Are South African businesses ready for the metaverse?
By Amritesh Anand, Associate Vice-President at In2IT Technologies
The metaverse, the hypothetical, fully immersive, three-dimensional and interactive future state of the internet, is creeping ever closer to becoming a reality. Just like with any major innovation, it has the potential to completely disrupt the way we live and work, and new business models could potentially be born that we currently cannot even imagine. The question is, are South African businesses ready for this revolution? Or will we be left behind as the rest of the world moves into an immersive virtual reality future?
Impact of the metaverse
In a digital world where users can interact with each other and with virtual objects in real-time, with their avatars, they can potentially engage with a vast virtual landscape where activities like gaming, socialising, shopping and even work can be done using augmented reality technology.
This removes the traditional geographical boundaries associated with global collaboration and it has the potential to revolutionise not only the way we interact but also digital content itself. Conferences and meetings can be conducted in a more immersive, interactive and engaging way compared to current online conferencing options.
It also gives businesses access to a far broader audience to showcase products and services and new marketing opportunities. Virtual retail spaces and showrooms can allow customers to view, browse and engage with products online, in a 3D environment, for a next-level ‘try before you buy’ experience. Virtual marketplaces, virtual currency and even virtual trade shows could become mainstream, giving businesses that can embrace the technology many opportunities and a potential competitive edge.
Are you ready for the revolution?
According to an ITWeb survey, more than half of South African businesses will be participating in this new technological revolution. The question is, how do businesses prepare to leverage the metaverse to its full potential?
Firstly, it is essential to understand this potential as well as the limitations of the metaverse and how it can benefit operations and the customer experience. This means it is vital to identify relevant use cases that will deliver maximum business value. This in turn requires a clear strategy on how to engage with and operate in the metaverse, how content will be created and distributed, how businesses will engage with customers and how offerings will be monetised.
It is also important to make the right investments into technology and infrastructure to both develop and manage virtual spaces and to make user privacy and data management top priorities with robust security measures, privacy policies and enforcement. In addition, the nature of the metaverse makes the adoption of an agile approach more important than ever, so that businesses can experiment and iterate strategies and products to adapt as required.
Your IT is the key
The heart of the metaverse is technology, which means having the right IT partner is critical to success. Technical expertise is an important consideration in navigating the complexities of the metaverse, including ensuring that businesses have the right hardware and software and can troubleshoot technical issues fast.
The right IT partner will also have a diverse pool of skills to draw from, essential in leveraging innovative and rapidly evolving technology and helping businesses to accelerate their metaverse strategy and stay competitive. On top of this, strategic guidance can be imperative in helping businesses to identify use cases, develop their strategy and execute a plan that aligns with the broader goals and objectives of the organisation. This also helps to save costs and mitigate risk, ensuring businesses can operate safely, effectively and innovatively in the metaverse.
While the future state of the metaverse remains unclear, the reality is that the technologies are here and so, therefore, is the potential. South African businesses need to be prepared to take advantage and leverage available tools to drive competitiveness and long-term success, or they risk being left behind in a virtual and digital world.
* Article first published on itweb.africa