In five years, 40% of large organizations worldwide will be using a combination of Web3, AR cloud, and digital twins in metaverse projects aimed at increasing revenue, research and advisory firm Gartner predicted Monday at its IT symposium in Orlando, Fla.
Gartner’s metaverse prediction was part of a top 10 list of strategic technology trends released at the event.
The firm sees a metaverse as a “collective virtual 3D shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality.” It is persistent and provides enhanced immersive experiences, it added.
A complete metaverse will be device independent and won’t be owned by a single vendor, Gartner continued, and will have a virtual economy enabled by digital currencies and non-fungible tokens (NFT).
Gartner’s prediction raised eyebrows among some analysts. “It’s a bit aggressive,” observed Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.
“The primary headwind to the metaverse in business is the arrival of genuine metaverse apps that will have broad appeal with enterprise accounts,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“Some of that does exist — and will continue to surface — in operational areas like inventory management, logistics, and other vertical areas, but until a metaverse app, or apps, that increases productivity arrives, I think 40% is a stretch,” Vena added.
Metaverse or Metaverses?
Ross Rubin, the principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City, also sees some challenges that could impede the spread of the metaverse into the enterprise.
“On a core level, we need improvements in device size and power efficiency and broader applications beyond those in manufacturing, engineering, and other industrial applications that we see today,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“Beyond these AR-related improvements, however, there are open questions as to whether the metaverse will evolve as a single, broadly accessible platform, like the web, or whether companies will largely build out their own applications, as they do with cloud technology today,” he continued.
“However,” Rubin added, “we are starting to see some encouraging standards-setting here, such as the Metaverse Standards Forum.”
Meta, the owner of Facebook, could also be contributing to metaverse traction problems, maintained Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst with the Enderle Group, an advisory services firm in Bend, Ore.
“Facebook’s efforts are so bad they are putting a cloud over the entire segment and, ironically, they are the biggest investor in it,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“Facebook is effectively putting a big sign over the segment implying it is fake,” he added, “even though Nvidia’s efforts are working far better and being well implemented by firms like BMW, showcasing the potential that Facebook appears to be destroying at the moment.”
Impatience could also play a role in a company’s metaverse persistence, noted Quynh Mai, CEO of Qulture, a digital marketing agency in New York City.
“As brands enter the metaverse, they often get discouraged upon arrival, not realizing that it is still a nascent but evolving platform,” she told TechNewsWorld. “They don’t see a mass amount of users in metaverses like Decentraland or The Sandbox, and then retreat.”
“Perseverance is important as the technology driving Web3 is evolving quickly with developer activity increasing exponentially, so it’s important for brands to experiment now so they can scale their Web3 projects alongside its evolution,” she said.
“With the looming recession in the U.S. and the IMF’s economic warnings, many brands are retreating from Web3 and focusing on short-term issues,” she continued. “However, just like during Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, brands that do not innovate will lag behind.”
“Web3 adoption will be powered by Gen Z, which is 25% of the world’s population, so brands that do not stay the course will not prosper or connect with this cohort in 2027,” Mai added.
Gartner also predicted that by 2027, 50% of the world’s population will be daily active users of multiple “superapps.”
Superapps combine the features of an app, a platform, and an ecosystem in a single program. In addition to having its own set of functionalities, it provides a platform for add-ons by third parties.
“Although most examples of superapps are mobile apps, the concept can also be applied to desktop client applications, such as Microsoft Teams and Slack, with the key being that a superapp can consolidate and replace multiple apps for customer or employee use,” Gartner Vice President and Analyst Frances Karamouzis explained in a statement.
Teams Virtual Meeting Space (Image Credit: Microsoft)
Multi-function apps have always had appeal to users, Enderle noted.
“A single app that does a lot of things has always been attractive over multiple single-focused apps because folks don’t want the complexity and learning curves associated with a prolific number of apps,” he said. “So relative simplicity, perceived cost, and the utility of superapps make them attractive.”
Superapps have been in the news lately since Elon Musk said he wants to purchase Twitter as an accelerant for building one, Rubin explained.
“The model for this is WeChat, in China, which is used for tasks as diverse as reading news, making payments, and hailing cars,” he said. “WeChat was able to grow its functionality in part because there were no dominant OS vendors and little competition from outside of China keeping it in check.”
“There are higher barriers to replicating its success outside of China,” he continued. “Still, Apple, for example, already supports playing games and sending money through its Messages app, and Telegram supports add-on bot applications that could deliver a lot of functionality beyond messaging.”
One strategic trend that traverses all the others is sustainability, Gartner noted. It cited one of its recent surveys where CEOs reported that environmental and social changes are now a top three priority for investors, after profit and revenue.
This means, it continued, that executives must invest more in innovative solutions that are designed to address [environmental, social, and governance] demands to meet sustainability goals.
“[I]n 2023, delivering technology will not be enough,” Gartner Vice President and Analyst David Groombridge said in a statement.
“These themes are impacted by environmental, social, and governance expectations and regulations, which translate into the shared responsibility to apply sustainable technologies,” he said in a statement.
“Every technology investment will need to be set off against its impact on the environment, keeping future generations in mind,” he added. “‘Sustainable by default’ as an objective requires sustainable technology.”