Over the past year or two, the Metaverse has taken up a lot of headlines, but some people are still confused about what it is exactly and how it will affect them personally. Business owners may wonder how it can play a role in their company. There are certainly some interesting potential opportunities to consider.

What is the Metaverse?

The Metaverse is a way for people to connect and interact in a virtual universe, enabling them to do some things they could do in the real world and other things that they couldn't. It makes use of technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and more, to enable people to engage in real activities in an online setting.

"The metaverse means different things to different people," says McKinsey and Company. (1) "Some believe it’s a digital playground for friends. Others think it has the potential to be a commercial space for companies and customers. We believe both interpretations are correct."

Based on its own research and analysis, the company continued, "We believe the metaverse is best characterized as an evolution of today’s internet—something we are deeply immersed in, rather than something we primarily look at. It represents a convergence of digital technology to combine and extend the reach and use of cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), spatial computing, and more."

If you've ever played or seen your kids play video games like Roblox or Fortnite, you may be able to better envision what the Metaverse is. Games like these and others allow the player to explore different settings and scenarios with other people online with their own avatars. They can plan games within the games together or even watch concerts or experience other events together. Now, imagine using a headset device that gives you a similar experience, but to attend a real conference or shop online.

How May the Metaverse Affect Your Business?

It is uncertain how many different ways the Metaverse may impact businesses, but remote work is one area where many feel the technology has a great deal of potential.

"Virtual workplaces can provide a better demarcation between home and work life, creating the sensation of walking into the workplace each day and then leaving and saying goodbye to colleagues when your work is done," explains Mark Purdy at Harvard Business Review. (2) "In the virtual workplace, your avatar provides a means of communicating your status — in a meeting, gone for your lunch break, and so on — making it easier to stay connected to colleagues without feeling chained to the computer or cellphone, a frequent source of stress in traditional remote work situations."

MetaMarketing Agency offers 20 use cases looking to try out the Metaverse. (3) These include: virtual storefronts, customer engagement, virtual advertising, market research, virtual training, virtual conferences and meetings, virtual product demonstrations, virtual showrooms, customer service, virtual brand experiences, virtual real estate tours, and more.

Basically, anything you can think of to connect people — whether they be employees, customers, clients, partners, or industry peers — in a way that allows them to attend something virtually without having to leave their home, is a potential Metaverse use case for business.

For example, if you sell clothing, you have a brick-and-mortar store and an online shop. The store is great for local customers and perhaps the occasional out-of-towner passing through. The online shop allows you to sell to customers all over the country, and even the world. Imagine taking the online element a step further so it allows people to enter a virtual version of your brick and mortar store and explore the merchandise that you offer. Now, they might not be able to try on a shirt, but they can get a much better and realistic view of what it looks like than they could from a photograph on a web page.

Or imagine that there's an industry conference that you'd really love to attend, but you don't want to pay for tickets, airfare, room and board, and other travel-related expenses, not to mention leaving your family for several days and taking a long flight to another part of the country. With the Metaverse, the event might be organized virtually, enabling you to simply put on your headset and join an audience of your peers to take in a keynote presentation and network with other attendees from your home office or living room.

It's the very early days for the Metaverse, and businesses will likely continue to innovate increasingly in ways that make it more practical for both B2B and B2C purposes. The future of the Metaverse is full of opportunity.

1. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/mckinsey-explainers/what-is-the-metaverse

2. https://hbr.org/2022/04/how-the-metaverse-could-change-work

3. https://www.metamktgagency.com/blog/top-metaverse-use-cases-for-businesses-and-brands

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC