Gartner predicts that 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse by 2026 either for work, shopping, education, social or entertainment.
“Vendors are already building ways for users to replicate their lives in digital worlds,” said Marty Resnick, research vice president at Gartner. “From attending virtual classrooms to buying digital land and constructing virtual homes, these activities are currently being conducted in separate environments. Eventually, they will take place in a single environment – the metaverse – with multiple destinations across technologies and experiences.”
Gartner defines a metaverse as a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality. It is persistent, providing enhanced immersive experiences, as well as device independent and accessible through any type of device, from tablets to head-mounted displays.
Because no single vendor will own the metaverse, Gartner expects it to have a virtual economy enabled by digital currencies and nonfungible tokens (NFTs).
Massive impact on consumer and business engagements
The metaverse will impact every business that consumers interact with every day. It will also impact how work gets done. Enterprises will provide better engagement, collaboration and connection to their employees through immersive workspaces in virtual offices.
Businesses will not need to create their own infrastructure to do so because the metaverse will provide the framework. In addition, virtual events that have gained popularity over the last 18 months will offer more collaborative and immersive networking opportunities and workshops.
“Enterprises will have the ability to expand and enhance their business models in unprecedented ways by moving from a digital business to a metaverse business,” said Resnick. “By 2026, 30% of the organisations in the world will have products and services ready for metaverse.”
Invest with caution
The adoption of metaverse technologies is nascent and fragmented, and Gartner cautions organisations about investing heavily in a specific metaverse.
“It is still too early to know which investments will be viable in the long term, but product managers should take the time to learn, explore and prepare for a metaverse in order to position themselves competitively,” said Resnick.
Indeed, a latest Gartner Marketing Survey warns companies to temper short-term expectations, as more than one-third of American consumers (35%) have never heard of the metaverse.
The survey finds that 58% of respondents have either heard of the metaverse but do not know what it means, or think they understand the metaverse but would struggle to explain it to someone else. Only 6% of people identify as being comfortable enough in their understanding of the metaverse to explain it to others.
Kyle Rees, senior director analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice, noted that the survey result is a helpful signal to temper short term expectations of the metaverse, and its potential impact on consumer’s daily life
Metaverse opens new doors of opportunities
Rees pointed out that it will be exciting to see how meta-aware companies begin to make sense of next-generation technologies to bring new products, services and experiences to the world around us.
“Technologies that are intertwined with the metaverse, such as projects on the blockchain or digital currencies, need to be highlighted as disruptive to the status quo thinking. Even properly communicating business use cases around metaverse-adjacent concepts, such as AI and augmented reality, will go a long way in demystifying what is still largely an unknown technology to the everyday consumer,” Rees added.
Of those who at least know about the metaverse, 60% have no opinion on it, and only 18% are actually excited about it. Meanwhile, 21% say they are concerned about the impacts the metaverse might have.
“Companies with interests in the metaverse have a lot of work to change consumer’s attitudes,” said Rees. “Contemplating the metaverse is a luxury that most people don’t have time for currently. Getting people on board to see past the individual pieces of AI or head-mounted displays is paramount to them to truly embracing the multiple technologies that make up a complete metaverse. There are complex, innovative new opportunities and business models that the average consumer needs to be able to grasp easily, or companies risk losing their interest."