With its immersive experiences and growth opportunities, VR has become an empowering tool and a controversial topic,

As industries navigate into an intelligent era, let us look at how can we integrate and take advantage of these virtual frameworks.

I. Innovation is a process, not an idea.

In the history of economic evolution, an invention is of no economic significance until it is brought into use. An iPod would have been a curiosity if Apple have not innovated the business models of the music industry and entertainment. Entrepreneurs and business leaders are responsible for translating inventions into innovation, leveraging market & technology. Looking at the timeline of market innovation, we can appreciate that globalization didn’t happen seemingly overnight: desktop computers in the ’90s, the web in 2000, mobile tech in 2010. Around that time, my business partner Ariel and I were showcasing AR products using Unity made with QR’s on the new iPad in local marketing expos. We were on the right path, but ahead of our time. For many, VR is just a trend, but looking past the sci-fi flashy interfaces portrayed in movies, the Metaverse is here to stay. The speed, scale, and impact of machine learning and virtual frameworks in our lives are beyond measure.

With the pandemic as a catalyst, remote work took place, we skipped stores, supermarkets, restaurants and movie theaters, favoring delivery, streaming & online shopping. Later, basically, every meeting, conference, school, and church services moved virtually.  Even my mom with 78 yo. understand the meaning of ‘avatar’ and ‘memoji’. From entertainment to retail, fashion shows, fandom events, company town halls, training sessions, shareholder meetings, and political referendums. VR moved past gaming to education, sports, health, finance, and politicsYes, I said politics.

Google Project Iris is a new AR/VR headset powered by the cloud.
This is my actual 3D ViewMaster viewer, circa 1981.

II.Machine Learning is not just for games & furniture mapping.

Simply explained, machine learning is the ability for a system to learn and improve from experience, without being explicitly programmed -and is one of the subset technologies that make up “Artificial Intelligence”.

The reason that machine learning has exploded in the last years is due to major improvements in GPU processing speed and the monumental amount of data that is available for machine learning and deep learning algorithms to feed on.

Machine learning, therefore, is redefining the way FinTech products are conceived and built, and companies are turning to AI-driven applications and VR/AR to help them make complex decisions and map and visualize unimaginable amounts of data. In 2018, the VR market was worth about US$7.9bn. In only 2 years from today, that figure will amp to $44.7bn. As for the financial services sector, the numbers are even bigger: 26,5 trillion dollars -larger than the US GDP, and twice as large as the Chinese economy- but these numbers don’t reflect the levels of efficiency and user engagement. The many inefficiencies in this sector make big banks, insurance companies, and private equity firms lose billions of dollars every year due to technology weak points and bureaucratic loopholes.

Fintech startups snatch the opportunity and armed with ambition, exploration and a user-centered approach were able to improve, revive and redefine ancient narratives and carve a place in a stale industry. Alipay eliminated cash transactions in China from Shanghai to Sichuan, just armed with a phone and a QR. And Stripe product simplicity is now become one of the largest payment processors in the US, gearing up for a major international expansion, even the native ATL startup Kabbage introduced an AI-based lending platform.

VR is not only for gaming or mapping furniture inside buildings, but can also see the internal organs of critical patients where seconds are a matter of life. ML and AI-based applications are the key to better decisions, smarter experiences, and successful outcomes.

III. Embrace Lab Culture, Exploration & Creative Research

Technological foundations are still evolving, no agreed standards across the multiple meta-verses have been set. Companies might be reluctant to invest in infrastructure, tools, and talent. As the path for virtual framework unfolds and VR tech is becoming mass-produced, we have to be ready. Artificial intelligence will drive massive value creation, and Users are demanding operational efficiency and cutting-edge technologies that can implement real-time features and solutions. Institutions and companies need to embrace Lab Culture, exploration & creative research. It’s key to collaborate with outside partners that can offer new perspectives and values, and integrate them across journeys, platforms, and experiences. Supporting developers and artists is also essential, so they can create state-of-the-art tools and interfaces to empower the ecosystem.

Most of the required technologies to create this ecosystem exist, and some are still work-in-progress. But this virtual place named ‘metaverse’ is already alive. Companies are still far from developing their own meta-verses, but heavily investing and partnering through experimentation, creativity, and understanding. Just like any other technology, discovery, or market, services will evolve to build out the content, the market, and the availability. The industry is catching, but some institutions struggle to deliver engaging banking solutions and omnichannel brand communication -more often focusing on the product and not the users- But consider VR framework as an opportunity to get ahead of the competition, increase efficiency in certain operations and enhancing the overall user experience.

The virtual marketplace is an organic extension for financial technology, the time and cost savings, plus benefits, are ideal for users and institutions. Users can enjoy premium service with AI assistance, discover ways to improve portfolio, take advantage of customized financial opportunities, and have real-time access to all the services the traditional bank can offer. And we haven’t talked about NFTs and blockchain-based currencies -two major components of the metaverse revolution. ReedPOP recently unveiled “Metaverse Memberships” programs that offer benefits in both physical and digital throughout their Comic-Con events. I worked with Airline loyalty programs in the past, and this could be the next evolution in a billion-dollar industry.

The virtual framework will drive economic opportunities. For companies, to make accurate and faster decisions, supporting business and partners throughout their digital transformation journey. For users, the same, enabling better experiences and shaping unique narratives and relationships. A place filled with all the opportunities you can imagine, with a single interface that adapts to each user in real-time, regardless of the hardware, language, and location, creating their own path and focusing on discovery. A truly immersive user-centered experience. For us, it’s time to be creative, collaborative & strategic, inspiring clients, and audiences to create value and manifest the change that matters.