People are increasingly interested in exploring what’s available beyond this reality. The term and concept “metaverse” currently has a lot of hype surrounding it, as tech giants invest billions of dollars into infrastructure for what they see as the next big thing.
Despite the buzz, mystery shrouds the metaverse, including what it truly is and what it could possibly evolve into. Many businesses wonder how the metaverse could fit into their IT strategy, and when that can or should start happening.
Whether you’re skeptical of its viability or utility, the metaverse is already here, and its presence will only grow as tech companies continue to throw money into it. Knowing what it is now and how it can influence or enhance your business can offer you a leg up on your competition.
The metaverse is a VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) version of the internet. There is no singular metaverse, rather iterations of a metaverse available through various products offered by multiple companies.
The term is a portmanteau of “meta” and “universe,” implying the metaverse transcends beyond the universe. Science fiction author Neal Stephenson coined the term in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, which depicts a dystopia where users participate in a virtual reality that runs parallel to their physical reality.
The real-world metaverse has barely begun to achieve the capabilities of Stephenson’s fictional version. However, tech companies believe in its promise as either the next ubiquitous technology in the tradition of the smartphone or as a disruptor like Web3. Exploring the frontier of the metaverse now gives you insider access to its beginning iterations. Adopting it now in your personal life or as part of your IT strategy could set you up for success as it continues to become enmeshed in our physical reality.
The metaverse is less mystical and overarching than it sounds. Maybe you’ve dabbled in games like Second Life or Roblox, or you’ve used an Oculus headset. These are all manifestations of the metaverse.
While the metaverse was first developed through gaming, tech companies have begun to consider how this technology could enhance the workplace. While the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted physical offices for two years, many employers began rethinking their systems. As a result, digital work has become the norm for many.
Some businesses have already incorporated a version of the metaverse into their IT strategy by using aspects of mixed reality, a blending of virtual reality, augmented reality, and physical spaces. Both Microsoft and Facebook offer products to facilitate mixed reality remote work.
Microsoft Mesh and Facebook Horizon Workrooms have enabled users in different physical locations to unite virtually for collaboration. Avatars allow team members to simulate being in the same location. Both products are currently limited in scope and availability, but with heavy investments ensuring their continued development.
Many companies have also adopted mixed reality training. Chipotle, Walmart, and Fidelity have all used the VR platform Strivr to train new hires in their processes. Reading a manual or watching videos is incredibly boring, and hands-on site training can be expensive, disrupt regular operations, and pose safety issues.
Virtual training allows new employees to learn their job in a low-stakes environment while providing immersive lessons they are more likely to remember. If your company has the capability, this is a great way to adopt aspects of the metaverse into your IT strategy.
There’s a lot of hope for the future of the metaverse, including that it will eventually become integral to the fabric of our day-to-day lives. The question remains—what will the metaverse offer beyond virtual versions of our current internet usage?
Our crystal balls remain cloudy on specifics, but considering the general trajectory of the Internet’s development and the money trail, we can see how some aspects will play out.
Improvements in infrastructure will make the metaverse more compelling. The more people buy in and begin using it, the more normalized the metaverse will become, which will incentivize companies to intensify their efforts to further develop it.
Graphics will improve, making the metaverse more visually interesting. VR and AR equipment will become cheaper, providing more accessibility to everyday people. The Internet will get faster and more widespread, making it easier to join in.
Since NFTs have made true digital ownership possible, people may want to join the metaverse to display or visit their art, or allow others to do so.
Some workplaces have already adopted metaverse meetings, but in the future, they could be the norm. As Zoom meetings have climbed in popularity, meetings in the metaverse could eventually outpace in-person or video calls. They’re more immersive, which means they could be more engaging.
Companies may start opening virtual offices in the metaverse to provide remote workers a singular virtual location to visit. These virtual spaces offer a gathering place for disparate employees that may never meet face-to-face. Communicating through avatars offers a more engaging and nuanced experience than sending emails or Slack messages.
Metaverse classrooms may also become the norm, as interactive learning environments can provide experiences unavailable in Zoom classrooms. Imagine dissecting a frog in a Biology lab in a VR setting, visiting the Egyptian pyramids in your Geography class, or watching a performance of Macbeth in a virtual Globe Theatre. The metaverse could provide unique opportunities for memorable lessons.
The metaverse offers more points of data collection for tech companies, as well as access points to sensitive data for bad actors. Anyone participating in the metaverse should practice the highest standards of cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity and privacy measures will need to develop in tandem with the metaverse, as more personal information and data will be available for sale to third-party companies. Look for more privacy laws to pass through the legislature to regulate the reach of big tech.
The metaverse could change the way things are done more dramatically than the Internet changed the workplace.
The future of the metaverse offers forward thinkers creative ways to reimagine their workflows and processes. Work productivity will always be a concern, and companies will take measures to enhance it, especially if they want to monitor their employees' progress.
The trajectory of the metaverse will continue to evolve throughout its journey, and the more people use it, the more unique and diverse it will become. As a new digital space to explore, it offers fun and utility as it continues to change the work landscape.
The metaverse could eventually become as vital to the workplace as sending emails, so make sure your business keeps up with the changes by aligning your IT strategy to a progressive vision.
At Vudu, we are technology wizards who want to bring IT magic to your business and achieve supernatural results. Want to bring your workplace to the metaverse? Tell us more about your goals.