The metaverse is a transformative opportunity for the business world


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I first wrote the word metaverse on a whiteboard in October 2017. As we wrapped up a multi-hour design session, we searched for a word to describe a new mindset and approach to business software that answered the question, “How do you a modern Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform in today’s world, where every business is a digital business that needs more connectivity with its partners and ecosystem?” My former boss Marc Benioff liked to challenge his team to think with a beginner’s mind, and I took this with me when I left my role as administrator of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and it led me to the metaverse.

Much of the world associates the metaverse with avatars and immersive VR experiences, which are essential for consumers and some business applications, but this new computing paradigm presents a more fundamental and transformative opportunity for the business world.

To see how, let’s first enter the innovation we call B2B SaaS, business-to-business software-as-a-service. In 1999, Salesforce pioneered enterprise-class software as an Internet service. For obvious reasons, getting corporate software through a browser is much more efficient than receiving physical media to install on its own servers. However, it is fair to say that the mindset of enterprise software in a SaaS model is much the same as the previous on-premise world. Companies subscribe to a SaaS application, access their instance, and then begin to automate a transaction-centric workflow across their company. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not where innovation ends. SaaS is an innovation of distribution and we are approaching the end of this innovation cycle.

Executives I speak to say they need more value from their technology and digital investments. “More” means more connection with trading partners, focus on value rather than transactions and external alignment across entire value chains and ecosystems. This won’t come from more B2B SaaS investments within a company’s own four walls. The focus must shift to a new type of technology developed specifically for companies to connect and collaborate with each other. The metaverse brings a new mindset that will drive this necessary innovation.

We should also give SaaS credit for enabling more effective integrations and API-first thinking that can connect different systems and processes together. But when executives say they need more connectivity, it’s not this transaction element that is arguably the depletion of a business relationship. Executives instead try to capture why business relationships exist in the first place, and then measure how value streams flow across these relationships from suppliers to customers throughout their value chain. What is value creation to one company is value received by another company, repeated almost infinitely. To achieve this goal of greater connection and a focus on value, companies must exist in ecosystem-wide environments where they connect with each other in every combination. This is where the metaverse comes in.

If we take the metaverse to include the physical world—and why wouldn’t such a comprehensive concept include the world we live in—and then apply it to a business, the fundamental idea of ​​the metaverse means that the physical identity of a business is connected to a digital identity , where the company ever exists in the digital world, just as it does in the physical world. Web3 technology is emerging to implement this identity in a distributed, interoperable manner. This single identity can then be used in different, interoperable virtual spaces.

The metaverse is what comes next

This is not the way business software like CRM works today. Instead, each company has its own internally focused systems that keep track of other companies—suppliers tracking customers, buyers tracking suppliers, and so on with all of the stakeholder relationships. This is not the physical and digital worlds coming together. At best, this is the digital world with countless redundant copies of the physical world. This is not to say that these legacy systems do not add value, they are a necessary step for any company to manage its internal information and workflow. But it won’t create the level of digital connectivity that companies are now looking for, not for 1:1 relationships and especially not for entire ecosystems.

Instead, the idea of ​​the metaverse business software developers provides a roadmap to build software based on a single digital identity where companies join a network to connect with other companies that have joined as well. This is not a system that belongs to one company, but an environment in which all companies are equal. Why do companies want to connect? Because that is essentially the nature of a business, reaching out to customers, suppliers and any stakeholder to establish an expectation of value from the relationship and then measure the realization of this value over time.

This way of thinking is not incompatible with the idea of ​​a VR environment in which a business user engages in part of their business in an immersive environment. But we’re setting the gap much wider to say that the entire company should be considered part of the metaverse, and any data that exists about that company can be aligned with that digital identity to create a digital twin for the entirety. create company. Then this digital company can connect with other companies to do what companies do – exchange value – but is now supported by a persistent, interoperable, collaborative digital space co-created and co-owned by the companies that join the metaverse. have connected.

The metaverse won’t just show up, it’s something companies need to build. But by definition, one company cannot build the metaverse. There is only one metaverse, and business software developers can only commit to building a portion of it and helping businesses navigate it. Each of those individual environments must work together in a way that is different from today’s business software. A company must navigate seamlessly through all metaverse components. We are clearly still in the early stages here and it will take more than ten years to realize this vision.

Visualize what kind of system would allow the healthcare industry as an industry to measure social determinants of health and share what works and what doesn’t to improve health equity. Sustainability programs almost always require the coordination of dozens of companies in an ecosystem. And when companies innovate to establish new-new capability, many partner companies need to align with their desired outcomes and how those outcomes will be measured. Today there is no “system of record” for this external coordination. The metaverse will bring us one.

Scott McCorkle is founder and CEO of MetaCX.

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