The metaverse is a virtual world, but its potential to reshape disparate industries in the near future is very real.
In fact, companies not exploring the promise of the metaverse risk being left behind, argues Jenai Marinkovic, a member of ISACA’s 2022 Emerging Trends Working Group. “What’s happening now is not a flash in the pan,” she says.
The metaverse is the 3D immersive experience layer of the internet, where users can meet with interoperable and interlinked environments delivered through a variety of devices — from smartphones and virtual reality headsets to other form factors not yet conceived. The idea is to expand the flat web we know today into a multidimensional and multisensory experience, says J. P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.
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The Metaverse Presents Potential Across Multiple Industries
Businesses are taking notice: 58 percent of technology professionals report that their organizations are adopting solutions over the next 12 months to support their business or IT objectives in the metaverse, according to a recent Forrester survey.
In some cases, metaverse-style experiences will complement existing technologies used at work, Gownder says. For example, Microsoft is integrating a number of features from its Mesh metaverse platform directly with Microsoft Teams, which will reach more than 250 million users, enabling some to hold meetings in the metaverse just as if they were in the same room together. Gownder expects other collaboration technology providers to follow suit.
Meetings held in 3D spaces can take the place of travel, as the consulting firm Accenture found in its Nth Floor employee onboarding program, he says. Virtual reality training can speed onboarding time and facilitate knowledge transfer among employees.
“We now have the technology to create true-to-reality digital twins of the physical world, and this new evolution of the web will be much larger than the physical world because like the web, almost every industry will benefit from participating and hosting virtual worlds,” says Richard Kerris, vice president of NVIDIA, creator of the Omniverse development platform.
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The Possibilities Are Infinite in the Metaverse
Omniverse is NVIDIA’s platform for simulation and 3D design collaboration that serves as the connective tissue for physically accurate 3D virtual worlds. It enables designers, artists, reviewers and others to work together across leading software applications in a shared virtual world — in real time, from anywhere.
Omniverse is being used to create industrial applications of digital twins: Ericsson has used it to create a digital twin of a city for 5G optimization; BMW, to build a factory of the future; and Lockheed Martin, to simulate environments for calculating wildfire spread.
“The metaverse presents an enormous opportunity, and businesses shouldn’t limit themselves to viewing the metaverse through a purely extended-reality lens,” Kerris says. “The metaverse — or virtual worlds — can be applied in infinite ways.”
For all its promise, the metaverse remains very much under construction. In its report “The State of the Metaverse,” Forrester argues that while many experiments are taking place on “single-vendor platform activations,” the metaverse itself won’t properly exist “until there is interoperability across immersive platforms.”
That will take awhile — perhaps a decade or so. “Scenarios that offer calculable benefits will grow significantly in the next five years but won’t reach a majority of employees for at least 10,” Gownder says. “Ultimately, there are many more short-term opportunities for metaverse-style experiences in enterprise than there are in consumer tech.”