Metaverse: five issues shaping the next frontier of human experience

By Nicola morini bianzino

We are on the edge of a new technology era: metaverse. Like previous paradigm shifts, metaverse is ready to qualitatively change all aspects of human experience.

A new technological paradigm often appears, which is expected to fundamentally redesign industry, economy, society and daily life. About 10 years since the last such transformation (social, mobile, cloud), we may be at the forefront of a new transformation: metaverse.

01

Metaverse extends to all fields

Touted as the successor to the Internet, metaverse refers to a shared, persistent, 3D virtual field in which people interact with objects, environments and each other through their own or avatar digital representations.

As the mainstay of science fiction for decades, metaverse is not a new concept; Early versions already exist, mainly in the game industry.

However, with the covid-19 pandemic accelerating the integration of physics and digital, coupled with the development of complementary and emerging technologies, metaverse seems to be ready to expand to all fields of human activities.

Imagine holding a meeting with colleagues hundreds of miles apart on a virtual whiteboard in the middle of the Colosseum in Rome. Or, instead of scrolling through the website, cross the aisle of the store to find the product that best suits you and deliver it to your door.

Or simulate the best process production line to adapt to product changes and minimize bottlenecks, or test innovative aircraft wing designs without building expensive prototypes.

These are just a few examples of how the virtual world can enhance our capabilities, expand our contacts and enrich our interactions.

There is no doubt that the concept is still in its infancy, but people are getting a glimpse of metaverse, how people will use it and the opportunities it will release. The challenge facing enterprises, governments and the whole society is to successfully control the next technology era and lead the next frontier of human experience.

The covid-19 pandemic has promoted the continuous migration of our personal and professional lives to the pixel world.

However, while online platforms can mediate many, if not all, of our offline activities, they cannot replace physical presence.

Yuan Jie proposed to bridge this gap; Weave physical atoms and digital bits together to build a tactile and sensory immersion experience, which can create a sense of existence without actual existence. In fact, it will let us – including the places and things we value – not only on the Internet, but also in it.

Free from the physical constraints of time and space, metaverse has brought revolutionary new opportunities to various industries outside the game. Similar to the mobile Internet era, the immersive era will require companies to make fundamental changes in customer participation, brand promotion, product development, innovation and ultimately the whole business model.

Many people are already trying to use existing game platforms to build virtual social spaces, sell virtual items, such as clothes or shoes for avatars, create digital twins in factories to optimize operations, and even conduct interviews and recruit new employees.

Governments also noted the potential for deeper and richer interaction, including civil servants, education, tourism and cultural activities in the virtual world.

Plans are under way to establish Embassies elsewhere for smaller, less affluent countries in order to appear immediately internationally. Others are using data-based digital replicas of the physical environment and artificial intelligence to predict the spread of wildfires and pre empt the deployment of firefighters.

These early attempts give us a glimpse of the amazing possibilities offered by metaverse. But in addition to the benefits, there are potential pitfalls. After all, the complete virtual immersive fax of our existing reality will certainly replicate many of the challenges we face in the physical and digital world – there is no doubt that new challenges will be created.

In addition to the technical milestones required to fully achieve metaverse, there may be more critical people-centered challenges that help ease the momentum and enthusiasm around the concept. As metaverse intersects with all aspects of our physical and digital reality, five key issues arise:

1. How will Yuanjie expand and transform the enterprise?

Although fusion technology is opening the way to the yuan world, the fully connected 3D immersive experience provides a rich opportunity landscape for all walks of life. Enterprises are asking themselves how to view metaverse when formulating future strategies. What investments should they make today to prepare metaverse for its arrival?

Just as digital transformation continues to force companies to develop all aspects of their business, it also requires immersive or meta transformation. Open up a new market and new business field with customers and competitors. What new innovative models will emerge? What new skills are needed? How will it affect talent management?

Although the widespread use of Yuanjie as a major customer participation interface may take a few years, enterprises need to start incorporating it into their short-term and long-term vision today.

2. Are regulators ready for the virtual world?

Regulators are already trying to deal with the negative externalities of current digital technologies. Personal data collection, privacy, deep forgery and other issues are significantly affecting the structure of our society and the way companies interact with customers and employees. Metaverse is likely to amplify these challenges and introduce new ones.

In the short term, our portal to the virtual world will be through virtual and augmented reality devices. They not only allow us to interact in the virtual world, but also allow companies to track more and more personal data, such as facial expressions, blood pressure, eye gaze and so on.

Current laws and data regulations need to be updated in many aspects, from fair access to security, responsibility, intellectual property and digital rights, as well as honest self-statement. What will good and fair regulation look like? How can regulators succeed this time?

3. How will metaverse reconstruct the people-oriented experience?

Taking people’s interests as the core is the increasingly differentiated feature of today’s enterprises. In metaverse, this will have a new meaning, as personal characters will appear and want to be transmitted in the virtual immersive landscape. Success in metaverse will depend on understanding and adapting to emerging customer behaviors and expectations.

In addition, as customers travel through metaverse across many ecosystems, trust will become more indispensable.

With the emergence of virtual world as the main technology interface in the future, we also need to ask ourselves the impact on potential technology addiction and mental health. There are already concerns about these same themes for the current generation of social media technologies, and metaverse will make this experience more attractive and possibly more dangerous.

So, in this case, how will this change the way the brand designs and implements the customer journey? What does it take to provide a truly trusted experience? How to redefine customer engagement and loyalty?

4. What new dimensions will metaverse open for sustainability?

Perhaps the greatest threat to human survival, sustainable development is the top priority on the agenda of enterprises and governments. What role does metaverse play in our collective efforts to solve this global problem?

Making metaverse a technological reality will require a huge new infrastructure, and to be accepted, it requires a flexible, net zero solution.

In addition, if product and experience consumption is disproportionately shifted to virtual or digital, it may significantly affect physical resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, which may be positive because it may lead to less travel, but it may also increase the demand for electricity.

If metaverse makes us pay more attention to the virtual and digital world than the physical world, will it urge us to pay less attention to the environment?

On the other hand, metaverse can change our ability to observe, model and act in the physical world, so that we can better understand our impact on the environment and make better decisions.

5. How will the implementation of virtual world develop worldwide?

The Internet has split and operates according to different rules in different parts of the world. In fact, technology is becoming a new foundation for global competition, and the yuan community will not be spared. While globally recognized standards will certainly emerge to achieve interoperability, sovereign governments may intervene as they do in today’s Internet world.

How will the rise of global geopolitics and protectionism affect the evolution of metaverse? Will similar fault lines appear? Due to the nature of the Internet itself, what does this mean for increasingly multinational enterprises?

The core of the decentralization movement is the attempt to conduct collective governance without sovereignty or corporate supervision. As the blockchain based exchange mechanism gains traction in the virtual world, will it become a defining economic paradigm? What impact will this change have on the future of business model and corporate structure?

02

The complexity and challenges of the new reality

On the threshold of any new technology wave, there is a vision of anti Utopia and utopian competition; Yuan Festival is no exception.

Although we cannot fully imagine all the benefits or risks that will arise, it is clear that we are about to enter a fascinating new dimension of human experience.

This is the first in a series of in-depth studies proposed by Ernst & young. In subsequent articles, we will further explore the above key issues in order to reveal operable and practical strategies for enterprises, governments, economies and individuals.

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