The metaverse’s immense promise is at once clear and clouded in uncertainty. The word metaverse’s etymology — it combines the Greek word for “beyond” with the latter syllable of “universe” — signals limitless possibilities. Today, the term is attached to a variety of promising applications and digital environments related to education, healthcare, entertainment and social interactions, accessible via both new technologies and older ones.
Yet no single conceptualization of the metaverse holds sway: it is still in its infancy, leaving considerable space for research and debate. What is clear, however, is that the metaverse holds significant potential to alter how organisations conduct business and how individuals socialise, shop, work and play. But before the metaverse can reach its potential at scale, a number of barriers need to be addressed.
Our initial key findings include:
- There is a lack of consensus around definitions of the metaverse and requirements for successful scaling;
- Building blocks for the metaverse are already in place, aligned with the four pillars of our Inclusive Internet Index: Availability, Affordability, Relevance and Readiness;
- Wide-ranging social and economic benefits are apparent, but can only be realised if market, organisational and consumer barriers are overcome; and
- A standardised approach for measuring countries’ progress toward metaverse adoption is needed to systematically track progress.
There’s more to come: the forthcoming country assessment framework (to be published this winter) will address these gaps while measuring progress towards a successful metaverse. Economist Impact will publish the framework, along with other insights drawn from expert interviews, an expert panel and secondary research.