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February 2, 2023

No One Cares But Here Are PwC’s 2023 Metaverse Predictions Anyway

What’s next for the metaverse and what — if anything — should you do about it? PwC has answered the question no one is really asking in its 2023 metaverse predictions. These predictions are, as you’d expect, dumb made assuming that businesses and consumers alike will begin using the metaverse in earnest rather than making this gesture in its general direction: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

First, the graphic:

1. Businesses will be the metaverse power users

A lot of metaverse talk in 2022 was about consumers, especially younger ones: activities such as games, virtual experiences or shopping with cryptocurrency and other digital assets. These activities will continue to grow, but we believe that in 2023, business applications will take the lead. One sign? In PwC’s 2022 US Metaverse Survey, the metaverse use case that business leaders said they were most likely to explore (cited by 42%) was “onboarding and training.” Tied for second place were “interacting with work colleagues” and “creating virtual content for customers,” both cited by 36%.

Consumers don’t give a shit about the metaverse because we can accomplish pretty much the same thing (but better) on Steam and our phones. OF COURSE businesses are planting their flags in (on?) the metaverse, thought leaders” like PwC keep telling them it’s important. No one has been able to explain to the masses exactly why in anything other than nebulous gibberish, it just is okay.

To complete the bridge between the consumer and business metaverses in the coming years, we also expect to see more metaverse-specific products and services: avatar-driven contact center support, financial education, telehealth and new, fully immersive commerce experiences.

Oh joy, can’t wait.

2. Trust will make or break metaverse success

That isn’t going too well so far. Moving on.

3. AI and XR will be metaverse BFFs that drive transformation

There’s been a lot of talk of VR (virtual reality) — and frankly, we are believers. VR is incredibly exciting and practical. In our own firm, we use it for onboarding, training, workplace collaboration, customer experience and more. Yet there are other paths into the metaverse, ranging from augmented reality (AR) devices to laptops and smartphones.

The technology that we believe will be foundational but is still transformational: artificial intelligence (AI). AI can draw insights from troves of data and simulations, such as what metaverse avatars buy or do, how they play or work, who they meet and how they engage with brands. AI can make it possible even for those without technical experience to create immersive metaverse experiences. Just as you don’t need to be a coder to design a web page on today’s internet, you won’t need to be a techie to make a metaverse space. AI can also increasingly power “digital humans” — computer-generated avatars that look realistic and, perhaps, inspire people to interact with them as they might with fellow humans.

The sixth season of Black Mirror is gonna be fire.

4. The metaverse will redefine every business leader’s agenda

The metaverse may soon touch upon nearly every aspect of your company. In PwC’s Metaverse Survey, 82% of executives said they expect metaverse plans to be part of their business activities within three years. With the metaverse potentially everywhere, every top executive should play a role — and some non-tech executives may be especially crucial.

Spoiler: it will not. In an informal survey of executives I pulled out of my ass, 74% of them only say they expect metaverse plans to be part of their business activities within three years because they fear sounding out of touch and tech illiterate if they say otherwise.

5. The metaverse will be a force for good

Seeking a more diverse and inclusive workforce, and more universally accessible services and products? By making more of your operations virtual — freeing them from geographic boundaries and many bodily limitations — you can reach and include far more people. The metaverse’s realistic simulation can also help boost accountability and transparency, by enabling you to invite stakeholders anywhere to observe, participate and engage.

Yet this potential for the metaverse to be a force for good requires a determination to make it so. You may, for example, want to invest in closing the digital divide in underserved communities so that those who need the metaverse’s benefits most can access them.

They might be onto something with this one. According to a survey of 4,420 respondents conducted in March 2022, 12 percent of online adults said they were very interested in using the metaverse and 24 percent reported being somewhat interested. Overall, 52 percent of Hispanic adults stated they were interested in using the metaverse, and an equal share of Black adults also reported the same. White adults had the least amount of interest in using the metaverse, with 46 percent saying there were not at all interested [via Statista].

Statistic: Share of internet users in the United States who are interested in using the metaverse as of March 2022, by ethnicity | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Though most of the things PwC mentioned can already be accomplished with existing, perfectly sufficient tools. You know, like the internet.

6. Your company will scramble for skills never needed before

Any new technology demands new skills. But the metaverse and the technologies that can support it require some highly specialized ones. Some of these skills barely existed a few years ago. One example is the need to monitor and validate transactions, gather data and protect data in the web3 ecosystem, which is growing to support many metaverse activities. Other skills aren’t that new but previously only existed in specific sectors. Do you have a 3D modeler on staff, along with 3D artists and designers, to help create immersive experiences? Unless you’re a gaming company, the answer is probably no.

Dude we can’t even get clients to go paperless and you want businesses to employ teams of 3D designers? GOOD LUCK. At least all those kids with game design degrees from Full Sail University who couldn’t get hired at AAA studios will have something to do.

I visited the metaverse once. It was awful.

I’ve set a calendar reminder to revisit this post in 2024. If the metaverse has made any progress toward widespread adoption and/or avatars that don’t look like they were plucked out of the original Half Life I will eat my virtual hat. As this aptly-titled Medium piece “The Metaverse Is Stupid” says, for now the metaverse is only half-cooked. For the moment it’s Cyberpunk 2077 in 2020: greatly anticipated, overhyped, and incredibly disappointing at launch because it needs more time in the oven. Perhaps if we keep our expectations low and give it some time to bake the metaverse will surprise us, much like Cyberpunk today (or so I hear).

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Beyond the hype: what businesses can really expect from the metaverse in 2023 [PwC]

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1 Comment

  1. Point 5 is interesting to me. When I interned at PwC in 2020, a partner told me how important it was for people to learn tech skills because the economy is becoming increasingly divided between those who are tech literate and those who are not. Naive and idealistic, I asked him what PwC was doing to help underprivileged people who don’t have the opportunity to learn tech skills. He just said it wasn’t their responsibility. Seems like there’s a shift in mindset happening, or it’s just all talk and performative. I’m about to be working there full-time at the end of this year and I’m ready to be disillusioned 🥳

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