The top 10 current use cases for metaverse technologies

08 August 2023 Consultancy-me.com 8 min. read

While billions of dollars have already been ploughed into the development of metaverse technologies, the business case for its implementation remains vague at best. A report by Boston Consulting Group and Meta sheds light on ten promising use case for the metaverse.

The concept broadly termed as the metaverse is an interconnected digital realm, merging the virtual and physical worlds in what some experts believe will be the next iteration of the internet. The eventual goal is to create a single, immersive, 3D virtual space that is shared among all users.

The concept has been propelled into mainstream discourse by the company formerly known as Facebook. The global social media giant changed its name to Meta in 2021, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg sought to reposition his company as a technology leader, at the forefront of the push for metaverse technology.

The top 10 current use cases for metaverse technologies

According to Zuckerberg, “Metaverse isn't a thing a company builds. It's the next chapter of the internet overall.”

After its renaming, Meta now has the exclusive right to use the term ‘metaverse’ and its logo. The company has subsequently been investing heavily in the development of the metaverse, with plans to create a virtual world that allows users to interact with each other and with digital objects in real-time. In fact, Meta plans to ramp up these plans in 2023, pumping over $19 billion into its metaverse over the next year.

So, why exactly does Meta see this project as so important? A report by Meta in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) sheds light on the perceived potential of the metaverse, exploring ten use cases, which different markets and sectors can leverage to boost their performance.

Virtual collaboration
The study suggests that metaverse technologies open up many opportunities for virtual collaboration. In the wake of the lockdown period, businesses have already realized that remote work comes with unique benefits – and metaverse technologies can enhance these. This includes increased productivity and efficiency, cost and time savings, and access to a wider talent pool.

At the same time, as more prospective workers value flexible working, metaverse spaces have the potential to provide employees ways to determine their schedules, and allow for more autonomy, while eliminating the need for a daily commute.

Digital training
Virtual venues can also provide a space for training – particularly when utilizing virtual reality (VR) systems. Without need for a physical venue and the scheduling conflicts and costs that come with it, metaverse training could improve the efficiency of up-skilling staff, saving both money and time.

VR simulation training is particularly useful in industries such as healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and the military. It can replicate intensive scenarios, without the risk and expense of training in those physical spaces, according to the analysis by Meta and BCG.

Enhanced education
The metaverse could bring major benefits for education outside the workplace. Metaverse technologies have the capacity to improve access to quality education for students in rural areas, developing countries, and low-income communities, effectively reducing digital disparities. For example, enhanced education outcomes of this kind could lead to better-paying jobs, which increasingly require digital skills.

BCG itself has utilized the metaverse to this end, by adapting their Jeel Tamooh program’s career fair in the Middle East to a virtual event. This provided a safe environment for promising university students in Saudi Arabia to connect with employment prospects during the pandemic.

Telehealth
Meta and BCG also argue that the metaverse and extended reality offer opportunities to broaden access to and improve healthcare services, such as virtual appointments with international experts and fully virtual treatments for select conditions. The benefits of utilizing metaverse technology for healthcare services are numerous, including greater access to specialized care and technologies regardless of location, improved data collection and analysis, increased convenience and efficiency, and potentially lower costs.

One example of this in practice comes from professional services giant PwC. Recognizing the benefits of extended reality, PwC is already at the forefront of aiding health organizations in implementing virtual care strategies.

There are drawbacks to this, however, which need to be addressed before telehealth can be considered reliable. BCG’s study warns that the substitution of virtual interaction for in-person care could lead to misdiagnoses. Meanwhile, at a time when many health services are struggling for funding as it is, the high initial cost of establishing virtual capabilities could create gaps in access to the technology.

Digital twins
Digital twinning involves creating identical digital replicas of large-scale assets like construction projects or buildings, which can be used to simulate and test various scenarios, reducing costs and errors during construction and ongoing use. In the long run, this approach could enable the development of physical objects in the same way that software is developed: by creating a digital version, interacting with it, and then building a physical version of the improved digital original.

In construction and real estate, digital twinning can help reduce costs, improve safety, and enhance collaboration among various stakeholders. Examples of digital twinning applications include Saudi Arabia's Neom city, which is being created on a 3D digital twin platform, and the Bee’ah headquarters in the UAE, which uses a digital twin to track real-time data on energy consumption.

Augmented tourism
The study also recommends metaverse-enabled augmented processes as a means to boost tourism. By providing realistic simulations and adding extra information, as well as allowing travelers to share their experiences remotely, people could be better informed before they decide on a location for their next big trip.

The technology can also allow for more personalized experiences once they arrive. For example, it can make tourism more accessible and convenient for people with physical disabilities. Meanwhile, destinations of interest could benefit from augmented reality add-ons and digital souvenirs, which can increase revenue, grow local businesses, and create job opportunities.

Live augmented events
The primary advantage of utilizing the metaverse for live events is the ability to accommodate significantly larger audiences by reducing geographic, cost, and health-related barriers to attendance. The more immersive, social, and realistic experiences, when compared to traditional audio and video, help bridge the gap between virtual and physical attendance.

Meta and BCG theorize that participants can benefit from cost, time, and CO2 emissions savings by avoiding travel. Organizers, artists, exhibitors, and speakers can capitalize on revenue potential by adding virtual components to in-person events, as well as generating increased awareness and demand for future in-person events. In addition, participants can engage with each other before or during events, promoting community building and enhancing the event experience.

Gaming
The metaverse holds the potential to enhance community building among gamers worldwide and increase their sense of belonging, as well as reduce stress and create enjoyment. Avatars provide gamers with more opportunities to express themselves through their online identities.

The Sandbox is one example of this potential, utilizing the capabilities of the metaverse to establish a metaverse that consists of ‘lands’. Users can employ these ‘lands’ to generate and earn money from experiences, host games, create multiplayer experiences, and housing, among other things.

Augmented shopping
Many companies are already exploring the potential of virtual and augmented shopping experiences, including Dior’s virtual showroom in France which invites shoppers to browse and order products directly in a virtual environment, complete with video clips and specific environments.

These virtual and augmented shopping experiences not only increase revenues but also strengthen brand building, loyalty, and marketing potential. Customized products and personalized consumer experiences are made possible, which enhances self-expression and convenience.

Virtual assets
Finally, the rise of digital assets, particularly non-fungible tokens (NFTs), has the potential to transform the virtual world, according to Meta and BCG’s study. The development can offer a means of creating unique, authentic, and often limited-edition digital objects; or virtual replicas of physical objects.

Luxury retail brands are also actively selling branded avatar skins and NFTs, opening virtual stores, and hosting virtual fashion shows. Meanwhile, individuals and businesses are investing in virtual assets, including NFTs and virtual real estate, for both investment and virtual engagement purposes.