When it comes to the metaverse in the life sciences industry, the art of the possible has long been tempered by the reality of practical limitations.
Uncertainty about legal, compliance and security implications, coupled with a modest understanding among industry leaders of the capabilities of the metaverse and related technologies, has created a chorus of detractors who highlight challenges without acknowledging the outsized opportunity presented to those who overcome them.
Now, as excitement among consumers and analysts wanes and interest from major tech players drops, life sciences organizations seem to be even more likely to delay investments or initiatives in the digital realm.
But if the hype surrounding the metaverse has died down, the opportunity remains. While there are certainly issues to manage and momentum to build, life sciences organizations are doing themselves a disservice by failing to recognize the metaverse for what it is: a disruptive force that can jumpstart innovation at every stage of the development lifecycle, ultimately helping the industry deliver better outcomes to more people at a lower cost.
We’ll explore the potential of the metaverse for life sciences organizations and offer practical advice on how companies can adapt their mindset to harness the power of this new world.
Defining the metaverse in broad and bold terms
In a recent survey conducted in partnership with Pharmaceutical Executive, we found that just 13% of life sciences executives could accurately define the metaverse, so it’s no surprise that 72% of respondents have not even discussed a metaverse initiative.
About the survey: Cognizant partnered with Pharmaceutical Executive to survey 176 life sciences executives to learn more about how they view the metaverse and its viability to transform the industry.
Defined as an “interoperable, persistent space within which people can virtually travel, interact and perform a wide variety of tasks using a single identity,” the metaverse represents a valuable opportunity for companies of all kinds to identify new ways of working, enhance existing processes, collaborate with an expanded array of stakeholders and connect with the people the business serves.
But in life sciences, this opportunity is not driving action. While a combined 40% of life sciences executives in our survey view the metaverse as a “good” or “tremendous” opportunity, 29% remain neutral. Meanwhile, 54% agree or strongly agree that the metaverse is “over-hyped” as a business opportunity.
Even for those who recognize the value in this digital realm, questions abound about when, exactly, the potential of the metaverse will be realized. This uncertainty has fueled skepticism among life sciences leaders and delayed even modest investments.
In late 2022, we explored the opportunity of the metaverse for the life sciences industry. You can find that report here.
Embracing new use cases
In our survey, 64% of respondents said they saw the greatest opportunity for the metaverse in the commercial arena, including sales, marketing, training and development—areas in which they’d seen use cases. Only one-quarter cited research as a great opportunity, while 21% and 16% cited medical affairs and manufacturing, respectively.