Among all the recent technology ideas, Metaverse has had the most traction triggering multiple ecosystems with exciting forays. Perhaps, Metaverse took its prominence to the next level (after Facebook became Meta) with more industries throwing in their hat, either for a Tech-swank or to be that prime mover in their respective marketplaces and unearth a worthy business use case.
During the initial days, the focus narrowed towards AR-VR, Digital Assets or the Cryptos or Blockchains, but as people started digging more, Metaverse seem to have been offering unlimited opportunities across all industry sectors. As always, a clearer path emerges over a period of time, with the Tech Giants – namely the MAMAA – “Meta, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet (Google’s parent company)” taking rapid strides with mammoth investments and the innovation that drives along. For the first time, the expectation from each ecosystem is to work collaboratively, building interoperable assets and cross utility platforms. So, it goes without saying, there are going to be massive opportunities in the Metaverse for those keen to leverage the new digital frontier.
It has been a common practice, while writing on Metaverse, to cover Gaming in one way or the other, but this article would rather align towards the preliminary real-world industry use cases. It is not that we’re going to disregard a prolific bunch of consumer use cases (with gaming background) in the Metaverse, but at least focus our thoughts along the Enterprise cases, the ones that might scale first.
Let’s take Banking for instance. There was a time when it took a lot of hard pitching and persuasion for a Bank to take the lean towards an Emerging Technology. Wall Street took several years to go Digital, until a visionary like Vivek Ranadive got ahead with his Digital idea presented on a Paper Towel in the 1980s. Following the trend, it took 15-20 years for the internet to make inroads into Banking, while Mobile took around 5 years before it saw a massive uptake in Banking. Today, already a good number of banks have been toying with the idea of launching their banking services to customers on the Metaverse. A customer while sipping a coffee at home, can enter a Metaverse branch using a VR headset, perform their typical Banking & Financial Transactions, meet a Fund Manager via a Digital Avatar, conveniently discuss a retirement plan with a Virtual Advisor, sign-up for a New Insurance Product or Service – through Smart Contracts, or at the minimum, talk to a realistic human face (equivalent to) a FAQ Chatbot – called “Meta-Bots”. If we look through at its core, each of these transactions or customer service points would be pretty much like the one in a real-world scenario. But, what it does offer the customer, is convenience and comfort of operating it from their homes without having to take a break during office hours or wait in a long queue at the Branch.
FinTechs, might as well do some heavy lifting in replicating use cases on the Metaverse like the Home Mortgages, Lending Process, Auto-Loans, process Crypto Transactions or even a typical Payment Processing Service. As a matter of fact, there are MetaFi companies offering Debit Cards that can be used both in the real world and the Metaverse. The day is not too far before we witness an entire Banking ecosystem recreated in the Metaverse and an out-n-out new role taking prominence within Enterprises called “Chief Metaverse Officer”.
In Retail, we have already seen Walmart unveiling its Metaverse shopping experience, where one can walk into a Metaverse Mall, take the help of a virtual store agent, browse products in the aisles and make a purchase on Metaverse, to subsequently see them delivered directly home in the real world. However, these ideas would need further refinements, as a lot of it is still in development stages. On the other side, Fashion Brands are exploring Direct to the Avatar (D2A) campaigns, where they can promote, market and sell directly to Digital Identities on the Metaverse. There is the indispensable, Meta Commerce, which is well poised to disrupt and rewrite a whole new world of e-commerce out there. Imagine if one intends to buy a new pair of shoes and there is no time to commute to the nearest store, which is a few miles away. And the store has the exact brand/color/design, they have been looking for. They can visit the Virtual store on Web 3.0, which would offer an identical experience of visiting a physical store in real-life, virtual try-on with the Digital Avatar to ensure it fits them well and complete the purchase, eventually see the actual pair of shoes delivered to their home.
Regular businesses are using the Metaverse to connect with employees working remotely, for a more immersive & inclusive office-like meeting experience. Few have also ideated on Virtual Training and Employee Onboarding, where the Office set-up is recreated in the Metaverse and enable the new joiners meet their co-workers or go through new hire training virtually. For people in the business of selling, imagine how easy it would be, to meet a customer in the Metaverse and negotiate across the table, through their respective Digital Avatars. This might as well save a lot of travel time, as we have seen in the past, several situations of cross-continent travels on short notice, for a 2 Hour Client meeting can be avoided.
In the Medical Metaverse, a concept of Virtual Hospital is taking shape this very moment, where a virtual hospital environment is accessed through a VR headset. All the preliminary investigation/counselling services are offered Virtually for increased patient engagement (all required information collected) before a patient walks into a real-life Hospital for treatment or admission. While it may not be conducive for all sorts of medical scenarios, but a few cases might benefit without having to rush and put undue pressure on the Healthcare system. Imagine the convenience of making a post-surgery doctor consultation without taking the trouble to step out of home, get into a car, negotiate the traffic and wait at the hospital to meet a Specialist. Of course, not all visits would require a physical examination by a Doctor. As Telemedicine and Teleconsultation concepts are maturing across the world, Metaverse could as well change the traditional culture of frequent Hospital visits. Talking the thoughts forward, a Digital Twin of ourselves could be used for Clinical Trials or administer a Test Dose before an actual Medicine is injected into the real body. A Maxillofacial surgeon could leverage our Metaverse Avatar to try out which nose shape or facial feature aligns well, before a reconstructive surgery is performed in the real world. Metaverse could offer an augmented reality space for students to examine the anatomy of a human body in a virtual laboratory setting. As we speak, there are a bunch of AR-VR Solutions depicting Virtual Medical Manikins to empower medical students to learn basic procedures like administration of drugs, pleural aspiration, ascitic aspiration, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other medical and surgical VR Simulations. It is only a matter of time, before these go on to a Metaverse world, eventually disrupting how medical education and training is imparted.
Governments could provide their own metaverse ecosystem for their Citizens, Tourists, Employees and Diplomats, targeted at improving access to government services and eliminate the need to visit in-person. Citizens having access to all information regarding new decisions passed, cultural experiences, re-create a city from the past, create a new city in Metaverse before it is built in the real-world. Governments and communities can do their bit, to revive a dying art, by putting up an Art Auction on the Metaverse – a platform that would enable Online Auction of the arts and increase their marketability.
While a good number of such ideas are still evolving, Metaverse yet holds a lot of promise and unknowns with it. Will it be another “Normal” in the future or just another Fanciful Technology wave, that didn’t hold itself through the tide. We have the incredible opportunity to witness the creation of an Earth 2.0 via the Metaverse!