You may have heard of this word being used a lot these days: Metaverse. But what is it exactly? Is it just modern-day virtual reality? In recent news, Meta started a digital clothing store that sells digital designer clothing by Balenciaga, Prada and Thom Browne. Also, big tech companies such as Microsoft, Epic Games and Meta have formed a metaverse standards group to foster open, interoperable standards for augmented and virtual reality, geospatial, and 3D tech. With announcements like these, one can’t help but see the metaverse as an exciting yet uncertain technological trend. After all, why would you spend your money on virtual designer shoes you can’t wear in real life? In this article, we’ll have a look at what is metaverse and how can metaverse be a part of your business.
The metaverse isn’t anything new. It is what you may know as “virtual reality” or “cyberspace” in the past. To specifically define it, it is a virtual 3D space that is interactive. People who access this 3D space can create, share, and explore virtual worlds. The term “Metaverse” doesn’t refer to specific types of technology, but rather a big shift in the way we use technology. Technology companies use this term and can refer to virtual or augmented reality. Using elements from both the digital and physical worlds, these realities create a virtual universe that exists even when you are not connected to it. However, this speculative movement has caused many companies to associate themselves with the term. The word gets thrown around so much that it gets more hype than credibility. Still, there are real and unique actions being taken to progress the metaverse, some are quite worthy to look at.
To boil it down to its core purpose, the metaverse is anticipated to form a new chapter of the internet. This new phase will change the way we consume content and how we interact with people and brands online. Instead of looking into a flat screen, we can be brought into an immersive virtual space. Right now, it doesn’t take much to enter these spaces, you could be thinking of the Ready Player One scene where the player wears a body rig to enter the “Oasis”.
But it’s much more accessible than that. Take video games, for example, these days you can access online games through a PC, game console or mobile phone. We have come so far that gaming companies are using interactivity in games to market products or create an online marketplace where virtual items can be purchased (Fortnite, Animal Crossing, Roblox, etc.). Thanks to the rapid progression of technology, we can start to see a glimpse of the new digital age with digital currencies (cryptocurrencies), virtual assets (NFTs) and even virtual real estate. As virtual reality becomes more accessible, the full potential of the metaverse can soon be realised. It isn’t necessarily a new kind of video game, but instead, it is more about altering the way people interact with brands and the Internet in general.
Many tech companies, both big and small, are building and developing better virtual worlds for consumers that will closely emulate our physical life. This makes it natural for B2B companies to hop on board. Ultimately, a business is about reaching your customers where they are and at just the right time. In B2B marketing, we see B2C concepts and techniques slipping into the industry. Every customer wants to be treated with the same personalization and care as a consumer (link to the previous article on personalization). For example, shopping, meetings, communication, leisure activities, concerts and such will soon have digital versions. The metaverse is expected to grow more and more popular with businesses as time goes on. Businesses must consider new ways to engage their customers. On top of that, being able to be one of the first to market a product or service in a new category can be dictated as a first-mover advantage. So, let’s look at some ways B2B can take advantage of the metaverse:
Though the pandemic has made us adapt to different forms of communication, face-to-face communication is still favoured. Especially in the lockdown, being able to see the other party when in an online meeting or conducting a sales video call makes that difference. A webinar boom was seen during COVID, and now they’re sticking around due to their convenience. According to a study featured in Harvard Business Review, face-to-face communication is 34 times more effective than text communication. The rise of metaverse technology has enabled B2B businesses to develop face-to-face relationships with clients.
With such technology, key stakeholders in businesses do not need to be physically present for a meeting but at the same time, their faces can be seen. This would bring on many positives such as cost-efficiency, quicker communication, and convenience. Marketers can host virtual conferences in highly immersive 3D spaces by using virtual worlds like Decentraland.
Despite conventions being held in person, the metaverse (and pandemic) have demonstrated that conferences aren’t necessary. Using virtual reality, remote and in-person interactions can be bridged. It allows for a physically present experience without needing any physical presence. Events technology has evolved into more experiential fields, such as implementing VR and AR, scannable tech, and face scanning. And these technologies are an effort of making the B2B buyer experience more immersive. These enhanced experiences in the metaverse could give businesses a special virtual experience centred around their product for their target audience as opposed to just creating an ad.
Typically, in B2B marketing, prospective clients conduct thorough research before they invest in a product. Therefore, the metaverse is a fantastic opportunity for B2B marketers. Virtual venues that allow potential customers to interact with products, see them in 360° view and even virtually see their insides would be a huge help to B2B companies. This will attract potential clients and make them feel that they have understood the product by giving them all the information they need. Soon, many enterprise firms may use the metaverse for immersive sales presentations.
The fascinating aftermath of the metaverse is that it blurs the boundaries between B2B and B2C. A place for both work and play, where the lines can’t clearly be defined, this is what the metaverse is becoming. Companies will have an opportunity to grow their customer bases and break corporate conventions. Ultimately, any business enterprise would want to increase its sales and revenue. This is possible with the metaverse. B2B enterprises can reach new markets and tap into new sources of revenue when they establish a digital presence. Despite some uncertainties, the potential benefits of entering the metaverse cannot be overlooked. A playful space, the metaverse requires novel and innovative approaches to marketing or advertising. In its immersive nature, the space allows for marketing that shows rather than tells. By creating virtual booths, virtual classrooms, and virtual events, you don’t just tell people how great your product is, but you also allow them to experience it for themselves.
The significance of physical, real-life experiences will never disappear, and it will take some time before the internet as we know will be swapped with the metaverse. As we convert into an endemic, the mix of online and in-person interaction will still be widely used. Exhibitions and tradeshows can be a hybrid reality, where there will be physical and virtual options for attending. We should look at the metaverse as an expansion and progression of our current reality. As a result, B2C and B2B marketing will face a plethora of new possibilities in the time to come.
One of the biggest challenges in the metaverse is the lack of interoperability and uniformity among the various platforms. A key component of the internet today is the HTML protocol that provides a unified framework for enabling the internet. The HTML format makes it possible for you to browse the internet on any device and from any browser. The movement of users between metaverses and devices would require a similar protocol. The metaverse devices and platforms need to deliver such capabilities to users and content providers alike.
Another challenge in the metaverse today is the ease of use within the metaverse. Currently, a small segment of consumers will not be able to access the metaverse due to the expensive and hard-to-set-up AR/VR tools required. To generate value for consumers, there needs to be more content and apps, which presents an opportunity for many industry verticals.
Finally, with the possibility of metaverse operators selling personal information, cyber-attacks are always possible. This could be due to the metaverse requiring the transfer of huge amounts of personal and/or critical data. As companies and societies become increasingly dependent on digital tools, the greater the risk of cyber-attacks.
The metaverse is still evolving, it is still a young technology that is subject to challenges. However, this should not discourage companies from exploring these platforms for content and service delivery. Companies will be able to turn challenges into opportunities with this platform due to the huge learning opportunities it will provide. A business doesn’t necessarily have to establish a presence in the metaverse to take advantage of its unique offerings. Hybrid events can offer the benefit of both physical and virtual events. Depending on your business’s needs, you might also want to consider in-person events. There has never been a better time than right now, especially since Covid first broke out.
If you’re thinking of organising a hybrid or physical B2B event with virtual elements, look no further than Convergence Concepts. Our team has the skills to design and build virtual booths and exhibits. Or if you have an idea in mind, feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com with your inquiries.