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Since Facebook announced it was rebranding to Meta in its quest to become a leader in the race for the metaverse, companies everywhere have been wondering what’s next for the online marketplace. While the metaverse will continue to buzz in 2022, new challenges arise as tech organizations begin to journey into uncharted territories..
Organizations across the global enterprise landscape have already placed large stakes into this virtual, universal opportunity. Even smaller companies are jumping on the digital bandwagon early, hoping to avoid missing out on immersive trade. A report by Emergen Research projects the metaverse market to reach over $800 billion by 2028. Without a doubt, the new wave of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is already here.
[ Special Report — The Metaverse: How Close Are We? ]
However,companies that invest in the metaverse too quickly may risk disappointment, with interface restrictions and high cost of entry. Virtual land property sales alone are expected to become a $1 trillion market, according to a 2021 report by Grayscale. Currently, it’s nearly impossible to find a small plot of virtual land under $11,000, with some selling for millions of dollars.
What are smaller companies to do if they want to start selling at the crossroads of real-life and digitized spaces? Should they wait until the market grows more accessible or would they benefit from jumping in while it’s still new? MeetKai, a Los Angeles-based AI-powered conversational intelligence company, attempts to answer those questions and more with its VR platform called MeetKai Metaverse. In a press release earlier this year, the company said the MeetKai Metaverse is an ever-evolving multiverse where exclusive experiences become reachable with the help of VR and AI.
Meetkai’s CEO and cofounder, James Kaplan, told VentureBeat that MeetKai Metaverse helps organizations keen on becoming players in the emergent metaverse ecosystem to have easy access and get their own spaces in the new immersive world. Kaplan highlighted several action points that organizations can take to succeed in the metaverse and how the MeeKai Metaverse is positioned to help them accomplish that.
Early adopters and adapters will win
As the open vs. close metaverse debate continues to rage, several developers are insisting on providing an open platform where companies can employ their operations in versatile, non-binding ways, at least compared to Meta.
“Unlike with Meta, where you’re locked into their ecosystem from day one, we make customizations for companies that want to adopt their technology but have very specific use cases,” said Kaplan.
Companies that are open to adopting early will have an advantage when VR sales eventually become more mainstream. Whether or not a company hops on the VR train immediately, coming up with a strategy and positioning themselves in the multiverse prepares all assets for the growth to come.
Just as early adopters of the internet ten years ago profited by selling online before it became more popularized. A report by Gartner predicts that 25% of people will spend at least one hour per day in the metaverse by 2026. Just as early adopters of the internet ten years ago profited by selling online before it became more popularized, organizations that set themselves up for this new interactive world will inevitably put themselves ahead of the rest.
Try different platforms
Meta’s version of an immersive multiverse isn’t the only option available to brands looking to set up shop in VR, according to Kaplan. Different platforms exist, and even more are in development — each offering unique features for work and play.
For example, if an organization enters the metaverse in need of a highly specific setting, like travel booking, the MeeKai Metaverse platform can be adjusted accordingly, said Kaplan. “Instead of being stuck in a limited hangout space of VR with Zoom-like encounters that require agents to process millions of inquiries in real time, the travel agency can implement advanced AI-powered customer service and host private tour previews that sell tickets to virtual travel experiences in multiple awe-inspiring locations,” he said.
Embrace conversational AI capabilities
Communication in VR is still in the works. Conversations between players and automated avatars improve as conversational AI capabilities get better. The MeetKai Metaverse platform leverages MeetKai’s conversational AI capabilities to provide a voice concierge app that uses voice search to deliver personalized dialogue between humans and AI.
What is a virtual world if its communication doesn’t align with human-to-human interaction? People expect fast, personalized experiences, even when talking to a VR computer character. Just like unlimited information became available worldwide with the popularization of the internet, access to endless knowledge in VR shopping, travel or even medical experience will be available with the help of AI.
Offer brand-specific lifestyle experiences
With leading VR platforms advancing, companies have a chance to offer limitless experiences to consumers in the virtual multiverse. Artists can host live, virtual gallery tours. A shoe company can offer custom shoe design workshops where players can then purchase their final product to keep in the metaverse. A consulting agency can sell VR gathering tiers for clients looking to work one-on-one.
These brand-initiated VR experiences allow people from all abilities and walks of life to explore, engage and buy like never before. From travel and entertainment to self-development and social networking, the potential of human and artificial intelligence are available for all to access.
Kaplan said organizations that own a spot in the MeetKai Metaverse will be able to do whatever they want there. He likens it to building a custom website — once you own a spot, it’s yours.
Finding a way for organizations to create and provide customized experiences for their audience means they need a way to freely evolve with the digital space they claim. Alternative platforms that are allowing flexibility in ownership, currency and payment in the metaverse continue to reiterate the need for such freedom. For better connectivity and persistence in the market, according to Kaplan, playing too much into Meta could lead organizations into a walled-garden situation.
Grow with technology
Lastly, Kaplan said companies need to grow with technology to truly make it in the metaverse. “There’s ample doubt among businesses that don’t want to stay dependent on a pay-to-play basis. Equipped with better technology to grow alongside the metaverse as it evolves, companies can handle the competition with confidence,” he said.
VR is a place where companies should be free to break the rules a little. Kaplan said MeetKai will launch a product this summer that sets new standards, where there’s a difference between building a virtual world and a niche customer experience.
MeetKai was cofounded by James Kaplan and Weili Dai in 2018. While the company’s current headcount is just shy of 40, Kaplan said the number is expected to double by the end of the year.
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