It is interesting to watch Meta’s challenges in the metaverse. Meta is creating a consumer-level offering long before the technology could be effectively cost reduced to address a consumer market.
NVIDIA, which has been very successful with its own metaverse offering, went after business and government markets first, because those markets can justify the cost of what is currently a relatively expensive solution.
Microsoft’s HoloLens is a showcase for how, typically, a technology first rolls out where the money is. That way, the first instances focus on providing an adequate solution, which can then be cost reduced over time, then released to the consumer market when costs are low enough to justify a price that this market will accept.
In the consumer market, you still have the horse-and-cart problem of having enough content to make it worthwhile for that consumer offering, requiring the driving vendor to fund a lot of initial content, so people can see the benefit of having the related solution.
Dogfooding to market readiness
When NVIDIA first started selling Omniverse solutions, it was already using it internally. Omniverse is NVIDIA’s metaverse development platform.
The use of your own products is called “dogfooding” or “eating your own dog food.” The idea is that by using the offering yourself, you gain a deeper understanding of it and can better appreciate the problems and the priorities, knowledge that helps improve the product. But there’s one huge caveat: If the product does work well, you run the risk of crippling your workforce.
When working at one tech company, I first saw this with an operating system.. Few in the company wanted to use the product, and groups like marketing refused to use it, choosing Microsoft Windows instead. If your employees don’t want to use a product, there’s a serious issue. Ordering them to use what they feel is an inadequate product will only do more damage to the company.
The right path is to fix the product, so they want to use it, not force use. Because you can’t force a customer to use a product they don’t want. The employee is supposed to be a proxy for the customer, and they need to be treated as such, so the product evolves to be acceptable in the market.
NVIDIA’s employees, for instance, use NVIDIA’s Omniverse aggressively to design new buildings, train robots and cars, and better address global warming with the Earth 2 effort. The productivity benefits to employees were clear and the results very positive for NVIDIA which is the way these things should be done.
When it comes to dogfooding employees, they must want to use the offering. If they don’t, that’s the first problem that needs to be addressed, not by force, but by making the product more compelling.
A CEO can’t use their power to force both internal use of an inadequate product and eventual adoption by consumers. The market doesn’t work that way.
NVIDIA’s CEO Jensen Huang, an experienced CEO, knows that if the employees don’t want to use something, it shouldn’t be brought to market until the product is altered, so employees want to use it.
Employees may get better support and lower prices, but if they don’t like the product even with those benefits, it is not market ready. Much like you can’t order a car to fly, ordering people to like a product they don’t like isn’t going to work either.