Product Managers Prepare For The Metaverse

Product managers have to get ready for what the future holds
Product managers have to get ready for what the future holds
Image Credit: Roland Legrand

As though you didn’t think that you already had enough to do, now you have to get ready for the metaverse. Look, over at Facebook they are investing millions of dollars into creating virtual worlds for visitors to come to and interact with each other in. If Facebook thinks that this is going to be a big deal, then they are probably on to something. Product managers need to start to take the time getting use to what the metaverse is and how it is going to impact their customers.

The Metaverse Is A Brave New World

So here’s something that product managers need to start to understand about the metaverse: your avatar’s attractiveness is a thing. In the metaverse the digital world transforms the real one in ways that are fun, freaky and at times frightening. So how can product managers get a glimpse of this metaverse thing? Simple – all you have to do is to strap a virtual-reality headset to your face. Right now there’s no real consensus on its technical definition, but broadly, the metaverse is viewed as being the next phase of the internet, where things jump out of our two-dimensional screens to occupy space in our three-dimensional world—or at least a parallel one.

The reason that the metaverse has become such a thing is because Facebook changed its name to Meta to reflect its growth beyond its namesake social-media platform. At the same time Mark Zuckerberg previewed his vision of how we’ll work, hang out, work out, shop and more as legless avatars. This can all be done by using Quest 2 headsets from his company. Not to be outdone, a week later, Microsoft did something similar, showing how we’ll all float around a virtual PowerPoint presentation. Product managers at those companies and others say it will take years and billions of dollars to build this digital universe. However, there are currently apps and spaces in VR that can give us a glimpse.

When you enter into the metaverse, it will be a life changing experience. You’ll quickly realize that it is better than a boring Zoom meeting. It will feel like other people are really sitting across from you, making direct eye contact. There are apps that provides a virtual conference room for meetings. This allows you to invite contacts to your private space via the web. If they have a Quest 2 headset, they can join in the 3-D space as an avatar. If not, they will join via video call and just watch your avatar. What’s interesting about the metaverse today is that although the avatars in different apps are very different, they will share one common trait: no legs.

Living In The Metaverse

Both Meta and Microsoft want to provide the underlying platforms that will support the metaverse, letting us log into one account, build one avatar, then float across all our games, workout apps, meetings and more. Meta and Microsoft, the two companies sidelined in the mobile iOS-vs.-Android race, are looking to build the next iOS or Android for the metaverse. Then of course there is the hardware. Back in the day VR helmets required room sensors and spacewalk-like tethers to some overheated super PC. The self-powered Quest 2 is, by comparison, a breakthrough. Right now if you spend just an hour in it and you’ll face app crashes, performance slowdowns and battery drain. Product managers need to understand that the future is still far off.

We need to understand that virtual reality is an escape from the real world. Alternatively augmented reality brings digital objects into our real world, like holograms. The AR glasses that are required for us to see those holograms naturally, instead of as obviously superimposed digital sprites, are going to take five to 10 years of hardware evolution. Product managers are very interested in augmented reality because it’s grounded in the world that we share. It is believed that it can do a better job of integrating computing into the world than the way we are using computing today.

In the metaverse, you can pair your real Windows or Mac laptop to the headset so that your computer desktop appears on your virtual screen. What this allows is for you to be in a virtual meeting and take notes on your actual laptop. Once again, you’ll be typing on a real keyboard that you can’t see because of the VR headset. This means that you’ll end up with a lot of spelling errors. This kind of sums it up. Finding ways to blend the realverse and metaverse does makes sense, but in the meantime we’re going to deal with a whole lot of spelling errors!

What All Of This Means For You

Right now product managers spend their time trying to reach out to customers and let them know about their products. However, it is starting to look as though the future is going to be different. The metaverse is preparing to arrive and when it does, we’re all going to be interacting in a different way. Product managers need to understand what the metaverse is and we need to understand how it is going to affect our customers.

The metaverse has become a thing because Facebook and their CEO have decided to invest a great deal of money into it. Microsoft is also working on creating their version of a metaverse. Spending time in the metaverse will change how you view it. While you are there, it feels like you are really interacting with other people. Both Meta and Microsoft want to be the companies that create the hardware and the software that we use to create and interact with the metaverse. In addition to the metaverse, there is also augmented reality that combines what we can see with a virtual world. Currently the virtual world and the real world don’t always interface all that smoothly.

Product managers always have to be preparing to be successful in a changed world. Right now a number of companies are starting to invest heavily into a new way of interacting called the metaverse. It is still unclear as to if this will be successful. However, a lot of people appear willing to give it a try. We’re going to have to keep our eyes on this evolving way of interacting and then try to determine what it might mean for our products.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that product managers will be able to sell their products better in the metaverse?

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