Industrial Metaverse Blueprints: Definitions & Requirements for the Most Impactful Economic Outcomes
Updated: Dec 31
The metaverse represents a massive paradigm shift that promises to redefine how we approach solving problems through technology. The earliest and biggest opportunities to apply its concepts lie in industry, where leading organizations are already leveraging the building blocks of the metaverse – whether they know it or not – in the deployment of digital twins that will one day form systems of systems that comprise entire virtual worlds.
The Imperative for Change
Humanity has come a long way. Since the invention of the Internet, our global society has made tremendous economic and social progress. We can literally learn about anything with the click of a button. We can feed more people per square acre, cure more illnesses, travel around the world in a day, and communicate with anyone anywhere in the world from our home.
In stark contrast to these impressive advances is the realization of how much waste occurs. A 2010 executive report from IBM Global Business Services cited that more than 50 percent of the world’s food supply never makes it to consumers. Thirty-five percent of all water used every year is wasted by poor agricultural management. Twenty-five percent of electricity generated each year is never consumed. Road congestion and poor infrastructure routing issues in the U.S. alone waste enough crude oil annually to meet the entire demand of Germany and the Netherlands combined for two years.
To this point, progress in a given domain (e.g., infrastructure) has been the result of designing, deploying, and advancing each system within its own context – with little-to-no consideration for how that system interacts as a part of our global society. Today’s challenges – adequate food, clean water supply, energy shortages, climate change – cannot be solved by the same siloed approach. These challenges are impacted by many systems and industries and require more than a single advancement within a single system.
A new mindset is critical to solve these challenges.
A System of Systems Approach
The IBM report views our world as a complex “system of systems” with each system interacting with others in a variety of ways. Collectively, this system-of-systems comprises 100% of our gross domestic product (GDP).
The IBM report concludes that these systems are not simply interrelated – they are highly dependent on each other. Inefficiencies not only lie within each system, but also in the interrelationships of these systems.
Leveraging the Metaverse
The metaverse represents an opportunity to solve complex problems by adopting a system-of-systems approach. The goals of every system within the metaverse can be tied to increasing overall efficiency and affordability and reducing waste from a global perspective. Positive or negative changes within a single system are balanced against the overall impact to the system of systems.
This is the only way we can tackle complex problems affected by many related systems.
Seven Principles of System Interoperability
Fortunately, organizations have already begun working towards these goals. For example, the Digital Twin Consortium has adopted a system-of-systems approach and laid significant groundwork by defining a “System Interoperability Framework”.
A key objective of this framework is to help unify nascent ecosystems of high-value, multi-vendor services that can seamlessly plug into a multi-dimensional, interoperable system of systems. More specifically, it lays the groundwork for building interactive ecosystems of interoperable digital twins.
Getting all stakeholders within these global systems on the same page begins with common terminology and agreement on the foundational principles. No small task, but the Consortium’s System Interoperability Framework represents a watershed moment in making the system-of-systems mentality a reality.
Going forward, our definition of success cannot be within a microcosm of a system component. We must all change our mindset – short-term thinking and isolated optimization cannot dictate our future.