Meta, Meta, Everywhere
Last week, Meta (nee Facebook) set a record that companies never aspire to: It lost almost $1 trillion market capitalization in one day, more than most listed companies have ever achieved. Meta announced that for the first time in 18 years of history, user growth has stagnated.
Some people declared the result a “peak of social media” even though the user in question is a user of the current platform portfolio. The proud Metaverse, which recently rebranded itself, is far from a scaled reality.
What Is This Metaverse Everyone Is Talking About?
The term has been used by everyone these days, but the hype cycle still has a long way to go, so it’s worth starting with a general definition. In a recent report, Gartner describes the Metaverse as “a collective virtual open space created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital realities.” It is physically permanent and provides an enhanced immersive experience. Metaverse is expected to provide durable, decentralized, collaborative, interoperable opportunities and models that enable businesses to grow their digital footprint. Moreover, the Metaverse is not just made up of avatar versions of real people roaming the virtual space. A wider field of view includes these elements. Metaverse may feel like a game-changer with the latest Big Tech, but surprisingly, the concept and terminology were coined 30 years ago. If you read science fiction and prefer the niche genre of cyberpunk, you may be aware of Neil Stephenson’s 1992 book “Snow Crash”. It will soon appear in the Metaverse. Yes, you are reading that right, Metaverse in 1992. Historically, Yahoo was founded in 1994, Facebook in 2004, and Decentraland in 2017.
There is also precedent in the market that suggests that the Metaverse will become a large company. Consider that the gambling industry has been valued at $173 billion in 2020 and some experts predict it will exceed $300 billion by 2026. Other entertainment industries, such as music and movies are expected to grow to over $60 billion and $40 billion, respectively. During this period, Metaverse has potential uses in both consumer entertainment and business applications. Due to its many supporters, it seems that the market today is growing rapidly while maintaining its strength.
How Will Metaverse Transform the Supply Chain?
You can ask: “What does your supply chain do?” Gartner looked at the subject in 2007. As an analyst of a 3D web or metaverse, it was described thusly, “Activities like meeting with business associates, identifying global supply chain bottlenecks, collaborating on product development, modeling and testing new business schemes, and conducting transactions, could soon be accomplished in far more intuitive, zero-training, video game-like 3D environments.”
There are several examples where this vision has become a supply chain reality. In 2020, PepsiCo built a virtual camp to support Six Sigma training. Prototypes were built by Minecraft’s 11th-century team members. The pilot was so successful that PepsiCo partnered with a boutique software company to build a “full virtual training world,” in short, a mini-Metaverse.
On factory floors and warehouses, it’s not too difficult to consider a remote worker connecting to a robot that controls the Metaverse. Now imagine that these virtual frontline workers can control multiple co-bots on the floor, which are ghosts in the machine that can be easily moved to where they are needed. The Metaverse allows all planners and logistics personnel to have their 360-degree control tower and collaborate with customers, suppliers, and partners on a regular basis in the same virtual reality space.
Note that you shouldn’t be completely lost in this matrix and overlook the benefits of meeting employees and partners in person. We need to delicately balance these two viewpoints while building this new technology. And while the future success of the Metaverse is not guaranteed, it’s certainly off the starting blocks. As Neo said in the movie “The Matrix Revolutions”: “I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this ends. I’m here to tell you how it’s going to start. ”