All of you have probably heard the news by now: Facebook, Inc. is now called Meta. The name change means that Mark Zuckerberg is acknowledging that Facebook isn’t just one app anymore, just as Google has done before with Alphabet. However, Meta also wants to be more: the Metaverse.
More, more, more
In this context, you might remember an invention from almost 20 years ago. In 2003, Linden Lab launched a unique and fascinating 3D simulation of the entire world called Second Life. Users could virtually buy or sell wares and properties or meet up with others through a customizable avatar. The virtual Linden dollar acted as currency.
While the idea was an interesting topic of discussion back in the day, Second Life never became mainstream. In hindsight, we know that the simulation was constricted by technological advances (or rather, the lack thereof) of its time.
However, the term Metaverse is even older, first mentioned in the novel “Snow Crash” by science-fiction author Neal Stephenson, which was published in 1991. He tells the story of an artificially created virtual reality in which people choose their avatars and move around an open-world simulation. Inside the Metaverse, they can buy and sell wares. Since it is connected to real-life supply chains, the products bought virtually are real, and communication and events happen in real time.
If Meta will be successful with this approach remains to be seen. However, if we apply this concept to business software, new opportunities arise. Imagine if SAP would offer a central platform for all activities in a customer’s daily routine: procurement, production, marketing, sales, support. SAP provides the platform, SAP solutions provide the data and workflows. One of the most important aspects is the integration of third-party systems for improved connectivity and data exchange.
With SAP Extended Reality Cloud (XR Cloud), the first steps toward visualized real-time applications have been taken. After that, it’s only a small leap towards virtual meetings or sales calls.