WebMe: Putting The ‘Me’ In Metaverse

The internet as we know it is undergoing massive change. Web3 and the metaverse are creating new ways to work, learn and socialize and, according to Emmanuel Libeau, Associate Director at Accenture Luxembourg, companies need to adapt quickly, or risk being left behind.

Defining Web3 and the metaverse

The first trend in Accenture’s Tech Vision 2022 – “WebMe: Putting the ‘me’ in metaverse” – highlights new opportunities being created by developments in Web3 and the metaverse. This evolution is being driven by human needs as much as by technology, and especially since the start of the pandemic, when people began exploring new ways to interact virtually.

Web3 encompasses any emerging initiative that leverages technologies like blockchain and tokenization to build a more distributed (and trusted) data layer across the web.

Accenture defines the metaverse as “an evolution of the internet that enables users to move beyond browsing to inhabiting and/or participating in a persistent shared experience that spans the spectrum of our real world to the fully virtual and in between.” According to Libeau, “the metaverse goes beyond simply a new digital channel. It’s an immersive experience, a new world.”

The value of Web3 and the metaverse depends on where they converge.

What are the opportunities for business?

This new immersive world offers opportunities, not only in communication with customers, but also in developing new products, new distribution channels and building trust. As Libeau points out, “there’s a second wave of transformation coming, pushing enterprises to once again innovate their business models to meet their clients’ needs, only this time in the metaverse.”

One example is NIKELAND – Nike’s virtual world, launched on Roblox in 2021. Here, visitors can play games and outfit their avatars with Nike products in the digital showroom. This experience crosses into the physical world where real-life exercise enables longer jumps or faster running speeds by avatars in NIKELAND games.

“I urge companies to already integrate Web3 and the metaverse into their strategy today. Then they can decide how to implement them in the future.”

Emmanuel Libeau, Associate Director at Accenture Luxembourg

Another is Bayer’s Crop Science group, which has developed an agricultural blockchain platform to track produce throughout the value chain, from seed to plate.

Seamless tracking of products is not the only benefit of blockchain. It also offers a new way to access consumer data, which until now, has been held by a few large companies. Libeau explains that by moving away from a centralized model to a distributed one, you distribute the value. “You could say that data is the new oil. When you distribute it, you share the riches and benefits with more people.”

What this means in practice is that means companies will no longer have to rely on a single source of data but will instead have access to a diverse range of sources. This, in turn, will open up new use cases. “It will create more possibilities for companies to combine their data with external data. We definitely see it as a huge opportunity for businesses.”

How can Luxembourg capitalize on these opportunities?

Luxembourg businesses in particular can benefit from Web3 and the metaverse, and some are already doing so. For example, the financial services sector – especially the fund industry – is leveraging blockchain technology to reduce the number of players needed in a transaction.

There is also a real opportunity for Luxembourg to become a magnet for companies that want to take advantage of these new technologies and offer innovative services. According to Libeau, Luxembourg is perfectly positioned for this because “the state has put in place a policy framework combined with institutes such as IPIL or Luxinnovation, that are particularly efficient at fostering innovation and attracting innovative companies.”

Tackling the challenges of this new reality

As with any new technology, there will be challenges. In the case of Web3 and the metaverse, companies will need to prepare and empower their workforce for a new way of working. However, Libeau doesn’t see this as a barrier. “We are living in a continuously evolving world, and we’ve learnt to adapt over the last decade.”

Another area that deserves attention is making sure citizens aren’t left behind. The metaverse will have an impact on education, so “it’s very important to make sure that young people, regardless of their social background, have access to this new channel of communication, and therefore channel of knowledge,” Libeau emphasizes. However, as the technology evolves, barriers that exist now (e.g., access to VR headsets) will probably become lower.

The biggest challenge is time. Companies need to prepare today. As Libeau explains, “companies may think they have time, and that they first need to consolidate their digital strategy, but this comes with a risk.” New players are already integrating Web3 and the metaverse into their strategies and threatening established businesses that are not. Libeau concludes with this advice: “I urge companies to already integrate Web3 and the metaverse into their strategy today. Then they can decide how to implement them in the future. But not taking in 2022 increases the risk of becoming obsolete, or at least behind the market, within a couple of years.”

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