For an innovation specialist, despite interoperability and latency problems, companies need to anticipate and take risks.
It's hard to predict whether the metaverse is just passing hype or a definite trend that everyone will jump into sooner or later. But, for Walter Longo , this is already something important, which deserves attention and knowledge from professionals and technology leaders in companies. This implies studying the subject and “not waiting”, that is, carrying out tests and innovation projects that guarantee presence if the metaverse actually takes off.
“And understand that at this moment it is not ROI [return on investment], but NOR, with L for Learning. Learning and collecting data”, says in an interview to the IT Forum the specialist in innovation and digital transformation – and the main attraction of Sky.One Connect , an event that takes place this Tuesday (14) in São Paulo, capital.
Longo is an advertising executive and training business administrator, with a graduate degree from the University of California. He is also a lecturer and managing partner of Unimark Comunicação, the company he leads – although he is best remembered for the period in which he was executive president of Editora Abril .
For him, in order for the metaverse to take hold, there are two major technical challenges. First, the lack of interoperability , which makes it impossible to transfer items and interact between users on different platforms. And second, high latency , which prevents broader, deeper, and more massive interactions.
“It's like the beginning of the internet”, recalls the expert, remembering the different email servers that didn't talk to each other. “Until the WWW came along, a common language protocol.”
Check out the best moments of the chat below.
IT Forum: Your talk at Sky.One Connect concerns the metaverse. What do you intend to present?
Walter Longo: I did a recent, fairly comprehensive study of the social and corporate consequences [of the metaverse]. The theme will be Metaverse: One Day You Will Live and Work There .
In it, I show some trends that were already occurring and were exacerbated by the pandemic and lead to a natural and exponential growth of the metaverse.
IT Forum: What trends?
Longo: First the custom we all got, a test drive we had, of the digital presence on social networks. Everyone wants to be more cheerful and happy on social media. And that was metaverse training. Second that we learn to be far and close at the same time. These tools that we are talking about here [videoconferencing], before it was restricted to a smaller group and now it is [accessible to] the entire population. The third reason is that society seeks a more inclusive world, with the same chances and possibilities.
And [the metaverse] seems like a promise of a more democratic world, by the way. All this attracts people of any nature. In the [book] Snow Crash, [author] Neal Stephenson used the term for the first time and showed that at heart a pizza delivery person could be a warrior. It is an irresistible attraction.
IT Forum: And what are the implications of the metaverse for the corporate world?
Long: Brands are desperate to take over their mining [in the metaverse]. The main reason is that there has been a change in the corporate purpose. Ten or 15 years ago, when I would go to a board [of directors] and pitch an idea, the question was whether it fit the business.
“We are going to focus on our business, we are not going to open too much because focus is fundamental.” More recently, people started talking about not only what business we are in, but what problem we are solving. This has already made the corporate purpose more comprehensive. It no longer mattered what I did, but what I solved. More recently we have moved on to “what dreams are we going to fulfill?”. It is an even broader corporate proposal, and then the metaverse emerges as this possibility of making customers' dreams come true. And that's spawned an impressive rush of brands and products heading to the metaverse.
The most important brands are making fashion shows in the metaverse and selling clothes, bags, shoes. People are buying to go to a party, meet friends through a digital twin. And while they're releasing incorporeal products, they're also selling things to the physical world. I go into a store in the metaverse, buy a shoe and he [the seller] asks if I want digital or physical. It is a great revolution that is emerging in retail.
IT Forum: Walter, our readers are primarily IT professionals and leaders who, right now, are wondering how they can make this vision, which is primarily marketing, possible.
Longo: There is still a big question mark ahead of us. That's what we call interoperability. There are hundreds of worlds, each with its cryptocurrency, capacity for events, shows, programs, purchases, etc. It's just that we still don't have interoperability between these various worlds. If I buy a Fortnite T-shirt it doesn't go to Roblox.
We are like the beginning of the internet, with the same weaknesses of that time. If I sent an e-mail to a college colleague, it could not be received in a company. Until the WWW came along, a common language protocol. What is currently under judgment is what will be the speed of the implemented interoperability, what language, model, etc. Some worlds are creating APIs for other worlds. I've seen avatar building tools that allow that outfit to go to three or four worlds. But these are still early exercises.
Another issue is latency. This bothers a lot of IT people. We still have limitations. If I do a show for a million people it's possible, but 40 or 50 still can't look at each other. And here comes 5G to solve this problem. These two challenges I believe are the two that are currently being resolved.
IT Forum: Could these two problems somehow impede the evolution of the metaverse? Can he just not take off?
Longo: The answer is that it can happen. But it has some fundamental differences to previous experiences like Second Life, for example. You would enter with a crude doll that wasn't you, but that represented you. He passed by other people making a little balloon, that is, he had nothing to do. After 40 minutes you were gone. Today is very different. I bought land on Upland [metaverse platform based on NFTs]. I built my house. Then I rented. Now I get rent. I bought land that doesn't exist, built a house that doesn't exist, rented it to someone virtual and now I'm getting money that does exist. And someone now wants to buy my house for twice the price.
When I tell this to someone more layman he thinks it's a madhouse or a circus. It seems crazy to pay $4,000 for a purse that doesn't exist, or $69 million for an NFT painting. We have seen incredible things. But all this is initial hype When someone pays millions for a digital painting, they probably don't think only about the piece, but about the hype and media it generates. To the point that I'm commenting on it now.
It's very difficult to predict if it's a passing or definitive hype. My observation is that it is something important, big, and that deserves proximity to IT people. Study this subject, accompanying it with a thought that I summarize in one sentence: do not wait. And understand that at this moment it's not ROI [return on investment], it's ROL, with L for Learning . Learn and collect data.
IT Forum: At the IT Forum, we heard experts who believe that metaverse corporate initiatives need to be seen now as innovation projects. Do you agree?
Long: Yes. But [innovation] multidimensional. What can I do in the metaverse today and already bring results? Setting up shop in a mall and selling products, which I can sell to an incorporeal avatar or deliver to the person's home. I can advertise on the streets of a city in the metaverse. Create gamification programs with employees to increase their productivity. Sell immersive glasses, haptic garments, joysticks, etc.
It is possible to have schools in the metaverse, with immersive classes. Or set up an advertising agency to run campaigns. Or law firm to deal with any legal issues. Or architecture firms that help people build houses in the metaverse. What you can do is infinite, and with an advantage: a store in [shopping] Iguatemi costs millions, in Avakin Life it costs thousands of reais at the most.
My suggestion to everyone. I would sum it up in one sentence: hold God's hand and go. And if it goes wrong, get out quickly. I say the same for the metaverse. Of course, some areas are more conducive. The most likely areas to start are retail, services and education.