Rene – Hi! Welcome to Meta Minutes, your bite-sized pieces of the metaverse. My name is Rene from Valorem Reply and today we're going to talk about metaverse quantified trend analysis. And for this, I'm honored to have not just one but actually two expert guests today Anja Kielmann and Steffen Huck. Hi Anja and Steffen, welcome to the show, how are you today?
Anja – Hi Rene, thank you for having us here. We're pretty good.
Steffen – Yeah, we're happy to be here and talking a little bit about the metaverse.
Rene – Awesome! So let's talk with a little bit of introduction for the audience. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background as it relates to metaverse topics but also of course data analytics and related things?
Anja - So maybe ladies first, I'll just get started. My name is Anja. I'm the senior director here at TD reply and also part of the trend team that we have. And so our background in the metaverse is as we look into trends, we of course cannot cross the metaverse, its so many fields and transferred, also more important for us in the field of application and what it is that people actually do with the technologies that other people come up with and how they develop.
Steffen – Exactly. So yeah I’m Steffen, also the senior director here at TD Reply heading our trends and innovation offering and yeah I guess metaverse is a super interesting topic to talk about and I guess my first related experience probably was in 2017 when we did the team day and did a little bit of scouting too here in Berlin and experienced the first time like a virtual showroom in Audi concept store in Berlin which was quite hype opening.
Rene – Awesome. So yes it's not so new right the whole kind of topic and all the building blocks and technologies but now it's finally all coming together to build the metaverse but let's talk about one of our first questions here and I know you both worked on this so-called trends report about the metaverse that is based on and very innovative trend platform which is analyzing market signals and you know it takes a lot of input and then digest it and comes out with some pretty good stuff. But, I'm not the expert here, so please can you tell us a little bit about how this method work and how you apply it to the metaverse.
Steffen – So, I guess, to put it in a really simple way instead of talking about doing interviews with a few experts on new trends and technologies, we are basically listening to the publicly available expert opinions across the whole Internet and having an expert listening approach. So a lot of people might know tools that do social listening, so analyzing consumer conversations on the Internet, we are doing this with our sonar platform called expert conversations and specifically analyzing the online conversations with experts in online news sites but we're also analyzing patent fillings as well as scientific publications and through the millions of Melbourne expert opinions outside of the Internet, we are actually scraping it, making it manageable and analyzing it and applying it to understand stuff what is happening outside in the world. And this case specifically our experts actually talking about the metaverse.
Rene – Gotcha. Maybe a quick follow-up question to this. How do you make sure that it is not just white noise? You know, a lot of people on the internet claim that they are experts, but they are actually not. How do you make sure they are valid opinions?
Steffen - I mean I would say there are two sides to it. One is in general, let's say, filtering out the noise in terms of what kind of data sources are you actually looking at. So we have basically a set of English-speaking news and technical sites. So we're trying to avoid the failure noise level by having a creative sentence looking at and I guess the other way is to be clear in how to say, operationalize specific trends, what are actually the concepts and terms used in the context of specific topics and trends to then be able to really analyze or be looking for and reducing the noise as well.
Rene - Makes a lot of sense. So basically, kind of pre-filtering, and it's not just scraping the whole Internet. So you have some, you give it direction, basically, right?
Steffen – Yes.
Rene – Ok, great. The report is pretty fantastic and in your report, you structured all the different categories of the metaverse and so you broke it down into a social metaverse, a commercial metaverse and of course an enterprise metaverse. Why did you choose that split and what does each of these categories actually stand for?
Steffen - So good question. I mean as you know the metaverse is, I would say is the definition phase, so it's actually the first kind of challenge define it and then also looking at trying to understand how it can build let's say different clusters and some areas that you want to look at. And I guess also when you start researching probably one of the first kinds of frameworks to think about, is that this let’s say, layer, logic and it's an infographic from Radoff right, it was for us also just prior to thinking about, how can we structure the topic and to the point where they at the end choose the social, commercial and enterprise wallet that was pretty clear we didn't want to put the focus too much on that it's a building block technologies enabling the metaverse, but make it more tangible than actually looking at create applications and use cases at the end if you look at it and think very straightforward way of structuring it is to think about what is actually happening in the metaverse from the user perspective because if you think of it, you can say it's a little bit about the social metaverse is next generation maybe of social networking of gaming. So basically new ways for consumers to interact which is another interaction with brands etc. So that was the first way of trying to understand what is actually the metaverse, what it mean for consumers and how is it related to specific topics like avatars, virtual efforts, virtual spaces etc. I guess the second way to think about it what does it actually mean for brands, right? So we are thinking about it from a business perspective and then of course it's pretty clear to understand actually what does metaverse means for companies in terms of new ways of interacting with consumers, right, because if there is basically a new channel and a new way of consumers where they interact that rising them as a brand also need to think about how can I leverage this to reach my consumers. This is pretty much there related basically to metaverse-related marketing and advertising but of course also to the same metaverse commerce topics like from building virtual showrooms or virtual stores but also thinking about selling for example virtual goods not only physical goods. I guess the third aspect to it because think about it is, what are they actually mean if consumers are immersed in these worlds what kind of new data sources or data exists, do they generate, and what does it mean from a company perspective? If you have more let's say 3D data on consumer thinking about the digital twin in the future of the consumer, so that's I guess the second bucket and then probably also super relevant for all of us, what does actually mean in an enterprise context, right? So what is the next generation of zoom, if you're talking about virtual meetings and virtual collaborations? What is the next level of actually designing products and services in the virtual context where the whole development process is more interactive than digital and also develops from a digital twin the whole process going there till at one point you decide actually to launch the product developed let's say in the physical world up to the point of what does it mean if we have new ways of actually immersing between us also for example for trainings and learnings etc. So I guess in a nutshell yeah, that's why we choose to have these three aspects. I guess it's pretty straightforward everybody can understand the context of the use cases and super interesting topics within all of these three buckets.
Rene - That definitely makes a lot of sense and I fully agree with also the split up and you know putting all of these things in it and by the way you mentioned Jon Radoff if you have not seen the seven layers of metaverse you can watch episode 2 where I interviewed Jon Radoff about exactly that, so you can recap that if you want to hear about it and then come back to this episode but anyhow let's continue. So what are the key takeaways from the report and why would you say is the time now for companies to get started in the metaverse although we might still be in a very early stage and you know all these metaverse experiences will look way different in like let's say 5 to 10 years and so why should folks get started now and what is the key take away from your report?
Anja - Yeah, well there are basically four key takeaways and each of these four tells you or should tell you in theory not only if you read the report in detail why companies need to come prepared now or be prepared or ready for what's to come. First of all when we see and as trends research like to frame as early realities, meaning the metaverse is already here. It might not be something that exploded into your face that we see it in so many bits of pieces that metaverse technology is being accepted, is being used not just by a tiny group of people gamers and enthusiasts in this region why haven't dusted that's like years ago but we see it's still over naturally to other groups of people and this becoming more and more of the case. One highlight I would maybe like to make in this early realities is Generation Z or Gen Z in short, the youngsters among us those that grew up with these kinds of technologies were extremely eager and open to adapt new technologies and also expect from companies, from brands, and from service providers to be able to deal in this kind of context. So Gen Z and metaverse here is something that we summarize as early realities. That brings me to the next point. What we coined as emerging culture. So as I tried to outline before metaverse is something that is not going to happen overnight. So you're not gonna wake up one morning and say oh my God look outside there's the metaphor it's no it's more evolution rather than evolution step by step development and this development will only make a difference as adoption and behavior is not just taken on by a group of people but at that point when a cultural practice forms that would become normal. First maybe only in patches here and there but more and more so. So the idea of cultural practice that is the normal thing for a big groups of people to do that another factor that is going to develop more and more over time. The third one is the idea of decentralization. So again metaverse is not something that will come about and become reality because one company or on CEO will say so but because many actors many stakeholders have their say and their say in the ideas that they put into reality and develop. So decentralization is probably a key constituent of how technology works today and this is something that we need to highlight. Also technology development or technological development coming from many directions that interact that might contradict each other but will create a certain momentum. Momentum is the keyword after decentralization of our key takeaways is what we call it momentum towards a breakthrough. So even if you say it develops gradually or there's some evolution it will be happening all at once not just the patches that are split or completely indispersed and these compounding effects that developments that happen at the same time have will pave the way for an acceptance towards the usage of metaverse or the existence of metaverse in everyday life, extremely important because that means it will spill over to the mass market. So metaverse will not be as exclusive for those using goggles or any kind of technological device that they can look funny but it will be something that is taken on naturally and for many people all across the world. So the momentum towards breakthrough is something that we see mounting at this very moment.
Rene – Awesome. Thank you, that's a beautiful explanation and I really also love when you said it's basically, you don't have to wear goggles you don't have to wear VR headset. It's device independent, so you can take part whatever and whatever you have in your pocket even the mobile right and that can also be part of this. But also when you said about the younger generation right Gen Z for example and they expect certain things from brands and you know like these days, for example, think about if a company doesn't have a website like for example, you do what you do a project at your house or private or you know professional whatever it is you search companies and if the company doesn't have a website you might likely not have it in your top favorite list of companies are going to hire, right? Do you think the same? Do you think the same could happen in the metaverse? Like for the younger generation right, if a brand doesn't have a presence there, like, could that be not so good, I guess?
Anja - So the answer is yes. But let me try to elaborate a little bit more. Having a presence in the metaverse can meet so many things and it depends on whom you reach out to and what you want to achieve with that so you don't have to have the presence in the metaverse whatever that is or that is going to be just because but because you want to establish a relationship with your customers. So, you have to look at what do they expect from you. Do they want to buy NFT's? Do they need something in the more virtual form? Do they need presents or service offerings because they want to reach out to your brand to do that at night or are the other responsibly personal shoppers' system that can meet a lot of things? So brands have to be aware of the necessity to be present in a metaverse that makes wise choices, to pick their battles, or wants to develop further in their existence and in their relationship with customers.
Rene - Totally, you made a very good point. It's like surely they should be present but they have to decide carefully with their existing brand and but also you know where they wanna go like what kind of offering they wanna bring to and also they gotta... it's also chance for brands to think about a new iteration of that image, right? Like to restart certain business and so on.
Anja - Yeah metaverse will be something for luxury brands but it will be something completely different for, let's say, a provider of vitamin supplements but the idea is the same but of course the consequence for the brand is completely different.
Rene - Right and analysts say, I just recently saw analysts say the metaverse is a 5 trillion U.S. dollar opportunity by 2040, right, just imagine that actual opportunity by 2040, we will see how it turns out. So I think we're in this phase right now.
Anja – Yes, that's actually a good point when we started getting our hands dirty on this project, this reminded us a lot about or we were probably, I don't know, too young but not that much into trend research by the time people started talking about the Internet highway. You know, they didn't know what it was. They thought it might be this way but what they saw and what's important and that's also less surprise today there's value in it and not just the monetary value but probably also you know some benefits might make your life easier and that's probably all you need to know to be able to put some effort into going further down that road.
Steffen – I guess if you think about when, let's say the Web 2.0 started, right, and after initially brands managed to understand that they need to have a website and stuff like that. Think about where we are today and how long it took. Let's say to understand how actually Web 2.0, what it means for a brand. Actually how to use social media, how to integrate it in the overall communication in the offerings, in the marketing mix. I mean you can think about the next evolution and what it actually means with respect of the metaverse for brands and companies. So there will be a lot of learning passes to go and at the end to your point also what to do next. I guess it's finding the balance between not doing, let's say, stupid stuff but don't risk, let's say, also reputation but at the end whenever there are new areas involved, you also have to have you have to test at the right, so I think the crucial thing is to not, you have to take some risk if you wanna learn and evolve and then within a corporate context of course always let's say a battle between security and taking risk.
Rene - It is definitely exciting times and we're pioneers and so let's build it all together also in a responsible way that is inclusive and in such a way that it's inviting for everyone. Anyhow, we could talk for many more hours it was a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much. We are already at the end of the show. Again, thank you so much, Anja and Steffen for sharing your insights today. It's very much appreciated. We will link the report once it's out and also of course check out reply.com. You can also find lots of information there. Again, thank you so much Steffen and Anja. Thanks everyone for joining us for yet another episode of meta minutes, your bite-sized pieces of the metaverse. Watch our blog and follow our social media to hear all about the next episodes. And of course, visit our website to watch previous episodes. Stay well and see you soon in the metaverse.