Imagine walking into the lobby of your local bank, saying hi to the teller you’ve become friendly with, and adjourning to a side room for a private one-on-one meeting with your personal financial advisor — all without leaving the comfort of your home, your office, or wherever you are in the world.

This may sound like science fiction. But in fact, it’s the New Reality. A prime example is KB Kookmin Bank in South Korea, which opened a virtual branch with an entrance, VIP lounge, and main hall where customers conduct and manage transactions, get help analyzing risk-return profiles and even design investment portfolios in the ‘Metaverse.’

But that’s just the beginning. Technology from AI to virtual reality, Web3, cryptography, and quantum computing are evolving rapidly based on decades of development and trillions of dollars invested in Silicon Valley and other tech centers globally. While AI adoption has accelerated through Generative AI, predictive and applied AI tools promise even more fundamental change in the business world, health care, education, finance, and more.

It will be a world where you can work seamlessly, creating new tools, services, and solutions to world problems from anywhere, with ‘one-click access’ to collaborate securely with global colleagues. This new reality fully balances remote flexibility, work, and life. You spend time doing what you love and what aligns with your passion and purpose. PLUS, you have real-time access to knowledge, personalized health care, and secure financial resources anytime, anywhere.

Under the radar, the development of Web 3 platforms, which provide the secure (digital ledger, i.e., cryptography-based) infrastructure needed to create an actual virtual reality or ‘metaverse,’ is growing exponentially. While the ‘metaverse’ as popularized by Facebook and others, has completed its journey through the hype cycle, the New Reality of work and life will integrate AI, virtual reality, Web 3, and many immersive applications into a new way of operating that can be referred to as a ‘metaverse.’

Based on the fast growth of AI since Nov 30, ’22, when ChatGPT was launched, Gartner’s prediction of one-fourth of the world’s population spending at least an hour in ‘the metaverse’ per day by 2026 is very realistic (and may even be conservative) and will become the New Reality.

What will New Metaverse Reality mean to me?

With appropriate guardrails and regulations, this New Reality is not something to be feared or resisted but an exciting opening too many opportunities for individuals and organizations. Overcoming fear of technology (like a lot in life) starts with understanding ‘what it is’ and ‘where it came from.’

Metaverse refers to an interconnected world of virtual spaces, i.e., an extension of reality. Through various tools, including virtual reality, AI (generative, predictive, and applied), immerse applications, and secure cryptographic validation, people can easily interact in real-time with one another, collaborate on projects, and complete business transactions using digital currencies or tokens.

The opportunities for people in the future of work and business are emerging. These include new technical career paths, such as virtual reality designers, AI scientists, and blockchain engineers. However, as this technology becomes increasingly important in our lives, the need for human skills – critical thinking, discernment, empathy, intuition, and customer service — will be equally important, opening more options for those with strong ‘human skills.’

Companies can use VR to prototype products and gain customer input. Digital twins will perform equipment maintenance; AI will execute repetitive and predictable tasks, and robotics will drive self-managed operations. This will allow people to be valued as leaders, innovators, and problem solvers. Their value and compensation will be based on the results achieved (using technology as a tool), not on the tasks or hours worked.

New Reality Impact on Business and Society

The impact of the advanced technology (Web 3, AI, VR) integrated within ‘the new reality’ will be felt across all industries. From retail and hospitality to manufacturing and logistics, operations will be revolutionized. In healthcare, doctors will use virtual reality technology to diagnose and treat patients remotely around the globe. Digital twins will allow testing and true personalization of medication (instead of today’s try it and see if it helps approach). At the same time, robotics with VR will empower doctors to operate from wherever they are. Already, AI is being used to identify new antibiotics to kill life-threatening viruses that would take decades to develop using traditional methods.

In the retail industry, virtual reality will allow immersive shopping experiences as AI matches ‘the right product’ with your personal profile. Major companies like Nike, Crate & Barrel, H&M, and Bloomingdales have taken some of the first steps to create Metaverse department stores.

Education will also be transformed from a set of lessons that students watch to a group of experiences that students live. The finance and banking industries will use AI and the Metaverse to evolve new ways to connect with customers, move money and assets, and improve back-office operations.

Today we see a fundamental shift in societal values, with more people working remotely and appreciating experiences over possessions. This will accelerate as technology allows increased flexibility, new career paths, and redefinition of ‘value’ and success, i.e., achievement of purpose, delivering value to the planet and society vs. financial gains.

How can leaders transform their organizations for success in the New Reality?

It starts with alignment of purpose, i.e., what are we trying to achieve, and what impact will we as an organization have on society? Then understand the market, client’s needs, concerns, and objectives for the future.

By collaborating with clients to co-create new solutions for today and tomorrow and then adapting business models based on real value delivered, business managers will prepare their organizations for continued success in a changing future.

Finally, since an organization will continue to consist of people (using technology to deliver on purpose), leaders must fully empower people to create, innovate and deliver real value – anytime, anywhere.

The future is here – today’s New Reality requires commitment, openness, and collaboration. Don’t wait – get started now.