Towards the backend of 2021, the metaverse seemed to lose a little of its mystique.
Yet, it had momentum, with many start-ups throwing their hats into the ring and attempting to capture the imagination of customer experience leaders.
Many industry analysts bought into this. In February, Gartner even predicted that 25 percent of people will spend at least one hour per day in the metaverse by 2026.
At the time, Marty Resnick, Research Vice President at Gartner, stated:
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.
Fast-forward less than 12 months, however, and this narrative has somewhat diminished, with many companies dialing back their metaverse talk.
As one article puts it: “Silicon Valley tech CEOs are not big fans of metaverses.”
Digital twins and VR gaming have somewhat negated this trend. Yet, parallel markets – including crypto, blockchain, and Web 3.0 – did not.
The sudden demise of FTX is an excellent example of this trend. Then, there is Meta.
2022: A Painful Year for Meta
In a time with looming economic uncertainty and high inflation, Meta pivoted from its traditional focus to delve into a new market: the metaverse.
The cost? $676BN in its market value, falling from the world’s sixth-largest business to its 27th.
Of course, this decline came as a shock. After all, Meta is a name in which many would invest their retirement funds. Yet, 2022 proved a particularly challenging year for the company.
In addition, perhaps its most promising CX innovation came in a space where it is much better established: messaging apps. More pointedly: WhatsApp.
Indeed, the business now allows consumers in Brazil to find, message, and buy from customers on the app. If this innovation catches fire, WhatsApp could host the entire shopping experience and challenge traditional search engines, including Google.
It also acquired Kustomer, the CRM solution, in a move that went under the radar at the start of 2022 and could support these native buying journeys.
However, it faces many challenges regarding its current Metaverse and Web 3.0 proposition. These include market headwinds and decentralization.
In an interview with prominent industry analyst Patrick Moorhouse, Daniel Newman, CEO of The Futurum Group, said:
Ten years of effort to build this Web 3.0 idea got set back by 20 because of all the bad actors, bad policy, and – of course – the lack of real, practical applications for the metaverse.
Undoubtedly, Apple will take notes as it prepares its own metaverse products, which it is doing as the space remains ripe for innovation.
Nonetheless, there is significant work to do, as many business leaders remain uninterested in immersive experiences in their current form.
The Good, Hidden Amongst the Mediocre
Despite the demise in the hype of XR technologies, many applications are establishing credibility and may grow in 2023.
For instance, digital twins, AR content creation tools, and 3D modeling show significant promise. Meanwhile, concepts like overlaying the physical office with digital assets also catch the eye.
However, these technologies and ideas became welded together as part of a package of next-generation technologies that could change the world.
As a result, better examples got lumped in with the not-so-great innovations, whose creators perpetuated the hype to get people to invest and encourage start-ups to pull the trigger.
Recognizing this, business leaders will likely look past the noise in 2023, focus on navigating the tough economy, and take more of a spectator role to see what works in practice.
Even Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, seemingly anticipates such a trend. During a recent earnings call, he said:
It’s often going to take a few versions of each product before they become mainstream.
“I think that our work here [will] be of historical importance and create the foundation for an entirely new way that we will interact with each other and blend technology into our lives as well as the foundation for the long term of our business.”
Zuckerberg seems prepared to burn through billions of dollars in the short-term by committing to this vision.
Yet, the technologies and applications will improve, and those that drive the most value will become apparent over time.
Meanwhile, as people continually rely on social media platforms to stay in touch with their colleagues, friends, and families, metaverse solutions may come further to the fore.
So, while immersive experiences may take a back seat in 2023 as businesses overcome their disillusionment with XR offerings, don’t expect them to stay there indefinitely.