WRITTEN BY NEAL STIMLER, PRESIDENT OF STIMLER ADVANTAGE, LLC
THE METAVERSE IS EMERGING.
It's a new, hybrid world that will be built on the existing infrastructure of the internet but will be much more immersive, interactive, and social than what customers are used to today. As identified by Chad Beatty in the Saratoga Business Report Q1, definitions of Web 3 vary, but feature core aspects like artificial intelligence, decentralization, and mixed reality (a combination of augmented and virtual reality). As we move further into the Metaverse and Web 3, small businesses can prepare for the unfolding digital transformation through strategic initiatives like digitization, asset management, and automation.
When embarking on a digitization initiative, consider three main factors: what assets to digitize, how to digitize them, and where to store them. A digital asset can be anything from a three-dimensional model or environment to an audio file or document. You should ask yourself: Does this asset have a legacy or potential future value for my company? While this can be tricky to sort out, your decisions can, and often should, be informed by business strategy, direct customer feedback, or market response. It’s also vital to consider the importance of digitizing assets from a compliance and regulatory standpoint for business records and certain assets. Digitized and born-digital assets are fundamental content resources that power products and services for Web 3. Without digitized assets, a small business cannot optimize opportunities that save money and time while elevating customer experiences.
As digitized assets become increasingly commonplace, especially within born-digital companies, it can be easy to overlook physical assets that can be digitized for the Metaverse. Lingering analog processes and assets exist in both digital-born and not natively digital companies. Undigitized assets could include paper business records, promotional product giveaways, signage, trade show booth exhibits, and products. Professional services may also unduly rely on physical processes and travel, which can lead to higher costs, delays, and inefficiencies.
Small business owners face many demands of managing a company with a small, dedicated team of colleagues and family or just "me, myself, and I.” It can be difficult to find time and resources to implement new processes without an immediate perceivable return on investment. But indefinitely delaying digitization or abandoning assets undermines a company’s ability to adapt in the future. Ignoring digitization leaves companies open to risks posed by natural events, public health, safety, theft, and deterioration over time. The digitization process comes with its risks and challenges, but the benefits of organizational resiliency and future readiness often outweigh the costs.
As digital transformation advances and more businesses are conducted in Metaverse environments, having a well-managed system of digital assets will become increasingly crucial. Digital assets, also known as digital twins, represent what might also be physical products that customers can interact with and deploy in online environments. This can include assets like a 3D rending of a product that a customer can view in virtual reality and then buy.
It’s essential to know what assets are available for what purpose and how a particular digital asset type may aid or limit your business and customers. Metaverse business readiness includes a centralized digital and physical asset management strategy. This empowers your company to effectively distribute, sell, and track products on the blockchain. In addition to having an asset management system, a company may also need the legal and technical personnel to create, implement, and manage necessary policies and procedures for good practice governance and security.
An Architect using a VR headset and joystick while making a real estate immersive tour.
Much of Web 3 focuses on the decentralization of assets on the customer side. Small business owners will have to support the underlying technologies of the Metaverse, like digital currencies and wallets, so that transactions are completed securely and successfully. While a company may choose to sell some products and services on the blockchain, licensing and other forms of agreement will continue to be fundamental in leveraging assets.
To set up your business for success in the Metaverse, your company needs to be positioned to develop, make, and sell digital goods to customers. This may require you to retrain existing staff, learn new skills, hire contractors, and purchase new software and hardware. These elements contribute to a steady product pipeline that’s ready to meet customer demand. The future of Web 3 relies on customer confidence and trust. Satisfied customers are inspired to come back and participate in these new economies. Asset management sets up a company to satisfy its customers.
Like assets, work processes can also be digitized and then shifted to function automatically. Leveraging automation and AI are other key elements in preparing for the Metaverse. Utilizing automation creates spaces where customers can be responded to swiftly and frees up team members to work on other tasks. Many business processes are still done manually despite the opportunities to automate them. Automation opportunities for Web 3 include chatbots, generative media, and smart contracts.
Chatbots, hosted in a third-party or self-hosted platform, are tools for customer or community management. Chatbots can be truly available to you customer 24/7 and used to answer FAQS, gather necessary information for support teams, and provide just-in-time and scheduled notifications about product releases.
Generative media is content created by artificial intelligence algorithms within the parameters defined by a programmer. These algorithms can be tuned to aid your creative team by generating content that is diverse, attractive to your customers, and can require minimal editing or revision. This can save time and money by having the first, if not final, draft of such assets be AI-generated rather than by hand.
Smart contracts are agreements exchanged and transacted between parties through code, which can be done on the blockchain. These enable a smooth and transparent record of exchange and rights. Early adoption and investment in digital transformation and legal policy is the best way for a small business to utilize these technologies.
The rapid innovation of digital technologies will increase because of automation. It’s vital to stay tuned into how new economic and technological environments, like Web 3 and the Metaverse, can impact a company’s competitive advantage and place in the market. When prudently applied, automation can help small businesses better leverage their products and services. But it takes an investment to be successful. It would be a mistake for small businesses to ignore automation as a dynamic and powerful force. When coupled with digitization, asset management, and other strategic priorities, automation will have important implications for a company's future. The future of your company's business operations, products, and services should be powered by a combination of humans and machines.
HOW TO PREPARE
The Metaverse is emerging. This immersive, hybrid world is connecting us in new ways. In the Metaverse, people will interact with one another and digital objects as part of their daily lives for business, connection, and entertainment.
If your small business is not prepared for the Metaverse, you risk being left behind. But don’t worry; help is available. Take action.
Remember to be ready for the Metaverse:
Digitize your assets and operations
Manage your library of digital and physical assets
Automate your workflows and asset distribution
Seek out expert advice from strategic advisors and consultants who are immersed in these issues and technologies now. Be prepared to protect the interests of your business, assets, and people.
The Metaverse is emerging. Prepare your small business now!