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Into The Metaverse: How Indian IT Giants Like Infosys, TCS Are Approaching The Latest Fad

Into The Metaverse: How Indian IT Giants Like Infosys, TCS Are Approaching The Latest Fad

Infosys has recently launched Metaverse Foundry, with seven services, two solutions, and three products related to the metaverse

Likewise, TCS, too, has joined the bandwagon by creating metaverse experiences across verticals such as online shopping, workplace experiences among others

Another behemoth Tech Mahindra has launched TechMVerse, to push for metaverse-based commerce solutions

Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), and Tech Mahindra, three of India’s largest IT companies, have announced their interpretations of the metaverse within the span of a couple of days. TCS got the ball rolling, with Tech Mahindra and Infosys announcing their metaverse products and services on February 28th. This means that the big three of Indian IT have their ideas of a metaverse, and there is quite a bit of overlap in the use cases.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent restrictions on the movement of people, the buzz around virtual experiences has only increased. Facebook’s rebranding was a trigger for more and more companies to try and implement their own versions of the metaverse.

Decoding The Metaverse

A metaverse is basically a network of 3D virtual worlds, aimed at delivering real-life experiences in the virtual world. Since Facebook rebranded itself into Meta, many IT companies around the world have since dipped their toes in the metaverse. The metaverse has been touted to be a great market opportunity; per a report by Goldman Sachs, the total market opportunity could be as high as $12.46 Tn globally over the next two decades. Therefore, it is pretty clear why the Indian tech giants are all about it.

Large tech platforms such as Meta and Google, which have benefitted from the rise of mobile apps, now have shifted their focus towards AR as the next computing platform. Since the success of mobile and web apps in Web 2.0 is already apparent, these tech companies will look to emulate the same success with the metaverse.

In the basic sense, the Metaverse forms a part of the larger Web 3.0, which has been touted as the next generation of internet applications. Right now, we use Web 2.0, but with Web 3.0, the interactions will become more immersive, with AR and the metaverse as the new OS for all the web applications. Therefore, the metaverse, while being a part of a bigger whole, will still be one of the most influential aspects of the Web 3.0 ecosystem.

The TCS Metaverse

TCS has introduced a flurry of use cases, across verticals such as online shopping and workplace experience. The former can mean a lot; Ericsson for instance launched a virtual mall as part of a metaverse-based shopping experience. It could be that – an AR-enhanced online shopping experience. Or, it could be an XR-enhanced hybrid shopping experience in-store. Either way, TCS is working on changing the shopping experience for people in India.

Currently, though, this is in the development phase, and therefore, it really has not been talked about much by TCS. In an interaction with Moneycontrol, Krishnan Ramanujam, president and head of business and technology services, said, “Online shopping and associated experiences are the most basic very preliminary proofs of concept and are very popular.”

Also, in a statement given to Business Today, N Ganapathy Subramaniam, COO and executive director, TCS, said of the metaverse, “It’s an emerging area, and it is something that we’ve been piloting and investing in a lot. We have a very strong research and development organisation wherein they work on the frontier areas of technology and Metaverse is one of them.” 

Adding to the same, Subramanian said, “We have executed several proofs of concept and use cases at this point in time as to how that could change the world of business. Metaverse coupled with 5G and 6G technologies is going to revolutionise the way we do business.” The top brass at TCS are keen on the whole metaverse thing, it seems.

While the tech giant’s shopping metaverse is still in the development phase, the company has brought out a lot of products and services under its workplace experience. Calling the set of products and services ‘themaTiCS’, TCS has introduced nine horizontals under three primary themes; Time and Space (TAS), Culture (CUL), and Technology (TEC). 

The products and services are aimed at improving the workplace experience for the staff working remotely, and since TCS has implemented the 25:25 Vision, which sees only 25% of the workforce in the office at a time, and an employee will only spend 25% of their time in a year in office, this set of metaverse-based applications make sense.

TCS has further introduced the Secured Borderless Workspace (SBWS), which is a full-stack solution framework for remotely working employees. The stack has been aimed at enabling enterprises to handle their remote workforce with a ‘virtual office’, with communications, onboarding, and work being done within the stack’s ecosystem.

The Infosys Metaverse

On February 24th, Infosys announced the Metaverse Foundry, a set of 100 ready-to-use templates and use cases that will help enterprises who are fence-sitting on the metaverse to jump in. Ravi Kumar S, president of Infosys, said, “The physical and virtual worlds are already smoothly and ubiquitously interwoven. The metaverse will deepen this overlap in very experiential ways that will create abundant space for business innovation.”

He added, “We want to help our clients to quickly double down on those opportunities in a find-fast, learn-faster environment before they can reorient their capabilities, processes and culture in-house to respond to this rapidly evolving space.”

Notably, this is the only metaverse stack in India that has found commercial use; the Australian Open 2021 featured an extended digital-physical store powered by Infosys’ Metaverse Foundry. At the store, fans could shop for merchandise such as tees, beach towels, racquets, and caps in the metaverse-based shop. Along with this, construction and mining equipment maker Komatsu has also partnered with Infosys Metaverse Foundry to “uncover the most significant investment” it should make today to make it future-ready.

Under the metaverse offerings, Infosys has listed seven services, two solutions, and three products. The services include:

  • XR Consulting
  • Blockchain Consulting
  • Digital Twin: Includes the Infosys Nia Platform to help with Big Data analytics
  • 5G and Metaverse Services: Infosys has developed a Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Platform for fast adoption of 5G by Communications Service Providers (CSPs)
  • Media Services: Bundles in six media curation, digitisation, and distribution modules
  • Sustainability Services: Offers six platforms and services to help companies go carbon-neutral
  • Contact Centre and Unified Communications Services

Along with this, the two metaverse solutions that Infosys has offered are:

  • Plant Operation Management: Integrates Industrial IoT (IIoT) technology to allow for better control and oversight over operations in smart factories. The bundle includes KRTI 4.0, a digital framework developed with Nokia and Pöyry
  • Smart Fault Tree: Helps asset-heavy industries to pinpoint the points of failure quickly and effectively

Lastly, the three products that the Bengaluru-based tech giant has launched are:

  • Infosys XR Platform: Includes Infosys AR-VR, which allows visualising relevant data for companies to access data visually in real-time via AR
  • Infosys Virtual Living Labs (VLL): Under the VLL, the company offers 24 sets of metaverse-based solutions, which also includes the one used at the Australian Open 2021
  • Infosys Identity Management Platform (Blockchain): The companies can use the solution to track identities within the metaverse.

These offerings combine to offer more than 100 use cases to the customers, which is by far the biggest metaverse portfolio in India. The tech giant has put a lot of effort into making these products and services to develop a technology portfolio that can potentially open up a huge monetisation opportunity for the company.

The TechMVerse

On 28th February, Tech Mahindra announced its metaverse variant, the TechMVerse, which will see the electronics and telecom gear maker utilise its 5G capabilities to deliver immersive experiences for its customers.

“We are launching this on our own but will have use cases for platforms that have been launched by hyperscalers. We are enabling meta commerce and 5G will enable us to deliver this,” said CP Gurnani, CEO of Tech Mahindra. 

He added, “Metaverse has the power to disrupt our reality, as well as the future, for good.” The tech company will operate from four of its centres in Pune, Hyderabad, Dallas, and London, employing around 1,000 engineers, “to ensure they are ready to solve complex business challenges.”

Currently, Tech Mahindra will use its metaverse offering to host four use cases in particular. The first one is the DealerVerse, which is a metaverse-based car dealership. The second one is Middlemist, an NFT marketplace, which will host NFTs from artists around the world. The third is the Meta Bank, which is a virtual bank right now, however, Tech Mahindra has not clarified how the bank will operate. Lastly, the tech company will introduce a gaming centre within the metaverse.

These four applications are end-user centric and are quite different from the metaverse use cases that the likes of TCS and Infosys.

The Metaverse Mania

India’s IT giants have clearly stated their intent of harnessing the opportunity that the metaverse presents. With the focus shifting towards digital and mixed reality experiences driven by technology, the metaverse is the future of immersive user and enterprise experiences.

Across the world, some of the largest, most powerful tech companies are working to develop what they think the metaverse should look like. Facebook has just gone all-in recently, with the company changing its name to Meta, to reflect its focus. Similarly, Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all working on AR-enhanced web experiences and the metaverse within their apps and devices ecosystems. Of course, given how big of a monetisation opportunity it represents – with being the OS of Web 3.0 and all – it is obvious why every tech company is talking about the metaverse.

Tech giants notwithstanding, there are tens of Indian startups working on Metaverse-based experiences. For instance, LOKA, a New Delhi-based startup, is working on a gamified version of the real world, using 3D maps of real-world locations such as Connaught Place. What’s more, it incorporates third-party services to deliver more value. For instance, you can walk into a theatre and the service will use Netflix to deliver video content.

On The Flipside

However, India’s metaverses have a lot to be desired for. For one, connectivity will prove to be a major challenge – without high-speed connectivity, most of the metaverse applications are not possible. Even though India might see its first 5G networks go live this year, the technology won’t proliferate deep enough before at least a couple of years. Apart from that, Indian tech companies need to develop the requisite infrastructure to be able to deliver the best metaverse experience. Without the devices to access metaverse from, these metaverses will only be a fad, nothing more.

The Indian tech giants have spoken glowingly on their interpretation of the metaverse, but right now, all one can do is wait and see what kind of quality the real-world applications of these metaverses can deliver.