How the Metaverse Can Benefit Business
The Metaverse broke into many people’s consciousness recently when Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of the business behind Facebook and Instagram to Meta and talked widely about the potential of the Metaverse for revolutionising almost every aspect of life.
It is not just Silicon Valley that is getting excited about the Metaverse and its potential. In Dubai, the government has embraced its potential and revealed ambitious plans to develop it in the coming years.
The world is at the beginning of a major change, and if the Metaverse becomes as ubiquitous as social media, it will present almost endless business opportunities.
The Metaverse – What Is It?
The Metaverse may be a new concept to many people, but the ideas contained within it are well established. Basically, it is a perpetual virtual world, which means it continues to exist even when a user has logged off. It exists in virtual reality but also has augmented reality elements, where virtual objects can be seen in the real world.
The term was previously associated primarily with online gaming, such as Fortnite, but now it has a much broader scope. There are ambitions to create digital versions of cities and use them to help provide healthcare and education services to people.
Dubai’s Big Plans for the Metaverse
Dubai’s government has embraced the Metaverse concept and announced grand plans for developing it in the next few years.
For instance, in May, the government unveiled its Dubai Metaverse Strategy, which sets out plans for the Metaverse sector to contribute $4 billion per year to the emirate’s economy by 2030 and support 42,000 virtual jobs.
There are also plans to set up a virtual Dubai in the metaverse. The digital twin, named One Human Reality, will combine elements of social media, AR, VR, video games, cryptocurrencies, and other emerging technologies.
To this end, a regulator has already been established, the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), which has announced plans to set up a headquarters in the metaverse. VARA will devise and implement rules and controls to govern how transactions of virtual assets are made.
Business Opportunities in the Metaverse
Most importantly for our readers, the Metaverse has the potential to open a new world of opportunities for entrepreneurs, selling products and services virtually.
One of the more obvious opportunities is to sell virtual assets, such as virtual properties and non-fungible tokens. Much like in the real world, these assets can be traded, but using virtual currency that can be transferred into cash.
In fact, anything in the real world can be created and bought and sold in the metaverse, from shoes to furniture, and businesses could set up to specifically trade virtual assets.
The Metaverse could also revolutionise shopping by providing an immersive shopping experience. Shoppers can visit a fashion outlet as a digital avatar of themselves and not just look at clothes or glasses but wear them on their avatar, allowing them to see how a pair of trousers or a dress fit.
Retailers could also use a store in the Metaverse to try out new collections virtually and get feedback on what is or isn’t popular before releasing more costly physical versions in traditional stores.
Another opportunity is organising, curating, and hosting virtual events for games such as Minecraft, music concerts, or even business conferences. As the pandemic showed, there is an appetite for online conferencing and events. Even when restrictions have been lifted, there is interest as it can bring people from all over the world together, without the time and expense of having to travel there – and that’s not thinking about the environmental savings.
Allied to this, there is potential to sell advertising and product placement in the Metaverse and sponsorship of events, such as gaming tournaments. Advertising and sponsorship have moved with the times – witness the rise of online and social media advertising – and it is almost certain they will move to the metaverse, too.
As mentioned, gaming has long been associated with the Metaverse and will have an important role in its future. There are already VR games available, but more are in development. Existing games such as Fortnite, which already has metaversal elements, could also develop more gameplay in the metaverse.
But the business opportunities will not just be in the virtual world. If the Metaverse grows as anticipated, then there will be increasing demand for the hardware that is used to access the metaverse, such as headsets, gloves, and the like. This will present opportunities to those who develop and manufacture the hardware and sell it. Currently, the price of the hardware is high, but that will come down as popularity and availability increase.
How the Metaverse Can Help Business Setup
The Metaverse could also revolutionise the business setup process. For instance, a business could be planned entirely in the metaverse, along with how office or retail spaces could look, before they are physically built and furnished in Dubai.
Product development can also be done in the Metaverse through digital twins – digital models of a product in development that can perform as it would in the real world. This provides an inexpensive way of testing, and any problems can be solved faster as real components do not have to be physically manufactured. This could significantly cut development time and costs for businesses setting up and establishing.
Those businesses looking to set up in the Metaverse will also need the services of specialised business setup experts, which will be a completely new opportunity.
Similarly, there will also be opportunities for Metaverse service providers – those who help existing companies to move into the Metaverse – in much the same way as there are consultancies that help businesses with their website and social media strategies.
The Future of the Metaverse
The Metaverse currently is akin to the early stages of the internet or social media: it has the potential to become a standard part of everyday work and life within just a few years. This means that early adopters stand to make big profits and establish a leading place in the market before it becomes saturated as others rush to take part.
The potential of the Metaverse to transform business in the coming years is enormous. Estimates about how big it could get in terms of value as a marketplace vary, but it could be as big as $800 billion.
Dubai is in the vanguard of this revolution, meaning it will attract businesses and entrepreneurs that want to be part of the Metaverse and take advantage of the infrastructure here, providing many opportunities for the business setup sector to capitalise.
And to emphasise just how serious the initiative is being taken, it’s worth mentioning that the rulers of Dubai recently set up a committee to help Dubai become a key city in the Metaverse and track the latest developments in the digital economy. Among its many tasks, the committee will look to implement Metaverse technologies that help people and professionals in the real world, such as surgeons and engineers, to improve their performance.
So yes, while the Metaverse is hardly out of the gates, the opportunities for entrepreneurs are clear, and once again, the Dubai government has boldly declared its intent to be a pillar of support.