Opportunities in the Metaverse for Startups and Small Businesses

February 17, 2022

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A year ago Metaverse was just a theoretical term that was buried deep inside a 1992 science fiction novel written by Neal Stephenson. Neal had described the Metaverse as an alternate reality where people could come together to socialize, play, communicate, work – all in a virtual landscape. When Neal penned down this concept, he probably didn’t have any idea how to bring Metaverse to reality.

But, thanks to tech experts like Mark Zuckerberg, we are only a few years away from being a part of the Metaverse. Ever since Zuckerberg changed his company’s name from Facebook to Meta, the bubble around the Metaverse burst and shook the entire world. From teenagers playing Fortnite in their rooms to the CEO of a multi-billion dollar organization, everyone is talking about the Metaverse and its foreseeable future.

Even small businesses and startups are eager to know how Metaverse would impact their business growth and how they can prepare for a future ruled by a virtual landscape. So, in today’s article, we’ll try to explore the potential benefits that Metaverse is likely to bring for small businesses/startups and an ideal approach they can follow to relish the benefits of this remarkable technology. We’ll also explain how partnering with a professional mobile app development company like RV Technologies can help you embrace the Metaverse to stay prepared for the future.

So, without wasting another second, let’s dive in.

A Simple Introduction to the Metaverse

In case you’re hearing the term ‘Metaverse’ for the first time and don’t know anything about it, here’s a simple introduction to get you up to speed. In simple words, the Metaverse could be defined as a virtual landscape where people can create their own avatars and interact with each other virtually.

The idea is to create a virtual world where users could execute every single activity they usually perform in this physical world. It means when Metaverse comes into existence, people would be able to buy digital assets, communicate with each other, and even attend virtual events across the globe.

Now, this is just a regular textbook definition of the Metaverse. In reality, Metaverse is merely a blurry dream that industry leaders like Mark Zuckerberg are continuously chasing. In October 2021, Zuckerberg changed its company’s name from Facebook to Meta, which convinced the entire world that he is likely to own the Metaverse in the future. But, many other tech giants including Microsoft, Roblox, and Nvidia are constantly chasing the Metaverse dream and we don’t know who will cross the finish line first.

How is Metaverse Different from Web 3.0?

Recently, another term – named Web 3.0 has also been surfacing across different platforms on the Internet. And, unfortunately, many people believe Web 3.0 is the same as the Metaverse. While both these terminologies relate to each other, they are poles apart from each other. Web 3.0 mainly refers to the next generation of the Internet. Like its predecessor – the Web 2.0 (the Internet we currently understand) – Web 3.0 will only provide users with a mechanism to consume information through different servers.

While it may seem a bit hard to digest, we are already seeing bits and pieces of Web 3.0 around us. For instance, Blockchain and NFTs could be considered as two major pillars of Web 3.0. Both these technologies have unlocked a plethora of opportunities for creators as well as consumers. With NFTs, artists can design their digital assets, tokenize them through Blockchain, and then sell them to the end-users in a completely secure environment.

Decentralized browsers could be considered as another element of the future of the Internet. These browsers allow users to block unnecessary advertisements and decide which websites they want to access. This way they can stay away from random ad pop-ups while browsing a particular website on their devices. Of course, NFTs, blockchain, and decentralized browsers are only a few of the elements of Web 3.0. The development of such technologies is gradually propelling the world towards an intuitive, interactive, and more secure future of the Internet.

So, how does Metaverse fit into this equation? Well, Metaverse will decide how users could interact with the future of the Internet. Metaverse incorporates different technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Blockchain. In the future, a combination of these technologies will allow users to step into the Internet using digital assets. In a nutshell, the Metaverse will give us the mechanisms to enter the Internet and interact with other users in a virtual environment.

Who Will Build the Metaverse First?

As we mentioned earlier, multiple industry leaders are developing their own version of the Metaverse. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is probably leading this race as it has the majority of infrastructural elements for the development of Metaverse.

For instance, the company owns Oculus VR headsets, which are most likely to be an integral part of the Metaverse in the future. But, this doesn’t mean that Meta will own and run the Metaverse. In an interview with Stratechery, Mark Zuckerberg said that there won’t be one company owning the Metaverse. According to Zuckerberg, different companies would have to come together to develop the building blocks, infrastructural elements, and technologies that would shape the future of the Metaverse.

As of 2022, these are a few of the other companies working on Metaverse development.

1. Microsoft

Unlike Meta, Microsoft’s vision with Metaverse is to create a virtual environment where enterprises could establish a remote work culture where employees could create their Avatars and use them to virtually attend meetings/conferences. The company has already taken the initial steps towards achieving this goal. Microsoft is working on combining MESH – its official AR/VR platform with Microsoft Teams to allow organizations to conduct virtual meetings in a relatively more interactive manner.

2. Roblox

Roblox is probably one of the biggest players in the Metaverse chase. It’s an online gaming platform where users can create their own games or play games designed by other people. Roblox has 47 million active users and 9.5 million active developers who design ‘experiences’ – virtual gaming worlds – where other users could explore using their own digital avatars.

Even though Roblox isn’t heavily influenced by technologies like Virtual Reality, it is still an interesting version of the Metaverse where the entire gaming community can come together to create immersive gaming experiences.

3. Nvidia

Nvidia’s CEO, Jensen Huang has actively come forward to talk about the Metaverse and the company’s vision towards bringing this digital landscape to reality. Huang, however, has coined a different term – Omniverse – for this virtual world.

According to Huang, the world can use Omniverse to mitigate wastefulness in different industries and uplift operational productivity by simulating different environments in the digital world. Huang doesn’t simply want the Metaverse to be a place for gaming/entertainment.

Nvidia’s vision is to design Omniverse in such a way that it can simulate different factories, plants, and powerhouses so that industries could reduce waste and transform their economical growth. Nvidia is also developing the required hardware components and software tools that are essential for the development of Metaverse.

Real-World Examples of the Metaverse

Even though we are a few years away from seeing a full-fledged Metaverse, its small iterations already exist in the world. Decentraland, for instance, is an online NFT-based platform where users can purchase, develop, and explore virtual lands using the MANA cryptocurrency. The platform relies on Ethereum blockchain for all transactions and it’s probably the closest thing to Metaverse we have right now. Apart from Decentraland, some other real-world examples of the Metaverse include:

1. Musical Concerts

In November 2021, Justin Bieber partnered with Wave – a virtual entertainment platform – to perform in a virtual concert that fans could attend from any corner of the world. The pop-star wore a motion-capture suit that allowed him to control the movements of his digital avatar virtually. Thousands of fans attended this concert and it was highly appreciated by the entire music industry.

According to Huang, the world can use Omniverse to mitigate wastefulness in different industries and uplift operational productivity by simulating different environments in the digital world. Huang doesn’t simply want the Metaverse to be a place for gaming/entertainment.

Nvidia’s vision is to design Omniverse in such a way that it can simulate different factories, plants, and powerhouses so that industries could reduce waste and transform their economical growth. Nvidia is also developing the required hardware components and software tools that are essential for the development of Metaverse.

2. Metaverse Gaming

The gaming industry has taken a lead in embracing the Metaverse. Platforms like Roblox and Fortnite are some of the examples of how Metaverse is constantly transforming the gaming experience.

Both these platforms allow users to be a part of the virtual world and explore it using a dedicated avatar. In the coming few years, we are most likely to witness visually enticing gaming environments that would revolve around Metaverse and its contributing technologies like virtual reality.

Technologies that Fuel the Metaverse

If you’ve read this far, you already know that tech giants working on the Metaverse rely on different technologies to simulate different real-world environments. Here’s a quick overview of some of these technologies so that you can understand how much they contribute to the development of Metaverse.

1. Blockchain

Blockchain’s role in the Metaverse heavily revolves around security. To make financial transactions secure in the Metaverse, companies need to develop cryptocurrencies on Blockchain (like Mana) that ensure 100% secure monetary transactions.

In addition to bringing security, Blockchain can also contribute to the decentralization of the Metaverse and avoid unexpected frauds. Businesses can hire dedicated developers to build decentralized networks where users could virtually authenticate their identities. While building ed-tech or healthcare platforms, developers could incorporate Blockchain and develop real-time 3D environments where user authentication becomes hassle-free for everyone.

2. Virtual Reality

As of the current definition of the Metaverse (that we understand), Virtual Reality is the biggest asset of this virtual world. VR headsets like Oculus Quest and HTC Vive give users the ability to experience the Metaverse in its true essence. By wearing a VR headset, users can escape their physical world, explore each element of the Metaverse in real-time, and make the entire experience more interactive.

And, the best part is Virtual Reality is not just limited to gaming and watching movies in the Metaverse. Employees working in an organization can also use the Metaverse to conduct virtual meetings and even navigate through virtual office premises.

3. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also a crucial technology that can uplift the entire user experience for consumers in the Metaverse. Right from creating their digital avatars to interacting with digital humans (a version of bots in the Metaverse), AI can devise a personalized user experience by analyzing customer behavior and personal preferences.

In the Metaverse, AI can be used to perform 3D scans or analyze 2D images to create realistic digital avatars of each individual, making the entire experience as realistic as possible.

Why Businesses Should Start Planning for the Metaverse

Well, why not? With several tech giants chasing the same goal, it’s no secret that Metaverse will be the future of the Internet and it would be crucial for businesses to be a part of the virtual world to continue their operations.

To understand this in a better way, let’s circle back to the early 2,000s. During those years, no one would have thought that an effective social media presence could help companies make millions of dollars in revenue. And, no one would have even imagined people making money by simply uploading videos on a digital platform like YouTube.

Just like social media became a regular part of our lives and transformed the entire business-consumer model, Metaverse is likely to bring forth an array of opportunities for brands in the coming years. So, to stay relevant and keep their operations running, it’s imperative for companies to plan their future with Metaverse at the back of their minds.

Now, let’s explore some of the potential applications of Metaverse in the enterprise sector.

1. Remote Work Culture

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic spread around like a wildfire and transformed our lives in many ways. However, one positive side of this global pandemic is that it’s not necessary for employees to go to a physical office every single day.

With many countries announcing nationwide lockdowns, companies had no other option, but to resort to remote working. And, surprisingly, it showcased that employees can clock in the same productivity that they deliver while sitting inside their cubicles. In fact, a study by Find Stack reveals that nearly 77% of employees believe that they are more productive while working from home whereas 85% of the managers believe that remote work culture is likely to become the new norm in the coming years.

But, there’s also no denying the fact that remote working has its fair share of challenges. Working from home every single day can easily become monotonous and it can become challenging for employees to unleash their full potential. This is where Metaverse comes into the picture. Metaverse can make the entire Work-from-home experience more interactive and protect users from spending the entire day sitting in front of the computer screen.

With VR headsets, they can enter virtual offices and even make regular Zoom calls more interactive. Apart from Microsoft working towards combining MESH and Microsoft Teams, Facebook is also developing Horizon Workrooms to help employees collaborate with each other through virtual rooms, regardless of their current physical location.

2. Better Customer Experience

Metaverse can help companies completely transform their customer services and uplift the overall user experience. With Metaverse, your customer support can give presentations on a particular product through holograms and help customers get familiar with each element more effectively.

You can also allow customers to test out different products in a virtual environment. For example, a furniture store like IKEA could develop an ecosystem where users have the ability to design an exact virtual replica of their house and then, test different IKEA products to make better shopping decisions. In short, Metaverse has the power to help businesses unlock better customer engagement and acquire long-term clientele.

3. Digital Products

Businesses can also develop digital products using NFT & Blockchain and sell them to consumers to skyrocket their revenue. In 2021, the global NFT sales totaled $24.9 Billion and these digital products included everything, starting from cartoon clips to virtual lands in Decentraland.

In the coming future, when Metaverse completely comes into existence, people would want to buy the virtual version of everything they own in the real world. This can include clothes, cars, houses, and even virtual pieces of land. The increased demand for digital assets will unlock better sales opportunities for businesses. All they have to do is fulfill the supply-chain demand in the virtual world and earn profit in return.

4. Virtual Training

Training the workforce is one of the biggest challenges for many industries, especially when people have to work around expensive and dangerous machinery. With Metaverse, many industries can eliminate this challenge and make employee training risk-free, inexpensive, and engaging for everyone.

Companies can simulate the real-life work environments in the Metaverse and allow employees to undergo effective training sessions. Consequently, they can reduce the entire operational cost and train the workforce in a completely secure environment.

The Bottom-Line

Metaverse is no longer a textbook term. With companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Nvidia spending millions of dollars in developing the future of the Internet, it’s safe to say that Metaverse will be here before the anticipated time. In such a scenario, businesses (both startups and large enterprises) must stay prepared for a Metaverse-ruled world and plan their strategies accordingly. As a leading digital solution provider, we can help you develop Metaverse-based NFT marketplaces, Blockchain solutions, and games that cater to your customers’ requirements and contribute to your business growth.

About the Author Sandeep Kumar is a Director at RV Technologies. Having an inclination towards software development, Sandeep always ensures to stay on top of the latest development technologies and how to implement them in real-world projects. He is always ready to share his insight with the developers so that they can also leverage the modern-day tech stack and build futuristic digital solutions for clients. Apart from overseeing all the development projects, Sandeep also likes to write down and share his insights with the world to familiarize people with the latest technologies and their potential in our everyday lives.

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