The Metaverse promises to be a disruptor of consumer and social models but at this stage is fraught with business, operational, technology and security challenges. Executives from Check Point, Fortinet, Omnix International, and Shaffra share their insights.
The Metaverse is ushering in an immersive new augmented reality for the online world, and virtual cities are among the first to embrace this new version of the Internet. Retailers have even started offering digital goods that can be purchased in these virtual worlds.
It is a virtual reality where users interact with a computer-generated environment and other users in real-time. VR, AR and XR technologies offer immersive experiences that blend the virtual and physical worlds. Innovations in hardware, such as headsets and haptic feedback devices, are enhancing the presence and interaction within the Metaverse.
“The final gap is bridged with immersive holographic technology,” says Simran Bagga, Vice President of Omnix Engineering and Foundation Technologies, Omnix International.
Simran Bagga, Vice President of Omnix Engineering and Foundation Technologies, Omnix International
The Metaverse provides new avenues for businesses to engage customers, such as immersive advertising and experiential marketing. Companies can create interactive virtual stores or showrooms, offering unique shopping experiences.
“The virtual economies within the Metaverse, backed by blockchain and NFTs, present opportunities for monetising digital assets and services. Businesses can also leverage the Metaverse for internal purposes like virtual collaboration spaces, enhancing remote work and training. Furthermore, data gathered from user interactions in the Metaverse can provide deep insights into consumer behaviour,” says Oded Vanunu, Head of Products Vulnerability Research at Check Point Software Technologies.
According to a McKinsey study, 87% of companies globally are aware that they either already have a skills gap or will have one within a few years. This is particularly true in the Metaverse sector as it is still an emerging field, and the talent pool may be limited. Overcoming these challenges requires a combination of business acumen, investment in upskilling, and knowledge of the Metaverse ecosystem.
The integration of IoT, AI, blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens is gaining traction. These technologies enable ownership and monetisation of virtual assets, holographic avatars, digital collectibles, and in-world economies. They also provide a secure and transparent framework for transactions and provenance.
Oded Vanunu, Head of Products Vulnerability Research at Check Point Software Technologies
Operational and technology challenges
“Metaverse implementation involves integrating various technologies such as VR, AR, blockchain, and AI. Enterprises must have the technical expertise to manage these complex technologies, including hardware, software, and infrastructure requirements. It requires specialised skills or partnerships with technology providers,” says Omnix’s Simran.
User adoption might be slow and creating and maintaining high-quality and engaging content requires dedicated resources and expertise. Enterprises need to invest in content creation tools, 3D modelling, animation, and virtual environment design.
“Monetisation can be a hurdle, as companies need to identify profitable revenue streams and attract a receptive customer base. Continuous innovation is vital to adapt to the ever-changing Metaverse landscape. Overcoming these obstacles and maximising return on investment necessitates strategic planning, cybersecurity precautions, resource allocation, and a customer-centric approach,” says Check Point’s Vanunu.
Regular updates and maintenance are essential to keep the virtual experiences fresh and relevant. Enterprises need to navigate compatibility issues and ensure interoperability and seamless experiences across platforms.
“The Metaverse requires a unique combination of expertise in technology, content creation, user experience design, and other related areas. One aspect of this challenge is the need to educate stakeholders and decision-makers about the potential of the Metaverse,” says Alfred Manasseh, Co-founder and Chief Metaverse Officer, Shaffra.
Many individuals may need to become more familiar with the concept or may have misconceptions about its capabilities, therefore raising awareness and providing clear explanations of the benefits of the Metaverse is essential to overcome scepticism and resistance.
“Developing a Metaverse strategy also demands a skilled workforce with expertise in various technologies,” adds Manasseh.
Enterprises can overcome challenges by planning, partnering with experienced service providers, investing in user education and experience, and continuously evaluating and adapting Metaverse strategies.
Skillset requirements are varied depending on the nature of the Metaverse implementation and the industry or use case. Enterprises should assess their needs, consider hiring or partnering with experts, and foster a multidisciplinary team with a diverse set of skills to create a successful Metaverse implementation.
Understanding business objectives, market dynamics, and industry trends is necessary to align Metaverse initiatives with overall business strategies. Also, skills in strategic planning, market analysis, and identifying growth opportunities are valuable for leveraging the Metaverse to drive business success. An ability to assess ROI, develop business cases, and define KPIs is crucial for measuring the impact of Metaverse implementations.
Security and compliance
Metaverse opens many new doors, but it can also contribute to an unprecedented increase in cybercrime in unchartered territory. “For example, a person’s avatar basically becomes a gateway to that person’s personally identifiable information, and data that can be valuable to cybercriminals,” says Derek Manky, Chief Security Strategist and VP of Global Threat Intelligence at FortiGuard Labs, Fortinet.
Any new digital ecosystem presents an opportunity for cyber threat risk, but there are a few reasons why users should remain careful about this new universe. First, it is a fresh platform, so it is likely to attract a lot of cyber criminals looking to exploit whatever security gaps it could have. And because it is a crossroad for people and technology, it is likely to see a lot of social engineering attacks looking to take advantage of novice users.
It is also a highly interactive environment where individuals not only interact with each other but with objects, some of them complex and each with their own unique procedures and code. Complexity can lead to security risks or flaws. This naturally creates plenty of opportunities for exploitation.
“And in such an environment, where does the security go, and what does it look like? And how does it keep up with a highly scalable environment streaming massive amounts of data with which millions of users interact?” asks Fortinet’s Manky.
“Regardless of work-from-anywhere, learning-from-anywhere, or immersive experiences-from-anywhere, such as in the Metaverse, real-time visibility, protection, and mitigation will be essential, with advanced endpoint detection and response, to enable real-time analysis, protection, and remediation,” recommends Manky.
“Data within the Metaverse must be protected and must be compliant with data protection regulations. Additionally, securing virtual assets, preventing unauthorised access, and safeguarding against virtual fraud and scams are crucial,” says Omnix’s Simran.
Robust security measures are necessary to protect virtual assets and user information from security risks like identity theft and data breaches. Significant investments in infrastructure and training may be required to facilitate a smooth transition to the Metaverse.