Jhe metaverse is no longer just a matter of speculation – many companies are developing viable ways for businesses to interact with their own teams and customers in a virtual environment. While most adoptions so far have been from mainstream brands (such as Nike and Gucci), the metaverse also has huge potential for the B2B space.
Given that the B2B sector is where a lot of the money is and innovation is still in its infancy, this offers a promising investment opportunity for anyone looking to cut through the noise.
The pandemic has changed the way businesses operate. We’ve seen video calling software like Zoom grow in popularity, and many companies have continued to take a remote approach after restrictions were lifted. However, the experience also highlighted some of the challenges with video calling, such as the lack of face-to-face communication, making it difficult to detect body language or social queues.
The Metaverse could overcome these problems by allowing people to communicate in a virtual reality environment, which would more closely mimic real life and facilitate collaboration within a large group. It could be a useful environment for conferences, networking, onboarding and more.
Additionally, simulations in the metaverse could help employees learn new skills more efficiently than current methods (such as training modules with quizzes and videos). Instead of listening to someone else explain how to do something, they could try it for themselves.
Companies to watch
Meta (META) is working hard to become a leader in this field and has put a lot of effort into developing Meta Horizon Workrooms, a software that allows people to collaborate with their teammates through virtual reality headsets. However, not everyone needs to have a VR headset to get involved – people can participate via standard video calls as well. In work rooms, teams can access tools like a virtual whiteboard, and a mixed reality option lets people merge aspects of their physical reality with the virtual space.
Another big company exploring virtual reality and the metaverse for teams is Microsoft (MSFT), which developed Mesh for Microsoft Teams. It focuses on “holoportation” – using mixed reality headsets to share holograms of colleagues and work tools so everyone can interact together in one space.
There are also smaller companies innovating in the same space. SoWork (a private company) takes a slightly different approach to Meta and Microsoft. It offers a workplace setup that mimics the kind of virtual world we usually associate with a computer game, allowing teams to switch from avatars on a screen to entering a call with a single click. In 2021, it got $15 million in investments.
Metaverse Selling and Customer Experience
Following the same logic, similar technology could be used to improve the customer experience by giving more immersive product demonstrations or presentations using the metaverse. This could mean enhanced visuals or demos, for example.
Virtual or mixed reality environments could therefore be an excellent substitute for sales meetings. They would make it easier to reach people in other parts of the world without sacrificing the quality of interaction, spending a lot on travel, or damaging the environment).
Since B2B sales and marketing is much more about fostering deep relationships with customers rather than trying to reach as many people as possible (which is more the case with D2C selling), the metaverse is a excellent option. This makes it easier to get more customer interactions and feedback throughout the sales process – and marketers might even collect data from customers based on their reaction to a metaverse simulation.
Companies to watch
So far, most efforts have focused on intersecting with consumers rather than B2B buyers, but some companies are already venturing into this space. For example, HTC held its annual conference using the Engage metaverse platform in 2020, which used virtual reality and had people sitting in a stadium as avatars.
Kaon’s LiveShare is a metaverse platform that organizes sales meetings for enterprise software using hybrid and virtual meetings. It aims to provide a more immersive experience by turning shoppers into active participants, giving them the opportunity to diagnose their own challenges and receive insights tailored to them.
One of the more traditional methods of advertising is billboards, but it could get a modern twist in the metaverse.
There are now opportunities to put advertisements or sponsorships in metaverse spaces, especially during major events. Consumer brands have already started doing this. For example, Chipotle opened a restaurant in Roblox and ran a Halloween promotion in 2021 to give away free virtual food. Other mainstream brands have launched NFTs to boost their brand awareness.
B2B companies could adopt similar strategies.
Companies to watch
Some of the biggest platforms that have held events in the metaverse so far are Roblox and blockchain platforms Sandbox and Decentraland.
Until now, most big events have focused on young consumers rather than professional customers, like music concerts in Roblox or the Decentraland Festival. However, if these platforms are more adopted, there could be events aimed at a professional audience (or older generations more likely to be B2B buyers) and placing advertisements.
Another option would be to open virtual businesses in these virtual worlds to give potential customers another way to test products or talk to customer service representatives.
A new way of doing business
As the Metaverse is still in its infancy, it’s unclear which B2B companies will be the first to effectively adopt the Metaverse for marketing, team collaboration, customer service, or other uses. However, when it comes to the companies that create the software they are likely to use, a few clear leaders have already emerged.
Big companies like Meta and Microsoft are good bets for investors interested in the space, but there are also smaller companies to keep on your radar.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.