Metaverse emerged as the new buzzword in the technology industry ever since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to invest $10 billion to help create the Metaverse, where the digital and physical world converges.
Major brands are inhabiting the Metaverse, eager for a piece of this immersive internet experience. Popstar Ariana Grande’s performance in a series of concerts inside Fortnite last year made headlines as the psychedelic experience gave audiences a taste of music in the Metaverse.
Meanwhile, in retail, virtual clothes and dressing rooms are becoming more and more attractive for gamers, non-fungible token (NFT) investors, and especially big fashion brands.
And it’s not just a world for pop culture – Singapore corporates, private banking institutions and the government are investing in the technology, with aims ranging from driving sustainability to promoting virtual tourism.
According to researchers at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, immersive technology has already been popular with companies looking to leverage digital as a competitive edge in the city-state.
Singapore does have unique advantages as a front-runner in the Metaverse given its tech ecosystem, including an excellent tech education system to build a talent pipeline in blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud computing, as well as robust and conducive regulatory frameworks for the crypto economy.
However, it is important to note that the Metaverse needs all pieces of the puzzle in place to thrive – such as novel technologies like Web 3.0, blockchains and 5G. Research from GlobalData reveals that by 2026, nearly 95 per cent of the fixed broadband in Asia Pacific will be fibre-to-the-home or building (FTTH/B). Singapore is out in front with nearly 100 per cent FTTH/B penetration expected by 2026.
While investing in the Metaverse seems like the next big thing, business leaders ought to understand the Metaverse, what the constant evolution of technology could have in store for them, and what it will take to bring the Metaverse to life.
Betting a company’s future on the metaverse
The world is transforming at a rapid pace. Given the onslaught of digital and technological changes, organisations will need to keep up with emerging customer demands, which in turn will enable them to navigate the current and future economic environment.
For this reason, CIOs across the board must start thinking of ways to drive growth and remain agile. One way to do this is by bringing their digital presence to the next level and be well-prepared to do so, in advance of when having a presence in the Metaverse is no longer optional.
While the Metaverse is still nascent, given its immersive nature, it can present opportunities for companies. Think about it: with post-Covid hybrid or remote working environments, organisations can leverage these increasingly creative virtual business experiences to connect and collaborate, enhance their business process and maintain a competitive edge.
A recent study found that 78 per cent of Singapore executives believe the Metaverse will have a positive impact on their organisation, and 47 per cent believe it to be transformational. Through the Metaverse too, adopters can hone their leadership skills.
As organisations invest in the infrastructure, people, and mindset to assess technologies and innovate, they are more likely to tap into strong use cases and necessary business transformations and consider them in strategic decision-making.
In joining the Metaverse universe and realising its potential, infrastructure support is an essential foundation that companies and CIOs need to work on,but missing in most conversations today.
Bringing metaverse closer to the edge
Connecting to this digital reality requires fast and reliable online speed – and today, 5G can deliver the required bandwidth to support users’ connection to the Metaverse. While 5G can manage the bandwidth and the interoperability, latency can be another major challenge.
This is where Edge computing bridges the gap, by allowing the creation and transmission of large volumes of digital content in real-time.
Against this backdrop, IT professionals, especially those who are responsible for critical infrastructure, need to recognise and accept that the solutions that they are building for their cloud and core data centre must extend to an Edge environment. Companies need to ensure their infrastructure can accommodate the high bandwidth and applications that the Metaverse will require.
The Metaverse trend and the adoption of Edge computing will have a symbiotic relationship, each enabling the other to evolve and reach its full potential while allowing providers to scale their offerings sustainably.
Towards a more sustainable virtual world
While these conversations are exciting and the opportunities limitless, the volume of data, bandwidth and continuous data centre operations needed for seamless user experiences are going to release more heat and drive up energy usage.
Leveraging existing infrastructure can help to reduce the building of new and bigger data centres that can potentially add burden to the environment. To this end, the industry needs to look at ways to deploy more eco-friendly data centres and increase their functionality, for instance, developing hyper-scale data centres to manage high-density data with high-level performance to improve energy efficiency and reduce impact on the environment.
The realisation of this virtual Metaverse world converging with our day-to-day lives will require supercomputing power and high-function data centres which are powered by Edge computing.
As companies move towards the Metaverse and commission more data centres to support their needs as well as to work with the rest of the ecosystem, they should work with experts to organise and prioritise data centre sustainability. They can start looking into their Scope 2 emissions, review their current energy mix, and consider clean technologies to address their carbon footprint.
This is where players such as Schneider Electric come in with solutions for establishing eco-friendly data centres, such as high-level integrated architecture, intelligent power management, and building automatic control solutions and AI-based data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) solutions.
These are all key in helping enterprises build more Edge data centres of the future, which in turn will allow the Metaverse to thrive.