Facebook – Meta as the company is now called – has hired 10,000 of the brightest and best and is investing billions. Your avatar will be able to meet your friend’s avatar in a virtual coffee shop.
At which point you think, ‘Hang on, why don’t I just make myself a coffee and call her on Zoom?’
That’s probably where most people are with the Metaverse. So we thought we’d try and answer three simple questions: what is the Metaverse? What can you do there? And what will it mean for businesses and consumers?
What is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is the next step from the web. It’s not a picture or a video: it’s an experience. You’re not looking at a picture of the villa you’re thinking of renting for your holiday. You’re not even looking at a video. You’re inside it. You’re able to walk round it, walk down the road to the taverna and the beach.
The Metaverse will be a network of inter-connected 3D worlds that will have what’s called ‘an individual sense of presence’ (your avatar) and ‘continuity of data’. That means if your avatar spends some of its virtual currency in the taverna, it’s going to have less to spend in the shop next door.
What will you be able to do in the Metaverse?
According to advocates of the Metaverse, almost anything. The Metaverse will allow you to create a complete digital life where you’ll be able to socialise, work, learn, go shopping and be entertained.
You will also be able to create wealth in the Metaverse. As well as selling services – training would be a good example of that – you’ll be able to build wealth by ‘owning and trading property’. So yes, we will one day read a story about a teenage millionaire who has never left his bedroom in real life – but who owns virtual property worth millions.
How will it impact businesses and consumers?
It doesn’t take much imagination to see that the Metaverse could have profound implications for business. The travel industry is one obvious example: as we have outlined above, the traditional brochure (online or in paper form) will become irrelevant. Disney has already announced that it will create its own Metaverse.
In a broader business sense, the Metaverse will give companies the chance to host ‘live’ events – which would clearly be more cost effective than real events – and extend the scope of training, masterclasses and panel discussions. The possibilities for recruitment and training are also obvious.
Does that mean financial advisers will one day be able to see clients virtually? Unquestionably. Businesses will have a virtual office, staffed by the avatars of real members of staff: clients avatars will be able to visit.
Facebook does warn though that a fully functioning Metaverse is still some way off – so for now, it’s business as usual for us. We welcome you at your next annual review meeting and look forward to having a real conversation with you.