The metaverse is no different to any other digital channel, it needs a clear strategy and an ROI model that justifies any investment you make.
The phrase "Metaverse" was first coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel "Snow Crash" and has since been adopted by the tech community to describe “a persistent, shared, 3D virtual space linked into a perceived virtual universe” or alternatively, "a virtual world that lies beyond, on top of, or is an extension of the physical world."
2022 is a year in which we will witness huge investment and technical advancement towards the "metaverse" - but what does it really mean and how can your business take the first steps in this new world?
Many are viewing the metaverse and the associated Web3 technologies such as blockchain, decentralised computation, cryptocurrencies and NFT's, as the birth of the new internet, the new frontier of online interaction where AR, VR, MR, gaming, social and commerce collide to create next generation, fully immersive experiences that blur the line between the real and digital worlds.
Others are viewing it as futuristic "technobabble" aired by tech geeks and sci-fi nerds, but those people are wrong. The reason I say this with such conviction is because I've tried out some of these experiences for myself and, from the second I did, the entrepreneur in me has been on overdrive with ideas based on the obvious opportunities being presented to the early adopters in this space.
Whether you like the sound of it or not, the metaverse is here to stay and the gold rush is on. So, here's a short guide to getting started in 2022.
Although this year will not see a complete metaverse (far from it), it will see substantial development of the enabling technology pillars and ever growing pockets of activity across the core platforms and communities that you can get involved in today. So this guidance is primarily aimed at getting your team and business "metaverse ready" and orientated towards this new iteration of the web.
Step 1 - Accept
The first thing you need to do is acknowledge the existence of the metaverse and come to accept that it represents a huge opportunity for your business - even if you can't quite see it yet. At this stage you just need to keep an open mind and commit to exploring the possibilities.
It's also a good time to set your ethical stance as a business and agree how you will behave within the context of virtual worlds in general. Metaverse experiences will become increasingly immersive and influential experiences which will impact how your customers view the real world. It will be your children engaging in these experiences so think about the new world you want to create and be responsible with your marketing goals.
Step 2 - Research
Once you're in the right mindset, it's time to learn about the technologies and educate yourself on the fundamentals of metaverse.
Step 1: What makes up the Metaverse?
The metaverse is being built by gaming companies, the social media giants, big tech companies and most importantly tech start-ups funded by new world investors, and all of these have already generated large and highly engaged communities.
Start to follow the leading players and commentators in the space on social, track their latest developments through their blogs on Medium or go deep into the tech side on Reddit, Clubhouse or their Discord channels to see what opportunities these may bring your business in the longer term so you can be prepared.
Better still, sign up to the major platforms like Decentraland and Sandbox and take a look around. Become inspired by those organisations already present in this space, explore their use cases.
Nike recently acquired RTFKT as a designer of virtual trainers and collectables for the metaverse.
Embed code for Tweet:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">RTFKT is now a part of the NIKE, Inc. family. 🌐👁🗨 <a href="https://t.co/5egNk9d8wA">pic.twitter.com/5egNk9d8wA</a></p>— RTFKT Studios (@RTFKTstudios) <a href="https://twitter.com/RTFKTstudios/status/1470502799498792963?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 13, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
As metaverse technology and graphics improve, your digital twin could attend an online event in a limited edition digital dress or pair of trainers in the form of a collectable NFT.
Talk to your kids or your friends' kids - see how they are already engaging in the metaverse through their gameplay.
Playing a game such as Minecraft, Roblox or Fortnite brings together many of the fundamentals of the metaverse and the concepts influencing wider adoption of these technologies outside of gaming.
Children are already earning cryptocurrencies and trading NFT's in games - get them to show you round and imagine the possibilities for how your organisation could capitalise on these principles within the context of your business.
Step 3 - Strategise
So, you've got to grips with the basic concepts and how businesses are starting to adopt these new technologies.
Now start to strategise on how your business could participate in this space to offer a better customer experience, or offer new value add goods and services. The metaverse is no different to any other digital channel, it needs a clear strategy and an ROI model that justifies any investment you make.
Plot out your customer journeys and all the touchpoint your customers have with your brand, then ideate on how the metaverse could improve those experiences and interactions.
Consider how metaverse technologies can entertain your target audience in new ways to create a positive association with your brand. Consider how the new tools at your disposal can help you to better showcase your products, deliver better customer service/experience and build customer loyalty.
Metaverse presents lots of opportunities for advertising, sponsorship and product placement. If these are your goals you'll want to find the platforms where your target customers are congregating. You may find a platform that is a perfect fit so may wish to purchase some virtual real estate to fulfil your future metaverse strategy.
You will need to audit your technology stack as part of this process to ensure you are able to serve up your content and products within virtual worlds/AR experiences and, conversely, have the ability to receive enquiries and orders from these external platforms. Unquestionably the best type of stack for this is a composable DXP comprised of specialist, API-first vendors such as a headless CMS and commerce API as the content store and commerce engine is decoupled from the frontend so the experience can take any form on any channel or platform you like.
Step 4 - Experiment
The final step involves dipping your toe in to the metaverse.
Find a low cost, low risk way to get started and pilot your participation.
This could be something simple like hosting a virtual event or finding a suitable partner already in the space and piggy-backing on their experience with your value-add content, products or services.
Most platform have intuitive tools to build your own virtual worlds and rich SDK's to support your own development projects. Some even have foundations where they will offer funding for projects that will help develop their ecosystem and reach.
Don't feel the need to do all this in-house though, reach out to the platforms directly and to specialist vendors and agencies who can assist you in making your ideas a reality. The metaverse is developing quickly on the back of partnerships.