The promise, peril, and potential of the metaverse

We see the metaverse as an intersection of immersive experiences across the augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) spectrums. Businesses can use it, as many already are, to enrich experiences, products, and services with virtual overlays for navigation and context. Others are creating new, fully immersive environments and finding a way to engage customers in them.

Behind these new experiences is not one but several technologies. Many of those metaverse-enabling technologies, like 5G, blockchain, and AI, have been maturing over time, and things that were once technically feasible but not practical have become more commercially available, more affordable, and more consumable, like ChatGPT.

Key trends

There has been a fundamental transition from closed centralized platforms, where users access free information in exchange for their data, to a connected, open, and immersive world known as Web 3.0, or Web3. An example is Roblox, which has nearly 50 million active users and a huge economy inside the metaverse.

There’s also a growing trend of users expecting to be compensated in some way for bringing their attention to a platform.

Who are the business users of the metaverse?

The typical image of a metaverse user as a gamer with a headset and dual hand controllers playing Fortnite isn’t wrong. But that image is overlooking a fast-rising wave of business adoption.

Consumer brands have been early and enthusiastic adopters. Take Gucci.The luxury-goods brand partnered with Roblox to launch Gucci Town, a digital destination on Roblox “dedicated to those seeking the unexpected and to express one’s own individuality and connect with like-minded individuals from all over the world.” Further, Gucci has built an immersive concept store that showcases rare pieces, fosters conversation across contemporary Gucci creators, and even offers digital collectibles for purchase.

Another top brand, Nike, is assembling a cohort of metaverse brand ambassadors by allowing users to create virtual products and monetize them on a Web3 platform called Swoosh. For its part, Nike can create physical products based on those designs. At last check, Nike had generated $185 million from NFT sales and trading royalties. The bottom line for these brands:  Their metaverse presence generates new revenue and increases brand exposure — a win-win.

In manufacturing, companies have seized opportunities for upskilling and training, for example by providing real-time guided build instructions in an assembly process, or “see what I see” expert assistance when someone is troubleshooting equipment. Mercedes-Benz has invested in AR-based metaverse experiences to upskill its service technicians in their dealerships by providing a virtual overlay to its products.

Other companies are looking at digital twins as a way to increase efficiency, reduce costs and optimize operations. For example, BMW has created a simulation of one of its assembly lines, which may enable it to simulate what may happen in a particular environment prior to pushing operations to the production floor.

Financial services also think the metaverse is “on the money.” JPMorgan Chase was the first to open a metaverse “branch” in Decentraland, and many other financial services brands are trying to figure out how to engage in the metaverse with customers, employees, partners, and other elements of their human ecosystems.

Further, evolution in the crypto space and digital wallets has boosted the ability to transact in the metaverse, with financial institutions — both traditional ones and startups — looking to capitalize on the metaverse economy.

How should companies proceed?

Successful companies stay focused on delivering products and services in any technology context. With this objective in mind:

Determine your organization’s innovation appetite (versus its risk appetite; it is too early to speak of ROI in the metaverse).

Align on a business objective for the metaverse: Are we trying to engage a specific customer population? Are we trying to improve efficiency? Are we trying to unlock a new market?

Create some use cases, keeping in mind the technological possibilities you have or feasibly can put in place. (Partnerships are an option.)

Set up a small, cross-functional team that has autonomy as well as guardrails in which they’re allowed to experiment, innovate, and play.

Protiviti is taking a deep dive into the metaverse on VISION by Protiviti. Learn more at

Connect with the Authors

Christine Livingston
Managing Director, Emerging Technologies

Lata Varghese
Managing Director, Technology Consulting

Alex Weishaupl
Managing Director, Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation