Business leaders need to challenge everything they believe they understand about the Metaverse said Accenture Group chief executive — technology and chief technology officer Paul Daugherty.
Metaverse and the wider Web3 sector is an increasing focus of business investment, according to leading researchers and business analysts.
McKinsey and Company for instance has identified metaverse as one of the biggest areas for tech investment in 2022, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) said the metaverse market will be worth $US1.3 trillion by 2030, while Constellation Research said Web3 will unlock $21 trillion in economic value by 2030.
But the short term outlook is also complicated by the aggressive retreat by retail and crypto investors from areas such as NFT trading in recent months.
As Stephen Moore, writing on Medium noted, "With NFTs, monthly buyers dipped below 800,000 for the first time since its peak in January. The average NFT price fell from $6800 in January to $2000. Secondary sales (all subsequent resales of the work after the first purchase) dropped to 7,900 per day, down from a January peak of 38,000 per day, down from an all-time high of 103,765 per day last September."
The retreat of NFT markets is ubiquitous, he argued. "Data from Coin Market Cap shows the market cap has dropped from a high of $23 billion to around $10 billion, losing over half its value. A quick look on Google Trends compounds the fall, with global keyword search volume for the term ‘NFT’ down 60–70 percent since January 2022."
Of course, this decline may simply mirror a similar revaluing across even the more "traditional" digital businesses over the last year with companies such as Robinhood, Pinterest and Paypal and Square all shedding over half of their value from the peaks of the last 12 months.
Writing in a post on Linkedin to coincide with the launch of a new report called "Meet Me in the Metaverse" Daugherty compared the metaverse to other earlier digital disruptions saying the advice he offers today is the same he gave clients back in 1999 about .com, and again in 2013 about digital; "The time is now to think big, start small and scale fast."
According to Daugherty, "We see the Metaverse as a continuum that spans the spectrum of digitally enhanced worlds, realities and business models. It applies across all aspects of business, from consumer to worker and across the entire enterprise; from reality to virtual and back; from 2D to 3D; and from the cloud and artificial intelligence to extended reality, blockchain, digital twins, edge technologies and beyond."
The authors of Accenture's new report meanwhile acknowledge that these are the early days of the metaverse, but they caution that leaders who shy away from the uncertainty of the metaverse will quickly find themselves operating in worlds defined by others.
"Businesses will find themselves on the front lines of establishing safety and defining the human experience in these worlds. Trust will be paramount; existing concerns around privacy, bias, fairness and human impact are sharpening as the line between people’s physical and digital lives blurs. Leading enterprises will shoulder the charge for building a responsible metaverse, and are setting the standards now."
Accenture argued that the metaverse will lead to a re-platforming of digital experiences while the wider set of Web3 technologies will reinvent how data moves through that system.
The consulting firm identified four key trends that it says companies need to tackle.
Firstly they argue that enterprise strategies are built for a digital world where platforms often lack interoperability and data portability. "Metaverse and Web3 are poised to reshape the internet; rather than it being a disparate collection of sites and apps, looking ahead, the metaverse will lead to a persistent 3D environment in which moving from one “place” to another will be as simple as walking from one room to another."
Next, they say that digital environments will be increasingly woven into the fabric of the physical world. "These environments will reshape not just how people engage with worlds, but also redefine everything built in it, how people sense and interact and the control they have over it."
Furthermore, they note the role AI-generated data will play in creating experiences that reflect the physical world. "More than ever before, AI is top-of-mind for businesses, as companies and consumers alike shift away from considering what is real versus fake, to what is authentic — not just in terms of a company’s content and algorithms but its entire brand. With the unreal world about to become reality, now is the time for leaders to ready their businesses."
And finally, they predict that the emergence of a new class of machines will empower organisations across industries to stretch the boundaries of what computers can solve. Indeed they suggest it is already happening.
"Tools like quantum computing and biology-inspired computing are allowing businesses to solve problems that may be too expensive, inefficient, or flat out impossible for traditional computing. As “grand challenges” become trivial operations, how enterprises compete, provide value and partner will radically change; nearly all (94 percent) executives agreed that long-term success will depend on leveraging next-generation computing to solve seemingly intractable challenges."
For its part, Accenture is creating a new business unit under Daugherty which will bring together what is described as 800 metaverse-skilled professionals and leading capabilities from across Accenture into one group dedicated to designing, executing and accelerating its clients' metaverse journeys.