Content Management in the Metaverse: It's Just a Matter of Time
When I used to do a lot of programming, I had dreams where I physically ran around the systems following the logic in my program to sort out a problem. It worked: I could enter that world and ‘see’ what the computer was trying to do and how to fix it, something that was difficult to do by reading lines of code.
This is how I visualize the metaverse: the use of technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) to go beyond observing the surface of worlds — how we experience the internet today — and entering an immersive experience of work, lifestyle and knowledge.
Like a physical landscape, we can set up meeting rooms, retail stores, research labs, art galleries and concerts in the virtual landscape of the metaverse. Instead of watching meeting participants on a screen, your avatar (a graphical representation that stands in for you, a ‘digital you’) enters the metaverse meeting room, shakes hands with the other avatars, learns about the latest performance results and makes decisions or purchases.
When I first heard of the metaverse, I expected it would be applied to video game experiences or recreation and travel — that we could opt out. Although it is early days and the metaverse still feels like an enhanced internet experience with some funny looking goggles, people, especially younger generations, have bypassed social media and the internet and are experiencing work and social life firmly in the metaverse. In just a few years, the metaverse will see massive uptake and adoption, said Boston Consulting Group's Kristi Woolsey in a Forbes interview. “It’s just a matter of time.”
Decide How You Will Use the Metaverse
Organizations can start small and experiment with different ways to apply metaverse technology:
- Employee facing: My team members are located all over the world and often talk about the importance of connecting. An immersive experience in a metaverse meeting room designed for a bunch of data and analytics introverts could help keep those vital relationships alive.
- Customer facing: Virtual retail stores or events that engage consumers, especially a younger demographic. Since COVID-19 related lockdowns, we have switched from onsite client workshops to virtual meetings. So much IT knowledge is best shared through visuals and stories. Imagine ‘walking’ through a business capability map or IT process.
- Internal operations: When I worked in retail IT, my company built a copy of a real store just for training and testing. It would be much more cost-effective to build a virtual version of a store. NASA developed the concept of a ‘digital twin’, a digital representation of a physical object or system to simulate and diagnose problems in orbit. A digital twin is a computer program that takes real world data as inputs (e.g., from sensors) about a physical object or system and produces simulations about how that object will be affected by the inputs.
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More Content, More Opportunities, More Questions
While we figure out what the metaverse will look like, organizations can also think about how to store and govern all the information required to deliver the metaverse experience, including:
- Information about the metaverse world itself, for example, the layout and design of a virtual boutique.
- Information about the digital objects rendered in the metaverse, such as avatars, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or digital real estate.
- Information generated in the course of activities within the metaverse experience, for example, information about the avatar-shopper’s purchases and behaviors.
The metaverse economy could be worth at least $3 trillion globally in 10 years. It holds the potential to generate millions of jobs across the industries that provide the hardware, software, payment systems, mobile technology and other underlying metaverse technologies, as well as the ecommerce, gaming and education providers that populate the services within it. For a bit of perspective, video game Fortnite sells over $3 billion of digital cosmetic items to players every year, which outpaces sales in many global fashion houses.
The World Economic Forum has recently launched an initiative, Defining and Building the Metaverse, to address governance issues of security, privacy, safety and interoperability. Technology lawyers have called for ways to report harassment in virtual environments. And metaverse builders like Microsoft have outlined scenarios of security breaches in the metaverse that “could be deal-breakers for enterprises.” Users want reassurances of safety when entering the metaverse, so metaverse services will need to be transparent and responsible as they take next steps.
We don’t know yet exactly what the metaverse will look like. Will it be a collection of metaverses, or will many providers collaborate to create one world? But it’s already taking shape and we must find the right balance of collective control and individual self-determination.
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About the Author
Andrea Malick is a Research Director in the Data and Analytics practice at Info-Tech, focused on building best practices knowledge in the Enterprise Information Management domain, with corporate and consulting leadership in content management (ECM) and governance.
Andrea has been launching and leading information management and governance practices for 15 years, in multinational organizations and medium sized businesses.