#SCAIStorming2022 / Virtual world, real opportunities? The conundrum of the metaverse tested by the market

“The metaverse will not only be a series of virtual worlds, but more likely a hybrid sphere of virtual, augmented and physical reality

Turin, 1 June 2022 – The SCAI Storming event was launched a few years ago to give new shape to business, direct R&D investments, and feed our curiosity. For the 2022 edition we chose the splendid setting of the Circolo del Design together with the MagazziniOz social restaurant. Theme of the day: the metaverse. We invited guest experts from the ICT world to help us identify definitions and use cases, propose multidisciplinary round tables, create discussion spaces with workshops focusing on the market areas and competence centres of our companies.

We immersed ourselves in the virtual reality of the ETT S.p.A. projects with DanteVR and Moon Landing VR 360. A new SCAI adventure that takes us on a journey of discovery of future scenarios.

Virtual world, real opportunities? 

The conundrum of the metaverse tested by the market

This was the title of the 2022 edition of the #SCAIstorming event staged in Turin on Friday 27 May. It centred round the SCAI teams’ exchange of thoughts and insights, hosting a set of expert guests from the ICT world who shared forecasts, analyses and use cases, as well as the myths and realities of this highly topical concept: the metaverse. In this scenario, immersive technologies will play a driver role in the near future, which will be increasingly virtual and have cross-sectional impacts on society: from consumer behaviour to business opportunities, from social and cultural impacts to privacy developments.

The virtual sphere has become an all-encompassing space in which commerce, education, entertainment, community building, wellness, work and more all gravitate. But the potential of the metaverse, or rather the metaverses, about which opinions and definitions in the making exist, could go beyond the digital and physical domains, allowing interactions that unite and integrate the two spheres. Massimiliano Cipolletta, CEO of SCAI Group, who opened the day and started the proceedings, spoke about this.

The metaverse does not exist: this was how guest Edoardo Zavarella Senior Consultant for Forrester, introduced his speech. It was presented by Marino Piroddi, CTO of SCAI Group. The metaverse will not only be a series of virtual worlds, but more likely a hybrid sphere of virtual, augmented and physical reality in which cryptocurrencies and blockchain may play a role, although not necessarily an exclusive one. It is therefore not a ‘renunciation’ of the physical world, but a three-dimensional layer of the Internet experience a layer that is added to the evolutionary path of the network: from the 1D internet to the 2D social world to arrive at a third dimension that will only generate value for companies if we succeed in defining the interoperability between platforms, protocols standards for asset transfers and digital identities..

Interoperability was precisely the focus of the panel entitled Through the Metaverses: connecting multiple worlds in terms of identity and interoperability, a debate moderated by Loredana Chianelli, Business Line Head of Excellence & Business Transformation process at SCAI Partners, with Massimo Chiriatti (CTO of Lenovo, author of Incoscienza Artificiale), Marina Geymonat (Head of Innovation Lab, Sisal), Ernesto Damiani (Senior Director of the Robotics and Intelligent Systems Institute at Khalifa University) and Riccardo Cipriani (Digital Marketing Manager, Disney).

Massimo Chiriatti proposed a definition of the metaverse as subjective internet, spaces where companies will forge an increasingly close relationship with consumers: they will no longer just buy products, but ethical values and experiences too. For the author of Incoscienza artificiale, content comes even before the social relationship: before asking ourselves what we are selling, we should ask ourselves who we are.

Marina Geymonat also focused on the concept of identity. His reflection touched on humanistic, sociological and behavioural perspectives, with a focus on how human behaviour will inform the social network that becomes the metaverse: a new revolution that will impact interaction patterns. Another key concept is decentralisation and (disintermediation): will it be possible to create our ‘own’ metaverse in accordance with our values? Will standardisation and a range of different actors be guaranteed in the new ecosystem? According to Chiriatti, the entire history of the Internet is a continuous oscillation between forces pushing towards centralisation and opposing forces, and this ‘pendulum’ will continue swinging in the future too.

Speaking by video link, Ernesto Damiani recounted how Italian industries are proving competitive in the field even at international level, as demonstrated at the last Expo in Dubai. For the metaverse to be functional, investments are needed from all players and all supply chains. Riccardo Cipriani enriched the debate by relating the Disney experience: the world of entertainment is increasingly complex and new players are coming into play all the time. Designing an immersive experience within a physical or fully virtual park is still on the drawing board. The goal in all cases is to take the 3D sphere to advanced levels, bearing in mind that the gaming world influences with the experience economy, a concept that reappears in all sectors, even those not related to entertainment.

In the second panel of the day, New business opportunities for the ICT sector in the Metaverse era, Giovanni Verreschi (CEO of ETT) and Matteo Ventrella (ETT) presented experimental projects and use cases in several sectors: culture, edutainment, marketing, fashion, education. 

The guests invited to offer the benefit of their expertise included Marco Novelli (AWS Amazon Territory Manager) – with whom Gruppo SCAI is pursuing a promising AWS partnership. Not just a game: the theme of integrating various sectors and markets within a gamevertising territory recurred throughout the debate.

Verreschi’s approach, in moderating the panel, remained realistic: we will see the first results of full applicability of the technologies no sooner than 10 to 15 years from now. Our guests from Forrester had already highlighted the fields of training, work simulations and virtual shopping, as well as the banking and utilities sector as some of the most promising application areas for immersive technologies.

During his portion of the event, Walter Faioni (Account Director and Italy Lead at Forrester) mentioned data from recent reports highlighting how Forrester’s effort is aimed at established frameworks to understand how consumers will be inclined to enter the metaverse world.

Gian Piero Pepino, Corporate Managing Director and Claudia Pizzato Corporate HR Director made the closing remarks, summarising the key words of the day and the future prospects of our competence centres along with the Head of Market facilitators of the afternoon workshops. 

SCAI Storming continues to prove its value as an opportunity not only to discuss business but also to strengthen the relations between the people of SCAI and enrich the participants’ outlook by having them also listen to experiences and points of view from other realities: an organic approach that generates exponential value from the ‘contamination’ of knowledge. As Massimiliano Cipolletta reiterated, the best way to exploit these resources is to make them widely available.