The metaverse is a word we are increasingly hearing throughout society these days. People like Mark Zuckerberg are trying to bring it into the mainstream with elaborate presentations and high-profile rebranding efforts, however it remains a word that people are aware of, but not a concept many people fully understand.
Some people are touting it as the future of communication – a virtual world in which people from all over the globe will be able to interact with each other as if they were standing in the same room. There’s no denying that the potential is enormous. Although the technology and application aren’t firmly established and people are slow on the uptake, we can already see some of the ways that it could revolutionise the world, especially for our ability to communicate with one another.
Communications in the working world
Remote and flexible working, a legacy of the pandemic-induced lockdowns, are here for the long-term. A recent survey revealed that over 30% of full-time UK employees are working a hybrid working schedule and consequently Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack and many other platforms have become an ever-present part of many of our working lives. This is one area that the metaverse has the potential to make a huge impact. Instead of being separate, only connected by looking at a 13-inch screen, whole teams could be fully immersed in a virtual world of their own design, interacting with each other as if they were in the office, a presentation hall, or event space.
From a communications point of view, it is clear to see the positive impact this could have on teamwork, collaboration and company culture. Although video calling has enormous advantages, and without which lockdown would have been even more of an ordeal, it still has its limitations. Non-verbal and visual communication are often limited, leading to stunted conversations and a lack of natural rhythm that so often is the cornerstone of developing meaning relationships with your colleagues. Through a customisable avatar, colleagues could move in and out of meeting rooms, relax in communal lounges or host presentations in a conference centre. NextMeet, a company based in India, have developed a platform which can be used to onboard colleagues. Instead of being talked at for hours with only a PDF for inspiration, they could walk round a virtual room or building, with several interactive stands where they can explore the company in a much more engaging way.
However, not only internally, the effect this could have when it comes to meeting clients or customers is also exciting. Potential or current clients could visit your ‘workplace’ in the metaverse and be given a proper welcome, introduced to the team and see the branding and environment that the company wants to portray with its design, layout and decoration. This would allow people to create a much greater connection with a company and its culture.
However, it is not simply in one-to-one interactions at a micro level that could be transformed. The ability for companies to create fully immersive and interactive communication campaigns on a macro scale to millions of people is also a possibility. Events can be hosted in the metaverse, with countless people able to attend. For example, Foo Fighters, Justin Bieber (unfortunately) and Travis Scott have all hosted concerts in the metaverse, with the latter being attended by 28 million people.
The possibilities this opens up are immense. Even with all the technological advancements we have enjoyed in recent years, our options don’t go much beyond words, visuals or sounds absorbed through either a phone or a computer. Using virtual reality, augmented reality or a mixture of the two, stakeholders could attend a town hall hosted by the CEO, get an in-person demo from the head of product, or be taken on a personal tour by head of client services, all from the comfort of their own home or office.
The jury is still out as to whether this will be the next big leap forward for connectivity, like the internet was, or if it won’t live up to its potential and be resigned to the history books like my beloved minidisk player. With the metaverse’s expected value to be upwards of $5 trillion by 2030, it seems like the momentum is unstoppable and I for one, am intrigued to see how it develops.
Either way, you won’t see me at a Bieber concert anytime soon.