How CIOs can prepare the business for the metaverse

It’s no secret that business leaders are excited about the Metaverse. Tech companies are in a frenzy of anticipation for this immersive digital utopia and leaders are scrambling to secure their place in this new world. There’s just one problem: the metaverse doesn’t exist yet.

Right now, the majority of investing in the metaverse boils down to homesteading: claiming ownership in uncharted territory and hoping things work out. This puts CIOs and IT leaders in the difficult position of preparing the business to participate in and profit from something that has yet to be fully defined, let alone realized.

Even so, some components enabling the metaverse are available today. Immersive streaming platforms enable collaboration in a shared virtual space. Design tools for creating three-dimensional environments are now within the skill and financial reach of even casual content creators. User experience hardware, such as VR headsets and haptic gloves, are shifting from in-game curiosity to business necessity.

Each of these tools and the emerging standards on which they are based can be used now to prepare and position the business to thrive as the fully realized metaverse emerges. Here are steps CIOs and IT managers can take now to prepare for the metaverse, moving beyond hype to real-world applications to position their business for future success.

Understand where we are today

Gartner defines the metaverse as “a shared virtual collective space created by the convergence of a virtually enhanced physical and digital reality. The metaverse is persistent; delivering enhanced immersive experiences.

This definition introduces subtle but important features. First, the Metaverse is not necessarily a fully immersive VR environment. Rather, it is an enhanced physical and digital reality. While some experiences may indeed be fully synthetic and immersive virtual reality experiences, others may simply overlay digital information on the user’s current physical surroundings as seen through goggles or goggles. compatible with the metaverse.

Second, the metaverse is a collective space, not a monolithic environment. It will consist of many independent but interoperable applications and experiences. The metaverse will be a diverse ecosystem encompassing all of these enhanced experience apps, which can be considered metaspheres.

While the Metaverse may not yet exist, a wide variety of Metaspheres are already in place and provide value. A metasphere is an application that exhibits the characteristics of the metaverse, but largely in isolation. Current use cases range from fully immersive training routines to treatment instructions projected into the lenses of safety glasses. The metaspheres currently in use fall into one of three categories: Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Virtual Reality (VR). Metaspheres can be a great starting point for CIOs to explore future metaverse applications.

Start by looking internally

Today, companies are preparing for the metaverse by looking internally, exploring how metasphere tools can benefit their people, their operations, and ultimately their bottom line.

Creating inward-facing metaspheres has advantages over attempting to deploy services to the public. The business is a controlled environment. Most public-facing metasphere failures involve scalability and capacity issues, with services being overwhelmed and collapsing. Keeping metaspheres in-house allows you to limit demand and scale compute resources as needed.

Using metasphere technologies with employees also helps keep mistakes and failures out of public view while the organization builds skills and experience. Employees can test different approaches to a solution and provide feedback, allowing the business to learn, at its own pace, the tools and how they can be applied most effectively. As the marketplace determines how to monetize public metaverse offerings, internal metaspheres can provide immediate practical benefits to the business and potentially identify services that can effectively be made public and monetized.

Select use cases to enable future opportunities

As new metaspheres emerge, they will converge and merge, becoming more interconnected and interoperable, and the metaverse will emerge. But that can only happen if companies choose use cases wisely and implement them correctly today.

The first and most important question to ask is, “What will a metasphere allow us to do that can’t be done with a laptop and a webcam?” Too many business leaders succumb to the fear of missing out when new technology trends emerge and require new technology to be implemented immediately, leading to wasted investment, missed opportunities, and disillusionment.

Consider each type of metasphere currently available – AR, MR, and VR – and align them with scenarios that will improve business operations and employee efficiency. Training apps are the best starting point for most businesses, since training metaspheres are the easiest and least expensive entry point into the metaverse. They’re also the most effective at delivering high impact and immediate value, requiring only basic consumer-grade headwear. Metasphere training can be faster, cheaper, and lead to better retention than traditional training.

The point of immersive training is to place the user in a situation that would be impractical or inadvisable in the real world. For example, police forces have used immersive environments for de-escalation and crisis response training, as well as field and tactical training. Training in a metasphere need not be restricted to high-stakes situations; it can also be effective in helping employees develop soft skills. When business can be won or lost in a single interaction, it’s wise to let employees practice in front of an angry avatar before putting them in front of an angry customer.

When considering use cases, focus on current and future value. Reserve metaspheres for high-value scenarios that would otherwise not be practical or possible.

Start with a minimum viable approach

Perhaps the biggest unanswered question on the Metaverse is “How do we make money from it?” Beyond the narrow slices of games and entertainment, practical ways to monetize the metaverse have yet to be identified. There are many unresolved issues and unanswered questions about the Metaverse, and its eventual form and function remains to be seen. It is therefore risky to invest only for a possible entry into the public metaverse when it emerges.

However, metasphere technologies generate value by improving business efficiency and expanding capabilities. Training, collaboration, support, and digital matchmaking apps are used across industries and proven in employee-centric scenarios. Keeping experimentation focused on such applications within the enterprise can significantly mitigate the risk of metaverse.

For now, CIOs should take a minimal viable approach. Once a promising metasphere use case is identified, select a small, well-defined and contained set of capabilities and an initial set of users. Not only will this simplify implementation and deployment, but it will also facilitate adoption. As developers or administrators and their users become familiar and familiar with and work on the metasphere, new possibilities will be identified that can be added in later iterations of the product and possibly support future realization of the metaverse.

About the Author:

Darin Stewart is a vice president analyst at Gartner, Inc., advising digital business leaders and technical professionals on how to create, manage and use knowledge resources.

Gartner Analysts Discuss Metaverse and Other Emerging Technologies at 2022 Gartner/Xpo IT Symposiumtaking place this week in Orlando, Florida.

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