Exploring the Metaverse (CompTIA Volley)
Unknown: Hey everybody, welcome to the latest edition of volley. I'm Carolyn April. And as always, I'm here with my buddy Seth Robinson, Seth. Happy New Year. Good to see you for the first time in 2020. Welcome to volley in the first episode of 2022, which is good also. So yeah, so we survived 2021 We both survived the holiday break, which, you know, I think for both of us, there was a little bit of survival going on during the break, but it's good to see you and your your well, you're healthy. Yep.
Everybody is still head above water here and doing okay. Made it to the holidays, saw some family was pretty pretty mellow. Nothing, nothing crazy. But yes, everybody's healthy, which is, was that's a win for me. I'm excited about that. You guys as well. Yeah, doing well. You know, we didn't get out too much. But you
know, we went out a couple times. And you know, every time we came back, I felt like I would sit around for two days waiting for symptoms to start, but you know, not nothing so far. So so that's pretty good. You know, we had, we had a lot of moving parts, which you know, more than I wanted, but we got through it. And now here we are, again. Here we are back to back back to volley. Back. You know, so what
are we talking about today? The Metaverse Metaverse, we twisted my arm to have a discussion about this. So you know, we're almost a little late on it. I feel like we talked about this. You and I talked about this a little bit last year, and I may have popped up in a couple of other, you know, volleys or kind of watches that we were doing, but we released the outlook. And at the time that we started writing now we'll look back in whatever September you know, as we're as we're preparing for a November release, Metaverse had been talked about, but I don't think it was really in the spotlight. And then right around the time we released the report, Facebook did their name change, there was the big presentation and all of a sudden it felt like everyone was talking about the metaverse.
So here we are, you know, releasing this report with trends for 2022. And we don't talk about meta versus single time. In a way, I feel a little better being a little late on it, I feel like there's been a little bit of time to digest things. And, and hopefully, you know, come with with a little bit of a, a good viewpoint on it rather than just, you know, a knee jerk reaction or, or even anything that we would have written in September, I think would have been so early that we probably would have missed, you know, a lot of it anyway. So so it's it's nice to be talking about it now. Yeah, no,
I've done my research. And and, and I think that, despite it not being in this year's outlook, I think our outlook has always been sort of practical application of our predictions, if you know what I mean, things that are in the not just in the present, but in the immediate future, as opposed to happening right this second now, widespread all over the industry. So I think we're okay, in that regard. Um, but I do think there's some there there to this, obviously. And it's fun to talk about hype, and it's also fun to take a look at what might be for our audience down the road. So I'm gonna let you dive into it a little bit. And then I'll, I'll let you know my
thoughts. Yeah, I think I think you're right that like, even if we had put it in Outlook, I don't think we would have talked about it as a thing that anyone would really be doing very much with this year. I think it's gonna get talked about a lot. But in terms of most of our audience, whether it's IP professionals or channel firms, that they're probably not going to have a whole lot of practical revenue generating opportunity in this year. So so to really take a 10,000 foot view on it to begin with, and try to define, you know, what is the metaverse? I think that the best definition of the metaverse is simply it's our online life.
And if that's the definition, I think that we would say that a lot of us have been living in the metaverse for quite a while now. And the example that I like to use is where do you do your banking? You know, do you go to a physical branch? Or do you do the vast majority of your banking online or on an AP, so an activity that used to be almost 100%? Physical, right, you didn't have to go to a branch to get some cash or to do anything to deposit money. All that now is done online. And I don't think any of us view that as really living in a different world. But all of that activity that used to be in the physical world is now in an online world. And, you know, to really get
philosophical about it or whatever, you know, some of the people that talk about you know, Metaverse will say, you know, what is the real world anymore? And I don't really want to go too far down that rabbit trail, but I think that that's interesting, you know, to your point of saying there is kind of a there there. Where is most of our activity where is most of our life and I think that the center gravity has shifted, I think for a significant number of people from the physical world into an online existence, especially with so many people doing remote work during the pandemic. And I think that that remote work and the world of work is what's driven the particular conversation around Metaverse that really caught fire at the end of 2021. And that was around virtual reality.
And especially, you know, Facebook now known as meta, you know, their vision of what the metaverse was. And you can look at a couple other companies that maybe have dabbled in this maybe not quite to the extent as Facebook, I think Microsoft is one I know with with their whole lens and with a few other things that that's looked at this and, and so I think it's become a really interesting topic. And I've got a blog post that's going up on the CompTIA blog post today that dives into this a little bit because I was reading up on it. And one of my favorite analysts on the lid is Ben Thompson. And he was writing about Metaverse, and he had interviewed Zuckerberg and he actually shifted his viewpoint from the topics of virtual reality and augmented reality, even separating those away from Metaverse, he used to believe quite a bit more in augmented reality. And now he's saying that he thinks there's a lot of
potential in virtual reality, and he believes it's going to be driven by work, he's done a lot of demos with these people. And in his mind, you know, he's kind of saying, if if you are working in an online world, if the technology is there, which maybe it's not quite there yet, but if you imagine some advances in technology, and the technology becomes there, wouldn't it be better to become immersed in that world, and, and if you can bring all of your work into that world, then you can seamlessly move between whatever you're doing individually, and then a meeting with people, whether that's an impromptu meeting, or a scheduled meeting, or whatever. And so he really sees the virtual reality part of this being driven by companies, much in the same way, PCs were driven by companies. So you know, a lot of people in the early 80s had no need for bringing a computer into their home, then companies started distributing them as a productivity tool. And then people bought into them. So I think that's kind of a quick setting of the stage and a description of Ben's argument. So I'll toss it over to you before before we get into sort of my reaction to Ben's argument.
All right. Well, as you know, I'm a bit of a skeptic. But that doesn't mean that I'm right, it just means I, I tend to view things through the lens of the way I operate first, like so that the way that I would work. And that necessarily, that is not necessarily the way that other people would work. So coming from that skepticism side of things, I struggled to try to find what the benefits might be in the just in the day to day work environment where you're sitting there clickety clicking on your keyboard, and that's sort of that use of virtual reality where you would have a headset on. And I you know, to
me walking down the hallway to a meeting versus being able to click to be in an avatar meeting, I don't see what the big benefit of the Avatar meeting is. Did you save what two minutes walking down the hallway? If you work in an office, did you you'll have to explain to me what the benefit is there? Because I'm not really sure I get it. But I do see the there are people and there are there are certain jobs, for instance, that would work in this environment. And I think that there are certain types of people that for whom this is a way that they would find themselves to be more productive, potentially, they will be more creative, potentially. I don't know. And until I see really business use
cases on mass among an office, I don't I remain skeptical is all and that's because I don't think I don't it's a kind of a thing is everyone has to do it. Or nobody has to do it. And I'd love to know your viewpoint on that within an organization. But can some people be a virtual reality people and the rest want to operate in a regular way? What sort of flexibility will an organization have among its employees? And how they choose to engage at a professional level during the day? Yeah, so um, so I'll give a little bit of a spoiler here. I ended up being a little bit of a skeptic too. But if I'm playing devil's
advocate to some of the questions that you brought up, you know, especially around what is the benefit? I think that the way the argument goes is if you and everyone else are in this virtual environment, so to answer another one, your questions kind of everyone has to be on the platform. So So if you imagine a world where you and everyone else are in this environment, and when you go to work, you enter this virtual environment, and so you're doing your work in the virtual environment, which I've tested out. And I'm kind of able to do today, again, I think there needs to be a little bit of technical advancement. But let's assume that that comes, and
you're in this world, you're doing your work. And now instead of kind of disconnecting from what you're doing, and entering into a Zoom Room, to do a meeting, you're already in the environment and like, you can just kind of click and everyone goes into the the environment together the meeting, you're already there, it's more seamless. And so I think that's the argument. And when I was reading through that argument, again, my mind was kind of going to Well, I think there are some technical limitations here. And I think wearing a headset is, you know, a little bit clumsy, but I, I'm willing to maybe put those reservations on hold, because I think there have been a lot of other things that have happened, you know, if you would have told us that we were all going to carry around, you know, a small rectangle of silicone and glass with us 100% of the time, you know, I think maybe 20 years ago, people would have said, I'm not doing that. And now, you know, we all are. So
some I'm willing to maybe look past some of those things. But again, I think that's the argument is that everyone's in this environment, it's much more seamless. And and it doesn't feel as clunky. And and there's a little bit more efficiency, to
that type of meeting versus like just a video meeting where you're only, you know, staring at someone's face or whatever, you can use whiteboards, and there's more functionality there. Okay, the issue that I ended up having with it was that that argument is saying, here's a way that you can be more immersed in the world of work. And everything that I'm seeing is people wanting to actually be less immersed in their work. So
this entire movement to remote work, isn't because people just don't want to be in the physical office space, it's because they find value in being able to hop up and go do a load of laundry, or be able to respond to their kid, or be able to take a call while they're driving somewhere, especially if they don't have to talk, you know, too much. And so I think people are using a lot of flexibility. And all of those examples that I just mentioned, are not really things that you can do with a headset on. And so I think behaviorally, people are moving towards more immersion when it comes to work. Now, when it comes to other things, like the gaming industry, or some of the examples that you've mentioned, I think there are going to be plenty of use cases where more immersion for a training scenario or for, you know, an individual scenario of somebody trying to assist someone through, you know, some steps in an operation or something like that, I think that more immersion is going to be a positive thing. But for the general public, I struggle a little bit, I just feel like behaviorally, the movement is towards less immersion. And so if that's the movement, I
actually think that augmented reality holds a little bit more promise to it, I've always felt like augmented reality holds more promise in general, and especially when it comes to an immersion or work. And so the examples that I used in the blog post, I don't know if you're familiar with either of these, you know, movies or books or whatever. But the world that Ben is describing is basically Ready Player One, you put on a headset, you strap into some kind of gear and you're in a virtual world. The word that I'm kind of imagining is, you've seen it in Avengers, you've probably seen it in a couple other movies where you're basically doing like hologram meetings, right? So I'm sitting in my physical environment, and I could bring up like a hologram of you. And so I don't have to strap on anything. But it does give me a little bit more of a feeling of presence than just a video call would where am I showing up there? Like on your screen? Or am I showing up as a hologram, like in your, in your office in my office? So? So there's there's a bit of a leap there, right? Because for for you to be able to do that. Um,
yeah, I'm like, What are setup? Do we need to set up and I will need a projector setup. Right? Yeah. And that's sort of what leads me. So again, virtual reality, augmented reality, you know where this all goes? I'm not sure if anyone really knows there's definitely a lot of arguments out there. You know, we've just been through some of them. But either way it goes if either one of them catches on, we're actually talking about quite a bit of hardware. Right. And so to
my head, I'm trying to think of some upsides here and new hardware would be one, at least from the from the perspective of the sellers of hardware. I guess if you are a IT department, it becomes a an expense. If you're going to have to outfit all of your employees whether you go with the VR solution or The AR solution, they both involve some sort of technology upgrades on the hardware side. I'll, I'll speak for the channel, though I mean that that's a good thing. So if you're looking for a market to get into, and you really think this Metaverse market is going to take off, you know, we've been talking about how hardware the death knell of hardware for quite some time now, and this could be a little bit of a rebirth in a new area. For those who are still selling hardware today. It gives them
another another line item for their portfolio. Yeah, yeah, I again, I think if we're gonna try to get practical about it. If either one of these catch on, we are talking about quite a bit of hardware, I think that the the tipping point that we'll have to cross is, does an investment in hardware actually change the experience? I think today, almost everyone would say and doing the Zoom is a little suboptimal, right. It's not
exactly the best thing. But I think that people do learn to accept things. So right now, no one ever uses landlines, even though landlines would continue to be the better quality solution, right in terms of like voice quality, or reliability of the service or whatever it is. But everyone's like, you know, what, I'm going to keep going with like cell phone, or internet VoIP, you know, or whatever it is, because there's so much more flexibility that I'll look past, you know, the, the technical issues. So does the same thing happen with video, even if there are solutions out there, where it's like, hey, you know, this virtual reality system or augmented reality system provides a better experience than video? Is it so much better of an experience that you're willing to drop money? I think that's, that's the question. But
if, if the answer is yes, then there is going to be this huge hardware opportunity out there, you know, selling, installing, supporting for both IT professionals and the channel. The other thing that I think we haven't raised about, you know, sort of acceptance of this as the way that we do work is it's generational, in a way. And if VR and AR become sort of the de facto way that young people could think about their professional lives and how they would do work as they become and they are becoming the larger group and demographic within the workforce. And then, you know, folks, like myself and older start to age out, then it may be, you know, then the skeptics like myself, it disappear, it may just become something that you're used to the way that you get issued the laptop, like you discussed, or the way we carry these around, or whatever. It's just the way that work is set up now. And that's, I think, still a little ways out. But I think like you said, this could just
become another new paradigm that that becomes acceptable and thought of is something that we always did at some point. But right now, yeah, and and I think that even raises a few questions like along the lines that we've discussed here. So like, the younger generation, are they more open to a different technology paradigm? Possibly, but they are they also more open to needing less presence, right? So like, when I say that, there's no one that's happy with video calls, I might be mostly describing older generations, right, that are like this, this doesn't feel like an in person meeting. If we talk to younger generations, they might be like, yeah, video calls, or the way I do things, that they're fine. I don't need any improvement on video calls. And so, so yeah, they could be more open to a new experience, but they also might be less likely to feel like there's a need to improve the current experience. Yeah, I think what it's gonna come when it's gonna end up being is sort of a cultural challenge for organizations is what it's going to come down to, like you said, if we go the VR route, or even AR, it's going to require everybody's participation for the most part. And that means that that that
come that becomes an HR sort of a top down issue for organizations that say, this is the way we are going to operate within this particular company. And then it becomes a cultural challenge. I mean, you're on our culture committee, I could see this being something that people talk about, look at the way people are reacting to mask mandates and having to wear masks and just trying to get people to be, you know, to deal with that small physical thing, which to some people, it's a big deal. I mean, we had a protest here in my little town just this morning about schools and masking. So try telling every employee that everyday when they walk into the office before they get their coffee, they're gonna strap on this thing to their head. And that's where they're expected to stay for the rest of the day. I think that's going to be a challenge. I do. And I
think so too. Right. And I mean, we still wrestle with, with that same type of thing on video calls, or I should say, Zoom calls, like we still wrestle with if you're doing a zoom call. Are you using video or not? What you know, what is our kind of corporate policy on that? And, you know, again, like you said, I've been involved in a lot of these discussions, and I don't think that you want to mandate too much of that and we kind of haven't we've We've tried to let it be up to like the meeting organizer. And like, you know, the meeting organizer should make it clear, hey, we're doing video for this or videos optional, or we're not doing video. And it feels like, it's
going to be difficult to have that type of flexibility. If, if you want this thing to get adopted this thing being, you know, VR or the metaverse, it's going to be a little difficult to say, you know, headsets optional for this meeting. It's like, either, we're there or not. And so I think it's going
to be an interesting thing to watch. You and I are clearly both a little skeptical of it, and we may I end up getting proven wrong, but um, I will be interested to kind of see how some of the experiments you know, inside of CompTIA, go, and then how everyone else is reacting to it. Yeah, I mean, I really think and then we can put an end cap on this.
But I really think initially, this is going to be something that's going to find a home in vertical application. I mean, that Yeah, I think that that'll be the first testing ground, you know, from a, from a business standpoint, use cases in and it's already happening, you know, in training, as you mentioned earlier, but and then, then we'll see whether that expands into, you know, the day to day knowledge worker who's just sitting at a desk who normally would type, you know, I have a million questions about the practicality of how you look at your phone, when you have a headset on and how you type all of that. But like you said, those technical things will probably get ironed out. But I think it's going to be more about a behavioral cultural type of thing. That's going to be the
bigger challenge for for organizations that really want to go full full ahead with this type of, of way to work and having the right employees, they're going to be into it or not. Yeah, yeah. So. So as we wrap up here, I actually want to circle back to the beginning of the conversation about what Metaverse is. And if it's this online way of living? Are there applications beyond just this virtual reality headset stuff that we've been focused on for the past few months? I think there are I think they're, they're beginning to be some really interesting questions. To me. The most obvious one is identity that if we're all living more and more in a virtual world, you know, can we have unique user IDs and passwords for every part of the virtual world that we're going to I think that's already a little unsustainable. And yeah, I think there's a lot of movement towards towards making it be what we have in the physical world. So like in the
physical world, if you've got, you know, your driver's license, or birth certificate like these things are recognized by a wide variety of institutions, you don't have to have an ID card from every institution that you might interact with. And so, as we're thinking about how do we live in the physical world, and what might the parallels be in an online world, I think identity is one of the most obvious ones to pop out. And it's something that hasn't really been solved yet. And so I think we see a lot of people thinking that they might be able to solve that with new technology like crypto. And
maybe we'll end up talking about crypto and things a little bit down the road. But I do think that identity is one of the biggest things that that companies are going to start exploring in the metaverse and it's another place for you know, channel firms where IT pros to keep an eye on that, you know, as this identity stuff starts to take shape, you know, how might they participate in that? How might they plug into that? Yep. And I would add security as well be part of that. So yeah, well, we have installed password issues for like, you know, older online situations. So it's certainly going to be years worth of tinkering to figure that one out, I think for the metaverse as well. So yeah, yeah, it's gonna be I think the whole thing is going to be an interesting thing to watch throughout the year. And
like we said, at the beginning, I don't know how much practical application there's going to be outside of, you know, companies experimenting with headsets like we're doing right now. But we'll see where we are at the end of the year. And if you know, stuff starts popping throughout the year, I'm sure we'll talk about it again here. Yep. We're gonna start traveling with headsets. Do we need cases
for those? There'll be a whole like cottage industry setup for all this. You know, honestly, I probably wouldn't mind slapping a headset on a plane. You'll have a mask too. You'll be in full, you know, face coverage. No one will talk to me just the way Yeah, yeah, we're moving toward full anonymity, I think is what's happening here. Anyway, I love this topic, though. It's
good to talk about skeptical as I may be. Yeah. Yeah. Well, again, it's good to see you glad you're doing well. And thanks as always to our producer Andrew McMillan. I know this is her first day back for the year, so she jumped right in with us. So thanks for that. Andrea Jerome. I will talk
to you next time. Sounds good. Bye bye.