The Metaverse

The Metaverse

by James G. Barr

Docid: 00018015

Publication Date: 2302

Publication Type: TUTORIAL


In October 2021, Facebook changed its name to Meta Platforms, Inc.,
reflecting the intention of co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to
transition his social media mega platform to a “metaverse company.” While
few outside Silicon Valley were familiar with the concept or understood
its potential import, the metaverse is generally defined as a highly
immersive virtual world where people gather to socialize, play, and work.

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

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In October 2021, Facebook as a corporate entity changed its name to Meta
Platforms, Inc., reflecting the intention of co-founder and CEO Mark
Zuckerberg to transition his social media mega platform to a “metaverse
company.” While few outside Silicon Valley were familiar with the concept
or understood its potential import, the metaverse, as defined by
Merriam-Webster, is “a highly immersive virtual world where people gather
to socialize, play, and work.”

David J. Chalmers, author of Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the
Problems of Philosophy
, defines the metaverse as “a virtual world
(or system of virtual worlds) in which everyone can spend time living
day-to-day lives with many forms of social interaction.” In addition, the
term can be used to describe “the sum of all virtual worlds,” implying a
future in which virtual worlds, as they become more common, can be
combined into a single, integrated virtual space, in the same way that US
states, for example, combined to form the United States of America.1

Faulkner Reports
Meta Platforms Company
Digital Twin Tutorial
Virtual Reality Technology
Augmented Reality
Technology Tutorial

The Metaverse Is Already Here

While Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse as an “embodied Internet,”2
is still being shaped, there are several large-scale commercial interests
already operating quite successfully in the “metaverse space,” each
offering a preview of how a mega-style metaverse (one with billions of
citizens) might evolve. Among today’s more prominent metaverse properties

  • Second Life – Since 2003, a virtual world that
    “[empowers] people to create, share, and benefit from virtual
    experiences (see Figure 1);
  • Fortnite – A virtual survival game, “not unlike ‘The
    Hunger Games,’ where strategic thinking is a must in order to survive;”
  • Roblox – A virtual platform where “people gather
    together … to imagine, create, and share experiences with each other.”

Figure 1. A Landscape in Second Life

Figure 1. Landscape in Second Life

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Metaverse and The Enterprise

Much more than a virtual playground, the metaverse has emerged as an
essential enterprise tool. For example, the metaverse, as manifested
through Microsoft’s Azure Digital Twins technology, is proving an
invaluable instrument for business process reengineering, improving
business productivity, reducing errors, lowering costs, and enhancing
customer experiences. Azure Digital Twins is an Internet of Things (IoT)
platform that enables enterprises to create a digital representation of
real-world things, places, people, and business processes, helping
optimize operations. Utilizing sensors and IoT communications, the digital
view can be synced up with the physical view and vice versa. 

“Anheuser-Busch InBev, [for example], used Azure Digital Twins to create
a complete digital model of their breweries and supply chain that syncs up
in real-time with the physical environment.”3

According to Orange, a leading communications network operator, “[these
intrinsic properties make digital twins one of the fundamental building
blocks of the metaverse. While the metaverse may be able to bring us
virtual worlds and experiences beyond what we can imagine, it will also
have many uses in creating exact replications of reality.”4

As analyst Shubham Sharma explains, other prominent enterprise use cases

  • Customer Support – “Digital twins of customer service
    agents could assist customers in an immersive, shared digital space,
    helping them assemble, repair, or exchange their products.”
  • Sales and Marketing – “Various automakers, including
    Nissan and Mercedes, have … created virtual showrooms to give
    prospective buyers a good look at their vehicles inside out and drive
  • Scenario Planning – “Since there are no physical
    constraints in the virtual world, enterprises could … use the
    metaverse as a way to ensure effective scenario planning and problem

The Origin of The Metaverse

As reported by analyst Tom Huddleston Jr., the term “metaverse” was
coined by author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel “Snow
Crash,” which envisioned a virtual reality-based world in which
individuals employ digital avatars to escape a dystopian reality. With
eerie prescience (think of the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009),
Stephenson imagined an early 21st century society in which the global
economy had collapsed, and governments had yielded most of their power to
a handful of giant corporations.6

Three decades later, Zuckerberg is endeavoring to fashion the future that
Stephenson imagined, “minus the dystopia,”7 of course. And it’s
not just Meta, Microsoft is staking its own claim. As analysts Linda Tucci
and David Needle explain, “The metaverse is coming to Microsoft Teams, the
software giant’s online meetings competitor to Zoom. The new service lets
Teams users in different physical locations join collaborative and shared
holographic experiences during virtual meetings. The platform includes a
suite of AI-powered tools for avatars, session management, spatial
rendering, synchronization across multiple users and ‘holoportation’ – a
3D capture technology that lets users reconstruct and transmit
high-quality 3D models of people in real time.”8

Figure 2. Welcome to the Metaverse

Figure 2. Welcome to the Metaverse

Source: Pixabay

The Metaverse: Hot or Not?

At present, the metaverse momentum, which seemed so natural and
inevitable, is hard to measure. On the one hand, Mark Zuckerberg is a
major proponent. On the other hand, Zuckerberg’s enthusiasm may not be
shared by his employees, ironically. Analyst Justin Charity reveals that
in 2022, “Zuckerberg’s Metaverse and its flagship multiplayer game …,
Horizon Worlds, reportedly suffered a dismal development cycle, involving
thousands of employees and billions of dollars. The bleak exposés and
tepid reviews suggest a longer, rougher road to total virtual immersion.”9

Analyst Charlie Warzel seconds the notion, adding that “According to a
leaked memo sent to Meta staffers [in September 2022], many Facebook
employees ‘don’t spend that much time in Horizon and our dogfooding
dashboards show this pretty clearly.’ The memo asks why this is the case,
then pledges to ‘hold managers accountable’ and make sure they’re having
their teams use Horizon at a minimum of once a week. The subtext … is
obvious: It is generally a bad sign for a piece of technology if
employees of the company that makes it won’t use it.

ChatGPT: The New Shiny Object

Technology, of course, can be trendy. If, like many Facebook employees,
the general public has been slow to embrace the metaverse, it may be due
to the emergence of “generative AI.” an exciting new variety of artificial
intelligence programs that can create new and original digital images,
video, audio, text, and code based on simple human inputs. One such
program called ChatGPT is creating a sensation with its ability to answer
complex questions, write research papers, and even craft compelling
marketing collateral. And with its self-learning capabilities, the program
is getting smarter everyday.11 When compared with generative
AI, the metaverse is in danger of appearing less accessible, less
user-friendly, and less productive, thus dampening the enthusiasm that
Zuckerberg and others are trying to generate for the metaverse.

Meta Issues

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Whether aimed at consumers or enterprise employees, the virtual realm
known as the metaverse is evolving, and poses a variety of issues for both
developers and potential inhabitants.

Easy Access Is Essential

At present, the metaverse is enabled by two principal technologies:
virtual reality and augmented reality.

  • Virtual reality (VR) involves the creation of a computer-simulated
    environment with which a user may freely interact.
  • Augmented reality (AR) involves the superimposition of graphics,
    audio, video, and other “sensory enhancements” over a real-world
    environment, in real time, thus presenting an enhanced or “augmented”
    view of that environment.

Both technologies are known for their primary instrumentation. Virtual
reality users are normally served by head-mounted displays (essentially
helmets with special goggles, see Figure 3), while augmented reality users
are outfitted with special display-projecting glasses. Neither the VR
head-mounted displays (HMDs) nor the AR glasses are considered ideal for
long-term use, and metaverse proponents, particularly Zuckerberg, realize
“[the] importance of being able to access content across any hardware,
including [PCs, mobile devices, and gaming consoles]. They also recognize
the importance of [portability across software platforms].12

Figure 3. Facebook Technologies Oculus Quest 2

Figure 3. Facebook Technologies Oculus Quest 2

Source: Oculus

The Other Technologies Problem

Along with VR and AR, the metaverse relies on a wide range of new
technologies to fashion a fully-realized physical/virtual world,

  • Artificial Intelligence to create avatars and enable
    spontaneous conversations,
  • Internet of Things to connect virtual spaces with the
    physical world,
  • Blockchain to secure digital content,
  • Spatial/Edge Computing to allow user actions that
    mimic reality,
  • 3D Modeling/Reconstruction to provide 3D
    representations of real objects, and
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces to replace conventional
    control screens13

Integrating these and other cutting-edge technologies will, of course,
complicate – and slow – metaverse development and deployment.

Most Employees Aren’t Sold

Of particular concern to enterprise adopters, research from Lenovo
reveals that:

  • While nearly half of employees (44 percent) are willing to work in the
    metaverse, 20 percent are unwilling, 21 percent are neutral, and 15
    percent are unsure.
  • Forty-three (43) percent of respondents believe their employers do
    not, or probably do not, have the knowledge or expertise to work in the
    metaverse of the future.

In the view of Ken Wong, President of Lenovo Solutions and Services
Group, “The metaverse presents businesses with new opportunities but also
more complex technological challenges, such as the need for more computing
power, better integrated hardware, and simpler and more flexible IT

Safety Is Priority One

As Tiffany Xingyu Wang, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Spectrum
Labs, opines, “Trust and safety are critical to the survival and success
of any metaverse. With Facebook, you close your laptop or the app to
leave, and it’s not like you’re constantly there. The metaverse is
immersive and multi-sensory, which makes the impact much bigger. The lead
time to toxicity is much shorter.”15

Preventing Virtual World Discrimination

Real world problems like discrimination can be experienced in virtual
world settings like the metaverse. In the interest of making the metaverse
a safe, even welcoming, place to work or play, developers need to consider
the use and abuse of avatars, those virtual representatives of real
metaverse actors. According to analyst Megan Carnegie, “A 2007 study of
gamers conducted by researchers at Stanford University found that people
assigned ‘attractive’ avatars behaved more dominantly by standing close to
other players. These attractive avatars also disclosed more personal
details to strangers who had struck up [conversations with them]. Such
oddities risk the metaverse – and particularly the corporate metaverse –
… from what researchers call the Proteus effect. If we’re all like
Proteus, the Greek god who could change his physical form as he pleased,
then hierarchies and manipulation of our avatars could spell chaos.

“Our choice of workplace avatars will change our behavior, but also
affect how our managers and colleagues perceive us. Anita Williams
Woolley, who teaches organizational behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon
University, believes this is especially pertinent for women. ‘When people
make comments about a woman’s appearance, it leads them to underestimate
her ability, her intellect, and to see her as less competent,’ she says.

“As a result, some are choosing non-avatar-based virtual platforms to
mitigate the strain of customization and transferal of prejudices.”16

Metaverse Portability Is Essential

Mirroring a popular cosmological construct, the “multiverse”, instead of
one mega metaverse, there will be many, with Meta, Microsoft, Apple,
Google, and others competing for active users.

Ideally, each of these metaverses should be interoperable – permitting a
user to establish a persona in one metaverse; create, buy, and sell goods
there; and then transfer that persona and those goods to another
metaverse. As analyst Eric Ravenscraft observes, “Even if you spend large
chunks of time in [Fortnite, for example],
socializing, buying things, learning, and playing games, that doesn’t
necessarily mean that it encompasses the entire scope of what people and
companies mean when they say ‘the metaverse.'”17

As reported by analysts John Herrman and Kellen Browning, one metaverse
enthusiast, Eyo Heyning, who was hired by the US State Department to help
build its presence in Second Life, “has joined a few volunteers to form
the Open Metaverse Interoperability Group, which seeks to establish
technological standards for ‘bridging virtual worlds,’ in the hope that
metaverse [users] will adopt them.

“Robert Long, who is also part of the group, compared his hopes for the
fledgling metaverse to the early Web. ‘There is no single owner of the
whole thing,’ he said. ‘It’s decentralized in the same way the Web is,
with lots of different people hosting it. We’re looking for the HTML of
the metaverse.'”18

Metaverse or Meta Problem

Both in concept and design, the metaverse – or, at least, its early
incarnations – has been heavily influenced by the electronic gaming
industry, a sector widely criticized for promoting:

  • Social isolation, with users, especially teenagers, withdrawing from
    real-life experiences with their family and friends;
  • Sexism, with a mostly-male audience often harassing female gamers; and
  • The unfortunate progression of mental health conditions, like anxiety
    and depression.

As more and more people are drawn by their jobs or their mutual interests
to the metaverse, these and other toxic elements must be eliminated.

The Metaverse and Cybersecurity

The verdict is in: the metaverse is a cyber threat and the feds will
getting involved.

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) asserts
that “The metaverse will likely lower the bar for malicious actors
by readily providing the means and the opportunity to conduct malicious
attacks against people.
It potentially expands the attack
surface available to nefarious actors, increases the risk of physical harm
to persons, and further obfuscates and conceals cyber actors.

“With the advent of this new reality, we can no longer manage cyber,
physical, and people risks through separate lenses. Each of these
dimensions presents unique vulnerabilities and impacts to privacy and
security which the metaverse both magnifies and obscures. In particular,
the metaverse magnifies risks associated with identity, spying, and social

“CISA will require capabilities to rapidly identify emerging threats that
originate and operate in the metaverse, communicate these risks to
stakeholders through existing means, and in the metaverse, respond to
security incidents in the metaverse, and build new capabilities which
defend stakeholders from malicious actors in the metaverse.”19

Meta Opportunities

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Although it’s still early, analyst Bernard Marr sees a variety of
metaverse opportunities for enterprise businesses, including:

  • Sponsorship of Events and Concerts – Fortnite hosted
    a huge performance by rap artist Travis Scott.
  • Digital-Only Products – Pretty much anything people
    have in the real world might be something they want to buy for the
  • Remote Work – Facebook Horizon’s Workrooms is
    attempting to take on Zoom and give workers new ways to collaborate
    online in virtual reality spaces.
  • Games – Games have long since been the backbone of
    plans for the metaverse.”20

Business Process Reengineering

Whether or not the metaverse is embraced by the general public,
enterprise officials are already eager to model their day-to-day
operations via digital twins or other metaverse tech, with business
process simulations revealing:

  • Workflow flaws, like duplicate or unnecessary steps,
  • Examples of positive and negative customer engagement, and
  • Automation-eligible activities.

Security and Privacy

While digital platform providers and virtual reality companies are
competing for their piece of the metaverse infrastructure pie, firms
specializing in IT and security governance should be channeling their
research and development dollars in the direction of metaverse security
and privacy, especially given the escalating number and severity of
today’s cyber threats.

Analyst Adrien Book predicts the need for Metaverse Safety Managers.
“Privacy. In-world ID verification. Safe head-gear. Adequate sensors. …
We’ll need people who can provide guidance and oversight for all this
during design, validation, and mass production stages, making sure our
digital world is safe and meets or exceeds applicable regulatory safety

This opportunity not only applies to metaverse product and service
suppliers, but to third-party security firms and managed security services
providers (MSSPs); in the latter case, by supervising clients’ use of the
metaverse to guard against malware transiting an enterprise-metaverse

Other New Jobs

In addition to the Metaverse Safety Manager, other career opportunities
will include:

  • Metaverse Architects and Builders – for creating efficient, effective,
    and sustainable metaverse ecosystems;
  • Metaverse Artists and Designers – for contributing to the overall
    metaverse aesthetic;
  • Metaverse Counselers – for reviewing and resolving user disputes;
  • Metaverse Ethicists – for ensuring metaverse usage conforms to ethical
    and moral norms; and
  • Metaverse Healthcare Specialists – for diagnosing and treating
    injuries and illnesses related to metaverse usage.


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It must be underscored that the
metaverse is still a set of possibilities, not a reality.
are many unknowns. How exactly the metaverse will become manifest – who
will control it, what it will encompass and how much of an impact it will
have on our lives – is still up for debate. At one end of the spectrum are
those who believe the metaverse will enhance our lives, enabling
experiences we could not have in the physical world. Metaverse skeptics
view it as merely an extension of the digital experiences we have today
but not transformative – and potentially something worse: a magnifier of
the current social media ills, including disinformation campaigns,
addictive behavior and tendencies toward violence.”

– Linda Tucci and David Needle22

In the midst of today’s metaverse mania, the central question for
business leaders is “What should I do?”

Analyst Bernard Marr advises the business community to prepare for the
metaverse. “Businesses that want to stay competitive should make plans for
how they are going to engage with customers, find new advertising
opportunities, and bring in sponsorships in the metaverse.”23

Analyst Cathy Hackl joins the pro-metaverse chorus, invoking an early
lack of engagement with social media as a cautionary tale. Writing in
Forbes, she opines that “Just like many in the early 2000s thought they
would never need a social media presence (many leaving it in the hands of
their summer interns to manage and set up the corporate social media
accounts), brands in the 2020s will need to start setting up metaverse
teams that will help them enter the era of Web 3.0.”24

Tempering this enthusiasm, however, are concerns about whether the
metaverse is a fad. Five years from now will the metaverse, like
cryptocurrency or non-fungible tokens, be “a big deal, a little deal, or
no deal at all.”

Also, while the metaverse may be popular with gamers and tech-savvy
millennials, its ability to attract folks over 40, or people who still
cling to their flip phones, is very much in doubt. Even in an enterprise
context, users, i.e., employees, may resist metaverse usage due to
personal privacy concerns.

As analyst Mike Isaac coolly observes, “there is no evidence
[Zuckerberg’s] bet will pay off. Unlike Facebook’s shift to mobile devices
in 2012, virtual reality use is still the province of niche hobbyists and
has yet to really break into the mainstream. Widespread augmented-reality
headsets are also months – if not years – away. In essence, Mr. Zuckerberg
is asking employees, users and investors to have faith in him and his
metaverse vision. That’s a big ask for something that will cost the
company billions in the coming years and that may never come to fruition.”25

Under the circumstances, perhaps the most prudent course for companies
not yet sold on the metaverse is to:

  • Monitor the business and trade press for relevant metaverse news and
  • Survey customers and business partners to assess their level of
    metaverse awareness and interest.
  • Identify the pros and cons of metaverse usage by joining an existing
    collective like Second Life, or exploring the potential of Azure Digital
    Twins technology for business process reengineering.
  • If still in doubt about the value of the metaverse, consider engaging
    a major consulting firm, like Accenture or Deloitte, to discover – and,
    ultimately, pursue – any overlooked or undervalued metaverse

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About the Author

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James G. Barr is a leading business continuity analyst
and business writer with more than 40 years’ IT experience. A member of
“Who’s Who in Finance and Industry,” Mr. Barr has designed, developed, and
deployed business continuity plans for a number of Fortune 500 firms. He
is the author of several books, including How to Succeed in Business
BY Really Trying
, a member of Faulkner’s Advisory Panel, and a
senior editor for Faulkner’s Security Management Practices.
Mr. Barr can be reached via e-mail at

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