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Metaverse Trends: Is 2022 the Year of the 3D CMS?

2021 was a busy year for the martech industry and now, only a month into the new year, we’re already seeing some new themes emerge – particularly around developments in the metaverse. So, with all of that in mind, what should we be looking out for this year?

It’s always good to have a glance back before you look forward.

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The last two years have seen some seismic shifts in the marketing landscape in Europe. Rapid digital transformations necessitated by lockdowns meant that many businesses had to completely reevaluate their marketing strategies and customer experiences. Many companies have found out very quickly that the website offerings they had were simply not fit for purpose. Limited functionality, a lack of personalization, inability to integrate with other communication channels, failure to incorporate or capture meaningful data – the list went on and on.

The reaction to these problems has seen widespread adoption of solutions such as headless CMS. It’s a technology that found itself at the right place at the right time. 

Aligned with this growth in martech experimentation and adoption has been a renewed focus on the makeup and positioning of marketing teams. The first wave of lockdowns exposed deficiencies in many areas such as bottlenecks when updating online content and single points of failure. However, probably most tellingly, many business leader’s have realized they knew a lot less about their company and its customers than they thought. There were gaps in data collection, the skills needed to analyze and apply insights, and, critically, the flow of information across a business.

All of this has contributed to the prioritization of multidisciplinary and cross-functional marketing departments.

In practice, this means having a marketing team with a more diverse range of professionals such as developers, data scientists, and business analysts. It also means breaking down walls and removing silos so that insights or knowledge that are generated in one department are shared and their value maximized. As well as enabling better, more impactful marketing, it also plays an important role in making companies as a whole more data-driven. 

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These two major trends are of course going to continue into 2022.

They are also going to help shape what I expect to be the year’s biggest tech trend – the metaverse. Now, before you roll your eyes, I should point out that I am not talking about the metaverse as this all-encompassing virtual reality where we will spend all our lives. It is better to think of it as a renewed focus on innovation within augmented and virtual reality. Essentially, it encapsulates the trend towards immersive experiences. With the amount of money the big tech companies are investing in their own ‘metaverses’ we are going to see a lot of experimentation and potentially very exciting applications of this tech. 

For the martech industry, there’s going to be a rush to develop the tools and solutions marketers will need to interact with these new ‘realities’. One of the key pieces of tech will be the 3D CMS. 

For our purposes, the 3D CMS represents a category of next-generation content management systems that will be geared towards enabling the creation, maintenance, and modification of virtual, augmented, and other immersive content. Practically speaking, a 3D CMS will differ from what we currently understand as a CMS because it will go far beyond enabling the copy, imagery or channel content served to people to allow the easy manipulation of the virtual environment they experience. Imagine going into virtual shops where every product and marketing message is tailored exactly to your needs.

The crucial element of the 3D CMS will be that it will integrate with existing marketing channels.This means, a headless 3D CMS will enable marketers to make instant changes on any channel – IoT, social, email, virtual store – without the need of longtail development projects. In essence, it will make virtual as adaptable and manageable as any other communication output. 

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Of course, theory is one thing, implementing this approach in practice will be quite another. 3D environments will involve using a lot more data. Technically everything in the environment could be tailored to each individual user. It will leverage a mind-boggling array of different data sources – everything from social media and purchasing behavior to in-store activity and basic demographic information. Add into the mix third-party sources or zero-party data and the numbers really stack up. This is why the trend towards multidisciplinary marketing teams and data-driven companies are going to be so important for the future of the communications industry.

I don’t expect by December 2022 we’ll have a range of fully-fledged 3D CMS and an army of highly skilled power users. Far from it. What I do think will happen over the next twelve months is the launch of a diverse set of basic solutions. From there we will see what the best approaches are and how skills within marketing departments need to develop further. We may look at 2022 as the year a new set of martech giants were created and the direction of innovation over the next decade was set. 


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