How to get ‘metaverse ready’: a beginner’s guide

The metaverse is coming, ready or not. With the tech ramping up so fast, it could be easy to get lost – or left behind. But there’s no need to panic. For our deep dive on the metaverse, Tom Holt, lead technology strategist at Unrvld, gives us a no-nonsense guide to where we are, where we’re going and what we should all be doing to get ready.

Many view the metaverse and associated web3 technologies (blockchain, decentralized computation, cryptocurrencies and NFTs) as the birth of a new internet. For them, it represents a new frontier where augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), gaming, social and commerce collide to create experiences that blur the line between the real and digital worlds.

For others, this is all futuristic ‘technobabble,’ aired by tech geeks and sci-fi nerds.

The doubters are wrong. I’ve tried metaverse experiences for myself. From the second I did, the entrepreneur in me has been in overdrive with ideas based on the obvious opportunities for early adopters in this space.

Although this year will not see a complete metaverse (far from it), expect to see substantial development of the enabling technological pillars and growing pockets of activity across core platforms and communities.

It’s time, if you haven’t already, to take your first steps into this new world.

Step 1: acceptance

We should start by accepting that the metaverse represents a huge opportunity for your business, even if you can’t see it yet.

It’s a good time to set your ethical stance as a business and agree how you’ll behave in virtual worlds. Metaverse experiences will become increasingly immersive and influential, changing how your customers view the real world. Our children will be engaging in these experiences, so think about the world we’re creating and be responsible with your marketing goals.

Step 2: research

Once you’re in the right mindset, it’s time to learn about the technologies and educate yourself on the fundamentals of the metaverse.

A complex array of metaverse elements already exist: always-on virtual world platforms such as Decentraland, Topia and Meta; AR, VR and MR technologies enabling highly immersive and enriched experiences; hardware peripherals including headsets, glasses, gloves and sensory suits (over time the metaverse will activate all our senses, not just sight and sound); and other technologies such as cryptocurrencies and NFTs that many hope will power metaverse economies.

Creating your avatar in Decentraland

These elements are being built by gaming companies, social media giants, big tech companies and startups funded by new world investors, growing large and highly-engaged communities.

Sign up to the major platforms including Decentraland and Sandbox and look around. Then start to follow the leading players and commentators in the space on social; track their latest developments through their blogs on Medium; or go with Reddit, Clubhouse and Discord to understand the real opportunities they represent.

Talk to your kids or your friends’ kids – see how they are already engaging in the metaverse through gameplay. Minecraft, Roblox and Fortnite bring together many metaverse fundamentals; kids are already earning cryptocurrencies and trading NFTs in games. Just imagine how your organization could capitalize on these principles.

Step 3: strategize

How can your business participate in this space to offer a better customer experience, or offer new value-add goods and services? The metaverse is no different to any other digital channel – it needs a clear strategy and an ROI model that justifies investment.

Plot out customer journeys and touchpoints your customers have with your brand, then ideate on how the metaverse could improve those experiences and interactions.

How can metaverse technologies entertain your target audience in new ways to create a positive association with your brand? Consider how the new tools at your disposal can help you to better showcase your products, deliver a better experience and build customer loyalty.

Ikea makes effective use of AR to allow customers to visualize products within their home pre-purchase

The metaverse presents myriad opportunities for advertising, sponsorship and product placement. Find the platforms where your target customers are congregating and consider purchasing virtual real estate.

Ferrari’s collaboration with Fortnite is a great example of brands teaming up for mutual benefit within a virtual world

Audit your technology stack as part of this process, ensuring you can serve up content and products within virtual worlds and receive inquiries and orders from these platforms. Unquestionably the best type of stack for this is a composable digital experience platform (DXP) comprised of specialist, API-first vendors.

Step 4 : experiment

Find a low-cost, low-risk way to dip your toe into the metaverse – perhaps by hosting a virtual event, or finding a suitable partner already in the space and piggy-backing on their experience with value-add content, products or services.

Ioterra held its 2021 Product Development Conference in the Topia metaverse

Most platforms have tools to build your own virtual worlds and rich development kits to support your projects. Some even have foundations where they will offer funding for projects that will help develop their ecosystem and reach.

Don’t feel the need to do all this in-house. Reach out to platforms, vendors and agencies who can help. The metaverse is developing quickly on the back of partnerships.