Here are some practical use cases for customer engagement, product development, digital factories, and employee training.
September 18, 2022The automotive industry is undergoing rapid transformation driven by purely digital car sellers, changing consumer needs, a rise in connected experiences and the emergence of a sharing economy. As operating costs and customer expectations rise, the metaverse is evolving – a virtual world that mimics the physical world through artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), digital currencies, social media, and other technologies. to accelerate growth, improve margins and create immersive experiences to delight customers across multiple touchpoints.
A Gartner study predicts that by 2026, 25 percent of people will spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse, creating more opportunities for customer engagement. The global Metaverse automotive market is estimated to exceed US$116.5 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of more than 41.46 percent. Around the world, automotive companies are leaping into the metaverse with the launch of virtual experience centers, virtual factories, and collaborative employee training to engage with Gen Z customers and streamline operations at lower costs. Some of the key use cases that automotive companies should pay attention to are the following:
Virtual dealers and experience centers
Studies have found that virtual showrooms result in higher engagement and can improve the average time prospective buyers spend by 10x. Virtual dealerships and experience centers have the potential to create a truly memorable experience that can go viral and get potential buyers discussing the launch of an upcoming vehicle. Benefits include:
- Engagement: Personalized and real-time engagement with sales teams. Invite friends and family to participate in the sales process.
- Experience: Visualize and interact with vehicles in the virtual world. Interested parties can interact with infotainment systems, accessories, etc. in the vehicle.
- Marketing: Prospects can interact with other potential buyers and owners.
- Branding: create user communities. Buy or sell non-fungible token (NFT) based commodities, loyalty and rewards programs to create personalized spaces for NFTs. Organize product launches in the Metaverse.
The term “metafactory” refers to the digital twin of an actual plant in the metaverse to support product innovation and operations. Such factories can:
- Simulate plant operations and enable managers to resolve issues without a physical visit to the factory.
- Connect remote experts with field workers to reduce error and minimize operational costs.
- Work with product designers in virtual worlds to create, simulate, and test different mockups before moving to production. This can help improve product quality and reduce manufacturing costs.
Morning Survey reports that 61 percent of millennials are interested in attending live concerts at the Metaverse. Therefore, there is great potential to organize events, concerts, webinars, trade fairs and product launches in the Metaverse by combining the best of face-to-face experiences and online capabilities. Such events can provide:
- 360 degree live streaming to bring events from the physical world to the Metaverse
- Simulated virtual booths that mirror physical layouts
- Cooperation with participants, speakers and organizers
In the manufacturing world, workforce training can be an extremely demanding process with significant risks to people and machines. Traditional methods are not cost effective and have low retention. With simulated equipment and guided support, employees can be trained in virtual environments to encourage greater employee engagement and retention. Virtual training can be delivered four times faster, while simulated training has a 75% retention rate and can achieve cost savings of up to 33%. Benefits include:
- Experience Group Training: Extension of today’s VR applications that only create individual experiences
- Virtual guides with step-by-step instructions
- Interactions with coaches and peers
- Simulations and scenario creation around plant operations and safety response procedures
According to Bloomberg, the Metaverse advertising market could be valued at $53.7 billion by 2024. These ads will be similar to in-game ads, with virtual billboards and sponsored content. VR and mixed reality (MR) headsets offer additional dimensions to understand customer behavior. In-world advertising improves brand awareness, especially among the younger generation. This can include:
- Virtual billboards installed in specific locations to measure visibility
- Sponsorship where brands can sponsor wearables for avatars, environments, events, etc.
- Additional insights into user engagement, such as B. Emotions with eye, face and head tracking
While the metaverse as a technology is still nascent and developing rapidly, early results are promising. For example, NVIDIA’s Omniverse platform gave BMW a 30 percent increase in production planning efficiency. However, there are challenges that need to be resolved for mass adoption, including the maturity of VR and MR headsets, a lack of open standards, privacy concerns, and a lack of mature and robust platforms. When these challenges are addressed, the opportunity is ripe to foster newer and more innovative customer experiences in the metaverse.
Redefine customer loyalty
Especially for business-to-consumer brands looking to tap into the Millennial and Gen Z markets, the Metaverse has the potential to radically redefine customer engagement. The auto industry is on the verge of its own tipping point as electric cars are expected to become the new normal in the next decade, while self-driving cars are not too far away either. This would require automotive companies not only to evolve their product development and manufacturing processes, but also to redesign their sales and customer retention strategies to sell to audiences with different sensibilities.
The Metaverse is certainly a step in the right direction for automotive companies as it allows them to effectively address both of these changes. In manufacturing, for example, they can leverage the multiple benefits of digital twins and VR-enabled training to improve production and operational efficiencies. On the other hand, they can also strengthen their marketing and sales programs by leveraging other components such as immersive virtual platforms, simulation setups and NFTs to create highly personalized brand experiences at scale.
Mallikarjuna Sarvepalli is the Head of Mobility and Extended Reality (XR) Practice for the product development business at Happiest minds. He is responsible for setting and driving strategy, building capability and creating technology offerings. Mallik is a core member of the team driving the Metaverse Charter at Happiest Minds and his focus is on interacting with companies across industries to help them build the right Metaverse-enabled solutions for their clients. Mallik brings over 20 years of information technology experience and his areas of interest include Metaverse, XR, Web 3.0, blockchain and cybersecurity.