Speaking at Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo in Australia this week, Marty Resnick, VP analyst at Gartner said that while widescale adoption of metaverse technologies is more than 10 years away, there are practical ways organizations are harnessing them now, for example, in employee onboarding, sales enablement, higher education, medical and military training and immersive shopping experiences.
“Today, emergent metaverses are in their infancy. But technology trends, with proven use cases and business outcomes, are just the beginning of the value technology innovation brings to the enterprise,” Resnick said. “The longer-term bets are the true differentiators that could disrupt an entire industry, and the metaverse is one of those bets.”
Gartner defines a metaverse as “the next level of interaction in the virtual and physical worlds.” Metaverse technologies allow people to replicate or enhance their physical activities, by transporting or extending physical activities to a virtual world, or by transforming the physical one.
Despite the hype, the adoption of metaverse technologies is nascent and fragmented. Gartner recommends caution when investing in a specific metaverse, as it is too early to determine which investments will be viable in the long term, and the ethical, financial and reputational risks of early investments are not fully known.
“Use this time for learning, exploring and preparing for a metaverse with limited implementation,” Resnick said. “Review these six trends for opportunities that could benefit your organization.”
The gaming industry, specifically video games, has been an innovator in experience and technology for many years. The metaverse will use gaming technologies, methodologies, development tools and even game theory to create experiences for both entertainment and training simulations. Enterprises will adopt “serious games” — gaming technologies, experiences and storytelling for training and simulation of specific work tasks and functions.
Gartner predicts that by 2025, the serious games market will grow by 25% due to the impact of metaverse technologies.
2. Digital Humans
Digital humans are interactive, AI-driven representations that have some of the characteristics, personality, knowledge and mindset of a human, typically rendered as digital twins, digital avatars, humanoid robots or conversational user interfaces. They can interpret speech, gestures and images, and generate their own speech, tone and body language.
Organizations are already planning on using digital humans to act as identified digital agents within metaverse environments for customer service, support, sales and other interactions with current and potential customers. Gartner predicts that by 2027, a majority of B2C enterprise CMOs will have a dedicated budget for digital humans in metaverse experiences.
3. Virtual Spaces
A virtual space — or virtual world — is a computer-generated environment where groups of people can come together using personal avatars or holograms. Virtual spaces engage multiple senses and provide participants with the ability to immerse and interact with the space. For example, they can be used to increase reach to customers who are unable or unwilling to join in-person engagements, to provide new alternatives to travel, or to enable collaboration among staff.
Gartner predicts that by 2025, 10% of workers will regularly use virtual spaces (in activities such as sales, onboarding, remote teams), up from 1% in 2022.
4. Shared Experiences
A shared experience brings a group of people together within a virtual space. The metaverse will move shared experiences out of siloed immersive applications and allow for more opportunities to meet, collaborate, interact, participate or otherwise share experiences across applications, consumer events and services. In this sense, the metaverse will democratize immersive experiences.
By 2028, 10% of public events (such as sports and performing arts) will offer participation in metaverse, fueling rapid buildout of commercial metaverse shared experiences, according to Gartner.
5. Tokenized Assets
Tokenized assets offer new business models for content creators. In metaverse experiences, most tokenized assets will use non-fungible token technologies (NFTs). NFTs support new economic models, for example, where content creators perpetually retain most of the revenue from sales of their works. The new features and functionalities enabled by the metaverse will inspire new ways to not only compete and monetize virtual products and services, but also to acquire physical (real-world) goods.
Gartner predicts that by 2027, 25% of retail organizations with an e-commerce presence will have completed at least one proof of concept for tokenized assets using metaverse technologies.
6. Spatial Computing
Spatial computing combines physical and digital objects to digitally enhance physical spaces. This allows organizations to get more out of physical and digital assets by surfacing related, “unseen” digital information and content anchored to people, places and things. For example, digital content can augment physical objects or environments, such as digital colorization of Greek and Roman statues or additional product or object information.
Gartner predicts that by 2026, the second and third iterations of spatial computing glasses will arrive, creating a more pervasive metaverse experience connected to the physical world.