The Role of Conversational AI in Metaverse
It is commonly predicted that Metaverse is the next internet. Zuckerberg, Meta CEO, stated “We believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet.” It is too early to make bold predictions but it is fair to say that it is a concept, organizations need to understand and explore the opportunities. So let’s have a look at Metaverse in terms of the new opportunities and the role of conversational AI in it.
Gartner defines Metaverse as “a collective virtual open space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality. It is physically persistent and provides enhanced immersive experiences.” Gartner expects that by 2026, 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the Metaverse for work, shopping, education, social media and/or entertainment.
According to Gartner it is a “combinatorial innovation”, as it requires multiple technologies and trends including augmented reality (AR), flexible work styles, head-mounted displays (HMDs), an AR cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and spatial technologies.
How will brands operate in Metaverse?
If Metaverse will be the digital representation of the real-world in its ultimate form, individuals can experience things there easily that are difficult or costly, or impossible for them to experience in real life. For the companies, Metaverse might open numerous opportunities that they cannot do in the real world or can do better in the virtual world. Having this point in mind, brands and institutions will try to find ways of interacting with their target audience in this new environment.
Let’s mention a few examples of use cases that would be valuable in Metaverse.
- – New ways of education and training with a more immersive learning experience would be possible. It is predicted that higher education and military education institutions would create a new learning environment in Metaverse which is difficult and costly in the real world. It would offer new opportunities for many sectors in terms of training and learning programs.
- – In Metaverse, we can expect more integrated and engaged virtual events that changed the nature of work since the pandemic Virtual concerts, entertainment facilities and many other formats would be possible in Metaverse.
- – For retail companies, new opportunities for customer interaction and offering new modes of shopping experience will be there through virtual stores. Trials, tests and showcases such as making a test drive or trying a new cloth would be possible. More creative ways like using influencers as virtual brand ambassadors also would be tried.
- – Companies and institutions would be able to interact not only with customers but also they can create better ways of engagement and collaboration with employees in Metaverse. So the nature of work might be affected once again, after the pandemic.
- – Customer Support is another crucial field that might be performed in Metaverse. Companies would have to be ready to help their customers in this new world. Companies would recruit virtual agents, virtual guides, and support representatives.
- – Metaverse might be the new mode of social media interactions.
More examples are possible but one thing is obvious: it has the potential to change the dynamics of customer and employee interactions for companies and institutions. It might be a new mode of interaction since the invention of mobile. Considering this, we need to think about the concept of “digital humans” and what role they play in this new world.
Metaverse will be a complex environment where users will interact with other users, 3D digital objects and virtual avatars or digital humans. Digital humans are 3D versions of chatbots that exist in the Metaverse that can react and respond to actions in a virtual world. Brands would recruit these digital humans to help their customers with online shopping, guide them through a process, or just answer their questions as a customer support representative. For fulfilling such functions, they would be required to involve conversational AI-powered capabilities, to understand an intent, to carry on a conversation, to provide advice, to make social talking, and jokes and to give some emotional reactions like a human. Brands would find endless ways of utilizing such characters to acquire customers, sell their products and provide support to their customers as well as to recruit, onboard and engage their employees. The more human-like they are, the more people want to interact with them and the more they want to stay in the environment.
The role of the conversational AI: Humanizing the digital humans
The only way of creating scalable and realistic virtual worlds is to utilize the combination of the emerging technologies such as augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and artificial intelligence. Obviously the essential technology behind these digital humans will be conversational AI because it is the technological disciple that will give a “life” to it.
Since 2017 we got used to chatbots and virtual assistants, many companies use sophisticated chatbots and virtual assistants to help their users by providing information and performing various tasks. However, digital humans would go a step further and would have aface, body and personality and would be able to engage with many modalities like facial expressions, body language, emotions, and physical interactions, in addition to text and voice based conversational capabilities.
Regardless of the functionality of these digital humans, whether it is a sales & marketing tool or a customer / employee support agent, voice technology will be more important than text. People would prefer to talk to them and brands will try to provide the most advanced technology combined with the best customer experience design to keep their customers in their field. They have to ensure their experiences feel natural and frictionless. It is predicted that the users will have multilingual accessibility for the digital humans, there will be a translation process run by AI in seconds and enable all the users from different countries to use the same digital human in their native language.
Therefore conversational AI will have a unique role and will attract more focus and investment as an essential bridge between the real and the virtual in the new world. Brands and institutions would start to populate Metaverse with their digital humans and they would want to make their virtual employees more sophisticated with better skills. In addition to skills, they would build seamless experiences to keep the user in Metaverse as long as possible. For instance, you would have access to easy ways of orderşng your meal without leaving Metaverse while chatting or playing there.
The Metaverse is in a very early stage, but if it is the next big thing after mobile, it will have the potential to change our digital interactions and consumption patterns. Companies, public institutions and NGOs will search ways of utilizing this new environment’s possibilities in a wide range of fields including customer support, sales & marketing, employee engagement, training, PR and more.
Metaverse might be the new mode of digital interaction but it is for sure some concepts that we prioritize today will not change in this new mode such as – simple, personalized and seamless experiences. Many companies might be considering it as part of their omnichannel strategy and many tech companies might define their macro-level strategy on it.
Are we facing a new mega trend with Metaverse which is called “virtual first”, after mobile-first and AI-first, we’ll see.