Quick question: If you were a business executive -- or were giving advice to one -- wanting to better understand what the metaverse was all about and how it might impact your business, and had the choice to have a lunch discussion on the topic with either a Gartner research analyst or Matthew Ball, would you pick someone from Gartner?
That’s what I thought. Me, too.
So I was surprised -- or maybe not so surprised -- earlier this week to read a book review from Gartner trashing Matthew Ball’s recent book, “The Metaverse: And How it Will Revolutionize Everything.”
The Gartner thesis on the book is that it’s for technologists or policy wonks, not suitable for business executives because it uses terms like “interoperability” and “latency,” it talks about gaming and platforms -- and, incredibly, because it takes a somewhat conservative view on how standards might develop in a Web 3.0 ecosystem. Gartner’s reviewer states, “The book is a quasi-academic, public policy, technology policy book that will not shed any real light on the metaverse, its impact, or what you can do to prepare for it.”
What a bunch of crap.
In case you’re not familiar with Matthew Ball’s background or his work, he is an acclaimed angel investor, formerly head of global strategy at Amazon Studios as well as director of strategy and business development at Peter Chernin’s Otter Media, and has written for The Economist, The New York Times and Bloomberg. His explanations of the metaverse have been read millions of times over the past several years, and count me as one of those faithful millions!
In my opinion, Ball is not just one of the top thinkers and writers today on the future of technology, but also perhaps the best communicator out there on how the metaverse is likely to enable a business and societal revolution more fundamental than what we’ve seen with the Internet over the past three decades.
The idea that business executives need to be fed pablum when trying to understand technology issues is so 1980s and ‘90s. It’s why so many legacy companies got crushed by the Internet and the digital revolution in the ‘90s and ‘00s, starting with print media companies, telecos and big enterprises -- for whom technology was mainframe and mini-frame computer technologies, talking to their “IT guy” and having emails printed out for them to read.
Those folks were probably getting their information from places like Gartner rather than seeking out the emerging bright thinkers and strategists like Ball -- or, in those days, folks like Esther Dyson, Jeff Jarvis, John Doerr, Mary Meeker, David Kirkpatrick and Fred Wilson, who might actually push them to truly dig into and try to understand what “technical” concepts of “interoperability” and “latency” might mean for their businesses.
Oh, by the way, “The Metaverse” is an extraordinary book. It is a must-read for all business executives and anyone else who just cares what our future is likely to be driven by. It is well written, provocative, has lots of great examples and is quite comprehensible for a wide audience.
Finally, to be fair to Gartner, if I wanted to learn more about data-driven and digital marketing and had a chance to have lunch with their vice president distinguished analyst Andrew Frank, whom I first met back in the mid-1990s when he helped found Ogilvy’s digital practice with Martin Nisenholtz, I would do it in a second. He is a rock star and I always learn a lot when I talk to him.