An IT service veteran weighs the pros and cons of investing resources into this hot, new technology, and feels the picture for the road ahead may not be fleshed out in 3D.

by Chris Chagnon
January 17, 2022

 

The Metaverse is a hot topic - an increasingly ubiquitous technology based on advances in virtual reality, 3D games, and the internet.

Given the hotness of this space, we should consider how we, as IT Service organizations, can get into it, right? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t so simple.

A History

Dreamt of in the mind of science fiction authors, and fleshed out in stories like Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, or Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, virtual universes are not necessarily a new creation. Early versions of this space can be seen in metaverse-type concepts like Active Worlds and Second Life, where players could access and create within virtual universes. Also, there is the societal impact of persistent worlds in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOs), Minecraft, and VRChat.

The Modern Metaverse

Current iterations of the Metaverse include digital virtual spaces backed by some big names, with the goal of providing a platform for commerce, socialization, entertainment and more. There are some interesting and exciting concepts being tested and fleshed out, and there may be, eventually, things we can learn or take away from these worlds.

One can imagine that the rich interactivity these spaces provide could offer some tangible benefits to virtual training. Being able to manipulate something in 3D space could help show someone a concept that doesn’t translate well in 2D digital. We also can see how meetings or social activities in avatar-space may be more fun or engaging than yet another video call with webcams off.

Evaluate Channels

With that said, it’s important for us to head into this space with some caution. Our exploration of these spaces and the technology should be hesitant, with a holistic eye toward our overall user population.

If we are not doing any other business inside this space, it may not be the best place for us to be. As with any new social media platform, online tool, or communications technology, we should examine it from a perspective of omnichannel support - how we can best leverage this technology to add a new channel without major overhead.

If we look at some of our past, less-than-successful attempts at implementing a new channel, we can see how this could go wrong. Think back to social media strategies where we made a TikTok to engage with our younger users and saw no hits on our awesome video of us dancing to the latest pop song. Or look back at our Twitter account, launched with the greatest of intentions, but which shows that our last tweet was 4 years ago.

We can be successful on new channels of communication; after all the best support follows the users onto the platforms they use. If we are opening up a virtual store in the Metaverse and need to support users, being able to work with them in that space is ideal.

Being an early adopter in an unknown space may not be the best move for most of us. If we are just looking at it from a communications perspective, we need to feel confident in the technology, and work with our users to make sure this space is where they want to interact with us. Opening a service desk in the Metaverse where we are dedicating resources to training our employees and our users doesn’t feel like the best investment of resources in the short term.

As with many new technologies in the IT support space, there is a long way to go before the Metaverse will be a part of our daily life. From a services and support perspective my vote is to wait before investing in it.

Chris Chagnon is an ITSM Architect and PhD Student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

 

Tag(s): best practice, business intelligence, business of support, change management, customer experience, supportworld

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