The crucial distinction between the internet and the Metaverse, however, is that virtual reality is active. On the internet, you can watch a surgery being completed. In the Metaverse you can be the person completing it.
But unlike the internet - where you can fire up Google and explore any new concept, theme or question in seconds – the Metaverse is considerably messier. There isn’t one single gateway (like Google) which connects the spaces in the Metaverse.
Instead, what exists are multiple, distinct spaces, each offering a different experience – from virtual shopping to art and gaming. Some say it could take another decade for a centralized space to be created, as the technology that is needed to unite these worlds is still in its development phase.
The Metaverse is in building mode. Currently, there are a multitude of immersive experiences to choose from - from virtual and augmented reality to NFTs, Crypto, AI and beyond – but Web 3.0 is far from finished.
That being said, there are still opportunities to explore in the meanwhile for those that are willing to enter the Metaverse.
These range from:
Testing and Creating
In the Metaverse, you won’t be limited by physical proximity. This means you can cater to a wider range of consumers not just those local to you. This will benefit shop owners, who will be able to increase footfall by bringing in consumers across the globe.
Internally, there will also be benefits for businesses. In the Metaverse, you’ll be able to experience work calls in a completely new way, sharing rooms with your colleagues, sitting across from them, and even having the opportunity to embrace people as you would in real life. This level of intimacy will lessen the distance we often experience now on digital calling platforms, like Zoom.
Coffee chats and networking by the water cooler can finally be reborn in a new format.
Testing and creating
In some ways, the virtual world will be freer and less limited than the physical one. It’ll be cheaper and easier to test in the digital world, as you won’t need to spend on supply chains and materials. Additionally, you won’t come up against the same level of red tape or have to adhere to as many safety precautions as you would in the real world. Things that may have been too dangerous to try in the real world will be much more accessible in the virtual world.
There will be fewer barriers to innovation in the Metaverse. Failure in the real world is a cost most brands cannot afford. It'll be simpler to create in the virtual world, as product and brand development can be completed quicker without the need to hire new teams or divert existing resources away to a project that may or may not succeed.
Training virtual employees and new hires will be easier and more effective in the Metaverse. Currently, virtual new hires can join calls with their managers and teammates, but the idea of shadowing someone for a whole day – going to lunch with them, walking to meetings with them and physically collaborating - isn’t yet possible.
In the Metaverse, this can be a reality.
The Metaverse will also help to enhance specific skills, as interactive games and simulative learning can help employees to pick up new skills faster and more efficiently than they would have done if just reading about the topic.
Risks in the Metaverse
The Metaverse is a visionary concept right now, not a practical one. As the venture is still relatively early in its development, systems have not yet been put in place for safety, monitoring and data protection.
In fact, there are more questions than answers right now when it comes to this new universe, including:
Who is monitoring the Metaverse or is it in effect a ‘lawless society’?
What privacy protection policies will be put in place?
How will we achieve reach in such a new channel?
Do we trust Meta to fulfil this vision?
Monitoring in the Metaverse
The elephant in the room right now with regards to the Metaverse is the idea of ‘brand safety’. How can the rules of society be adhered to in such an artificial space?
We’ve already seen incidences of abuse and violence in the Metaverse. Until we feel safe within these spaces, there will be no chance for any brand to succeed in the Metaverse.
Privacy in the Metaverse
There are early signs that the Metaverse will be full of privacy challenges for brands. Data protection will be a big one, and there are already reports of Meta trying to bypass GDPR regulations. Infractions like these will eradicate trust in Meta and discourage some users from entering these spaces.
Reach in the Metaverse
Success within the Metaverse is dependent on people actually using the Metaverse. There will be no point advertising or occupying space within this virtual reality if none of your customers or potential customers choose to exist within these spaces.
Scale is everything. But is there currently enough reach in the Metaverse to justify making the investment?
Trust in the Metaverse
To determine whether the Metaverse is worth the risk, there needs to be trust in the key creators that are responsible for this vision.
Yet, time and time again, Meta has given us reasons not to trust. From data privacy to inefficient safety regulations, the list goes on.
The main difficulty of the Metaverse is that there’s no quick solution to achieving this vision. The Metaverse, as a concept, is simply too huge to manifest quickly. This means investors are in for a long journey ahead.
While there are definitely risks to consider, the potential of the Metaverse cannot be underestimated.
This new world represents opportunity and adventure – a chance to venture into the unknown and take on an active role in building out what could be the future of technology.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to enter the Metaverse can be determined by:
Your brand’s goals – Are you looking to innovate, test or improve efficiencies in an environment where making mistakes is part and parcel of development?
Assessing the risk factor – What risks does your brand face in entering the Metaverse and do you have plans in place to mitigate these?
Your willingness for adventure – The future of the Metaverse is unknown. Right now, it’s a sandbox for brands to use to explore and create. Are you willing to take on the challenge?
If you’ve weighed up the risks of the Metaverse against the opportunities it provides, and the latter has come out on top, then why not try your luck?
The Metaverse is ripe for the taking, and for the right brands, first-mover advantages will apply. Early creators will have the chance to shape this world into anything they want, conditioning it to their benefit for ultimate gain.
Before you dive in headfirst, if you're looking for guidance on how to harness your creativity, you can also download our guide here.