I am by no means any kind of expert when it comes to the Metaverse. However, I keep on reading that we can buy a lot of things there. Hence, seems that the purchasing department may soon have a request from the business to get something in the Metaverse. All sources I have used are at the end of this article if you would like to dive in deeper. This is what I have learned while reading them
What is Metaverse
Let us start with the Wikipedia definition:
“…the metaverse is a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a single, universal and immersive virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets. In colloquial use, a metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection”
The wired magazine made it simple:
“Mentally replace the phrase “the metaverse” in a sentence with “cyberspace.” Ninety percent of the time, the meaning won’t substantially change.”
What many refer to as Metaverse can be described as a virtual world where you can do other things than play a game.
If you want to go deeper into the technical background of the Metaverse, here is a good article from Synthesis AI.
You can chat, interact, make your own avatar (the virtual “you”), and buy a house.
Wait, what? Buy a house?
Yes, a virtual plot of land with a virtual house, and a bunch of designer things in it. This is the part that made me wonder: do we have in the near future a tender for a virtual shop for our business coming?
What can you procure there?
There are some crazy things you can buy on the Metaverse, for example, virtual Tacos. Except for bragging around, I really do not see any value in this purchase.
Let us focus on digital products that our business may procure:
Non-fungible tokens are probably the one new digital asset that made more noise than any other part of the metaverse-related products. But what is this exactly?
“Non-fungible” means unique, something that cannot be replaced with something else. If you own this digital asset, it belongs to you only. While others can have a copy (and in the digital world it looks exactly the same as the original), the original belongs to you only.
Will companies soon trade NFTs and have them on their asset list? Not likely, if you ask me. We may, however, hire someone to create an NFT from our digital products so we can sell them to our consumers. For example, the very first copy of a video game could become an NFT. A digital signature on a photo of a star holding your product. Anything that is digital and unique is, basically, an NFT. Use your imagination 😊
Virtual real estate
Want to buy a plot in Dubai? Sure, no problem, it is about 200 USD. But in the Metaverse. There are several platforms that will offer you that asset/service, and it is still a bit wild. Governments are working on regulations. Soon we will have some sort of connection between your virtual plot of land and the real world. That may be the time when companies will start building and operating their virtual shops in those cities. And the job of the procurement team will be to find people who can do it. I am trying to imagine the specification sheet for this job. This is a lot of fun!!!
Especially if your company is in any kind of IT, you may have procured already Google or Facebook ads in the past. Now you can buy billboards in virtual cities. The challenge for the procurement team will be similar to what it is now for online ads: which platform to choose, discussion with stakeholders on the budget, and the ROI.
Virtual event space
Since we all got used to Zoom and Teams meetings, the next step forward would be to use VR headsets and have a fully 3D event. There are companies that can provide everything you need to host such an event. And with the prices of VR systems going down, you might end up in one of such events soon.
This is a combination of the real and virtual worlds. Multiple cameras and intelligent whiteboards result in a meeting experience beyond the regular Zoom call. People can write on the whiteboard simultaneously. Various files can be uploaded to the meeting folder, for everyone’s access. And they can have a quick one-on-one chat outside the main room.
Look at this as the next level of online shopping. Here as well we have a couple of ways to interact
- Apps that will take a snapshot of you and then using AR add your new hairstyle, glasses, or shirt. This way you can see how something will look on you before buying. Perfect for presenting the new uniform range to the CEO.
- Shops with a full VR experience. They are either part of a metaverse environment or an add-on option to the regular online shop.
How to pay for it
The answer is quite straightforward – digital currency. Which one, as there are thousands of them? Well, bitcoin is the most known and popular, followed by Ethereum. Unless you work in a startup that operates digital-only, you will probably just change enough of your local currency into bitcoin to pay for the product or service.
Metaverse Supply Chain Solutions
Believe it or not, companies that offer “Metaverse Supply Chain” solutions already exist. It is still a bit in bits and pieces. So, what are they considering as metaverse services:
- Virtual sourcing: product presentations, factory visits, virtual exhibitions using VR
- Quality control: getting all sensors and commands of a production line into one virtual environment.
- Blockchain and smart contracts, to help with the movement of goods.
- Product design and prototype manufacturing using VR, AR, and 3D printers. So, you can create a virtual prototype, see how it would look in the real world, and then have a real one 3D printed in your office.
- Warehouse optimization: using 3D models of the warehouse AI can determine where to place incoming shipments, thus optimizing the space and flow.
Conclusion – it’s complicated. Can the procurement team do much on the metaverse at the moment? Unless you are in a specific industry, not really. Will this change? O, yes! Very soon, it seems. You will be browsing through a 3D showroom of your vendor. Your operations will operate a piece of equipment located hundreds of kilometers away. You will be asked to float a tender for secure storage space for the NFTs created by your company and a good blockchain valet. Or a designer to create your virtual store on some of the latest metaverse platforms.
Get ready, the future is coming. And you would not like to be caught off-guard.