The Metaverse: an Internet myth or a billion-dollar market?

Over the last 30 years, the Internet has revolutionised the way we live and work. Yet, experts of the calibre of Robert Metcalfe predicted a different end: ‘The Internet … will soon explode spectacularly, like a supernova, and in 1996 collapse catastrophically’ (1995).

28 years later, the reality is quite different: experts are discussing SEO trends, online shopping is booming and social media is determining the way we communicate. Ah… and there is talk of the metaverse. But should we take it seriously?

What is the Metaverse?

The Metaverse is an immersive virtual world in which we will shop, work, communicate, train, play, etc. in the future. All this is made possible by digital avatars, virtual incarnations of ourselves, interacting in this virtual space.

Everyone is now certain: the Metaverse is a billion-dollar market and, above all, the future of the Internet. And even though it seems like a futuristic concept, companies, especially big ones, are showing interest in this emerging technology. But what are the application areas of the metaverse? Which sectors are most suitable for a virtual move into the metaverse?

Immersive Commerce in the fashion industry

The Metaverse is the perfect environment to enrich physical experiences. It, for example, represents an opportunity for fashion brands that want to engage their customers by creating a completely unique customer experience and immersive virtual events. It is a new way of shopping: shops can be run completely virtually, they are virtual showrooms and the customer can view and try on the product virtually and buy it digitally.

Famous brands such as Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, IWC, Dolce & Gabbana or Tiffany & Co. are entering the digital fashion business and are experimenting with the creation of digital collectibles or NFTs (non-fungible tokens), i.e. virtual goods.

Gucci partnered with the Roblox platform in 2021, in which users can equip their avatars with Gucci bags, hats or sunglasses.

In 2021, Nike bought RTFKT, a manufacturer of virtual trainers and digital collectibles. And Nike has already made over USD 180 million in sales from NFT collections.

And then, this year, we witnessed the first ‘Metaverse Fashion Week’, held in the virtual universe of Decentraland.

So, these brands are aware that, through the metaverse, they offer an alternative, engaging and interactive customer experience and are determined to take this new world seriously.

But let’s look at other use cases of the metaverse.

The Industrial Metaverse

So-called industrial meta-verses may become increasingly important in the future.

In the idea of the industrial metaverse, machines, factories, cities, buildings, networks and transport systems move into the virtual world. In this context, which allows a significant level of collaboration without barriers and geographical boundaries, people would be confronted with the same object or machine and could be able to quickly analyse and solve problems that arise without moving.

Companies, therefore, will look completely different in the future: physical and digital boundaries will blur and every person, resource, process in the business environment will be connected or virtually replicated in the metaverse through a digital twin. And the question arises: will it all be done exclusively digitally? Of course not, but at least before it is done physically to simulate and predict well in advance. Let’s think how much this can help us save on the costs of physical prototypes, but also predict anomalies, reducing errors that could have a negative impact on all industrial processes.

Think of BMW, which has built a virtual factory to plan the installation of production systems, and Mars, which uses Microsoft’s Metaverse stack to digitise supply chains and optimise production through simulation. Or to Siemens, which has created a Digital Native Factory, a digital twin of the Nanjing factory. These digital twins allow real-time interaction, resemble real machines and behave as such. If, for example, a drop in temperature is simulated inside the factory, the digital twin will have an identical reaction to its physical twin inside the factory.

These are just examples of areas where the metaverse could be an added value.

An unstoppable revolution: what should we do?

The Metaverse revolution will be unstoppable. The question for companies is: should I wait and see what others will do, or should I ride this revolution?

History has shown that those who are brave and see disruptive technologies as a blessing are often rewarded. Every time something radically changes, new young companies with new ideas appear on the scene and business models emerge that nobody expected. Amazon started as an online bookstore in 1995 and has grown to become the world’s largest online retailer, the streaming service Netflix revolutionised entertainment and Google changed the face of marketing forever. The Metaverse is the beginning of a new Internet era that shuffles the cards.

Martina Villa


At Roncucci&Partners we help companies to develop themselves and their business, to embrace change and evolve in order to thrive in a world that is increasingly complicated, insidious and requires a great deal of expertise. We do this by applying timely methods and rigorous strategies, the fruit of many years of experience and the wealth that comes from the many successful cases we have led around the world. Passion and method are in fact our guides to enhancing the present and building the future.

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