Over thirty years ago, we all mused over the point of the internet. There were doubters, naysayers and plenty of fear mongering, much of which was not necessarily unfounded. It is fair to say the internet has transformed our lives – and particularly the way we do business, beyond recognition.
Given the evolving hype around the metaverse, we established that it was high time for the same question to be asked of the metaverse and its future – and to look beyond the hype. In order to understand it, we must understand what the point of having a virtual world is, and whether it is additive to the real world of business and society. Last week, Here East convened a roundtable and networking event to discuss exactly this.
We discussed the role the metaverse can play in creating new growth opportunities – from education and gaming to property development and healthcare. According to McKinsey, 95% of business leaders expect a positive impact on their industry within five to 10 years across many different sectors.
We wanted to understand the business opportunity at stake by convening industry, educational and government institutions to explore what the metaverse means to the business community and how the metaverse can play a part in the bigger picture of futureproofing and growing our economy.
The pertinent and recurring response to the question we hear to ‘What is the Point of the Metaverse?’, is that there is no real silver bullet to answer this. We are at odds with the powerful mechanism that the metaverse could become, and whether we are really ready for it. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the metaverse can, and already is having a profoundly positive effect on society. There are applications which could change the face of healthcare for example – be it it virtual appointments, training or observation. In the education sector, new learning resources and exposure to technology that leaves graduates with skills in new emerging sectors creates infinite possibility.
As the metaverse continues to expand and evolve with abundant opportunity with data from KPMG predicting that by 2030, we could be spending more time in the metaverse than in the real world. However, challenges are emerging about the regulatory parameters required to keep up with its growth. As well as difficult questions about how we future proof the talent pipeline and make sure we have the skills to develop the infrastructure and services that will enable the metaverse to thrive. The digital skills gap is growing – and it is one of the greatest barriers to growth our nation faces. To make a success of the metaverse in the long term, we must invest in the skills that will fuel the talent it will demand.
You only have to look at the scale of the investment by US tech giants into the metaverse to know that it’s not all hype. The metaverse is happening – and there is the potential for immersive tech to transform the way we play games, communicate with each other, learn new skills or attend meetings. Much of its impact is already here. It can and will disrupt and augment how we work, commute, do business, consume content, and communicate.
It’s a co-creator space for collaborators and it is a major trend we cannot escape – and in our view – nor should we want to escape it. We can learn faster and open up a new world which compliments the world we already live in. As CEO of a collaborative innovation campus that relies upon the concept of getting together under one roof – we think this is a fundamentally exciting proposition to establish ‘hubs’ globally, in our world, and the world of the metaverse. The metaverse must not be thought of as a replacement to our world and to all that we enjoy today, but to enhance the world we already inhabit.