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How is the metaverse set to shape the future of business?

Whether or not you are a technology enthusiast, by now, you would surely have heard about the ‘metaverse’. In 2020, the global metaverse market was estimated to be worth USD 47.69 billion, and it is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 43.3% to reach USD 828.95 billion by 2028.

Metaverse

The metaverse combines augmented and virtual reality, opening the door to what is known as ‘mixed reality’. Supported by a number of technologies, this platform offers a wide range of advantages and opportunities – use cases that can be explored across a wide range of sectors and industries. Indeed, the metaverse has the potential to change the way we work and socialise. With its decentralised approach, this user-oriented digital world could have enormous implications for business. Though the metaverse, as tech visionaries imagine it, is still years away, it is now possible for us to envision a parallel virtual world that enables us to collaborate while transcending geographical boundaries. At the same time, the metaverse is still developing, and we need to be cautious about our investments in this technology. While not every business needs to become a metaverse influencer today, it is important to keep pace with evolving technology trends and understand their impact on our business. Moreover, the metaverse can become a key asset for several organisations in the new normal.

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So, what exactly is the metaverse?

It’s a digital environment that mimics the real world through the use of emerging technologies. Here, people can use various avatars to socialise and build communities virtually. Any organisation can build its own metaverse. The key technology drivers for the metaverse include artificial intelligence (AI), low/no-code platforms, blockchain, cybernetics, 5G and edge computing, digital identity models, community and power platforms, and virtual reality (VR).

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Business trendspotting: Metaverse

Explore the future of metaverse and how it will bring the physical and digital together across sectors.

Business trendspotting: Metaverse

Explore the future of metaverse and how it will bring the physical and digital together across sectors.

Role of technology

The origin of the word ‘metaverse’ – a combination of ‘meta’ and ‘universe’ – can be traced back to the 1992 science-fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. In the past 30 years, this fictional concept has slowly become a reality through the step-by-step development of technologies.

  • Infrastructure: The metaverse requires a fast network for its futuristic applications. 5G provides the speed and power this environment needs. Edge computing brings data closer to end users, thus providing the mobility required for the borderless metaverse.
  • Enabling technology: The applications of AI in the metaverse include the creation of virtual avatars, language processing and securing of the diverse and rich data processed. Blockchain technology provides the digital proof of ownership that underpins the virtual worlds. Low-code platforms are used to create applications in the metaverse with minimal coding efforts.
  • User interface: AR/VR gear like headsets help users to visually experience the 3D environment. Haptic suits are used to simulate touch. Further, 3D engines are used to deliver improved graphics and the performance of interaction. Cryptocurrencies can be used to purchase various items in the virtual world, while non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are virtual items that can be purchased and sold using blockchain technology.
  • Experience: Different experiences such as shopping, festivals, gaming and socialisation can be brought to life in the metaverse.

 

 

Metaverse building blocks

Metaverse in action

The current form of the metaverse is a basic level of AR and VR. Social media and gaming applications where people interact through their avatars are one example. Moreover, with the growing popularity of NFTs, the metaverse has seen a rise in virtual galleries.

The future of the metaverse promises to be a realistic 3D digital world where one will be able interact with customers, conduct commodity exchanges, and enjoy social experiences such as attending concerts and playing games.

What’s in it for you?

The metaverse provides plenty of opportunities for brands to connect with their community of customers and followers and engage them through virtual immersive experiences. Many brands can thus make use of the metaverse in offering an immersive experience similar to that experienced while browsing a store in person. Real estate agencies can develop virtual models of buildings that people can visit. This technology can also revolutionise the hybrid workplace model through creative solutions, enabling people to collaborate and work online.

How does the metaverse add value to a business?  

The metaverse offers a variety of opportunities to businesses.

1. New avenues of business
The metaverse opens up plenty of avenues in the digital real estate and e-commerce space. Moreover, it can increase the value of various technology companies that develop metaverse platforms and accessories.

2. Attractive marketing and improved customer experiences
Both tech and non-tech companies – e.g. FMCG and clothing and apparel companies – can benefit from the metaverse through various marketing opportunities. The metaverse allows extremely personalised experiences and interactive engagement with customers. This can help companies to better understand their customers and develop a lasting relationship with them. Thus, the metaverse can play a huge role in customer retention and engagement for any business.

3. New product launches
Companies can use the metaverse to share innovative ideas and co-create advanced concepts and prototypes with potential users. This can accelerate the product development cycle and help predict the success of an innovation.

4. Embedded finance opportunities
It is possible to embed various financial offerings in the metaverse. Users can be offered financial solutions such as loans, buy now pay later (BNPL) schemes, payment wallets and insurance at any point of their journey in the metaverse. Moreover, various financial players can enter into partnerships with platform players to offer these services.

5. Employee engagement and training
The gamification of training modules in the manufacturing and automobile industries or any other process industry in the metaverse can result in the development of highly skilled labour. Overall, for any business, the metaverse can help reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Use cases of metaverse

Metaverse for business India - PwC India

A leading automobile company has recently launched a mobility adventure experience on a popular gaming platform. This virtual space allows users to experience various automobile products and offerings of the company through their customised avatars. The gamified product offerings have helped the company attract a young generation of customers.

apparel

A high-end luxury fashion brand held a virtual exhibit wherein a user’s default avatar was a neutral mannequin. While exploring the different rooms of the exhibit, the user could virtually try out different elements and products. This provided the customers with a one-of-a-kind experience and helped them connect with the brand.

FMCG

A popular FMCG company designed virtual wearables as NFT collectibles in the metaverse to celebrate International Friendship Day. The company then auctioned the NFT loot box containing virtual apparel. 

technology

A popular technology company has proposed a metaverse space with virtual autonomous robots where various companies can create virtual office spaces with all the details and constraints of physical spaces.

With the development of technology, the metaverse can establish its own capital market in the future. Transactions in the crypto and NFT markets will bring considerable revenue to businesses. Therefore, the metaverses has the potential to develop into a mature economy where all types of goods are traded.

Emerging technology strategy needs to be a core part of every company’s corporate strategy

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Ashootosh Chand

Ashootosh Chand

Partner, Digital and Emerging Technologies, PwC India

Yasha Pandit

Yasha Pandit

Director, Digital and Emerging technologies, PwC India

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