The metaverse is the new, experiential, immersive internet where we will take our digital avatars to work, learn and play across persistent environments. Whether you think we are heading for Ready Player One levels of immersion or that it’s just a lot of hot air and hype, the fact is businesses are pouring cash and resources into staking their place in this new digital world. And one of the main reasons they are doing so is the opportunities it provides to connect and engage with customers in a whole range of new ways.
Metaverse environments will allow us to talk and interact with brands and with each other, either through our avatars or by directly connecting to video chat portals and voice chat. The truth is no one exactly knows what will become the defining ways that we will use the metaverse, whatever form it eventually takes. Some – such as Facebook (so excited about the concept it rebranded its $100 billion-plus business as Meta), are convinced it will involve virtual reality (VR) and headsets. Others – such as those behind emerging metaverse platforms like Sandbox – say that while VR will play a part, it won’t be an essential part of the experience. To them, the decentralized, user-owned aspect of the metaverse will be far more integral to the experience than the hardware that we use to access it.
So taking both visions – and everything in between – into account, here’s an overview of some of the exciting implications that this red-hot tech trend has for how businesses will interact with and serve their customers in the near future.
The Pandemic and the Leap to Virtual
The global Covid-19 pandemic upended our lives in many ways but none so drastically as the acceleration of the shift to digital. Before the outbreak, we were increasingly choosing to shop, socialize, work and entertain ourselves in online environments. After it struck, this became less of a choice and more of a necessity for many – vastly speeding up the rate at which businesses chose to move their services online.
Many companies that found they were not set up to accommodate their customers’ needs through digital channels struggled, while those that had invested in social media, video chat, online customer service, and emerging technologies like AI chatbots thrived.