The metaverse—a futuristic, immersive version of the internet enabled by virtual and augmented reality and sometimes supported by blockchain technology—has attracted attention in exchange traded funds (ETFs). Some 35 metaverse-badged ETFs have launched globally since June 2021, according to data from Morningstar. Meta has likened the advent of the metaverse to “the pivot from desktop to mobile,” saying that increased technological advancements offer an increase in economic opportunity across the board. In a society as focused on growth and progress as our modern one, unlocking new opportunities is key—for businesses, consumers, and society at large.
As such, the metaverse seems to present not only a new business opportunity across all industries—with particular attention given to the commerce, entertainment, and educational sectors—but offers an entirely new way to interact with customers and subcontractors. This is reflected in the value of the metaverse as an industry in itself: Only in the last year, the global metaverse market size grew from $38.85 billion to $47.48 billion. Predictions get even rosier when we take into account the full picture of how it’s predicted to grow by the end of the decade: Within seven years, the metaverse could become a $678 billion industry.
While neither the technology supporting it nor consumer interest is quite at the point it needs to be before mass adoption can be reached, these kinds of figures are impossible to ignore. In fact, most businesses are taking notice, and preparing for the metaverse to revolutionize the way we think about and interact with the internet.
Web 2.0 giants like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all interested in gaining a competitive edge over other names in their industry, and choosing to invest in the metaverse is how they’re putting this into practice. By creating exciting virtual worlds and immersive experiences, and upgrading their offerings with a practical new venture, they’re betting on their companies’ future and ensuring that consumers don’t go looking elsewhere. Using permissionless blockchain to support NFTs or digital twins in the metaverse platform will even allow customers to get an alternate version of the product they buy in the real world and allow these businesses a totally new form of interaction, co-creation, testing, and playful or educational interaction with customers—and, of course, create new revenue streams, brand value, and customer loyalty. It’s not just big brands taking up space in the metaverse. According to PwC’s 2022 U.S. Metaverse Survey of over 5,000 U.S. consumers and 1,000 U.S. business leaders, 82% of executives “expect metaverse plans to be part of their business activities within three years,” while 65% are already “actively engaged” in it by “building proofs of concept, testing use cases, and even generating revenue from metaverse environments.”
The stakes are high, and visionary leaders are keen to take the right steps, no matter the size of their company.
It’s clear that it’s not just hype at this point, and that the metaverse revolution will eventually knock on your door––plus, if the aforementioned predictions are taken into account, it may be a reality soon.
This could look like letting customers try products before buying them; creating virtual office and retail environments; conducting immersive training sessions,; setting up concerts, conferences, and events; and so much more.
When it comes to implementing the metaverse in the corporate world, my practical advice to leaders looking to grow their businesses in the metaverse is to treat it like any other new and exciting venture. Implementing the metaverse works similarly to launching your product in a new market! Albeit virtual, it’s simply a new market and a new platform all at once—but understand that blockchain-based platforms offer a new communication where your customer becomes a valuable partner in your ecosystem.
Before you embark on a blockchain-based metaverse journey with your business, make sure you know what you’re doing and have done enough research. Find the right brands and communities to connect with, and focus on making the customer experience as special and rewarding as possible. Allow yourself to experiment, to design new and different ways to interact with your clients and fans, while remaining true to your brand identity and values.
As we enter 2023, the metaverse’s potential remains largely untapped and fertile ground for both innovation and experimentation.
Business- and corporate-use cases for it are just beginning to be discovered and put to the test, which represents a truly exciting opportunity if not a once-in-a lifetime watershed moment.
If the comparison to the advent of the internet or of mobile devices is solid—and the evidence we’ve so far collected backs that up—then it will be fascinating to observe which brands use this opportunity to get ahead and which get left behind. To the former, I say: this is the time to prepare your strategy and get ready to be part of the future.
Lone Fønss Schrøder is CEO of Concordium. With extensive executive experience ranging from large-cap companies in aviation, biotech, retail, automotive, oil & gas, and shipping to banks and capital markets, Fønss Schrøder is also co-founder of the bank-fintech company Cashworks, Vice Chairman of Volvo Cars, and a Director at IKEA.