Exploring frontier technologies: Working in the metaverse and the world of NFTs
Before my shift over to Management Consulting, most of my career has existed within Investment Banking, in which my primary focus was M&A within telecom infrastructure.
M&A is straightforward, the client wants to buy or sell an asset, your job as an advisor is to go ahead and execute the transaction. Granted, transactions can get complex and there is excitement in signing a deal, however, the execution process generally follows the same format.
My switch to Management Consulting required a slight departure in my thought process in the sense that while I possessed the relevant technical skill set, I had to adjust the way I approached an engagement as the construct of my client’s needs differed in entirety.
Where Investment Banking commanded me to follow a process and achieve the best possible valuation for my client, Management Consulting expects me to think out of the box and ideate strategies that my client can apply to solve the issue at hand.
These issues are usually within the confines of specific topics to which we have had some sort of exposure. At the core of every problem, clients tend to all have a common goal which is to improve efficiency and increase revenues. However, there are times when a client is willing to pay for a project that goes beyond the scope of their issues today and start looking at tomorrow’s potential. I have been lucky to have been exposed to one of these projects for a major US telecom player.
The topic of the engagement was the Metaverse and NFTs. Our client wanted us to assess the landscape and analyze potential areas of participation in which we believe Telecom operators have the right to play.
The reality is that when you work on topics that are new and the market is still developing, you are exposed to an array of opinions ranging from people who are highly pessimistic to extremely optimistic.
While it can be frustrating at times, it is equally exciting as you get to talk to individuals who are planning the next evolution of the internet. You are exposed to ideas or concepts that seem like they belong in the Year 3000, but today, individuals are thinking around methods or solutions to implementing these ideas.
We had our work cut out for us in the engagement as my team and I had to gather and read through a significant amount of material coming out daily. During the middle of our engagement, Facebook announced its name change to Meta, which amplified the number of opinions and material available. The rate of obsoletion is also high with these types of engagements given while a specific use case maybe be “superhot” one day, it loses its value the next day or is replaced by the next big use case.
Therefore, sifting through the noise and the hype to ascertain where the real value might lie took a bit of work, debating, sweat and a lot of tears!
Once you can get through the information and firm up your hypothesis, the engagement starts becoming more interesting. My team and I were quite excited to work on the topic given every day we learnt something new. It also helped that our client was highly engaged and interactive. It is very rare for everyone in an organization to try and get involved, usually, an engagement is confined within the department that has hired you to solve their problem. What we found with this topic is that it transcended across departments, in which we had a weekly call with participants from across the organization providing input into our hypothesis and findings. We were also exposed to teams who are currently working on various prototypes relating to different parts of the topic and getting a firsthand view of the way they perceive potential monetization and value from an operator perspective.
The conclusion of our engagement was well received with the client noting our next steps. The intention is to socialize the topic with their management committee and form a task force on possible ways to move forward. There is a potential next phase in which the work will get significantly more exciting as this would involve isolating some of our potential areas of participation and identifying partners who can assist in building prototypes.
While the jury is still out on the real-world application and value of the Metaverse / NFTs, it is good to see that organizations are willing to extend their thinking beyond the realms of today and make strides towards adapting their business models to meet the needs of the future.