Protiviti’s Kim Bozzella: Time to evolve beyond marketing to make meaningful metaverse moments
- As consumer behaviors around the metaverse mature, businesses will have to adapt their customer experience strategies to account for those behaviors in order to maintain relevance and have a chance to earn loyalty.
- When I talk with business leaders, I often hear metaverse as a marketing focus or an innovation one; usually, it’s not comprehensive and strategically integrated with the business.
- I think the verdict is still out on what the big technology game-changers are going to be, but generative AI has the attention of people now and will receive significant, immediate investment driving innovation.
Protiviti Managing Director Kim Bozzella, Global Leader of Technology Consulting, sat down with Joe Kornik, Editor-in-Chief of VISION by Protiviti, to discuss some of the key findings of the recent Protiviti-Oxford research report, Executive Outlook on the Metaverse, 2033 and Beyond. Here, Bozzella offers her thoughts on the often spot-on, sometimes surprising, and always interesting insights from executives. She also shares some of the ways Protiviti is helping business leaders strategically sort out the metaverse future.
Kornik: Meanwhile, the numbers across the entire survey show enthusiasm levels among executives in North America outpace those in Europe and Asia-Pacific. Is that also your sense of the global landscape when it comes to metaverse adoption and enthusiasm?
Bozzella: Those numbers seem in line with other digital technology waves. Culturally, North American consumers and businesses seem the most willing to experiment and innovate to find an edge. Many of the metaverse companies, which are predominantly in gaming, infrastructure and architecture, are in the US. Additionally, significant U.S.-based venture capital and corporate venture capital are directed at U.S startups so the metaverse is probably top-of-mind for many U.S. executives. The successful North American “experiments” will rapidly make their way to Asia and Europe, where they’ll find their own innovations and creative ways to leverage and expand the technology.
Kornik: We also found customer experience and customer loyalty are top of mind for global business leaders, with 70% saying it would be “somewhat or extremely important” over the next decade. How do you see the metaverse impacting customer experience and customer loyalty?
Bozzella: The metaverse will allow companies to become more interactive and personal with their customers, providing a more meaningful experience to drive stronger relationships and loyalty. With that said, metaverse implementation must be done right, with the experience being thoughtfully executed and privacy and security considerations at the forefront. I think of it by way of analogy: Not every business needs to have a social media strategy, but businesses that have customers who use social media need to know how to be present, or they lose an opportunity to be relevant. That’s the direct customer experience—being meaningful in the channels where their customers are and expect them to be.
As consumer behaviors around the metaverse mature, businesses will have to adapt their customer experience strategies to account for those behaviors to maintain relevance and have a chance to earn loyalty. What I think is equally interesting is the indirect customer experience. I look at all the people and processes that are involved in maintaining a customer experience—the employee trainings, the customer service interactions, the logistics analyses—all of them are likely to be improved by the interactions and visualization the metaverse can support.
Culturally, North American consumers and businesses seem the most willing to experiment and innovate to find an edge. Many of the metaverse companies, which are predominantly in gaming, infrastructure and architecture, are in the US.
Kornik: I think we were a little surprised 43% of executives we surveyed globally said they already have a metaverse strategy in place. One in five say they’ll have one in place in one to two years, and one in three say it’ll be three to five years. Only 4% say it’ll take six to 10 years. Do those timelines align with discussions you and your team are having with executives around their metaverse strategies?
Bozzella: I’m genuinely impressed that the survey showed so many executives already have a plan in this space. When I talk with business leaders, I often hear metaverse as a marketing focus or an innovation one; usually, it’s not comprehensive and strategically integrated with the business. These timelines do not align with what I see, as most industries are likely not capable of executing a metaverse strategy in the short term. To paraphrase William Gibson, it’s as if “The metaverse is already here—it's just not very evenly distributed.”
Kornik: When it comes to the technologies that will enable the metaverse, executives told us they are most excited about the potential of augmented, virtual and extended reality (65%) and artificial intelligence (58%), well ahead of blockchain and 3D reconstruction/digital twins. What technologies do you think will be the big game changers in a metaverse future?
Bozzella: I think the verdict is still out on what the big game changers are going to be. Generative AI has the attention of people now and will receive significant, immediate investment driving innovation. Digital is in the midst of an epochal change—these enabling technologies of AR/VR, AI/ML, blockchain, start to point to a digital environment that’s more aware, more personal, more invisible, and one where users will be in more control. Watch for great augmented, virtual and extended reality experiences that help us collaborate in meetings and consume entertainment in new ways. Look for large, massively multiplayer gaming experiences with huge adoption. Look for “VR-chat-esque” social platforms—or the adoption onto existing social platforms—with user communities of notable size. Experiences should be universal across industries whereas other technologies, like blockchain, will be critical to select companies that focus more on the mechanics of the industry. How they come together is part of what we and our clients will have to build, but the change is really exciting!
Digital is in the midst of an epochal change — these enabling technologies of AR/VR, AI/ML, blockchain, start to point to a digital environment that’s more aware, more personal, more invisible, and one where users will be in more control.
Kornik: Finally, when we asked what could potentially put the brakes on their metaverse plans, almost half of the executives said cost (44%), followed by privacy/security, interoperability, technology infrastructure, user experience/enthusiasm, regulations/agreement on standards, and hardware/devices. What would be your advice to these executives?
Bozzella: There are a few strategic pieces of advice that I would share with any executive who is concerned about any of these potential roadblocks to metaverse adoption:
- Work with the business to identify the most practical use cases that will yield ROI.
- Start small and seed a small cross-functional team and give them autonomy to tackle the roadblocks outlined above.
- Talk to your team members, listen to what your organization is using/leveraging at home and outside of work—you will learn a lot!
- Keep cyber and resilience as standing board topics, even when not at elevated risks, to create the muscle memory and potential energy for when action is required.
- Ensure your risk infrastructure is calibrated to the technologies, processes and integrations you really anticipate using.
- Recognize that there will be roadblocks and plan for them. Fail fast, iterate and learn—the risk of doing nothing is greater than the risk of doing the wrong thing.