When the term metaverse was first conceived in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in his book Snow Crash, it was the realm of science fiction, writes Nathalie Vancluysen, Global XR Leader & Distinguished Technologist, DXC Technology.

Thirty years later and the metaverse has gone from being a futuristic dream to a present-day reality. But there’s much more to come. In the next five years, the 3D world of the metaverse will transform our lives and business in several profound ways. Here are five of the most significant.

1. Workplace collaboration will never be the same again

Around the world, the metaverse will become part of millions of employees’ daily work. Instead of staring at a grid of 2-dimensional faces on a videoconferencing screen, colleagues will be able to choose their seat at a virtual table, pop out of the room for a break, and even go on a virtual walk with their boss.

We’re already seeing the positive impact of these virtual worlds, with increased levels of productivity, engagement, and creativity amongst our users. A recent staff survey of DXC employees revealed that 57% have attended an event in our private metaverse environment, while over a third report being more engaged in their job because of the opportunity to meet in the metaverse.

The virtual world will also boost diversity and inclusion, helping to empower individuals who may not feel confident in a normal work environment. Virbela, a company that has been engineering and designing immersive 3D spaces since 2012, reports that in the metaverse ‘introverted staff members are more comfortable sharing their knowledge, ideas, and work products with larger groups of people’.

DXC Technology Metaverse

Photo credit: The DXC Virtual World - DXC

2. Large scale professional events will go virtual

Think of professional events and there’s a good chance you’ll be transported to a distant conference centre with people in suits trudging around for hours on end making small talk over triangular sandwiches. The metaverse, however, is a place where thousands of avatars, controlled by people from the comfort of their chosen location, can roam freely over an almost infinite space and teleport themselves from one place to another instantaneously.

Rather than flying in for expos, summits and training days, executives and politicians will be logging on from their chosen location – minimising costs and helping us reduce the carbon impact of travel in the process. They will be able to do many of the same things as they would in a traditional event (from demos, to networking, to dancing at the afterparty), while busting the physical limitations of video conferencing.

If all this sounds very farfetched, we should take note of The Economist, which recently held its Metaverse Summit in the virtual world. There was a physical location for 400+ attendees in San Jose and a metaverse world available for 2000+ virtual attendees.

3. Bands and DJs will rock your virtual worlds – and so will your date and favourite football team

Hanging out in the virtual world will not be boring. Bands and DJs will play live in the metaverse, selling tickets to virtual events attended by the adoring avatars of fans wearing virtual branded T-shirts (while also increasing accessibility for those who might not be able to attend in person). One performer who has already taken the plunge is the DJ, David Guetta, who performed a set in the Roblox online game in partnership with Warner Music. The star is best known for his 2009 hit ‘When Love Takes Over’, and love may indeed be in the air with dating apps like Nevermet and Flirtual already offering services in the metaverse including the opportunity to go on a VR date (to be followed by a VR wedding of course). Other big dating platforms are expected to follow.

Increasing numbers of sports teams will offer fans the opportunity to watch games in the metaverse from virtual stadiums – and even meet their heroes there. Whether that’s Erling Haaland of Manchester City, Robert Lewandowski of Barcelona, or Lionel Messi of Paris Saint-German, fans might not have to wait too long – all three clubs have already established a presence in the metaverse.

4. Brands will express themselves in new ways

Louis Vuitton, Adidas, Gucci, Coke, and Nike are among a growing list of brands to set up shop in the metaverse, alongside car companies like Nissan, Toyota and Ferrari which have all started offering virtual customer experiences. So, whether you’re a petrol head wanting a VR test drive, or simply a thirsty fashionista, there’s likely be a brand waiting for you in the metaverse. These virtual environments allow customers to get closer to their favourite brands through a whole new medium, and the potential applications are vast.

Indeed, it’s not just in the retail space that opportunities abound. In the next five years, more and more business-to-business brands will open customer experience centres in the metaverse to demonstrate solutions and services which previously would only have been possible inside four walls.

5. Recruitment and onboarding will be transformed

Recruiting top talent is integral to the success of any business – and reaching talent is the first step. Over the next five years, organisations will increasingly turn to the metaverse to connect with candidates in engaging, enticing ways.

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First round interviews and recruitment days will be hosted in the metaverse helping organisations to identify candidates with the right behavioural profile rather than just the ones with the right CV credentials, or the right look. HR teams will increasingly use virtual spaces for onboarding, training, and internal events, allowing new employees to build trust and develop positive working relationships with colleagues – even if they can’t meet in person.

For example, earlier this year, Carrefour launched its first recruitment event including job interviews in the metaverse, while consumer and home electronics company, LG, is another to recruit through the technology.

Throw in the possibility of virtual house viewings and even virtual vacation experiences, there is a myriad of possibilities for how the metaverse will change our lives in the next five years. And accessibility to the metaverse is improving, with many of today’s metaverse platforms available via an ordinary PC. However, hold onto your (physical) hat, as we won’t be saying goodbye to real world experiences any time soon. The metaverse will act to augment the physical world and all the things we love, rather than substituting them. Safe to say it’s an exciting time to be in the metaverse; hope to see you there soon!