Attracted by the possibility of creating experiential and business models based on the convergence of physical and virtual universes, many companies are concretely exploring the opportunities of the Metaverse.
Analysts agree on the extraordinary potential of the Metaverse. JP Morgan talks about a 1.000 billion dollar opportunity, while Citi goes so far as to estimate 13,000 billion dollars by 2030 when it will engage 5 billion people.
How the Metaverse works: the opportunities
Intrigued by the topic and its prospects, companies wonder how the Metaverse works and what the big opportunities noted by analysts are.
The topic is constantly evolving. In fact, its pioneering nature lends itself to testing new strategies and exploring innovative operational and business models. By exploiting the opportunities of the Metaverse and evolving together with the underlying technology, today's companies can:
- Differentiate themselves from their competitors
- Meet evolving (customer) needs
- Create engaging experiences inside and outside the company
- Develop innovative business models
- Maximize their operational efficiency
- Reduce avoidable costs
- Concretely promote sustainability
How the Metaverse works: from strategies to platforms
A solid strategy is always the basis for a winning project. The strategy must clearly define the goals, the tools and the steps to achieve them by considering the potential of the Metaverse (see above). For example, companies can decide to land in the Metaverse to:
- Create and sell digital products through NFTs with a direct-to-avatar model
- Create immersive experiences to support sales activities
- Open new sales channels supporting physical shops and traditional e-commerce
- Develop new models for relating to their customers refining the customer experience (hence increasing sales and improved retention)
- Create new business through virtual events dedicated to their customers.
Opportunities are almost endless and depend on the company's business model (B2C or B2B), its propensity for innovation, current strategies and digital maturity. As highlighted by analysts, it is certain that embarking on this adventure without a clearly-defined strategy and value proposition is likely to compromise its success.
Identifying opportunities and developing a solid strategy is followed by the choice of channel – or technology - to implement the project.
Platforms and the Enterprise Metaverse
To understand how the Metaverse works, we must acknowledge that it is not a centralized platform. Instead, according to one of the many accredited definitions (Deloitte), it is the "convergence and interaction between physical and digital worlds."
A company has several options for gaining access. In the B2C universe, to which most of the projects belong, companies need to identify the right platform for their audience. They range from Roblox, a full-fledged gaming platform, to Decentraland or Highstreet, which takes the form of an actual shopping center - perfect for major consumer brands.
Another possibility is the Enterprise (or Corporate) Metaverse, substantiated in company-owned environments, specifically developed, fully customized and aimed at supporting internal and external operations. B2B companies are especially drawn to this model since they intend to implement modern, efficient and effective relationships with customers and suppliers, as well as advanced systems of internal collaboration to support hybrid working. In addition, with advanced technologies like Digital Twins, the Metaverse can accelerate and refine its processes, like those relating to production and logistics.
Obstacles can be traced to the Metaverse's pioneering nature, creating physiological perplexity about its effectiveness, tangible benefits, project costs and ROI. The opportunity is assured, but so is the complexity of the topic considerations which should drive companies to seek out partners with specific skills in terms of their vision, strategy and technology.
How to measure a project's ROI
In this period of discovery and experimentation, the cost of a project can be far from negligible. Its success also depends on optimizing costs and defining and monitoring successful metrics to determine the return on investment.
The definition of the specific KPIs depends on the project's goals. For instance, an Enterprise Metaverse supporting sales and training activities in B2B can be evaluated in terms of the following:
- Customer satisfaction (CSAT)
- Event attendance
- Customer engagement and interactions
- Increase in physical product revenues
- Virtual products revenue
- Sustainability impact.