The 3 Successful Approaches to Metaverse for Business

Metaverse for Business

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So, everyone is talking about metaverse, and you want metaverse for business reasons in your company. Except, you are unsure about what those reasons, those use cases, might be. You landed on the right article. In this post, we will see how you can get the out of metaverse for business. And the best thing is: we are approaching this with some healthy skepticism.

Throughout the article, we will try to answer questions such as: Is there a business usage for metaverse? What kind of companies can benefit from metaverse? How can we test the metaverse with small investments before scaling things up?  Is there actually something that we can define “metaverse for business”?

Metaverse for Business in Brief

If you are an expert on metaverse, you may want to skip this section. However, if you truly are, why are you reading this article in the first place? Here, we will set ground rules and identify what we mean by metaverse, and metaverse for business.

At first glance, we can say metaverse is a virtual, parallel world that you can access in Virtual Reality. You put your visor on and join this other fantastical world. This is an oversimplification. In reality, we are not talking about a single parallel universe: the metaverse is a collection of virtual universes highly fragmented from one another.

Many analysts tend to compare the metaverse to the web. While there is some truth in it, we believe the comparison does not hold. The web is a collection of websites, and they link with one another seamlessly so that you can have one integrated experience. For example, you search what you want on Google, see the results, and then click on what you want and end on a website. Sure, you realize you are on a different website and not Google because the experience changes, the look and feel of the website changes. Yet, it is an integrated experience from one place to another.

In metaverse, it is not the case. You don’t jump from a metaverse to the next with internal links like you would on a normal website. Instead, it is much more accurate to compare the metaverse to mobile app ecosystems. Think about iOS apps for iPhone or Android apps. You have several apps installed on your phone, and to switch from one to the other you go back to the home of your phone, and enter the new app. Only rarely there is an internal link, such as when we might share an image from one social to another.

Of course, even the comparison with mobile apps is not perfect. But it is much better than comparing the metaverse with the world wide web. Maybe we are comparing oranges and apples, but that is much better than comparing oranges and lawnmowers.

Now, on to metaverse for business. For the sake of this article, we will consider that metaverse for business is any application of metaverse to businesses that have a different core. In other words, a company whose mission is to create VR videogames will have a use in the metaverse for sure. In fact, they might exist because of it. No, we are not interested in that here. We are interested in “normal” businesses, to see what use they can make of the metaverse for their core activities. For example, can Coca Cola put the metaverse to use? What about Macy’s? Or what about Airbus, or NASA, or Chevron, or AT&T? This is the focus of this article.

Approaching Metaverse for Business

A Metaverse Strategy for Your Company

Is metaverse a tactical or strategical decision? Once again, this depends on the company and the needs. Yet, we deeply believe that metaverse can be approached in the same way as mobile app have been approached. This gives us an already developed framework to use, it is easier to make sense of what we see, and we have many more case studies we can rely on, as apps are more than a decade old now.

So, creating your metaverse is like creating your own app. And, of course, you can create more than just one. This means you have mainly two types of apps, plus a bonus:

  • Metaverse targeting consumers – Consumers are the main user of the metaverse you create. Much like Google creates a Gmail app iOS/Android for its customers to use, we can do something similar with metaverse.
  • Metaverse for internal use – Here, your own employees are using the app or metaverse. These might be things like a design suite or meeting room environment. You have the option to build your app or use an existing metaverse provided by a third-party.
  • Metaverse for non-consumers – This is the bonus! You can create a free app or metaverse that anyone can use, generally for brand awareness or prospecting, hoping some of those non-consumers will eventually become paying clients at some point.

With this in mind, you can start to think about potential questions to drive the decision on how to proceed. Depending on the business outcome you want (such as better productivity or increasing customer value), you may want to move to a more customer-oriented app or to an internal app. Once you know what to do in broad terms, start to ask yourself some questions:

  • Where are my customers? Which platforms do they use to access the metaverse? What are they using the metaverse for already? Which pain points do they have with my current sales/support/service channels? Do these pain points get resolved or alleviated in the metaverse? Why, or why not? Are these customers receptive to a new communication channel?
  • What challenges are we facing internally that slow down our productivity? Are there some situations that involve design, prototyping, or collaboration around abstract or not-so-well-defined concepts? Can these challenges be met with metaverse technology?
  • Is there a group of non-consumers that uses the metaverse already? What does my brand stand for? Does the idea of metaverse (futuristic, egalitarian, young, fun) fit the image of my brand? What is the factor that turns non-consumers into consumers? Can this be triggered in the metaverse? How do we nurture non-consumers? Is there a category of non-consumers that may use our product but that we are not pursuing (maybe they don’t have enough wealth or skill to use it)?

If you start to think critically about these questions, you will start to form at least a direction for where you want your business to go in the metaverse. However, as we are about to see, in most cases metaverse for business is just crap. At best, it is something that adds nothing to the business and add some unwanted (but manageable) complexity. At worse, you just can’t deal with it and it hurts your brand. In other words, the best piece of advice is to enter metaverse for business only if you find undeniable compelling reasons that make entering the metaverse a no-brainer decision. If it is something you are doing just to jump on the bandwagon, maybe it’s not the best approach. As in anything in life and business, think critically.

Metaverse for business requires a visor like Oculus Quest, much like normal VR
Oculus Quest, a popular VR headset that you can use for metaverse for business.

Now, we propose three potential metaverse for business strategies depending on the type of metaverse you want to use (customer-facing, internal, or non-consumers-facing).

Customer-Facing Metaverse for Business

Customer-facing metaverse for business is when you prepare metaverse world for your customers to use. Those might be the product that you sell, or a communication channel (for example, a way to experience “virtually” physical products before actually buying them.

If the metaverse is like an app, it means it requires some commitment from your customers. On a mobile phone, there is some sort of friction to install an app, and people tend to not want to install apps for 1-time usage. In a metaverse visor this may be even more apparent as apps can occupy more and more space. As a result, people download an app only if they use it often enough.

For example, I occasionally shop for clothing online (mainly from Zalando, as I am based in Europe). As I do once a year or less, I am perfectly fine doing that by my PC on their website. In fact, downloading the app and being pinged with tons of offers I don’t like it’s not really something I want. On the other hand, I know of people who do most of their shopping there. They browse new products in the Zalando mobile app like they were scrolling their social media feed. For those people, downloading the Zalando app is well worth it.

Metaverse is no different. When thinking about a metaverse world to develop, think: what kind of customers or person will really want to use this over and over? What value are they getting out of this? Are they getting better value specifically because my company is providing this service?

An e-commerce experience can be easily replicated in metaverse for business. But, what kind of experience do you want to give? Let’s go back to the Zalando example. Zalando is a retailer, and has products from thousands of brands: you scroll one catalog and see everything you might possibly want. Imagine Adidas (another German company) wants to launch something similar, but of course only with their products. They can’t compete with the variety of Zalando.

Instead, Adidas – appealing to sport enthusiasts – has a different kind of app in the iOS and Android stores. It is a training app, where you can get fitness exercises to do at home or at the gym, both free and paid. They are not selling shoes in this app. So, their mobile strategy is to complement their offering and cement their brand among their core customer base. For them, metaverse is to be approached with a similar strategy.

So, in short, your strategy to approach metaverse is not that different from approaching a new market, customer segment, or new product line. We can distill it into a few steps:

  1. Identify something that your customers will want to repeat over and over in the metaverse (online shopping for Zalando, fitness for Adidas).
  2. Critically assess if you are best position to provide them with such service, better than others (such as Adidas, pivoting to fitness training rather than just simple selling)
  3. Place yourself in this niche

Of course, remember that metaverse experiences should not mimic the reality if the reality is actually a limit. For example, at Walmart you walk through the shelves and queue at the cashier because that’s what we need to do in the real world. In a metaverse, where you can potentially fly and see any product in any setting, going around virtual isles with a virtual shopping cart might not be ideal.

Another key example that can be adopted by video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Disney+ might be a virtual movie teather (there are already similar apps in the metaverse). They have many customers that watch together (but remotely) movies on their platform, and this might be a great addition to their offering.

Strategy for Internal Use of Metaverse for Business

Internal use of metaverse for business means having a virtual world in the metaverse that your employees can use. We might they do that? We find three key potential reasons:

  • Design and prototyping, seeing 3D models of products before building anything physical
  • Meeting and collaboration, instead of the mainstream Zoom call
  • Teambuilding for remote teams

We argued about this extensively in the VR for business article. In short, design and prototyping might be a good reason to adopt metaverse for business. But even there, you need to be careful as you are likely to have designer with already tons of experience in traditional tools. Are they really better off in the metaverse, will they be more productive?

For most industries, the answer will be no. If you are more on the creative sides of things, such as in fashion or architecture, you might actually benefit from this, and it is worth exploring.

Instead, meeting and collaboration are not the way to go: at the moment, the only way to remotely see each other is through webcams, and this cannot be done in the metaverse, where you have to resort to an avatar. In that sense, metaverse is the evolution of chatting, not videoconferencing. Considering that videoconferencing is cheaper, more flexible (you can mix on-site and remote participants) and more widespread, it is much better than metaverse meetings.

Finally, teambuilding can be good for remote teams. But it can be as good as any other teambuilding activity. Or, in other words, it is not inherently better because it happens in the metaverse. In fact, if you are serious about teambuilding in the metaverse and do that only occasionally as off-sites, you may want to rent the equipment rather than giving a helmet to each and everyone of your employee. Or, consider normal videogames!

Metaverse for Business can be used for teambuilding
Teambuilding can happen in VR, or in the metaverse.

As a bonus, you may want to use metaverse for support activities that are not part of the core business, but crucial. For example, metaverse might be a good strategy to recruit Gen-Z talent.

Of course, in this case the audience for your metaverse is somewhat limited. Because of this, you should consider existing metaverse world, rather than developing your own world in-house.

Metaverse for Non-Consumers

We couldn’t finish this article on metaverse for business without talking about non-consumers. According to Clayton M. Christensen, a famous author in business strategy (see the Innovator’s Dilemma), business gets disrupted because startups start to serve non-consumers, until eventually they have a product that takes over the mainstream market.

An example mentioned in the book is in storage technology for computers. The type of disks used in mainframes were expensive and had big capacity (for the time). Some smaller company started to make smaller disks that were cheaper with a new technology. Such disks didn’t cater to the mainframe or enterprise business, but to a set of customers ignored by the established companies because “money wasn’t going to be made there”. Startups learned how to be profitable with those customers, and as technology advanced eventually it met the need of the enterprise customers, who flocked to the new disks, leaving established companies disrupted.

Non-consumers tend to be frugal, scrappy users that often have a desperate need. Considering their nature, they tend to be extremely receptive to new technology or products and are likely to be young. This sounds like the perfect ground for the metaverse. Here, the approach is similar to creating a metaverse for customers, except those are not consumers.

Think about what segments of the market, or people outside the market, you are unable to reach with traditional means. Can you better reach them with the metaverse?

Metaverse for Business in Summary

In summary, metaverse for business is a dubious proposal. For most businesses, there are no real benefits or reasons to pursue the metaverse. Yet, if you think critically and find some key reasons that for your specific business metaverse can result in significant business advantage, go for it.

In the end, metaverse is an ecosystem still in development (as of 2022). You won’t find any existing blueprint on how to approach it. Yet, we suggest to follow the same blueprints adopted for mobile app development.

Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded ICTShore.com with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.
Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded ICTShore.com with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.

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Alessandro Maggio

2022-10-13T16:30:00+00:00

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