Welcome to the metaverse. Does that sound like an iteration of the Matrix film series? There are similarities to be sure but where the film similarities end, the long-lasting business implications are just beginning. Grab your passport and join in on this tour of the metaverse.

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What Is the Metaverse?

Coined by author Neal Stephenson in his book, “Snow Crash” (1992), the metaverse is a virtual-reality space in which users interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. It has also been defined as a highly immersive world where users work, play, and socialize together through the use of avatars. You can think of it as the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet.

Why the Metaverse Matters

Technology has increasingly become a large part of life from how we manufacture, buy, sell and consume goods and services. The metaverse will continue to add dimensions to how we perform all of those actions.

  • Interaction. Traditional human interaction would give way to using hands-free devices to connect in this alternate virtual reality. The metaverse could be thought of as oversized goggles that allow you to “see” into a different world.
  • Technology’s progression. As technology continues to play an ever-increasing role, the metaverse is a place where reality becomes more and more digitized. The metaverse is seen as the evolution of technology.
  • Company relevance. Who will rule the metaverse? How will companies respond to the way they market and sell their products and services? How will brands stay relevant and adapt to the speed of change associated with technology? These are all questions that businesses will have to incorporate into their strategic plans.

How Can Companies Leverage the Metaverse?

Change is inevitable. These four areas are just a few of the key elements to consider when crafting a strategy to leverage the metaverse.

Brand Building

Consumers will soon be able to make purchases of goods and services (including land) in both the physical world and the metaverse. Brand loyalty will become largely dependent on how well a company adapts and translates their current offerings onto the metaverse. As with all major technological shifts, the metaverse will gain traction slowly over time. Examples of this include 3D imaging, which made its debut in the late 1800s, as well as games like Second Life, an alternate-reality video game which took 4 years to get its base to a million users (Fortnite was considerably quicker to reach that user level). The metaverse will force companies to consider how their brand appeals to early adopters and stays relevant to their traditional customer base. This could have major implications on how a company defines and markets to potential customers.

Talent Acquisition

It’s possible that work will shift away from employee-customer interaction to heavy investment into the technological infrastructure of companies. There may be a spike in talent demand to develop algorithms for avatars to purchase goods and services. This could represent a tremendous shift in the types of roles to be filled by talent acquisition teams.

Work Structure

Team structure will likely fundamentally change with the metaverse. Many companies have gone to a hybrid structure already with meetings and collaboration taking place on technology platforms. In the metaverse, teams may interact using hands-free devices and avatars rather than laptops and phones. This change will create training needs.

Learning & Development

Employees will need to learn how to work inside the metaverse. Change management could become a training area in which we see large spikes. L&D practitioners will need to be mindful of the rate of change across up to five generations of workers, all equipped with different learning styles. Once the metaverse itself is understood, companies will need to consider how to educate and train employees in new equipment and software. Current competencies required to perform jobs, both soft skills and technical skills, will need to be re-assessed. Organizational capability may become one of the most critical initiatives in the company’s strategic plan.

How Will the Metaverse Impact Business

At the onset, the metaverse may serve as a way to expand the experience of buying and selling goods and services. As time goes on and adoption increases, the physical world may shrink in favor of the virtual. Should this occur, major changes will be seen in these key areas:

Revenue Models

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will be the currency of choice. Customers will be required to make purchases with NFTs which, in turn, will need to be stored in a digital wallet. There may be accounting implications for reconciling balance sheets and income statements for companies that sell in both the physical realm and the metaverse.

Entrepreneurship

The metaverse will level the playing field for new start-ups by removing some elements that drive up the cost of entry, like marketing expenses and a physical location.

Customer and Employee Interaction

Selling will no longer require a salesforce. The metaverse experience as viewed through a hands-free device will need to be compelling enough to result in a sale, thus materially altering the role of a salesforce. Imagine your avatar trying on a pair of shoes in the metaverse while you sit back and watch another avatar assisting the experience. Managers will manage avatars rather than people. Coding could become a critical skill across more jobs in the metaverse. Employees and customers could mingle in the metaverse virtually. This interaction will create management implications as metaverse behavior will need to be monitored as in the physical world. Codes of conduct and ethics will need to be imported into the metaverse, making HR’s role essential there.

Communication

Company updates from leadership will take on more of a gaming look, complete with avatars and special effects. Attendees in meetings may feel as though they are in the same room while in actuality working from a home office using hands-free devices. Zoom meetings and in-person meetings could become obsolete.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About the Metaverse

Akin to the internet, the metaverse is an underlying platform owned by no one in particular. There are a handful of early adopters now developing strategies to position themselves for commerce on this platform.
Yes. This trend is just starting to unfold and could have revolutionary implications. Businesses and investors alike are scrambling to get in on the ground floor. Before investing, you’ll need a digital wallet because only cryptocurrency is used in these transactions. After buying cryptocurrency tokens, you can invest in companies operating in the metaverse.
It is already here, but it is still in its formative years.

Milly Christmann is a high energy, operationally oriented talent management leader with extensive expertise in human resources, sales management, service and operations. She is recognized for collaborating with leaders to achieve their business goals by unleashing the power of an engaged workforce. By using process improvement, technology and strong, impassioned people skills as well as by attracting, developing and retaining top talent, Ms. Christmann drives change that matters.

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