Customer Is King In The Metaverse Too

The Metaverse is at a nascent stage, however, it carries immense potential to touch every aspect of people’s lives, writes Sanjay Binyala


Imagine a world where people travel to different countries without taking flights, they consult a doctor in a hospital without really stepping out and attend a music concert from the comfort of their homes. This world of imagination is turning into reality, thanks to the Metaverse!      

The Metaverse is at a nascent stage, however, it carries immense potential to touch every aspect of people’s lives. A shared space and a network of interconnected virtual worlds, the Metaverse enables socialising, learning, collaborating, shopping, and playing in ways beyond the ordinary realm. The breadth of implementation of the Metaverse ranges from virtual spaces (virtual meetings), gaming, non-fungible token (NFT), digital humans, to more recent spatial computing on the augmented reality (AR) cloud.

Social changes induced by spending longer time with computers and lesser on physical interactions have given a great push to the Metaverse. According to a Gartner, Inc. report, 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the Metaverse for work, shopping, education, social and/or entertainment by 2026. Technological innovations such as Web3, 5G, and significant strides made in AR/VR (virtual reality) and spatial computing have notably contributed to the emergence of the Metaverse. 

Immersing in the Metaverse 

Industries and companies that understand the massive and futuristic opportunities offered by the Metaverse have a competitive edge. Today’s consumer demands immersive experiences that are impactful and valuable to their buying journeys. A focus on building digital assets that augment customer experience and strengthen their retention is crucial. Collaboration with peers and even consumers to co-create immersive experiences will be beneficial to entities. However, scaling immersive experiences remains a challenge. 

An example of the Metaverse adoption and implementation is ‘Luru’, launched by the Silicon Valley of India, Bengaluru. ‘Luru’ lets users experience the worlds of blockbuster films—Kantara and KGF—in addition to a virtual set up of the city. Pune’s Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum will be hosted on India’s first Metaverse platform called the ‘BharatVerse’ to provide a real-time viewing experience of the artefacts. The launch of ITC Ltd.’s Fabelle, a luxury chocolate brand, on the Metaverse is an instance of the Indian corporate ramping up its efforts to enhance customer experience. International brands have been ahead in the game with the likes of Gucci, Nike Inc., and Hyundai Motor Company investing significantly at an early stage.  

The wealth in digital health

The use cases of the Metaverse are ever-increasing across sectors but the most important of all are the ones in the healthcare industry, which has witnessed many challenges in recent years. The Metaverse will unlock quality healthcare for everyone by giving them access to doctors and treatment otherwise restricted by physical locations. Platforms such as Lybrate, a mobile healthcare technology company, have reported a doubling in mental health consultations. A pharma major has used the platform to launch virtual clinics for schizophrenia patients. With the advantage of a highly customisable environment that is realistic and intuitive, the Metaverse can create a safe and comfortable space for patients.  

Consumers also want to experience healthcare in the Metaverse. A recent industry study showed that life sciences (healthcare, medical devices and more) is one of the biggest sectors that consumers want to experience in the Metaverse. Thus, this sector and its stakeholders must act quickly to capture the growing customer interest. The Metaverse will help in training medical professionals and educating customers on the efficacy of drugs. 

The business case of the Metaverse 

Organisations are aware of the Metaverse’s business value and are strategically investing in it. Facebook parent Meta Platforms, Inc. plans to invest about 20% of its total costs and expenses into the Metaverse in 2023 and bring everything that pertains to human interaction on the Internet. Other technology giants are expected to launch the Internet-connected glasses and AR/VR headsets as the Metaverse expands and takes over daily lives.  

With a more pervasive concept of community than any traditional virtual platform and accelerated by technological advancements, the Metaverse offers avenues of rapid growth across industries. Constant evolution will generate new use cases and sources of revenue for organizations. The Metaverse will also reshape the future of workplaces by improving collaboration, facilitating seamless trainings, reducing the need for physical infrastructure, and changing the onboarding process. The Metaverse presents several challenging yet strategic questions of data integration, readiness, alignment with the organizational vision, investment versus the benefit of technologies and the right time to put in money.

The journey ahead for the Metaverse is long as it is dependent on several emerging technologies. It can truly prosper when AR/VR glasses and other devices become more accessible and affordable. The success of any offering will depend on user acceptability and the product fit into the Metaverse. The technological disruptions in gaming, e-commerce, learning and development, workplace and the entertainment industry are inevitable. With innovation and digital transformation at the core of the Metaverse, organizations have the opportunity to create better and bigger experiences for customers. 

(Sanjay Binyala is the Executive Vice President and Head of Digital Consumer Experience - India, Capgemini)

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