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Virtual Worlds Collide at The Economist's Metaverse Summit

Like it or loathe it, virtual reality is here to stay. Goldman Sachs has dubbed the metaverse an $8 trillion opportunity, while Citibank claimed it could be a $13 trillion total addressable market by 2030.

However, since Facebook's major rebrand and push into this space, metaverse hype has died down considerably. Despite this, behind the scenes numerous companies and innovators have been working on impressive VR, AR and MR applications. Exploring the viability of these emerging technologies for business leaders was the mission of the Economist's 2nd Annual Metaverse Summit, held in Los Angeles.

The event convened over 700 developers, entrepreneurs and enterprises shaping the metaverse. Following the success of last year's inaugural hybrid event, the Economist returned with an energising in-person program charting a course through largely uncharted virtual territory.

"This summit captured a pivotal moment in the metaverse's emergence," said Helen Ponsford, Senior Programme Editor and Head of Trade, Technology, Industry Events Programming at The Economist at The Economist. "With revolutionary applications materialising across industries, every business needs a web 3.0 strategy."

Immersion Beyond the Virtual Veil

Once confined to sci-fi, the metaverse is now infiltrating boardroom strategy talks. The Impact Summit provided an interactive plunge into the real-world potential of digital environments. As Caitlin Mehta, Programme Editor at The Economist, remarked, "The Metaverse is more than a virtual frontier - it is fundamentally altering how we connect, create and conduct business." An all-star lineup of pioneers and innovators headlined the summit, including S4 Capital executive chairman Sir Martin Sorrell, Roblox Chief Product Officer Manuel Bronstein, and executives from Meta, Microsoft, NVIDIA and other giants shaping the future. Highlights included:

The Road to ShimmerVille: Kristin Patrick, CMO shared an inside look at how Claire’s built a thriving teen community on Roblox, leveraging influencer partnerships and social mechanics tailored to their demographic.

Consumer Loyalty Reimagined: Brienne Coates, North American Digital Content Leader at Mars, led a thought-provoking panel on reinventing loyalty programs with NFTs. She cited innovators like Starbucks using blockchain to enable fluid reward trading and highlighted the value of embedded analytics.

Industrial Metaverse & Digital Twins: Virginie Maillard, Head of Technology Field Simulation at Siemens delivered an eye-opening presentation on how companies like Airbus are utilising digital twin technology to enable predictive maintenance, simulation and training.

Data-Driven Strategies: Charles Hambro, CEO of GEEIQ revealed how mining data can inform the development of thriving virtual communities centred around user engagement. “The companies who know how to maximise data stand to win big in the metaverse.”

The Road Ahead

TFD was honoured to collaborate on this timely summit, underscoring the metaverse’s potential to transform business and society. The event highlighted its expansive potential to reshape gaming, entertainment, healthcare, education, manufacturing and more. There’s a long way to go, but with commitment and vision, these possibilities can become virtual reality.

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