Eric Hazan (McKinsey & Company): “Metaverse mostly appeals to the general public today, but we’re on track for wider adoption”

Eric Hazan has held the position of Senior Associate Director (Senior Partner) for more than 14 years at McKinsey & Company in the Paris office and is one of the European leaders in McKinsey Digital and Advanced Analytics activities. On the occasion of the latest edition of the Vivatech show, the latter presented a report on value creation in the metaverse.

After presenting reports in previous editions of Vivatech on the state of digitalisation in Europe or on artificial intelligence, why did you choose to focus on the meta-verse this year?

Eric Hazan: It should already be noted that the main elements that make up the metaverse today have existed for several years. Gaming is one of them and brings together very involved communities. Fortnite, for example, has more than 20 million active users. Associated with the metaverse, NFTs now represent a real economic value of up to $ 250 million.

In my opinion, we have just passed the buzz stage with a metaverse that attracts significant investment: since the beginning of the year, companies, venture capital firms and private equity funds have invested more than $ 120 billion in the metaverse is three times more than was invested in artificial intelligence in 2016.

We have a right to be skeptical, but the investment amount is such that we just can not miss it. And that is what led us to conduct this survey with 450 business leaders and 3,400 consumers. Just as we foresaw the ongoing disturbance caused by artificial intelligence in its early days.

Screenshot of McKinsey & Company’s Metaverse report.

What are the key lessons from your new study?

Our examination first reveals that 59% of consumers are excited about switching their daily activities to Metaverse. Similarly, 57% of companies that are sensitive to this new technology say that they are ready to use it.

The metaverse should initially attract the general public – especially through games and entertainment – but we are moving towards a broader democratization. Going forward, there will be more entry points as interoperability matures. As a result, new use cases will emerge, especially in the professional context or even e-learning.

Eric Hazan: In the context of the emergence of a new technology, we are always witnessing a phase of “hype”, then with rationalization and finally with start-up. Some uses will explode when others are likely to die out

Are you defending an ideal of decentralization in order to achieve this kind of interoperability?

We are not here to take sides, but it is true that interoperability would allow us to better analyze the phenomenon. Meta will invest more than $ 10 billion over the next few years, but it is still less than 10% of what has already been invested in the sector in the first half of 2022. In general, many companies are interested in it: 57% of them is already testing use cases in the metaverse, and 25% estimate that this will represent 15% of their revenue within 5 years.

Does the metaverse draw for you the end of physical sales channels?

I do not think this marks the end of the physical sales channel, and that was already what the e-commerce revolution heralded. On the other hand, this will undoubtedly make it possible to deliver a more fluid and omnichannel experience. I believe that the metaverse will be placed more under the sign of hybridization, as connected spectacles that will allow us to see both the real and the virtual.

It will be a complementary channel for sales, communication or marketing, and I think most of the public sees it as an opportunity rather than a threat. We are already in a world where the digital exists and has an influence in the physical world. These two worlds will always remain complementary.

Bernard Arnault recently said: “We are not interested in selling virtual sneakers for 10 euros. We are not here for that”, referring to the speculative setbacks that helped burst the internet bubble in 2000. What do you think?

In the context of the emergence of a new technology, we are always witnessing a phase of “hype”, then with rationalization and finally with start-up. Some uses will explode when others are likely to die out. Once again, it is perfectly acceptable to be skeptical, but in my opinion, being reluctant to test is not to be on the starting line at the same level as the others.

I think the turning point will come in two or three years because we are still in the testing phase. But in any case, it must be remembered that at the time of the internet bubble, many turned away from it, and those who continued to believe in it actually withstood the Web 1.0 wave better, especially in terms of e-commerce.

There are still plenty of applications that we can not imagine: aircraft manufacturers test maintenance in the metaverse, and even design actors do it to optimize their own processes. All of this sounds a lot like the use cases imagined in the beginning of artificial intelligence, and my advice to companies is to get started now to prepare for the coming developments.

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