By Kgomotso Lebele, Technology Lead for Accenture in Africa
What sound better encapsulates the early 2000s than a dial-up internet tone? That shrill shriek of robotic beeps and high-pitched ringing signalled your entry into the World Wide Web – at that stage, a few basic HTML-coded pages of text and perhaps an image that took forever to load.
In the teething stages of the Internet – what we call Web 1.0 – businesses were sceptical. Was this a fad or the foundation of the future? Well, we all know the answer to that question now – and if businesses could be early adopters and establish themselves on the web ahead of their competitors, they wouldn't hesitate.
Fast forward to Web 3.0. The Internet has become a ubiquitous feature of modern life and being connected is integral to our existence. We're beginning to see concepts like "the internet of place" (where consumers meet in a shared digital space) and the "internet of ownership" (the ability to create unique, verifiable digital identities for people and things) take off.
Technological development is accelerating fast and businesses are at a turning point in their technological development. But this time, it isn't as simple as a web page. It's time for businesses to embrace Web 3.0 and with it, the metaverse.
The idea of the metaverse is still somewhat unstructured, and to some connotes a futuristic dystopia in which our current reality is entirely displaced. But the concepts of virtual and augmented reality have been around for quite some time – think games like Minecraft in which players interact with one another in a virtual world using personalised avatars.
The metaverse is simply using these concepts to take the next logical steps in technological development, and forward-thinking corporations – from banking to retail and more – are already on board.
Accenture's Technology Vision 2022, titled "Meet Me in the Metaverse: The Continuum of Technology and Experience Reshaping Business," predicts the significant role that the metaverse will play in the future of business and society. Research tells us that by 2030 our lives will stretch across different realities – from real to augmented and virtual.
As the metaverse is getting ready to subsume the old ways of doing business, it might help to provide concrete examples of how organisations establish themselves in the space. NIKELAND, Nike's Roblox store, has welcomed over 21 million visitors since its November 2021 launch. Nike is embracing everything Web 3.0 has to offer – from customised Nike products for avatars in the metaverse, to opportunities to take part in real-life promotions from within the metaverse.
JP Morgan made history as the first-ever bank to establish itself in the metaverse with the opening of its Decentraland Branch, the Onyx Lounge. This metaverse-based bank, complete with a tiger roaming the first floor, offers consumers an immersive banking experience and the ability to run banking services virtually. The prominent investment banking company is confident in the potential of the metaverse, as it projects a market opportunity of US$1 trillion in annual revenue. If the top players in retail and banking are getting stuck into the metaverse, it's a sure sign that your organisation should be following suit.
So where do you start? The first step is understanding how it works, what it's capable of, and what it can do for your organisation so that you can begin to integrate it into your broader tech strategy.
Reading Accenture's Technology Vision 2022 is an excellent place to start for a comprehensive overview of how organisations and the metaverse are slowly beginning to integrate. It's also about starting small – establishing an internal metaverse for your organisation's meetings, events and training is a sure way to become more comfortable with the concept. Accenture's metaverse – the Nth Floor – has yielded incredible results regarding onboarding, employee training and workplace collaboration.
Any new technological epoch will have learning curves, challenges, risks, and opportunities. The most important thing is that organisations don't wait to start exploring the incredible potential of web 3.0 and what the metaverse can do for them.