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Ed on the metaverse.

Can it bring people closer than ever?

“We need to have a clear vision of what we want our real world to look like to make the most of the opportunities offered by the virtual one.”

Imagine hugging your loved ones virtually during the pandemic. Imagine catching a world-class theatre performance or an intimate gig with your favourite artist right there in your living room. Imagine learning to perform surgery in a helicopter, counsel a bereaved father or fight a fire in a power station, from the safety of your home or office.

This could all be possible in the metaverse, explains Ed Greig, our Chief Disruptor at Deloitte.

Ed first dabbled with the beginnings of the metaverse in 2015, when from the comfort of his desk, he stepped into a villa in Tuscany. In that mini digital getaway, Ed immediately started thinking about the possibilities of VR as part of a bigger entity, where we could take it and how we should approach it.

Ed shares five things to know about the metaverse.

“In the simplest terms, the metaverse is the internet, but in 3D,” says Ed. It’s a form of digital interaction where connected, virtual experiences can either simulate the real world or imagine worlds beyond it.

“Many of the metaverse ingredients are with us now – think interacting with lots of people and content made by them, in persistent, immersive worlds across many devices, including virtual reality. The more these components intertwine, the closer we get to a fuller version of the metaverse. Antonia Forster has pioneered this idea of Metaverse Traits and is definitely worth following."  

The metaverse has generated a lot of buzz. From our experiences of the internet, we know that buzz can go from being a vision held by a few to something that can shape the way we live and work quicker than we could imagine.

Ed believes, like the internet, the metaverse has potential to be a powerful force for good in two ways: “The metaverse is a tool to connect us as humans and with our planet. As a medium for sharing stories and building connections, the metaverse, and the immersive technologies that are moving us towards it, can make a difference,” explains Ed.

“We recently worked with a patient who had suffered a stroke. The physio explained how hard it is to motivate people to exercise after having a stroke. We tried some run-of-the-mill VR exercises with her, but when we got chatting, she mentioned she loved tennis. It was gold! We gave her some VR tennis to play, hoping she’d enjoy the change. She played for 80 minutes! She was thrilled, and it enabled her to reconnect with something she loved. It gave her a good nudge along the road to recovery.”

“To connect with and protect our planet, the metaverse can give us stories and experiences to help us to understand and appreciate people and cultures. Just like when we travel and explore, it will open our eyes and help us build a bigger picture of the world.

“Ideally, of course, everyone could visit the Amazon and experience first-hand the dangers of deforestation. But in reality, that’s not an option – and certainly not great for the planet. Using digital experiences and stories, we level the global playing field and lower the carbon emissions associated with traveling along the way.”


Until now, organisational culture has evolved, largely organically, in single buildings. But with people now working in difference places at different times, companies need a clear vision of how our real world should look to make the most of the virtual one.

In both the real and virtual worlds, we need to be more deliberate, more proactive, to create the culture that chimes with our ethos and vision.

We need to understand the whole working journey to know where it makes sense for the metaverse to fit. We’re seeing elements of the metaverse already being used to tremendous effect in business - especially in terms of collaborating more easily with others as we settle into hybrid working.

“Recently, I left a VR meeting and my avatar bumped into a colleague in a virtual hallway, where we chatted, exactly as we would in real life. That serendipitous bumping into someone you're not scheduled to meet doesn't happen on standard video calls.

“Avatars can feel odd at first, but they create a sense of presence. Rather than jumping straight into a headset, getting people used to having an avatar first is a step towards more natural online interactions, that can help us feel closer when we’re apart…and the tech will only get better.”

“With all this opportunity comes great responsibility. Together, we need to be clear on what good the metaverse can do in connecting people and planet, and put society at the heart of its design right from the beginning” says Ed. How we design it massively affects how we interact with it.

“Good design can improve user experience and control. With more control, users can decide what they see and how they interact,” explains Ed. “The metaverse challenges how we think about spatial design and worlds we couldn’t create before, and should encourage us to be more considerate users, as the human on the other side of the conversation is more obvious than when it's just text and a profile pic.”

Ed’s clear on the importance of keeping our eyes open as we, essentially, design the next phase of the internet.

“We should learn from our mistakes with the internet. We didn’t really have a clear idea of what problems it solved and how best to use it. There was neither enough thought about the potential negatives and their causes, the cyber bullying, harassment, disinformation, scamming, nor enough done to stop or mitigate them. With the metaverse, we have an opportunity to learn from those unintended mistakes and consequences and do better.”

You can bring the metaverse into your day to day already. Here are a few ways you can consider it according to Ed:

1. Start with why. Be clear on the problem you want to solve and how the metaverse could help. Don’t forget to keep your long-term strategy flexible enough to adapt to changes in technology and user preferences.

2. Better in 3D? Think about all stages of the experience you’re trying to create for your customers or employees, whether that’s a meeting, event or a service, and explore how the metaverse could elevate it.

3. Testing, testing. The metaverse is a tool that can elevate the good you’re already doing. But to be sure it does… test lots. Really think about what could go wrong and fix it. Building a responsible metaverse will help people trust it and use it, whether that’s consumers or colleagues.

Keep reading

Enjoyed learning more about the metaverse? Follow Ed for more updates and stay tuned for new releases in this series exploring big tech themes and how to make the most of them - responsibly.

One final tip from Ed: for an in-depth exploration of where the metaverse is heading, Toni Parisi’s seven principles paints a solid picture.