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Author's profile photo Tamas Szirtes

SAP in the metaverse

The metaverse is the future of the internet. A new virtual world. A new economy representing a revenue opportunity approaching $800 billion in 2024 according to Bloomberg Intelligence. What is SAP’s role in it?

What is the metaverse?

The metaverse is the network of social virtual 3D worlds where virtual and real get mixed. We create avatars, which look like us, join 3D work meetings, follow courses, we make and sell products and services, e.g. sell our virtual house or buy a new virtual dress for our avatar, jump from one world to another one instantaneously, do some sports, visit musea, play, join parties, visit concerts – the options are unlimited just like in the real world. Commerce in the metaverse is based on crypto currencies and NFTs. These Non-Fungible Tokens provide proof of ownership of our digital assets (which would otherwise be easily duplicated).

Examples of the metaverse

Is metaverse only a concept as of today or something real? It is surely still evolving, but there are concrete examples already. Meta (previously called Facebook) offers the Horizon Worlds, but at the moment this is only available for US or Canadian citizens using Oculus Rift S or Quest 2 headsets, a variant of this is Horizon Workroom, which is for 3D work-related meeting and collaboration. Microsoft will soon integrate Mesh into Teams. If you are interested in arts, check out Spatial, Cryptovoxels, or if you have some spare millions, buy land in Decentraland or in The Sandbox. Go party in the Sensorium Galaxy. Play and create in Fortnite, Minecraft or Roblox.

Tech giants heavily invest in the metaverse

At the moment many metaverses originate from video games, but some of the new ones have a clear business focus. Some tech giants invest heavily in the metaverse such as Meta, Microsoft, Adobe, Tencent, etc. So let’s think, what might be SAP’s role in the metaverse?

SAP in the metaverse

I can imagine multiple ways SAP could benefit from the metaverse. Here are some ideas.

  • User Experience
    This is the most obvious one. At the moment we mostly use all kinds of screens to interact with SAP software and this is why SAP offers Fiori, Portals and mobile apps. In the metaverse instead of SAP Mobile Start, we would need “SAP VR Start”. SAP Conversational AI could play a key role. It can already be integrated into MS Teams, so when Mesh gets into Teams, SAP Conversational AI could be a key access point for business data in the metaverse.
  • Experience Management
    It would be logical to integrate Qualtrics into the metaverse, because this is where a growing proportion of business is going to take place.
  • Human Capital Management
    The metaverse will be the ideal place to do recruitment, because of the richer interview experience. Of course, this should be enabled by SAP SuccessFactors. Learning? There will be no better place for learning than in the metaverse thanks to the 3D format. Basically, employee engagement as a whole will get redefined, hopefully enabled by SuccessFactors.
  • Commerce
    The metaverse economy is based on blockchain, crypto currencies and NFTs. If SAP would like to enable companies in the metaverse, SAP Commerce Cloud will need to be able to support crypto and NFTs.
  • Developer advocacy
    High on SAP’s priority list is to attract new talents, among them developers. SAP could buy some land, built its presence and let the world get to know SAP intelligent technologies in the metaverse too.
  • Demos
    We all know how important it is to give good demos for prospects which are considering which software fits their business the best. SAP built a whole network of Experience Centers globally to bring the SAP messages in the best way. Why not do the same in the metaverse? This could bring the Experience Center concept to a full global reach.
  • Design Thinking
    Collaboration is key to design thinking. This is why SAP built the SAP AppHaus network of customer-facing co-innovation spaces. This is the sweet spot of the metaverse. SAP could scale the AppHaus approach to new levels.

Timing

In my humble opinion, the question is not if some of these things (and many other) will happen, but when they will happen. Consequently, the big challenge is the decide on the timing when it makes sense to invest. Just based on the known announcements, we will see bold moves, among others, from Meta and Microsoft already in 2022. Of course, for SAP, as an enterprise software vendor, being a pioneer in the metaverse might not be the first priority. Too early is not good, but too late is not good either. The question remains: What will SAP do?

 

Disclaimer: I don’t work for SAP and I have no insider information about this topic. All what is stated in this blog is pure personal speculation.

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      Author's profile photo DJ Adams
      DJ Adams

      Nice post, and (to your remark at the end) - I enjoy "pure [...] speculation", it's pleasant to think about and discuss. Personally I'm not sure the metaverse is the future of the Internet - I think it will be one (or more) layers that are woven in and out but it's not what the Internet will become, anymore than NFTs being what art will become.

      We have of course seen early examples of virtual worlds and how they mesh with SAP and other systems before. I'm sure some of us will remember Second Life, and the experiments we made in there connecting SAP systems and more to objects in that space. I seem to remember Craig Cmehil connecting conference aspects to the system too.

      While of course technology has improved since then, I'm not sure we're anywhere near the OASIS yet, and I for one am glad about that 🙂

      I do like the ideas you list above - I think we're still in the early stages of "art of the possible" here, and these are all interesting candidates.

      But "early stages" is, at least to me, an important qualifier. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been worked on, discussed, debated, and advanced over the many decades since it was first mooted. I remember well buying and reading Patrick Henry Winston's book on the subject in the late 1970's, and also learning about the work at MIT's AI Labs, that started back in the 1950's with the great John McCarthy (father of LISP).

      Some great things take a while to bear fruit, AI is one. Perhaps the metaverse is another.

      Just my opinion of course.

      *I had John McCarthy on the title slide of a talk I gave at UI5con in Eindhoven in 2016 🙂

      Author's profile photo Craig Cmehil
      Craig Cmehil

      A lot of fun times, some ideas come around again and again. I'm playing with a Minecraft idea right now 😉

      Author's profile photo T. Szirtes
      T. Szirtes

      hmmm. can't wait to see sneak preview one day!

      Author's profile photo T. Szirtes
      T. Szirtes

      Hi DJ,

      Thx for bringing great examples, indeed the SAP community had already some cool experiments with AR/VR technology, even early examples of the metaverse.

      You are saying that it will take a while to bear fruit. Of course I agree, some people talk about 8 to 10 years. On the other hand, we will see evolution on the way and many things will be possible sooner. For example an Experience Center would be possible already today IMHO. I think Design Thinking could become reality in 1-2 years.

      Hopefully we are not heading towards the OASIS, but I would enjoy a bit of virtual interaction in this social distancing covid world.

      Author's profile photo Renan Correa
      Renan Correa

      Hi,

      Metaverse can be really big in future, for now I still see it more as a curiosity. I always remember the Google Glass example, it was a big hype and in the end just flopped and became a small niche thing.

      We're still in hype phase of the metaverse topic, so I still expect to see more applications with real use cases in 3 to 10 years (in case it really grows). I saw some metaverse options that look like SNES RPG games from 90's.

      I can't foresee (right now) how these would integrate with an S/4HANA or C/4HANA or e-Commerce system, I just hope it will be all though BTP applications/extensions.

      I really don't expect to see a sales orders for NFT's in VA01. ;D

      Renan

      Author's profile photo Tamas Szirtes
      Tamas Szirtes
      Blog Post Author

      Indeed S/4HANA or CRM integrations are not the shortest term opportunities, so I agree it won't start with NFT's in VA01 😉  Still, i love your phrase "NFT's in VA01".

      Author's profile photo Tamas Szirtes
      Tamas Szirtes
      Blog Post Author

      Wow, just noticed this:

      https://news.sap.com/2022/01/the-take-metaverse-could-alter-business/

      This news was published before my blog post, but I just noticed it!

      Author's profile photo Craig Cmehil
      Craig Cmehil

      Not sure if everyone saw but there is a discussion going on related to this as well, over in the Coffee Corner.

      Author's profile photo Andreas Spahn
      Andreas Spahn

      Hi Community 🙂

      many thanks for sharing your ideas 🙂 Great to see that the community is already discussing the topic. Check out what we have here for you:

      Business in the Metaverse: Overhyped yet Underestimated?

      Its a few thoughts we pulled together with our Innovation Center Network experts. And I can tell you that we are already working on quite interesting cases with a few companies and partners. 😉

      Reach out in case of questions.

      Best

       

       

      Author's profile photo T. Szirtes
      T. Szirtes

      Hi Andreas, your link doesn't work for me. Could you please check it? Thx Tamas