Walt Disney just announced the appointment of Mike White, a 10-year company veteran, to lead the company’s strategy for the metaverse. His official title: Senior Vice President, Next Generation Storytelling & Customer Experience. Congratulations to Mike, but what exactly does that role mean? And does it signal the rise of a new type of CMO – the Chief Metaverse Officer?
Given where we are in the current hype-cycle, from Facebook’s rebranding to Microsoft’s blockbuster Activision deal, you may be thinking that if your company hasn’t begun to stake its claim to the metaverse, you’re already too late. The fact is, what the metaverse is today and what it might become is still wildly unclear. If you’re Facebook, it might be a virtual alternative to any type of internet experience free from the tethers of traditional pc and mobile devices. If you are Microsoft/Activision, it’s a fully immersive gaming experience where the players/user become a part of the game. And if you’re Walt Disney, at least judging from the Mike White announcement, it’s a new distribution and content medium that’s ripe for princesses, talking toys and pirate-themed action-adventure stories.
In the months ahead, there will no doubt be a lot of board meetings where directors are asking their CEOs, “What’s our metaverse strategy?” Take heart, CEOs, there are important lessons from the past that still apply. Think back to 1997 when boards were grilling management teams on how they were going to leverage the “information superhighway” or in 2008 when they asked about the company’s SoLoMo (social, local, mobile) plans. “Legacy” companies that have thrived in times of technology-fueled disruption develop playbooks that are still relevant today. Here are a few strategies to consider:
Who can honestly say they predicted that the “infobahn” would lead to Facebook, Uber, Airbnb and Superbowl ads for crypto exchanges! Likewise, organizations should not try to crystal ball the future of the metaverse. But they do need to build the talent, organizational structures, and culture that can adapt to whatever that becomes.
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