Think of the metaverse as an immersive version of the internet, featuring social, persistent, shared 3D worlds — a seamless convergence of physical and digital realms that opens doors to new revenue streams. According to a recent Bloomberg Intelligence report, the metaverse market opportunity is at an estimated $800 billion (by 2024), attracting online game makers, social networks, and other technology leaders.
Since the metaverse requires advances across a whole range of areas — from new hardware devices to software for building and exploring worlds — artificial intelligence (AI) will undoubtedly play a significant role in unlocking a lot of these advances. For instance, with AI’s ability to analyze massive volumes of data at lightning speed to generate insights and drive action, users can leverage AI for decision-making or link AI with automation for low-touch processes.
While virtual worlds can technically exist without AI, the combination of the two not only opens a whole new degree of authenticity but also impacts the following metaverse scenarios.
Trust and Safety in the Metaverse
With digital risks already high, safety risks could be more prevalent in the metaverse. An unwanted individual can invade someone’s virtual space and “get up close,” leading to undesirable conduct, which may even feel more real with haptic technology. Harmful content that proliferates too quickly in our current digital lives may also translate into more graphic, 3D, and auditory content in the metaverse. This type of content has a greater impact due to the multisensory nature of the environment. Further, with digital currencies expected to gain more traction in the metaverse, the financial incentive and payment structures that lead to the proliferation of harmful content are likely to increase in size and complexity as well. There is also an added risk from the tracking and retention of biometric data, providing platforms with a new quality of information comprised of an individual’s real identity combined with stimuli. So, what can be done?
Constructing a trusted ecosystem will have to involve human trust and safety officers, who, in their AR/VR avatars, will police the metaverse as real-world police officers do. Given that the metaverse is potentially a limitless space with voluminous data and transactions generated every second, the meta-police officers will be supported by AI systems. Powered by computer vision and natural language processing (NLP), these AI systems monitor text, audio, image, video/3D, tactile, and, perhaps, even olfactory and gustatory signals. These can either moderate the content immediately or send notifications to the human meta-police, who will then take appropriate action.
The payback comes in the form of preserved platform integrity, which can help prevent huge losses that may result from negative publicity, reputational damage, and fake or fraudulent activity, and a safe and trusted environment for all users of the platform.
The New CX Universe
While only 38% of global consumers are familiar with the metaverse concept, according to a Wunderman Thompson Intelligence report, several trends are already driving its emergence. Seventy-six percent of consumers say their daily lives now depend on technology (79% for Gen Zers and 80% for Millennials), while 85% report that a digital presence will be “essential” for brands to succeed in the future. These figures represent an incredible metaverse market opportunity for brands to reinvent themselves in a truly differentiating way. In fact, many global enterprises have already embraced this new, virtual world.
The metaverse market opportunity is poised for explosive growth, forward-looking organizations will have to pivot from being merely digital-first to truly virtual-first to efficiently serve an ever-increasing number of customers in this immersive AR/VR/MR environment. It’s all about meeting individual customer needs efficiently and with empathy in a whole new space. If in the real world, conversational AI technologies, such as an intelligent virtual agent (IVA), automatic speech recognition (ASR), and chatbots are used to augment the capabilities of human customer service agents to ensure service requests are processed efficiently, in the metaverse, conversational AI will play a pivotal role in creating sophisticated, naturally interacting virtual characters that deliver more compelling digital experiences for users, where speech would just be the tip of the iceberg. Conversational AI-powered avatars would be able to engage with many of the modalities that people use, such as facial expressions, body language, emotions, and physical interactions, besides speaking. Humanoid meta-service agents would be able to shake hands virtually (through haptic technology) and offer service with a smile (through 3D human-like technology), among other things.
Whether in the real world or a virtual one, three components can help brands achieve CX dominance: empathy, personalization, and efficiency. Leveraging AI in the metaverse can help deliver all three.