In the last thirty years, information and communication technologies have developed at an amazingly rapid pace. We started with sending text and making voice calls; now, we express through videos, meet through virtual calls and conferences, play games on consoles and screens, shop online, try clothes and glasses online, take a virtual walkthrough of museums, heritage sites and buildings.
Metaverse is the next big thing which the tech giants around the world are hugely investing in. As a result, every human being will create multiple digital avatars or identities which will interact with other such profiles, human beings and machines. So, we will have billions of digital avatars fulfilling our needs of meeting people, engaging with them. Our needs of shopping, entertainment, education, healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, construction and many such activities will undergo a huge change.
What it is likely to be?
We have watched sci-fi movies, read fiction and heard mythological stories. Our reality in the future could be similar to the situations imagined in these stories.
During the pandemic time, travel came down by 90%. However, the lives of the travellers were not impacted by 90%. Their objectives and efficiencies were not adversely impacted by 90%. This shows, we spend a lot of our time and energy in activities just to socialise and physically be with others. Metaverse promises to bring us a new world of experience where we can feel the presence of the others in their respective 3D spaces rather than through a grid on the surface of a phone screen.
For companies, it is going to be a new world. Today they are still figuring out how to implement a hybrid work environment; some of them have gone back to their old norms and practices. Given this backdrop, it is not easy for companies to imagine the changes which are likely to take place when metaverse becomes a reality. Yet this is coming; we have to accept this reality, take it in our strides and prepare for the new world.
What preparations are needed?
Every business survives based on its interactions with the stakeholders. Tomorrow’s business environment is going to have stakeholders who are sometimes going to interact with them as real people and sometimes as their digital avatars.
Firstly, businesses have to transform their interaction systems which are secure and intelligent enough to recognise who they are engaging with. They need to understand the profile of the physical or digital persona in terms of the past interactions, the tenor and tone of interactions, transactions if any and the analytics of those transactions. Further, their systems have to be intelligent enough to project what the future interactions are likely to be and hence, run appropriate programmes to engage the stakeholder.
This holds good for customers, suppliers, employees, government authorities, competitors and society at large.
What’s going to change in the real world?
We can see the need for a huge transformation in the technology environment and all the business processes in an organisation.
Companies need to review the relevance of their products or services in the metaverse. Like the companies making cameras and selling them went out of business due to the mobile phones, some are likely to face risks of extinction. Hence, they need to quickly plan the next line of business or introduce new products and services.
Manufacturing and delivery of services are going to undergo major changes in the metaverse because of the extensive use of AI (artificial intelligence), robotics and mixed reality. Large areas of a factory, warehouse, store and office are likely to remain in the format of dark themes because the handling of materials and products is going to be automated. Ordering processes will undergo huge changes where customers could directly place orders on platforms that seamlessly flow into the manufacturing and supply chain systems.
Further, the sales and marketing function has to engage with customers directly and customise offers for them based on the understanding of their consumption patterns and their context at that time. They have to be intelligent enough to project the needs of customers and bring those proactively to them.
On the whole, it is going to be a play of information and insights among multiple entities, humans included!