(This article originally appeared on Forbes)
Ever heard of the “metaverse?” It’s coming. And if you’re using or implementing a CRM system you better be prepared for enormous changes.
The metaverse is the next level of the Internet. It’s not just Facebook or Google. It’s a vision that spans many companies both that exist and will soon emerge. It’s taking today’s two-dimensional experience that we have using laptops, tablets and mobile devices and expanding it to three dimensions by leveraging very lightweight augmented and virtual reality glasses.
“You can think of the metaverse as an embodied Internet,” Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently told Casey Newton of The Verge in this great podcast discussion. “Instead of viewing content, you’re in it and you feel present with other people as if you’re in other places having different experiences you couldn’t necessary do on a 2D app or web page.”
How soon will this happen? Within the decade, according to Zuckerberg. How real is this? Very real. The metaverse world is already being developed. Billions of dollars are being invested. Big tech companies like Facebook are building the hardware and the software. And the metaverse world will ultimately include countless communities, creators, digital commerce providers, app developers, hardware companies and who knows who else that will be building new industries around it.
In tomorrow’s metaverse, we won’t be on Zoom calls or Facebook Groups. We won’t be posting messages or watching YouTube videos. We’ll be transported there. We’ll be at the conference. We’ll be in the meeting. We’ll be with our colleagues, friends and family. And we’ll be doing this by using lightweight, fashionable…normal-looking…glasses that will respond to our commands and transport us – or holograms of us – to all these different places. Immediately and regardless of where we are.
Because of this, business interactions will forever change.
“At the meetings today you’re looking at a grid of faces on a screen,” Zuckerberg says. But this isn’t right, is it? “We’re used to being in a room with people and having a shared sense of space. (In the metaverse) there will be a sense of presence that will be much more natural.”
Interactions will be significantly richer and more real, he believes. “Instead of just having a meeting over a phone call you’ll be able to sit as a hologram on my couch or I’ll be able to sit as a hologram on your couch. It’ll feel like we’re in the same place even though we’re in different states.”
Much of this relies on hardware and Zuckerberg predicts big changes in virtual and augmented reality devices on the horizon. “Today the VR headsets are a bit clunky and heavy,” he says. “There needs to be advances, like being able to express yourself, having higher resolution and reading text better.” The hardware will need to cram very advanced processing into very small places and work for a very long time. It’s daunting. “But we’re getting there,” he says.
So how does this affect CRM?
In the metaverse, salespeople will no longer just be calling prospects and customers. We’ll be interacting with them in virtual settings as if they’re face to face with us. How many more deals do you close when you’re meeting a prospect versus just talking on the phone?
We’ll be collecting information from our prospects and customers during our conversations, which will be more relaxed and natural. We’ll be showing our products to these potential customers as if they’re in the same office as us. These conversations will be recorded and transcribed. Follow up actions will be mentioned. Information from these meetings will be analyzed using AI to ensure that the right materials are sent and the right people are notified.
And that’s just sales.
Service teams will be able to transport themselves to client “locations” to analyze and resolve issues. Their work will be recorded, analyzed and stored. “If you want to talk to someone, you’re working through a problem, instead of just calling them on the phone, they can teleport in, and then they can see all the context that you have,” Zuckerberg says. “They can stand next to you and interact, and then in a blink they can teleport back to where they were and kind of be in a separate place.”
Marketing groups will then be able to disseminate this information and create interactive, entertaining and personalized campaigns that will be using virtual conversations, meetings, discussions and presentations, all based on the information gathered and set these events against any backdrop they desire. The pyramids, you say? A factory floor?
Tomorrow’s CRM systems will be in the middle of Zuckerberg’s metaverse. As interactions and meetings take place these systems will absorb conversations, interpret the data and ensure that all of the relevant information about a customer, prospect, partner or even supplier is gathered and acted on. CRM will be the vital app embedded in those “normal” looking glasses. It will be the core database foundation of a business leveraging the metaverse.
As a CRM user this is nothing that will change your professional life today. But it will have a big impact on your business in the not-so-distant future. My smartest clients will be keeping an eye on the metaverse – and ensuring that their CRM providers are doing the same.