The metaverse is going to be huge. I mean absolutely colossal. Just consider how many people Meta hired to build it: 10,000. That’s the size of some major government departments. Furthermore, Microsoft has over 250 million monthly active users who could be using their version of the metaverse via Teams this year.
This. Is. Big. Anyone questioning whether it will catch on is like those in the mid-90s who thought the internet was a flash in the pan. The tide of history is turning and anyone who doubts the power of the metaverse in changing the way we work is going to look pretty silly in the future.
The simplest benefit is the ability to engage and collaborate with people wherever they are. It closes the gap between the physical office and a virtual version of it in the metaverse. Pop your headsets on and two people can be in the same room – one virtually, one literally – and have a meeting. It reduces the boundaries that still exist with Zoom and Teams to virtually nothing.
But it doesn’t stop there. It can be used to onboard remote working staff. Employees can interact with 3D models for training and simulations. People can work on their own on focused activities, accessing information, documents, video and anything else they might need. There is also the capability of building digital twins of factories, construction sites, or any other physical locations. Proto-metavereses are already popping up in projects such as Crossrail.
With this example in mind, many would argue that the metaverse is already here. In fact, Meta had previously launched Horizon Workrooms and is merely bringing it to the mainstream. Microsoft already had SharePoint Spaces, which is being used by firms around the globe.
And the next generation of employees is going to expect it. I just need to look at my kids to know this. I’m forever fighting a losing battle to limit their time playing Minecraft, the online world that they enter to build and interact with friends virtually.
Still not convinced? Let’s just look at some hard facts. VR used within businesses is forecasted to grow from $829 million in 2018 to $4.26 billion in 2023, according to analysts. Meanwhile, PwC says VR and augmented reality (AR) have the potential to boost GDP globally by 2030 by up to $1.5 trillion.
But of course, this doesn’t mean the road to adoption will be without it’s challenges. Cost will be prohibitive for many firms in the short-term. Until accessing the Metaverse becomes affordable, it will be limited to those uses where the return on investment is worthwhile. Luckily, headsets now cost about £300 each rather than in the region of £1,000 as they once did.
There may also be security worries. After all, this is a totally new way to structure and access information that could be highly sensitive. Last but not least will be the cultural change needed to adopt it. It took a global pandemic to encourage workers and their leaders to use collaboration tools widely.
Fostering the use of the Metaverse will take time. It could be 10 to 15 years for full adoption – when those Minecraft fans get into the office. But it will happen, and to ignore this huge shift and see it as a passing fad would be a mistake on a gargantuan scale.
Are you prepared to make that mistake or will you be entering the metaverse?
By Alex Graves
About the author
Alex Graves is CEO of Silicon Reef, a collaboration, productivity and wellbeing solutions consultancy. He’s an expert when it comes to helping businesses embrace modern workplace technology, challenging leaders to let their employees “work happy.” His focus is on people and how they can boost productivity and engagement through the right digital strategies. He’s done this for firms including Asahi, The Met Office and Unilever, to name a few.