What’s the opportunity for B2B tech firms in this thrilling new arena?
Until very recently, the metaverse was the domain of hard-boiled sci-fi. Think Snow Crash (the Neal Stephenson novel where the term first appeared), as well as Hollywood fare like The Matrix. But things have come a staggeringly long way in the past decade. The metaverse now presents a golden opportunity for brands to connect with customers like never before through virtual shop windows, community hangouts, and shared user experiences.
And the future? Well, Citibank has declared with confidence that they expect the market value of the metaverse to exceed $10 trillion by 2030. B2C brands will of course be looking to claim a big portion of this market. But what about B2B firms? What can you do right now to capitalise on this brand new arena? Where the typical approach by B2C outfits in the metaverse is about increasing reach without any of that real-world inconvenience, B2B may be more about revolutionising business processes and optimising the entire approach, making efficiencies throughout, and saving on budgets.
Hot on the heels of lockdown-centric innovations such as virtual tours of the world’s most popular museums, B2B brands can take inspiration from this to deliver new and immersive digital experiences through this enthralling new medium.
It’s important to grasp too that the metaverse will not replace web 2.0 for B2B firms, but rather, will complement it.
More than just a B2B pipe dream
A number of B2B businesses have waded into metaverse development already. From their experiences, two critical benefits of the new space are emerging time after time.
The first of these is cost-efficiency. Virtual environments enable businesses to make substantial savings in their internal processes, with a relatively low level of investment.
The second huge benefit is sustainability. Virtual environments create the potential to replicate important business processes with far less waste, and huge reductions in environmental impact.
Geographically dispersed teams can assemble in metaverse environments without leaving their offices or homes, rather than having to travel thousands of miles to interact, collaborate, train and work with each other.
Specific applications of the metaverse
Certain applications in B2B are already proving their value and demonstrating that they can be done better in the metaverse. In particular:
For B2B tech companies, being able to provide virtual experiences in these four fields is already proving to be lucrative, even given the immaturity of the platform.
How will the metaverse change customer interaction?
By the time we’re all slipping on our (hopefully less cumbersome) VR goggles and dipping into the metaverse on a regular basis, Fox Agency expects some big changes to the way B2B brands connect with customers thanks to the metaverse.
Right now, personalising an individual B2B customer journey takes considerable effort across multiple channels. As does trying to track down the data points they leave like breadcrumbs across the web, on social media and more, to mould them into a personalised and more connective experience.
On the promise of its immersive nature alone, customers will yield even more of those data points as they interact in more ways with more users via the metaverse. This will give more opportunities for B2B brands to put together a personalised experience that will keep customers coming back.
Thanks to developments like machine learning, we’re already seeing how artificial intelligence can take on typical business workload and automate the outputs, analysing data and making recommendations before humans have even made a brew to mull it over.
But as the amount of incoming data is amplified by entire magnitudes during interaction via the metaverse, we’ll rely much more on those automated processes to provide options and save teams the time it would take to manually sift through.
Saving costs with simulation
The metaverse brings extraordinary opportunities to simulate products and processes, substituting old-school collateral and communication methods with thrilling immersive experiences:
Conducting training sessions for new production processes
Holding ‘in-person’ seminars and conferences
Demonstrating new products as simulations of the real thing
Setting up feasibility studies for changes to production or the supply chain
Testing new ways of working and gathering instant, detailed feedback from user experiences.
The opportunity here is for B2B firms to develop platforms that can facilitate these new ways to do business.
Our favourite metaverse applications so far
Bosch – Augmented Reality
The German engineering pioneers are developing an AR solution that brings real-time repairs into the virtual realm. Users pull on a pair of HoloLens and explore the inner workings of whatever device or appliance they’re tinkering with. It’s suitable for training new recruits in the maintenance and repair of products, as well as wider demonstrations of the latest technology both in trade and retail environments.
Accenture – The Nth Floor
Even before the pandemic turned work on its head, Accenture was working on a virtual gathering place for employees to take meetings, throw parties or present to colleagues. But once Covid hit, Accenture took steps to onboard new employees in the ultimate metaverse experience: a theme park. Navigating these spaces went from a daunting prospect to almost second nature as Accenture ramped up its reliance on the virtual realm.
Rendezverse – Metaverse venues
Brick by brick, Rendezverse is building the lavish interiors and stunning structures of real-world hotels, conference halls and other venues. The intensive process of digital twinning – scanning, uploading, the lot – is designed to help the hospitality industry secure bookings from further afield. Guests take the virtual walkthrough, tinker with the décor, and make their bookings – for everything from weddings to conferences.
The bottom line for the B2B metaverse
Is the metaverse worth gambling your whole B2B business’ future on? Not just yet. Its technical architecture is still far from proven and stable, and it will be some time before customers are ready to embrace this extraordinary medium en masse.
Even so, now IS the time to gear up for a future that’s really coming. Now is the time to begin planning, thinking and experimenting around the applications and use cases that may succeed and drive serious revenue for your business as the metaverse takes off.
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