The metaverse feels like a separate reality altogether, and parts of the metaverse can be difficult to comprehend. One thing, however, is clear: as a virtual space built upon a decentralised version of the internet called Web3, the metaverse is brimming with potential.

More than just a new type of internet, the metaverse might transform the future of work. This is a virtual space and an emerging technology that will allow organisations to address evolving business needs and embrace new ways of working—as long as they can look past the hype.

As forward-looking businesses build a strong digital core towards total enterprise reinvention, this will allow them to set new performance frontiers for themselves and their industries, one of which will likely include the metaverse. That’s because the metaverse holds significant potential to unlock bold new opportunities for customers, enterprises, and industries alike.

But before taking the leap, leaders should first understand what exactly is the metaverse continuum: an evolution of the internet will amplify our unique relationships with the world and one another, intelligently fusing our physical and digital lives in ways that are more immersive, intuitive, and trustworthy.

Not only will this enrich all aspects of a business—from the way they interact with customers to how work is performed—the metaverse may well redefine how businesses create and distribute objects and how entire organisations are run. And as a virtual reality that incorporates real-world experiences into its space, it helps us reimagine what we can do in the physical world.

Asia Pacific brimming with enthusiasm for metaverse

Is it any surprise that the region leading digital transformation spending is also the most excited about the metaverse? Tejas Patel, Metaverse Business Group Lead for Accenture in Asia Pacific, LATAM, Africa, and the Middle East is confident that Asia Pacific will be where the metaverse will come alive. “Such appetite is expected given how Asia Pacific has always been at the forefront of digital and always shown robust enthusiasm for consuming emerging technologies among both consumers and businesses,” adds Patel.

Findings from a recent Accenture survey on the metaverse further emphasised this point. Five out of 10 countries optimistic about revenues from the metaverse are from the region, with Australia and China being the top two countries. The expected percentage of revenue from the metaverse, as reported from these countries, is almost twice that of Europe and North America. In the same vein, consumers in the top eight growth markets—four of which are from Asia Pacific—were also found to outperform those in mature markets, such as Europe and the United States, when it comes to leading virtual lives.

These present new opportunities within the metaverse, particularly when defined as the Internet of Place and Internet of Ownership.

“What anchors the metaverse to physical reality as we know it is AI and 3D visual technologies, delivering a sense of space in its digital world. We refer to this as the Internet of Place. And it’s being developed alongside a digital-native infrastructure powered by blockchain, what we call Internet of Ownership, that will allow people to securely transport their identities, money, and personal artefacts within the digital realm.”

Tejas Patel, Metaverse Business Group Lead for Accenture in Asia Pacific, LATAM, Africa, and the Middle East

In the Internet of Place, physical and virtual realms are integrated seamlessly, becoming a space for people to socialise and interact with one another. Experiences such as product demos, immersive socialising, and gaming are conducted by organisations to nurture customer engagement in unprecedented ways. On the other hand, the Internet of Ownership gives the virtual space a degree of privacy and interoperability through decentralisation, blockchain, and tokens.

Opportunities within the Industry of Place and Industry of Ownership are already seen appearing across diverse industries and in three segments: customer, enterprise, and industrial metaverse. These segments have their own distinct characteristics, important for businesses delving into the metaverse to understand.

The customer metaverse, which sees the most activity from the largest companies across five industries in the growth markets, encompasses activities directed towards community building, engagement, marketing, and sales. This includes not just end consumers, but also business-to-business (B2B) negotiations and selling.

Then there’s the enterprise metaverse, with companies focused on this segment carrying out immersive learning or training, augmented collaboration, and assisted operations and maintenance. For example, a Japanese manufacturer saw employees participating in a pilot project for the development of its digital currency, with them exchanging the currency for bonus points or gifts from the directory.

Finally, the industrial metaverse. This sees companies that want to virtualise industrial systems to drive operational benefits and optimise supply chain. In the instance of the automotive industry, this could mean creating a digital twin of an actual factory, allowing plant managers to troubleshoot and optimise operations without having to physically visit the plant.

Turning virtual opportunities into real growth

Asia Pacific growth markets are central to the evolution of the metaverse. However, tapping into this wealth of opportunities can only take place when companies know how to harness the metaverse potential. Building upon a foundation of trust, transparency, and inclusion creates a responsible virtual space built upon six key areas: privacy by design and by default, interoperability, digital safety, sustainability, identity and inclusion, and balancing the risks and rewards of tokenisation.

“A metaverse that people will want to spend time in needs to be built upon these pillars, which will then shape how technology and product policies and practices are designed and deployed. With human dimensions such as safety, diversity, and accessibility in mind, these would ground the design and build of the metaverse’s user experience,” explains Patel.

In time, the metaverse will become more than just a virtual space for people to hang out in and evolve into a catalyst for our new digital future. Organisations wishing to leverage the metaverse continuum to engage consumers in new ways should keep these simple rules in mind:

  1. Be creative and keep it simple. Develop metaverse experiences that are within the users’ sphere of familiarity, which might mean going back to the basics and building upwards. This should serve as a guideline for the right metaverse strategies and operating models.
  2. Start small and focused. Build the metaverse experience from a rigorous, customer-focused mindset that will service and meet their needs to fully maximise resources and finances.
  3. Engage with early building blocks. Tap on opportunities within the metaverse and Web3 ecosystems quickly but thoughtfully, as early engagement can engender long-term trust with customers while offering companies a competitive edge.

Meeting customers at the metaverse starts with laying a robust foundation that maintains the highest standards for safety, security, diversity, and trust. With the metaverse continuum defining the next era of digital transformation, it’s time for organisations to make their first move and define their metaverse strategy.

Learn more about the metaverse continuum here.