The Metaverse: A Virtual Reality Check
Analyst Forrester recently defined the Metaverse as an immersive experience of interoperable and interconnected environments delivered across a variety of devices. According to the Forrester report the state of the metaverse, It will be delivered in stages and built into a decentralized platform that puts a 3D experience on the World Wide Web.
“Initial Metaverse use cases will focus on gaming and entertainment,” say the report’s authors. “Today’s immersive multiplayer gaming platforms such as Fourteen days, Roblox and The sandbox are obvious gateways to the imaginary metaverse as users can customize their avatars, attend virtual concerts, explore with virtual friends, and team up with other players.”
An example of this is Epic Games, the company behind it Fourteen days and Unreal engine, for creating 3D experiences in games. His vision of building a child-safe metaverse has now been fueled by a $2 billion investment from Sony and Kirkbi, the family-owned holding and investment company behind the Lego Group.
The investment builds on a recent collaboration with Lego to bridge the physical and digital worlds. Niels Christiansen, CEO of The Lego Group, said: “Children love to play in digital and physical worlds and switch seamlessly between the two. We believe there is tremendous potential for them to develop lifelong skills such as creativity, collaboration and communication through digital experiences.
“But we have a responsibility to make them safe, inspiring and useful for everyone. Just as we have protected children’s rights to safe physical play for generations, we are committed to doing the same for digital play. We look forward to working with Epic Games to create this exciting and fun future.”
There are opportunities to build Metaverse skills across all industries, but consumer adoption will likely come from gamers and those active on social media platforms, according to Forrester. An initial Forrester analysis found that 22% of online adults in the US and UK exhibit the type of intense gaming and social media activity conducive to early Metaverse adoption.
Not only do they love living online, but research from Forrester shows that these people are actively investing in creating personalized social media presences. It found that half (49%) of this cohort, or 11% overall, frequently use a virtual reality (VR) headset and 15% have purchased haptic rigs to enhance their experience.
Business Case for a Metaverse Share
On the business side, leading PC maker Lenovo recently unveiled big plans to expand its Metaverse capabilities. Over the next three years, the company plans to hire 12,000 R&D professionals worldwide to focus on new and emerging IT architectures. One of the key areas of research and development Lenovo plans to develop is technology that will help companies capitalize on the metaverse.
In a podcast uploaded in late March, Richard Ward, senior manager in corporate virtual reality practice at McKinsey, discussed the possibilities of using the Metaverse as a training environment. He said: “If you’re running a service organization — say, a fast-food chain — the ability to teach people all the processes and mechanics of the line before they even get close to dangerous equipment has very broad utility down the line.” you can literally do it now.”
Like many industry observers, McKinsey’s Ward points out that the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have radically changed the way people think about office work. “I’m really excited about the ability of how we’re building on top of Zoom for a remote work and play environment,” he said on the podcast. “One of the great lessons we have learned from the pandemic, horrifying as it was, is that things that people had said for decades were impossible are now possible. Like the idea that it’s impossible for everyone to be out of the office – it’s been proven wrong.”
Taking this a step further, the technology sector sees an opportunity to develop the metaverse to support hybrid work patterns. A study by CCS Insight, based on a survey of 611 respondents in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, reports that the use of extended reality in companies has skyrocketed during the pandemic, offering new opportunities to manage a distributed workforce enable.
CCS data shows that interest in the metaverse is growing, fueling an appetite for virtual collaboration. His research found that a quarter of employees have already experimented with extended reality and another 44% are keen to try it.
IT services company DXC Technology is one of the companies trying to bring the VR experience of the Metaverse to its own employees and customers via its virtual worlds platform. DXC believes that immersive collaboration offers a higher level of engagement than traditional online collaboration tools.
It turns out that the Generation Z demographic is the most likely generation to seamlessly integrate advanced technologies like VR and augmented reality (AR) into their daily lives. In fact, 57% of DXC employees have attended a Metaverse event.
Prepare the infrastructure and build capabilities
As Forrester notes, the Metaverse is still in its infancy. But CIOs and CTOs still need to strategize to ensure they have the right mix of skills and technical infrastructure to provide the business with a metaverse experience when needed. Forrester recommends that IT leaders develop a strategy to assess, manage, and prioritize key technologies that enable the metaverse.
“Track and understand tools like Unreal engine, Unit and other metaverse building blocks,” say the authors of the Status of the metaverse Report. They recommend that CIOs plan to strengthen the foundation for Metaverse initiatives, which means building skills and talent in key technologies for Metaverse building blocks and 3D modeling.
Forrester also asks IT leaders to evaluate hardware, software, cloud, 5G, and other technologies needed to support Metaverse experiences.