Omnipresence! Omniverse!

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Cover image for  article: Omnipresence! Omniverse!

Omnipresence: The fact of being present or having an effect everywhere at the same time. (Cambridge Dictionary)

In the First Connected Age that began in 1993 with the World Wide Web, we connected to discover and connected to transact which we now call search and e-commerce. In 2007, building on what had gone before, we entered the Second Connected Age where we connected to everybody, and we connected all the time which we now call social and mobile. As the mobile device has become the key portal, even these terms of e-commerce, search, mobile and social have dissolved into goo. If you buy a product while watching a video on TikTok that played after a search for a product or person is that mobile or social or search or e-commerce? It’s all of them mixed up into a goo. The era of digital leakage.

As we move forward in the Third Connected Age, powered by data connecting to data (AI), much faster and persistent connections (5G), new ways of connecting (Voice/AR/VR) and new trust connections (Blockchain) we will enter an era of Omnipresence. We will not just grapple with cross-media and omni-channel but need to figure out how to live, market and engage in a world of Omnipresence and Omniverses.

Omnipresence and Communication Technology

Starting from the printing press, communication technology has allowed individuals and ideas to be scaled across distance and time. First there were newspapers and books that allowed people to project ideas primarily with words. Photography allowed us to project image and photographs in magazines to scale those projections. Radio and the phonograph allowed the projection of not just words but also sound. Movies and television enabled a projection of a replica of life first in black and white and then color and then in high definition.

Search enabled us to find what we were looking for and e-commerce projected stores and bazaars into our home and let us be stores and bazaars of our own. Social and mobile allowed us to project ourselves in all sorts of ways to everybody we wanted to at little to no cost. We could add filters and aliases and become many people and project many looks and feels.

The state of the art of all these technologies consolidated in the gaming industry, which is bigger than the television, music and movie industries and where individuals spend over 100 billion dollars a year to arm, dress and equip their characters and alter egos in increasingly realistic worlds.

There is a reason the 3D computer graphics game engine developed first in 1998 from Epic is called The Unreal Engine. We are now in the fifth version of Unreal Engine and to see its power watch this short medley of 20 renditions by amateurs using home PCs.

Impressed? We have not seen anything yet as we take a quantum leap ahead in the next 1000 days (yes, less than three years), driven by the technologies of the Third Connected Age.

We will be able create "multiple" versions of ourselves or edit and change elements, characters and scenes in audio and video? We will take shape and conjure up ourselves as many avatars with many voices. We can live in the physical world, overlay data and filters into the physical world with AR or create a simulacrum of increasingly realistic worlds using Virtual Reality.

All of us who want to do so will be able to do so. Easily and cost-effectively. We will become omnipresent. And we will integrate a spectrum of physical, digital and virtual ways of living to create customized omniverses.

Omnipresence and Humans

Many of you might be skeptical that even if technology progresses so rapidly will anybody but a small minority of people leverage these technologies to become omnipresent? A guess is most of us will for three reasons.

First, humans want to have god-like power.

The companies that enable us to cross distance and time such as Google which allows us to find anything with search or visit places with Google Earth, or Apple that allows us to connect everywhere projecting our images and videos or Meta that enables us to connect for free or Amazon that brings the worlds bazaars to us have become the most valuable companies in the world.

At one time it was the railroad companies and oil companies and telephone companies that allowed us bridge distance and time. Pharmaceutical and medical companies allow us to live longer lives.

These new Third Connected Age technologies will give us amazing powers and we will gravitate towards them just as we have in the past.

Second, they allow of us have multiple identities.

Our minds are imagination machines, and it has far outstripped the physical carrier of our bodies. Avatars and virtual worlds allow us to be a range of us and constantly re-invent and try on new lives and live in multiple worlds.

Third, we are about to see the greatest unleashing of human creativity as more and more people have access to new ways to express themselves, to project and share themselves and to monetize their work.

Today DALL. E 2 (named after Salvador Dali and Pixar’s Wall-E) a new AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language. Yes, type in words and art and images are rendered. Watch this for what is possible.

The future of the Internet will be increasingly owned by creators and people who consume their creation (Web 3), with new operating systems that span the physical and digital worlds (AR/VR =Metaverse), orchestrated using new trust currencies (tokens) and operated in increasingly new collaborative approaches (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) all turbocharged with AI.

This future is being developed by millions of talented people with hundreds of billions of dollars of investment from VCs, private equity and juggernauts like Google (big on voice and AR), Meta (VR), Apple and Microsoft (voice, AR and VR) and so do not be distracted by the up and down prices of cryptos or NFTs.

In 2001 the Nasdaq crashed but broadband penetration began to take quantum jumps. The rest is history. It’s that time again.

Omnipresence and Marketing

Marketers have had to grapple with digital leakage blurring the boundaries between the ways they were organized.

In 2022 why are some companies still organized by above or below the line, analog or digital, social, mobile, e-commerce or search?

Digital is hydrochloric acid that burns through the barriers of the containers of the past and omni-channel behavior versus different channels is how advanced marketers are organized reflecting the polygamous shopping and return behavior and expectations of people.

As more and more people search with voice (in India more voice searches than text searches) and modern devices become so small that voice will be the only interface every smart marketer needs to ensure that they can provide services and expand their brand presence to the world of voice.

And as gaming and meta-verses (AR/VR) become increasingly powerful and utilized by more and more people, companies need to ensure their Brands, their sponsorships (music acts have really begun to scale in the metaverse), out of home, customer service and other marketing investments need to factor in omnipresence.

There is a very good possibility that wallets that hold tokens today will become the new forms of identity and log-in replacing email and Facebook and Apple log-ins.

NFTs and other tokens will not just be about art, but their underlying capabilities of currency, membership, status and governance will be the building the blocks of the next generation of Customer Relationship Management (think of airline miles 2.0).

It may be early today, but analog organizations take a lot of time to adapt to the pace of digital technology which is leaping ahead so getting started early to adapt, learn, and prepare makes sense. Every person in a company particularly senior decision makers need to be familiar to both understand the challenges but also begin to understand the possibilities so they can time their investments correctly. (In the near term do not to imagine that any of this will have business impact or not be filled with mistakes.)

This is the time to measure ROL (Return on Learning) not ROI (Return on Investment).

Learn, make mistakes, build partnerships, identify opportunities today versus three years from now. Companies that moved early with aggressive senior management attention came to benefit greatly in the First and the Second Connected Ages.

Omnipresence and Society

Mobile, social, search and e-commerce have changed the contours of society in ways good and bad, but the positives have been greater than the negatives.

Without a doubt, a breakdown in trust, increased polarization, inequality and challenges to mental health (particularly of younger people) have been significant and need to be addressed, but few people would give up the magical powers of the last two decades of advances.

In anticipation of the potential downsides, which will surely be many, it will be important that industry, government and society in general anticipate, monitor and find ways to minimize the risks while retaining the benefits.

Omnipresence and Work

Work, workplaces and workers are likely to change significantly in the next five to ten years. COVID-19 underlined that while some in-person interaction can help relationships, learning and the meaning of work, the days of four or five days in an office are likely to be limited to dentists and hardware engineers.

The momentum of melding in-person and distributed work will allow companies to attract and retain world class and diverse talent while managing their costs -- and it will allow talent to pursue multiple opportunities and optimize a mix of work and non-work life to shifting needs and conditions.

Regardless of their occasional limitations distributed work today is enabled by mobile and computing technology and software like Teams, Zoom and Slack.

Augmented Reality will enable workers to be more productive and powerful and Virtual Reality in time (again see the progress in Unreal Engine over the years) will create new workplaces and interaction opportunities.

Today, Facebook with Horizon Work (Oculus Quest 2) headsets is taking the first steps in the area and a range of companies including Accenture which uses the term Extended Reality to describe the blend of physical and virtual reality are beginning to on-board new employees in part using the new technologies (Nth Floor).

But while these may get the news, it’s nothing compared to the range of what is possible for business, graphics, design and manufacturing. Go to Nvidia’s Omniverse and click on the solution tab to see the range of what business is doing today!

Omnipresence is here and will grow enabled by breakthrough technologies, alignment with human needs and desires, the creative genius of millions and an increase in business and workplace solutions.

It’s time to be present for Omnipresence and be awake to the possibilities of the Omniverse!

All art rendered using Unreal Engine 5.

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