Despite being the buzziest word on the web these days, a lot of questions still surround the metaverse. How do we make sense of it? What is its future going to look like? Is it even worth our time and effort?
In an intimate fireside chat entitled “When Worlds Collide: Industries in the Metaverse,” TaskUs’ Director for Social Media Jackie Lineberger got together with Risk + Response Director Joe McNamara, and Trust + Safety Senior Director Siva Raghava, to uncover what this enigmatic world holds.
If there’s one thing we all know about the metaverse, it’s going to be immense, says Lineberger, who moderated the online discussion. In fact, Bloomberg Intelligence calculates it to be a nearly $800 billion market opportunity.1
She went on to share that tech giants like Microsoft and Meta are already bringing the metaverse to a whole new level in terms of realism, immersion, and engagement. “They’re engineering a digital space that mimics and improves reality,” she said. The trends that are currently shaping the virtual world reflect that; you’ll see different industries like music and fashion take part in the forms of virtual concerts, NFT merchandise, and virtual garments.2 With gaming, various “play-to-earn” and blockchain games recruit new users and get them to buy into the system.
The question is: What drives all this growth? “The growth of the metaverse is largely dependent on AI and heavily driven by it,” Lineberger explained. “Datasets don’t just build themselves. Original metadata comes from human taggers tagging every data points on your hand, or wherever it is, you need tracking on the metaverse… and this work is hugely complemented by our new platform called the TaskVerse where we crowdsource people to do this work. Details and personal touches in a highly digital world are going to be crucial, and this tagging work in itself will create tons of jobs.”
She also addressed a common question about the metaverse: Is it going to be a whole new social media channel or just an extension of what already exists today? “I personally think of it as more of an extension of what we already have, but there’s more opportunities for immersion,” she said. “Studies are saying that 25% of users3 will spend at least 1 hour a day in the metaverse for work, education, social interaction, or entertainment. It will provide new opportunities for brands and influencers to engage and interact with their audiences, it can be used as a customer support channel, you could have a VR storefront and a salesperson as an avatar—there are tons of opportunities in this space.”
As exciting as it is, delving into the metaverse is like opening Pandora’s Box—once you get in, you’re exposing yourself to harassment, privacy concerns, and security issues. Siva Raghava, TaskUs’ Senior Director for Trust + Safety, touched on this important topic. “[The Metaverse] opens up new opportunities for misconduct and crimes, too. We see growing threats emerging already,” he shared. Among the issues he noted were:
“There are more out there, so how do we keep the metaverse free from abusers?” Building on this further, Raghava gave the audience a question to think about: How do companies and platforms find ways to incentivize better behaviors and reward positive interactions? “At TaskUs, we have a clear trust and safety vision: to keep communities and platforms safe, including our people. We believe creating standards and ground rules for companies to adopt and enforce is very key in the metaverse.”
With all these risks, however, there’s no denying that companies still want to compete in the metaverse space. One of the key points Lineberger highlighted in the discussion was the convergence of verticals.
Where there is retail, there is social. Where there is social and gaming, there is retail. Major entertainment brands are adding gaming into their offerings. It’s not just the Metas of the world that are already in this space. Everyone is already here to play.
Given that many companies seem to be all-in and ready to dive into the virtual world, the big question remains: What do they need to address in order to overcome some of its different obstacles? TaskUs Risk + Response Director, Joe McNamara, broke this down in detail:
To be the best platform, Joe emphasized that companies will have to do everything in their power to know who their users are (KYC) in order to serve them best. “What kind of characteristics, actions, or variables can we put together within a profile to better understand our typical users? How do we build insights around predictive models to allow us to better mitigate the risks of nefarious actors? It’s extremely important for any organization or business that’s looking to make this jump to fully vet and understand who their end users are going to be,” he explained.
Mcnamara also stressed that we’ll be seeing a lot of familiar threats as we try to look for them in the metaverse. “A lot of the same issues or challenges that we see in [web] 2.0 are going to be existent in 3.0, with an added flair—and that flair is really a big dose of the unknown,” he said. He advised against brands taking the jump too fast, as this could lead to a half-baked strategy that comes short of addressing risks and security issues.
In order to be successful here, you have to be dynamic and react fast,” he added. “It really starts with doing an honest and deep self-evaluation of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Being able to identify where to focus your efforts in fortifying those vulnerabilities will serve you much further into the future, especially as you’re looking into 3.0.
One of the highlights of the event came from an audience query. A viewer asked: What is TaskUs currently doing to help its clients transition and mitigate risk within the metaverse? In terms of mitigating risk, Mcnamara detailed that the main areas TaskUs are looking at as an organization consist of three things:
“Working hand-in-hand with our partners to ensure that those vulnerabilities are limited, that we’re looking at ways to better harden things like InfoSec as well as personal information, and just ensuring that we have the best finger on the pulse that we possibly can for end users and knowing those customers the best that we can to better anticipate needs and threats.”
“With the immense, new opportunity that’s positioned within the metaverse, the number one thing is you can’t go in alone. Being able to understand some of the steps that your competitors and contemporaries are taking in the space and their outcomes can better direct the types of decisions and models that you’re going to produce in order to keep your organization safe and insulated from risk.”
“If you jump into this too quickly and you don’t have your plans set, you’re going to end up with one foot in the 2.0 world and another in the 3.0 world. Making sure that you have a solid strategy well before you hit that button and make that jump will pay multiple dividends down the road.”
In response, Raghava highlighted his own three areas, as well:
“We are keeping a close watch on the market—what’s trending, what’s advancing in this space, what are some of the market insights that are coming from this space. How is the market moving? What’s the billion-dollar-size opportunity that’s emerging in this space? Who are emerging in this space? We spend a big chunk of our time understanding this ecosystem.”
“Considering our people-first culture, we want to ensure that the skillset is actually necessary for metaverse moderation. We are keeping ourselves ready and identifying those skills, pool, markets, and cultural nuances needed in the space is critical.”
There would be a lot of partnerships and a connected ecosystem that would eventually build up in the space and we totally understand that this is going to be a collaborative effort. What we are trying to do is look around who are the potential players and partners that can help us detect these threats faster and correctly, and enable platforms to succeed and thrive in the metaverse.
There are endless opportunities and unlimited potential waiting to be uncovered in the metaverse. You don’t have to go into it alone. You’ll need a partner with the expertise and experience to guide you. To find success and thrive in this virtual world, you’ll need:
TaskUs is that partner.