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I first wrote the word Metavers on the Whiteboard in October 2017. Wrapping up a multi-hour design session, we were looking for a term to describe a new mindset and approach to enterprise software that answers the question, “How should one modernize the customer relationship management (CRM) platform in today’s world, where every company Is there a digital company that needs more engagement with its partners and ecosystem? My former boss Mark Benioff had a hobby of challenging his team to think from a beginner’s mind. Since I left my role of running the Salesforce Marketing Cloud I took this with me and it took me to Metavers.
Most of the world associates metavers with avatar and immersive VR experiences, which is key for consumers and some business applications, but this new computing model offers a more groundbreaking and transformative opportunity for the business world.
To see how, let’s take the first step towards an innovation called B2B SaaS, a business-to-business software-as-a-service. In 1999, Salesforce was a pioneer in providing enterprise-class software as an Internet service. Now for obvious reasons, retrieving enterprise software through a browser is more efficient than receiving physical media to install on one’s own server. However, it is fair to say that the mindset of enterprise software in the SaaS model is largely the same as in the previous on-premise world. Companies subscribe to the SaaS app, gain access to their samples, and then begin automating certain transaction-oriented workflows within their company. There is nothing wrong with that, there is nothing wrong with innovation. SaaS is a distribution innovation and we are nearing the end of this innovation cycle.
The executives I speak to say they need more value from their technology and digital investments. “More” means more engagement with trading partners, focusing on value rather than transactions and external integration across entire value chains and ecosystems. No more B2B SaaS investments will come from within the company’s own four walls. Businesses need to focus on a new kind of technology to connect and work with each other. Metavers brings a new mindset that will drive this much needed innovation.
We should also give credit to SaaS for enabling more efficient integration and API-first thinking that can connect different systems and processes. But while executives say they need more connectivity, it’s not this pragmatic element that arguably ends business relationships. Instead, executives are looking at why business relationships exist in the first place, and then measure how value flows in these relationships from suppliers to customers across their value chain. What is value creation for one company is the value received by another company, which is almost infinitely repetitive. To accomplish this goal of focusing more on engagement and value, companies need to exist in an ecosystem-wide environment where they connect with each other in any combination. This is where the metavars come from.
If we take metavars to include the physical world as well – and why such an elongated concept does not include the world we live in – then the basic idea of metavars applies to business, that is to associate it with the physical identity of the company. Digital identity, where business once existed in the digital world as it does in the physical world. Web 3 technology enters the scene to implement this identity in a distributed, interconnected way. These single identities can then be integrated into different, interoperable virtual spaces.
Metavers are what come next
This is not how enterprise software like CRM works today. Instead, each company has its own internal-facing systems that keep track of other companies – suppliers keep track of customers, buyers keep track of sellers, and move forward in all stakeholder relationships. This is not the same as the physical and digital world. At best, this is a digital world with millions of unnecessary copies of the physical world. This does not mean that these legacy systems do not add value, it is a necessary step for any business to manage its internal information and workflow. But it will not create the level of digital connections that businesses are now looking for, not for 1: 1 relationships and especially not for the entire ecosystem.
Instead, the idea of metavars gives enterprise software developers a roadmap for creating software based on a single digital identity where companies join networks to connect with other companies that are similarly connected. This is not a system that belongs to any one company, but an environment where all companies are equal. Why do businesses want to join? Because it is the nature of the business in its essence, it establishes the expectation of value from the relationship by engaging with customers, suppliers and any stakeholder and then measures the realization of this value over time.
This idea is not inconsistent with the idea of a VR environment where business users connect some part of their business to an immersive environment. But we’re setting the aperture wider that the whole business should be considered part of the metavers, and that all digital data that exists about that business can be targeted to make that digital identity a digital twin for the whole business. . This digital business may then merge with other businesses that do business – exchange value – but is now supported by a continuous, interconnected, collaborative digital space that is co-created and co-owned by companies that have joined Metawars.
Metavers will not only appear, it is something that companies need to create. But by definition, a company cannot create metavars. There is only one metavers, and enterprise software developers can only commit to making a part of it and helping businesses navigate it. Each of those individual environments should interact in a way that is unlike enterprise software today. Businesses need to navigate seamlessly across all metavers components. Obviously we are at a very early stage here, and it will take more than a decade for this vision to materialize.
Imagine what kind of system would enable healthcare as an industry to measure the social determinants of health, what works and what doesn’t work to improve health equality. Sustainability programs almost always require the integration of dozens of companies into the ecosystem. And when businesses innovate to establish new capabilities, they need to align many partner companies with their desired results and how those results will be measured. Today, this is not a “system of records” for external integration. Metavers will bring us one.
Scott McCorkle is the founder and CEO of MetaCX,
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