Paras Lohani, Founder & CEO, B2B Sales Arrow
Infosys President Mr. Ravi Kumar’s prediction that “2022 is the year of Metaverse for the Tech World” proves to be an emphatic truth. With estimates suggesting that global Metaverse revenue opportunities would increase to a whopping $800 billion in 2024 from around $500 billion in 2020, it has been a Global Gold Rush to the Metaverse for tech companies.
The interest in the Metaverse was initially piqued after Facebook’s announcement in October 2021 that it is changing its entire branding to “Meta” – a firm indication of how seriously it was looking at this technology to alter the future of the Internet completely. Since then, Microsoft, Amazon, Samsung and Google, and scores of other companies have shared their intent to invest heavily in Metaverse – a technology that uses augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and NFTs to blur the lines between the real and virtual worlds.
Since 25% of the global population is expected to spend at least an hour every day in the Metaverse by 2026, as Gartner predicts, the growth of the Metaverse will be far quicker and far-reaching soon. Against this backdrop, it is interesting to see how the entire Indian Metaverse scenario is evolving in terms of developments at the Indian tech firms and the marketing events happening in the Metaverse.
An ecosystem in the making
Indian companies are preparing the ground to meet the expected surge in demand for Metaverse technology services – from digital avatars to making Metaverse hardware like the VR headsets more affordable.
Indian tech giants like TCS, Tech Mahindra, and HCL, not to mention Infosys, are working on Metaverse offerings on a war footing. Back in February, Infosys launched its Infosys Metaverse Foundry – a service it claimed would “accelerate enterprises’ ability to evolve and execute strategies for virtual-physical interconnections.” Metaverse Foundry aims to assist organisations in creating their environment, delivering signature experiences in an existing metaverse, and extending advanced AI-powered data analytics and simulations to it.
Tech Mahindra’s ‘TechMVerse’, a metaverse-related business vertical, promises to offer immersive customer experiences. The technology leader is leveraging native AI, blockchain, and AR/VR capabilities to develop B2B use cases across segments. The company plans to cash in on business opportunities in the metaverse through the Dealerverse (the virtual car dealership), Meta Bank, Middlemist, a virtual marketplace, and a gaming center. The company is also partnering with several Big Tech companies in facilitating hardware and software solutions in the metaverse and related areas.
IT services major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) focuses on creating experiences in various verticals, including online commerce and workplace experiences. To expand its business in the metaverse, TCS focuses on the retail/consumer packaged goods, education, and real estate sectors. These will be the metaverse’s primary drivers.
In a blog post by Kalyan Kumar, CTO and Head of Ecosystems at HCL Technologies, he says there are scores of other companies that are working to build software, hardware (processors, headsets, haptic equipment, 3-D displays), assets (holograms, AR content), products (datasets, tools for digital identities), avatars (virtual representations), marketplaces(digital goods, NFTs), and financial services(blockchain, DeFi) to support the Metaverse.
As Kalyan puts it: “The display systems, the compute capabilities, the quality of the human-machine interface, and the richness of content and services will determine who leads and who lags.”
Metaverse events are still evolving
Metaverse events in India have not come a long way since the first experimentation with this event format earlier this year– a wedding of a Chennai-based couple which saw companies like Coca-Cola, ITC, and Wavemaker coming together to create unique experiences.
Branding and marketing teams continue exploring this new technology to create a buzz around their brands. For example, in June, GSK Consumer Healthcare’s antacid brand ENO created India’s first-ever stand-up comedy event in the metaverse to celebrate the completion of 50 years. Similarly, other brands such as Mondelez, McDowell’s No.1 Soda, and Tata Tea Premium (TTP) have experimented with metaverse-led initiatives earlier. While Mondelez created a metaverse dinner date experience on the ‘moon’ for Valentine’s Day this year, TTP and McDowell’s celebrated Holi with a metaverse party. However, Metaverse events are still not a part of the marketers’ ROI-generating strategies like other digital events. This is because the Metaverse technology is still evolving in India and requires much work before mass adoption becomes a reality.
The indigenous platforms currently being used to host metaverse events are reportedly not at par with global platforms, which are much more expensive for brands to dedicate a significant part of their digital event marketing budgets. Therefore, until the indigenous Metaverse technology ecosystem completely matures and makes Metaverse more affordable, scalable, and adaptable to generate significant business use cases, Metaverse events will remain an avenue for brands to create a stir and trigger conversations, not serious bucks. One hopes that Indian IT companies which are currently working on building an entire ecosystem for the Metaverse will become the key enablers for broader adoption of Metaverse events in India.