The Metaverse has rapidly captured the attention of consumers and companies alike in regions worldwide. Although many people still don’t fully understand what the metaverse “is” or what it has the potential to do, there’s an overwhelming sense of excitement surrounding the concept.
As companies like Microsoft, Meta, Google, and many others continue to share their “visions” of the metaverse, we’re beginning to get a clearer picture of what this digital environment might look like. If the metaverse lives up to expectations, it has the potential to be essentially the “next internet”.
The metaverse could transform the way we work by allowing us to create new digital environments for collaboration, enhanced by XR technology. It could also introduce a brand-new economy for consumers, where people can interact with companies in virtual landscapes, see digital twins of the products they want to buy, and build their own unique environments.
But which version of the metaverse will be the first to take over? The consumer metaverse or the enterprise metaverse?
Enterprise vs Consumer Metaverse: What’s the Difference?
The metaverse isn’t set to be a single digital environment but an ecosystem of multiple connected digital experiences designed for different purposes and use cases.
Some metaverse landscapes we’re already familiar with today, such as Roblox, are focused almost exclusively on the “consumer”. These solutions are dedicated to helping people form relationships, discover information, and even complete transactions in a digital world.
Other metaverse environments are focused more on the “enterprise” or corporate landscape. For instance, Meta, one of the leaders in the metaverse ecosystem today, is building its metaverse as an environment for productivity, collaboration, and business growth.
Meta wants to design a new “future of work”, which eliminates the disconnect between hybrid and remote workers by giving everyone a shared space to collaborate in the digital world.
Understanding the Consumer Metaverse
When the concept of the “metaverse” first began to emerge into the public eye, the focus was primarily on the “consumer metaverse”. In fact, there are various consumer “metaverse” experiences already available to consumers today. Environments like Decentraland, the Sandbox, and AXIE Infinity are all focused on the consumer landscape.
In the consumer metaverse, the focus is on creating a new virtual economy where consumers can unlock new experiences, interact with brands and creators, and build digital identities. This is still the area many organisations are investing in today. Musicians and artists are creating concerts in the metaverse, designed to bring unique forms of entertainment to people all around the globe.
Metaverse spaces like Roblox are building their own virtual economies where people can buy and trade digital assets, and demand for virtual “metaverse” possessions is growing. For instance, according to HubSpot, 60% of consumers think their virtual possessions are just as important as the items they own in real-life.
Companies like Nike have even developed their own version of the metaverse, where people can walk around “Nikeland”, collect NFTs of sneakers, and update their avatar with their purchases. On a global scale, brands are also looking for new ways to connect with their consumers and deliver meaningful experiences through the metaverse. HSBC has its very own location in the Sandbox metaverse, where consumers can access financial assistance and support.
The Rising Enterprise Metaverse
While much of the hype around the metaverse has so far focused on the consumer landscape, this is gradually beginning to change. The “enterprise” metaverse is gaining popularity, building on the growing momentum of XR experiences for collaboration, innovation, and training.
In the enterprise metaverse, the focus is on bringing teams and professionals together in unique spaces where they can achieve corporate goals. Some experts believe the enterprise metaverse will foster a new age of collaboration, where issues like “proximity bias” no longer pose a problem to remote work. Indeed, Meta’s investments in the metaverse are all about bringing people together in unique, immersive environments where they can share a sense of “presence”, similar to real-life interactions.
Examples of “enterprise metaverse” experiences are already emerging around the globe. There are tools like “Gather” and “Branch” which bring employees together in collaborative experiences centred around the metaverse. VR apps like Spatial, and Horizon workrooms are also connected to the concept of a new “metawork” environment, enhanced by extended reality.
Companies are experimenting with building digital twins of offices, production rooms, showrooms, and manufacturing floors, to help teams collaborate in the metaverse. Companies like ABI Research believe the enterprise metaverse opportunity, defined by immersive collaboration, simulation software, and digital twins will be even more impactful than the consumer metaverse.
According to the global technology intelligence firm, the enterprise metaverse has the potential to reach a value of around $60 billion by 2030. ABI Research notes that there’s already a higher level of maturity in the enterprise metaverse to take advantage of. Companies are already rapidly migrating to the cloud, investing in XR for collaboration, and building digital twins and simulations.
This could mean the enterprise is better equipped to adopt a true “metaverse environment” than those in the consumer landscape. After all, only around 40% of today’s US consumers say they actually understand what a metaverse is.
Which Environment will Peak First?
So, which will flourish first, the enterprise metaverse or the consumer metaverse? Ultimately, it’s difficult to know for sure. Both environments are already well in production. There are already powerful examples of consumer and enterprise metaverse experiences available in regions around the globe. However, despite the hype around the consumer metaverse, it seems likely that the enterprise space will support more rapid adoption.
Enterprise companies are already more open to adopting digital innovation than standard consumers and have more of the budget required to invest in unique metaverse experiences. Not to mention, enterprise companies will likely see embracing the metaverse as an opportunity to differentiate, attract new talent, and unlock new revenue. This may further accelerate adoption.
According to Gartner, by 2026, 25% of people will spend at least an hour a day exploring the metaverse. Whether the enterprise or consumer metaverse will be the environment they choose to explore first remains to be seen.