The metaverse: while some of us are still coming to terms with the idea that we are likely to spend increasing amounts of time in a 3D version of the internet, companies are already scrambling to define the space, carve out their niche, and even snap up virtual real estate.
The shift to the metaverse is likely to have a positive business impact, according to 71 per cent of respondents to an Accenture survey, and 42 per cent say it will be “breakthrough” or “transformational.”
The metaverse will infiltrate every sector in the coming years, culminating in a market opportunity worth more than $1 trillion (Sh115 trillion) in annual revenues, according to JP Morgan.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta says the metaverse will be “the biggest opportunity for modern business since the creation of the internet”. He has outlined plans to spend more than $10 billion (Sh1.15 trillion) on developing virtual reality software and hardware.
“While we are at the early days of the metaverse, it will advance very quickly,” Accenture’s Chief Executive Officer Julie Sweet and Chief Technology Officer Paul Daugherty say in the report.
“If companies don’t act now, they’ll find themselves operating in worlds designed by, and for, someone else.”
Advances in technology are becoming more reliable than economic, political or social trends in informing businesses’ long-term strategy, say almost all the global executives surveyed.
Disney has patented metaverse technology for its theme parks. Meanwhile, Warner Bros hosted a party in Roblox to celebrate its musical film, In the Heights, and Gucci has constructed a garden experience in the metaverse.
And there is a reason these companies are all piling in: money. A digital version of Gucci’s Dionysus Bag created for the Roblox marketplace sold for over $4,000 – more than the price of the real version.
The reimagining of the internet in this way is one of four major tech trends identified in Accenture’s report.
The others are augmented reality taking hold, the rising risk of malicious AI use – in particular to create deep fakes or to spread disinformation – and “next generation” computing, like quantum computing.