The Metaverse’s potential is considerable across Financial Services, Healthcare and Consumer Products. Currently, the most significant implementation progress is in providing user- generated games, groups, and other entertainment experiences. Pioneers in each of these segments have made notable inroads extending on the initial successes in entertainment and gaming. Financial Services is pursuing the Metaverse for converging a new market for value-added service with enhanced delivery for existing services. Healthcare’s Metaverse approach has focused on training and virtual delivery of medical services and access to expertise. Consumer products have used the Metaverse concepts as an extension of eCommerce to promote and extend brand loyalty.
Manufacturing operates by necessity in three physical dimensions. Dimensions are defined by the strategies to meet customer expectations. These expectations are based on how long a customer will wait to have an order filled and how long it takes to get materials, produce, and deliver the product. Product – customer combinations define the following strategies when considering product customization, production speed, inventory costs, labor costs and overhead.
- Make-to-Stock: Forecasting and inventories meeting immediate customer needs for commodities or products with low switching costs (toothpaste, potato chips).
- Make-to-Order: Products built to customer-defined specifications (mining equipment, military aircraft).
- Assemble-to-Order: Assembling options or option sets for the required degree of customization based on customer demand (personal computers, automobiles).
Dimensions implementations combine product designs, production processes, and production/ transportation lead times.
The supply chain is the key concept that defines a network for delivering products at the required level of customer service. Manufacturing is no longer an island with supplying vendors and deliver-to customers, it is a node in a network. A network of suppliers, supplier’s suppliers and customers and their customers. A network of nodes with each having a lead time and transportation links with their lead times dependent on mode selection. Each product has its own network defining the physical world that it operates in.
Digitizing the Physical World
With so many products and vendors, managing each network path and network node is challenging. So long before the Healthcare sector was thinking about a “digital twin,” the supply chain was digitizing operations to reduce lead times and cost while increasing customer service. This included Computer Aided Design to digitize both machining processes and factory flow to improve production speed. Before IoT, Internet of Things, manufacturing execution systems uploaded production quantities and quality control measurements and downloaded process setpoints and product formulations to/from business process. Supply chain management software controls and improves speed network flow reducing overall lead time and increasing customer service while being thoughtful on inventory investments to deal with potential disruptions. The end game is to provide greater visibility to the customer on supply chain operations and optimize supply chain operations across the entire network.
Entering the Metaverse
Digitization of the supply chain and manufacturing has focused on the physical aspects of operations. A Metaverse goal is to create a digital space that is persistent and can interface with the physical world.
Digital Supply Chain: Through IoT, the supply chain digitization will accelerate and provide a comprehensive digital twin in the Metaverse with visibility for all stakeholders.
Product Development: With a shared virtual space, customers, vendors, and manufacturers will share collaborate on a 3D model, speeding new production introduction and support an explosion in new production introductions.
Process Design: The digital twin will support simulation of potential production process alternatives specifying the ways that work can be completed with efficiency and safety.
Customer Intimacy: Virtual design spaces can include customers in the rapid product design process. Upfront collaboration will increase product acceptance and reduce downstream quality issues.
Manufacturing: Virtual services will empower the customer in delivering mass customization. Simulation of product and process design will establish priorities for asset utilization and investments.
Purchasing: Supporting vendor collaboration for value creation across the entire network and transparency in cost negotiations.
Supply Chain Transparency: ESG initiatives have all stakeholders demanding a clearer understanding material sourcing, and who and how product inputs are made. Through immersive experiences 3D representations, this will provide visibility on product creation, manufacturing, and distribution.
Metaverse will converge offered virtual services with will supply chain’s physical flow of vendor, producer, distributor, and customer. Will this reduce the importance of the supply chain? Or will it complement it through a “digital twin,” exponentially improving effectiveness and efficiency, reducing lead time and cost, and improving customer transparency? The evolution of manufacturing in the Metaverse will introduce new priorities for virtual services and resolve how the virtual and physical worlds will converge.
Achieving the Metaverse hype will require continued development in the ability to capture and digitize supply chain operations. Data collection from business processes and integration across the supply chain will support the interoperability and immersive features of the Metaverse. The prize being the ability to design, evaluate, and confirm manufacturing and economic feasibility before any changes are made the physical supply chain. The feasibility confirmed through the collaboration of all stakeholders: customers, vendors, product designers, and manufacturing. Processes will be reconfigured or designed quickly delivering improved customer service, controlling costs, and reducing lead times.
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