The emergence of the metaverse has been the most recent Big Bang event for the world of the internet and cyberspace, and is likely the biggest inflection point for technology giants and start-ups alike to date.
Immersive, user-centric technologies such as the metaverse are creating new technology building blocks and extending the frontiers of tech innovation. The global metaverse market was valued at USD51.69 billion in 2021 and it is estimated to surpass around USD1.3 trillion by 2030 with a registered CAGR of 44.5% during the forecast period 2022 to 2030¹.
And while that is happening, consumer behaviours are changing and paving the way for a paradigm shift in how we use the internet. The internet, as we use it today, started with a framework of interconnected hyperlinks called Web 1.0. Later, the internet evolved into the social web called Web 2.0, built on a set of innovations that emerged from Web 1.0. People interact with it on a two-dimensional screen and the web is filled with user-generated content owned centrally by platform providers.
Now, the Spatial Internet, Web 3.0, is changing the idea of user experience to three-dimensional space while decentralising content ownership using distributed ledger technology (blockchain). Metaverse, a part of the vision of Web 3.0, is a shared, three-dimensional virtual world where people can interact with each other and with businesses through their virtual representation avatars.
Often, the virtual world is associated with the gaming space and the entertainment industry. Although virtual gaming and virtual concerts are some early applications of this change, the metaverse presents myriad opportunities across industries beyond gaming.
Consider the possibilities of having a private corporate metaverse where you can host immersive virtual meetings with colleagues across the globe. As organisations take “collaborative” and “work from anywhere” to the next level, the digital twin of an employee could enter meeting rooms in real time to make presentations or take meeting notes. Or they could even enter virtual lounges to network and relax with colleagues over a cup of coffee.
Metaverse has an enterprise aspect as well as a consumer aspect to it. So, it could be a utility firm creating a data-based digital replica of its network infrastructure and experimenting with new designs before applying them to the real world. Or it could be about running a virtual store of your product and delivering it to customers’ doorsteps. The metaverse creates a middle ground between the webstore and physical shop where the customer’s virtual avatar can have physical interaction with the virtual store. The virtual store then provides an immersive experience to the customer to engage in the metaverse world and gather insights on their areas of interest. These are just a few examples of metaverse capabilities.
Key technology enablers
While metaverse concepts have been around for decades, there were no technologies that made its enterprise-level adoption viable. Today the metaverse is expected to tie together our digital and physical worlds with the help of four key technology enablers.