The next great tech opportunity
Three executives are effusive in their praise about the possibilities of the metaverse
published : 1 Jul 2022 at 05:55
newspaper section: Business
Businesses are touting the metaverse as a promising new opportunity to increase customer engagement and propel growth in the digital era.
Executives of three firms discussed metaverse opportunities at a Bangkok Post Tech Conference 2022 under the theme "Metaverse gold rush: An opportunity to reshape the world", held at Centara Grand CentralWorld on Thursday.
NEXT INTERNET GENERATION
Nattasate Trithipcharoenchai, chief executive of Brandverse, the developer of T-Verse metaverse under the marketing tech firm Jenosize Digital Group, said the metaverse is the next generation of the internet and could represent a big opportunity for Thailand.
Brandverse was created to assist brands in achieving success in the metaverse.
The metaverse is a digital world in which people can live life through a new identity, such as an avatar. It allows people to be connected and build new communities and enjoy immersive experiences, such as socialising, shopping, working and studying, he said.
T-Verse metaverse was launched with 50 business partners, such as 7-Eleven, the Mall Group, Thammasat University, the Commerce Ministry, SC Asset, the National Innovation Agency and PTT Oil and Retail Business Plc.
"This collaboration bridges multiple industries with a target of achieving the global stage," Mr Nattasate said.
"We believe the metaverse is a real business and serves as a new S-curve industry."
Many countries have adopted and started metaverse projects, such as the US, China, Japan and South Korea, he said. Multiple global brands are also jumping into the metaverse, including Meta, Apple, Samsung, Nike, JP Morgan and Disney.
The global metaverse market is projected to hit US$400 billion by 2025, according to Ark Invest, a US investment solution provider. Well-known metaverse platform Roblox ranks Thailand No.7 globally in terms of the number of users.
Mr Nattasate said T-Verse can play a key role in transforming many sectors, such as facilitating immersive learning at Thammasat University and supporting a fashion fair organised by the Department of International Trade Promotion in the metaverse.
He said the metaverse should support a broad variety of access, including mobile, desktop computers and smart glasses, as well as create preferred identities, ensure security, facilitate commerce and drive digital integration systems.
In retail business, the metaverse can turn e-shopping into "shoppertainment", said Mr Nattasate. Brandverse is working with the Mall Group to develop a retail metaverse called Mniverse.
"Brands need to focus on creating attractive content and immersive experiences for their communities," he said.
Mr Nattasate said the success of the metaverse can be measured by various factors, including daily active users, revenue, brand value, digital assets, trade volume and future opportunities with the platform.
"For T-Verse, we hope we can use technology to support Thailand's ecosystem and drive the country's competitiveness," he said.
Monvalee Phathanothai, chief executive of Thonburi Health Technology, a unit of Thonburi Healthcare Group (THG), said the metaverse is in the beginning stages of development, but she believes it promises new business opportunities for the healthcare industry.
The metaverse is a digital innovation hospitals cannot ignore, she said.
Ms Monvalee said THG wants to explore how the technology can be applied to better serve patients and support medical treatments, which should create new business opportunities for the group.
Though the new technology will incur more costs for hospital operations, it will be worth the investment if it leads to better medical services, she said.
"We have adopted technologies and innovations that benefit the hospital business because we aim to be a smart hospital that will bring more benefits to our patients," said Ms Monvalee.
THG is monitoring the development of metaverse technology to see how fast it will be developed to serve the medical industry.
She said the speed will depend on many factors, including disruptions in the hospital business such as the pandemic. The spread of the highly contagious virus caused hospitals and public health systems to adapt to better prevent disease, offering quick treatments and effective testing to screen patients with Covid-19 infections.
Ms Monvalee stressed a need to apply technological innovations to improve and develop healthcare standards.
The use of data analysis, with the help of digital technology, is one example of how a hospital can improve its medical services to better treat patients or prevent them from certain illnesses.
Medical technologies are important as Thailand becomes an ageing society, she said.
"Medical service providers need to find technologies, including metaverses, that match what people need," said Ms Monvalee.
IT TAKES TIME
Kowin Kulruchakorn, chief innovation officer at Central Tech, a subsidiary of Central Group, agreed Thailand is in the early days of the metaverse, saying it will take 2-3 years to more fully form.
He compared this period to augmented reality/virtual reality headsets, which took some time to develop for mass adoption.
Mr Kowin believes the metaverse is likely to create a huge opportunity.
"In the past, when we wanted to sell fashion or apparel brands, we did so in stores with physical products. With e-commerce, that moved online in tandem with in-store physical products, but at a higher volume," he said.
"For the metaverse, we can sell products both online and offline offering physical and digital products. Digital products are much more cost-effective than physical products. This makes the opportunity in the metaverse huge and the only limit is our imagination."
Mr Kowin said business opportunity in the metaverse is not a gimmick, citing a report by McKinsey & Company that estimated the platform would generate up to $5 trillion in impact by 2030, which is equivalent to the size of Japan's economy.
He said Central Group foresaw a digital trend, starting with blockchain technology in 2019. At that time, the group explored how blockchain technology works and made an effort to experience it.
Central Tech eventually came up with an innovative blockchain-based digital currency called C-Coin.
The company created this project to engage employees and reward them with the coin, letting them spend these coins at department stores, supermarkets, and other business units under Central Group.
"We started building the foundation first to educate our employees, familiarising them with this kind of technology," said Mr Kowin.
"We have yet to focus on sales. We want our employees to understand this opportunity to ensure they are ready when the time comes."
He said the metaverse is expected to have a positive impact on the retail industry within five years.
The technology is expected to not only enable new kinds of businesses, products and services, but also new engagement channels with customers, said Mr Kowin.
"Look at the internet 30 years ago. See how it changed the way businesses operate. The metaverse is expected to create a new immersive experience for businesses to sell products and make online shopping more unique and fun," he said.
"The metaverse is a new world for retail, transforming physical products into digital ones and customers into avatars. A lot of opportunities are available, but we all have to prepare. I suggest businesses prepare both short-term and long-term visions to get involved in the metaverse."