The Metaverse Opportunity

Why Now?

The concept of a metaverse is not a new one. In many ways this is a linear progression. Online, multi-player, role-playing worlds like The Sims or Second Life have been around for nearly 20 years, with players spending an average of 20 hours per week in these worlds.9 Modern equivalents like Minecraft, World of Warcraft and Fortnite have hundreds of millions of users, and huge supporting economies. We are now at an inflection point, where it seems that not a day goes by without a company or celebrity announcing that they are building a presence in a virtual universe. While the buzz can partially be attributed to attentiongrabbing headlines, there is a convergence of emerging trends. A number of new technologies have come together to enable this vision of the metaverse. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets have become cheaper and more powerful, improving the user experience. Blockchain has enabled digital currencies and NFTs. The new methods to transact and own digital goods are allowing creators to monetize their activities through tokens. In addition to monetization, and as a means to exchange value, token-holders can also participate in the platform’s governance (e.g. vote on decisions). This democratic ownership economy coupled with the possibility of interoperability, could unlock immense economic opportunities, whereby digital goods and services are no longer captive to a singular gaming platform or brand. From a social perspective, the development of more immersive virtual experiences is helping people to build communities based on shared values, and to express themselves in more authentic ways. Meanwhile, COVID-19 accelerated the digitization of our lives and normalized more persistent and multi-purpose online engagement and communication. It is this combination of technological, social and economic drivers that is resulting in the explosive interest in the metaverse.

Metaverse Scenarios

It is not just business-to-consumer environments that will benefit. The metaverse will provide a massive opportunity for business-to-business enterprises. Take a manufacturer that is buying new parts for its equipment. Presently, the process involves receiving a physical brochure or an emailed PDF with static 2D pictures. In the metaverse, users could test the products in a virtual environment at lower cost. Imagine being able to build a complex digital twin of a factory or industrial space at massive scale, and test how robotics systems will interact with the physical environment. One of the great possibilities of the metaverse is that it will massively expand access to the marketplace for consumers from emerging and frontier economies. The internet has already unlocked access to goods and services that were previously out of reach. Now, workers in low-income countries, for example, may be able to get jobs in western companies without having to emigrate. Educational opportunities will also expand, with VR worlds being a low-cost and effective way to access training. With these developments there will also have to be clear governance. From a corporate perspective, there are opportunities to massively scale. Instead of having stores in every city, a major retailer might build a global hub in the metaverse that is able to serve millions of customers. Beyond retailers, the metaverse will turbocharge the shift in gaming, sports betting and gambling from cash to crypto. Companies such as Sightline Payments, that have built infrastructure to support cashless digital gaming for live sports and casinos, are ideally placed to capitalize on the opportunity as these industries rapidly transition to offering experiences to gamers in the metaverse.

Virtual Events

Virtual events have been increasingly popular in the previous two years. The metaverse provides critical support for enhancing integrated virtual event solutions.

Engaging and Immersing Learning Experiences

Medical education, higher education, military applications, and various other fields could benefit from more immersive learning experiences provided by the metaverse.

Engaging and Immersing Shopping Experiences

The retail sector is the next major arena for experimenting with metaverse business opportunities. Metaverse-based immersive shopping experiences can benefit businesses in the retail sector. Furthermore, the metaverse can be an excellent venue for launching new and sophisticated products.

Social Media

Metaverse technology could provide the perfect foundation for new immersive social media platforms.

Employee Engagement

The metaverse could be used by organizations to enable virtual augmented workspaces.

NFTs Sales Services

It is the most widely known business model in the Metaverse. In the most common format, buyers purchased NFTs, and famous artists sold their works at auctions.

Disrupt the gaming world

Gaming is probably the closest thing to Metaverse. The VR gaming experience provides a glimpse of what Metaverse would look like from our eyes.

Media and User Experience

There is a great probability that Metaverse will change the way we listen to music or watch a video. With the VR, you could get inside a 360-degree video and experience the thrill of being immersed in an exciting environment.

Digital Asset and Ownership

Metaverse is supposed to integrate the concept of digital asset commerce and ownership. Companies will be able to build, buy, sell, and lease items like real estate, a car or a song.

Remote Working

This is probably one of the major use cases of Metaverse. Microsoft Teams is currently working on its own version of Metaverse to make a digital workplace that fills all the gap of current remote working idea. Metaverse will allow interactive in-person meetings with immersive viewing. The use of body language and facial expression will make virtual meetings effective and expressive.

Online Education

Online education is growing more popular, with a particular emphasis on business training. Augmented Reality technology in the metaverse can be useful to boost real-life education, rather than simply reading books or taking notes in traditional learning contexts, is gaining significant popularity in the education community.

What’s your ‘metaverse strategy’?

In the metaverse, some of the existing services and business models we are familiar with will continue to exist, but the metaverse opens a whole new realm of ways to engage which we expect will lead to uniquely new services and business models. Not everything in the metaverse will be relevant for every business. However, there is little downside to taking the opportunity to explore.

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Maor David-Pur

Maor David-Pur

Head of Customer Success, Microsoft