A report from McKinsey & Company estimates that the Metaverse could potentially generate up to $5 trillion in value by 2030, because of its potential to be used in a variety of consumer and business applications.
The increased pace of digital transformation due to COVID-19, the use of 5G and smartphone penetration, the explosion of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies and concern for sustainability is leading businesses to develop immersive experiences for customers.
Virender Singh Bisht, Associate Vice President at HCLTech, says: "The Metaverse is going to transform our business and social interactions, much like video games. It is an expanding continuum of technologies and the idea is to create cohesion between the real and the virtual world to create valuable assets, reduce inequality, social mobility and change interactions forever.”
The Metaverse as a driver for customer experience
Digital experience is one of the primary reasons driving the rise of the Metaverse. Industries such as ecommerce, retail, education, automotive, gaming and consumer products and retail (CPG) are piloting immersive use cases such as AR for virtual home decor to create new, more engaging, consumer experiences.
From avatar-driven contact center support and financial education to telehealth, more companies are simulating physical operations on the metaverse. According to PwC’s 2022 US Metaverse Survey, the Metaverse use case that business leaders said they were most likely to explore was onboarding and training, interacting with work colleagues and creating virtual content for customers. According to a report, the Metaverse in the e-commerce market is poised to grow by approximately $85 billion between 2023 and 2027.
To complete the bridge between the consumer and business Metaverses in the future, more Metaverse-specific products and services are growing every day. From Nike, Coca-Cola to SAP, Balenciaga, Adidas and Ferrari, brands across the spectrum have already introduced their versions of the immersive platform.
Cybersecurity and data privacy in the Metaverse
Though the Metaverse is undergoing considerable innovation, cybersecurity risks, anti-fraud approaches and technologies haven’t kept pace with its rapid growth. The 2022 Metaverse Survey stated that cybersecurity and privacy were the top concerns holding executives back from the adoption of Metaverse. Metaverse scams, cyberattacks, phishing risks, security breaches and privacy violations are risks threatening this three-dimensional digital world.
In the business realm, Metaverse cybersecurity has three major components:
- Cybersecurity of the hosting platform: Lack of regulation, security and privacy practices leads to inconsistent UX and expectations.
- Cybersecurity of the property (renters on the platform): Property owners/renters are new to the Metaverse resulting in the lack of cybersecurity and privacy best practices.
- Cybersecurity of the users of the property: Lack of consumer protections and data privacy acts, like GDPR and CCPA are missing in the Metaverse. For instance, the use of headsets (with sensors and trackers) provides an immersive experience, but also collects a vast amount of user data, which the consumer may not be aware of.
The current lack of privacy regulations for the Metaverse presents many risks for businesses and users, including issues concerning data rights and ownership, intrusive data collection, user privacy and exploitation of minors to name a few.
Microsoft launched the anti-harassment protections for its AltspaceVR platform and Meta for its Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues VR. The safety measures include stopping avatars from getting uncomfortably close.
The Metaverse and Web3
Although the Metaverse is opening new opportunities for users and creators to engage, create and experience, the Web3-enabled Metaverse significantly expands these opportunities. Web3 opens up a new decentralized ecosystem, where users can utilize their data for their benefit, and creators can monetize their content in different ways.
Web3 is enabled by three core technologies—blockchain, digital assets and smart contracts containing conditional programming code that create utility by facilitating self-executing applications. Metaverse applications built on Web3 benefit from more permanence, functionality and interoperability than Web 2.0 VR experiences.
Looking towards the immersive future
With its potential to generate up to $5 trillion in value by 2030, the Metaverse is evolving every day. Naturally, it will have a major impact on our lives, which is why businesses, policymakers and consumers need to explore this phenomenon and its potential hazards, including potential bias, deep fakes and abusive experiences.
Any new technology requires a new set of compliance standards and this case, metaverse-specific regulations and strategies to build trust and combat risks. Businesses have an opportunity to shape the Metaverse to foster greater cohesion between the virtual and physical world to expand the range of experiences and use cases, rather than limiting them.