets brought into the metaverse are from a trusted source.
Personal Data and Security: The metaverse creates a virtual environment where users’ actions and interactions can be monitored and tracked. This raises concerns about privacy and the potential for personal data to be accessed or misused. Transforming from centralised data management to decentralised identities requires a sound strategy for protecting personal data and assets.
Accessibility and Equity issues: There may be equity issues related to access to the metaverse, as not all individuals may have the necessary technology or financial resources to participate in virtual environments.
Law and Jurisdiction: The metaverse is a relatively new development, and there may be legal and regulatory issues that need to be addressed as it becomes more widespread (i.e. GDPR), with increased attention to open identity management recommendations.
Strategies for Adoption
Through our experiences and working with clients, we at Wipro have developed a model for successful adoption of the metaverse journey which includes:
1. Identify suitable use cases for metaverse journey with underlying business drivers and success criteria.
2. Set up your experience lab to quickly innovate and scale across enterprise and discover ways to monetize it. Create a library of assets, solutions and platforms to help get to where you need to go faster.
3. Incorporate strategic design, which has the fundamental capacity to change the way people live, work and play in the metaverse. Design capability should be at the intersection of strategy, design, marketing and technology.
4. Leverage ecosystem for innovation by creating cross-functional teams to help innovate from beginning to end — including business consulting, technology and security, design and data. Pair this action with a deep-partner ecosystem to enable innovation at scale.
The transition to the metaverse will also require a workforce skilled on these technologies and newer programming paradigms, such as designing and building virtual and augmented experiences, spatial computing, and decentralized transactions. We are also building out our very own metaverse for employees – new joinees to have a differentiated experience as well as to be a Learning and development platform to upskill.