Businesses in a variety of industries are leveraging the metaverse to work more efficiently, but the technology’s consumer market is still in its infancy, a panel of experts said at a conference. Fortune conference on Wednesday. Companies looking to harness the power of extended reality (XR) should be willing to invest and experiment, they suggested.
“The metaverse is already here. It’s not a fad; it’s not hype,” Mohamed Kande, vice president of co-leader U.S. advisory solutions and global advisory leader at PwC, told Fortune’s CEO Initiative summit in Palm Beach on Wednesday. “For businesses, they are discovering that the metaverse can be an environment in which they can deliver value, not only reaching more consumers, but also running businesses differently.”
The metaverse economy could be worth between $8 trillion and $13 trillion by 2030, according to a Citi study.
Metaverse technology is readily available to businesses, noted Daniel O’Brien, general manager for the Americas at HTC VIVE, a developer of virtual reality headsets. O’Brien pointed to the success of VR training in healthcare, automotive, aerospace and other industries. “In kinesthetic learning styles, training simulations, we get to this program 400% faster. Retention is up to 150% higher,” O’Brien said. “It can be used globally, it’s democratizing as a technology, and it’s both cost-saving and efficiency-enhancing.”
Besides training, the other two use cases for the metaverse that drive ROI are 3D visualization for distributed teams and remote support known as see what I see (SWIS), said Peggy. Johnson. The chief executive of augmented reality headset maker Magic Leap also issued a note of caution. “It’s important for CEOs not to fall on their skis with this technology,” she said. “You have to think of it like the early days.”
Kande pointed out that the adoption of 5G wireless, which can be 100 times faster than 4G at 10% of the cost, will boost access to the metaverse. “Because of that, you can have unmanned factories, you can train people remotely at high speed.”
Given a technological hurdle, however, the Metaverse won’t become mainstream with consumers for several years, Johnson estimated. “You need 5G to be in the same chip that powers your VR or AR,” she said. “That’s what it will take to fit into a small, lightweight device that everyone will want to wear all day.”
The more time people spend in the public metaverse, Kande said, the more they will shop there. However, identity management is another hurdle, he admitted. “It’s still in its infancy today, but making money in the metaverse is about creating a new economy.” Kande encouraged companies that want to sell products and services to try new things: “The beauty of the metaverse is that everyone can experiment first.”
Holding live events such as concerts and sports games in the metaverse presents brands with a huge opportunity because millions of people can attend, O’Brien said. “Instead of looking at 30%, 40% margins on typical merchandise sales or whatever you’re selling, think about your transactions in hundreds of thousands per second.”
With a possible recession looming, O’Brien explained, companies should consider how investing in the metaverse can help them perform better. “The companies that explode in the recovery from a recession are the ones that invested now.”
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