Despite the global hype, the metaverse — the 3D experience layer of the Internet — is not here yet, according to Forrester’s new report.

Forrester’s latest report The State Of the Metaverse found that, despite the nascent state of the metaverse, companies haven’t stopped from trying to stake their claim in it.

In the US, even as 34% of online adults express excitement for what the metaverse will offer, 76% of B2C marketing executives plan to invest in metaverse-related activities in 2022.

A case in point: Disney actually appointed an executive in February 2022 to lead its metaverse strategy.

Back in April 2021, Epic Games announced a US$1 billion funding to support its long-term metaverse vision. In May 2021, Microsoft laid out its “metaverse tech stack” that enables metaverse app development. Then in July 2021, Mark Zuckerberg declared Facebook a “metaverse company.”

But single-vendor platform activations such as augmented or virtual worlds, gaming environments, and development tools are just metaverse precursors. Until there is interoperability across immersive platforms, the metaverse doesn’t exist and is years away from manifesting.

However, Forrester believes that the metaverse will manifest over the next decade – in stages. For the metaverse to become a reality, it must support an immersive experience of interoperable and interlinked environments delivered via a variety of devices — from smartphones and virtual reality (VR) headsets to other form factors not yet conceived.

The metaverse also requires regulatory standards, privacy codes of conduct, and inclusive and compelling user experience (UX) design.

But be prepared…

While the metaverse has yet to materialize, it pays to be prepared.

Mike Proulx, VP and research director, Forrester – who led the team that authored The State of the Metaverse report – said: “In its current state, the metaverse is prime (virtual) real-estate for brands looking to make press headlines, test and learn, and reach a subset of the Gen Z audience. Brands that expect a revenue-based ROI from their metaverse custom media buys will be sorely disappointed.”

Proulx believes enterprise innovation is the ‘surprise’ route for metaverse adoption. For instance, built on metaverse-style experiences, the concept of a virtual office in the cloud today already incorporates metaverse precursor technologies like avatars, virtual rooms, and digital whiteboards.

“But enterprise experiences will require employees to climb a steep learning curve,” he warns. “After they do, we think something interesting will happen: reverse consumerization of IT, whereby so

Key considerations

“Despite consumer skepticism and the fact there isn’t an actual metaverse, companies are still determined to stake their claim in it,” said Keith Johnston, VP and group research director, Forrester. “Business and tech leaders should use this era of metaverse precursors to see where future opportunity lies, manage expectations around this concept, and gauge proper investments.”

In its report, Forrester offers considerations for business and tech leaders to evaluate their investments in the metaverse:

  1. CMOs should discover how their consumers want to engage with extended reality while keeping metaverse investments modest. Brands must create a compelling value exchange with consumers or else face disinterest. Currently, Forrester finds that only 14% and 12% of US and UK online adults, respectively, feel brands should deliver branded experiences in the metaverse.
  2. CIOs and CTOs should develop a strategy to assess, manage, and prioritize key technologies that are enabling and supporting the metaverse. According to Forrester, 58% of global business and tech professionals with metaverse and virtual world knowledge say that their organizations will adopt metaverse or virtual world solutions over the next 12 months to support workplace collaboration, especially to enable work from anywhere.
  3. Customer experience (CX) and design leaders should explore the metaverse’s potential for a new generation of customer experiences. For example, over the next decade, Forrester expects virtual shopping experiences to be highly personalized and purpose-built for the metaverse. Design leaders that excel at human-centric design will make the metaverse inclusive, co-creative, and beneficial to people.
  4. Digital business leaders should focus on core digital experiences that align with their consumers’ access, comfort, and preferences. They should also examine how comfortable consumers are with extended reality. Metaverse precursors won’t create substantial value for B2C companies in the near term, but digital leaders should continue to test and learn.