The metaverse has taken the world by storm and is going to change the way we do business very soon. But what is it?
The New York Times describes it as the convergence of two ideas that have been around for many years: virtual reality and a digital second life. Our virtual lives will play as important a role as our physical realities. We will spend time interacting with our friends and colleagues in virtual space. We will spend money there, too, on outfits and objects for our digital avatars.
We will wear headsets that immerse us in a 3-D environment, carry motion-sensing controllers to interact with virtual objects and use a microphone to communicate with others. Most importantly, we will be in the Internet, not on the Internet.
But the metaverse is not here yet.
Three ways to start prepping
Clearly, big opportunities are emerging as it develops, but how should savvy SMBs prepare for its impact?
As if our world has not undergone enough disruption, this will require businesses to adapt and shift once more, as the digital world moves ever closer to becoming the new reality. The best way to prepare to join the metaverse is to look at your SMB’s existing digital infrastructure and identify areas that you can tweak and develop.
1. Determine what you want from the metaverse
Connecting people via technology using virtual and augmented reality is not new. What is necessary is to understand how you can make your SMB ready for this new level of digital transformation.
Start by gaining a clear idea of what you want for your brand and how you can leverage tech to achieve it. How can your focus areas differentiate your business from the competition? Research your customer base and get to know more about your target audience and their underserved needs.
Perhaps you will need to develop better AI to address customer questions on-site. Maybe you need to invest in VR tech that enables potential buyers to try out your products as if they were there in your showroom. Knowing what you want is the first step to making the metaverse work for your business.
2. Consider adjusting your business model
It might make sense to adjust your business model in preparation for the metaverse. British tech company PixelMax is a good example of a start-up that pivoted towards a metaverse-friendly model as a result of changing trends.
The pre-pandemic communication platform provider saw “Zoom fatigue” set in and now connects businesses with their internal team and with the external community via immersive 3D virtual workplaces in the metaverse.
3. Look at what the big companies are doing
Amazon Web Services offers a pilot programme to help SMBs enter the realm of ecommerce with a minimum of fuss. It allows customers to search the SMB database and connect with companies that share values and offer the products their customers are looking for.
Digital platforms are rolling out tools to help SMBs offer virtual experiences in addition to product photos. Shopify, for example, supports 3D models on its product pages to let customers see products in AR and has experts available for hire to help create those 3D models.
More of these opportunities and resources will become available as we progress towards the metaverse.
The bottom line
It is far too early to be able to tell exactly what’s going to happen in the Metaverse, but it’s vital to be ready for anything.
The past two years have certainly proved how necessary it is to be adaptable. How your business rides out the changes over the next decade will be up to you, but you should at least be prepared for what might come next.