By Nic DeAngelo, president of Saint Investment Group, a cutting-edge real estate fund platform. 

The metaverse, which is poising itself to be the Internet 3.0, is a virtual reality "super-platform" that can house social media, online video games, and other apps within the same cyberspace. As this NPR article briefly summed it up: "Think of it as the internet brought to life, or at least rendered in 3-D." 

While it may seem farfetched to many, so did today's internet in the 1970s. And so did social media in the 1980s. And we're sure there'd be plenty of naysayers in the '90s if we told them we'd have flying cars by 2022.

The fact of the matter is this: We live in a rapidly changing world, and technology will continue to exponentially advance. As a business owner, embracing tech and securing your place in the online world is how you stay relevant, remain competitive, and retain your customers.

Key Players to Watch

Big tech is pioneering this new world -- with Facebook/Meta front and center. While tech goliaths like Apple and Google seem likely to keep their retail stores, Microsoft has ditched its retail locations and is solely focusing on their online presence -- Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella even said the company is building an "enterprise metaverse." 

Selling in a Virtual Reality

Meta is positioned to drastically change the business landscape, making the online presence of individual companies even more essential than ever. The metaverse presents the opportunity to level up customer engagement, experience, and retention. For example, all customer service operations could be centralized in one omnichannel space -- say, with virtual customer service avatars -- instead of over the phone, via email, and through chatbots.

Retail is one industry that's already jumping on the metaverse train. (Imagine trying on new clothes and purchasing them without ever leaving home.) Nike is even preparing to sell virtual sneakers for "characters" within this next-gen digital world. Ultimately, the metaverse lets consumers engage with companies and/or shop their products in immersive, interactive ways. 

Working in a Virtual Reality

The pandemic has already forced many businesses to transition their operations online and set their employees up to work from home. While this abrupt transition went (overall) smoother than expected, many have missed the collaborative experience that a video call grid simply can't offer. 

Facebook (sorry, Meta) has pushed out the beta version of its Horizon Workrooms app to mitigate this issue. According to the website, it's a "VR space for teams to connect, collaborate, and develop ideas, together. Meet teammates across the table, even if you're across the world." This also alludes to the potential for training staff in a metaverse as well. 

Living in a Virtual Reality? 

While the top tech companies are indeed building this cutting-edge reality, it's not something that will come to full fruition tomorrow -- and probably not even in the next five years. We're not living in a virtual reality yet -- but we are absolutely living in a digital one. The time to bring your business operations up to speed is now. Focus on your online presence, learn to leverage social media in a positive way, and stay open to whatever it is that the Internet 3.0 will be.