Women Leading Tech: Meta’s Cat Bowe Makes Sense Of How Tech Can Bridge Into Tomorrow 

Women Leading Tech: Meta’s Cat Bowe Makes Sense Of How Tech Can Bridge Into Tomorrow 
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Women Leading Tech is back and we’re with the previous winners to see what they have to say about diversity and inclusion in the future of tech. This time we’ve got Catherine Bowe from Meta, the winner of the Marketing award in 2021, to give us her take on what’s changed in the past year as she returns from parental leave after having twin boys in 2021. Bowe has been at Meta for more than four years and volunteers on The Marketing Academy council after graduating in the class of 2019.

The week prior to going on parental leave I was awarded the B&T Women Leading Tech Marketing Award. Now as I return there are a few big things I need to get my head around, quickly! The metaverse is coming, but what exactly is it and what marketing opportunities will it offer today and tomorrow? How are brands, partners and platforms preparing for this massive shift, what does it mean for creativity and innovation and how do we consider complex issues like accessibility and inclusivity now.

As we know, in the past year the company rebranded to Meta, not only bringing together our apps and technologies under one new company brand but also refocusing the north star of the company to bring the Metaverse to life. And even while on parental leave, the momentum around this innovation was tangible. So I was excited but needed to understand more. What was it and what opportunities exist to build something that was inclusive by design?

The metaverse is a concept and will be a set of interconnected experiences to create and explore with others not in the same physical space as you. It will feel like a mix of today’s online social experiences, sometimes expanded into three dimensions or projected into the physical world. At Meta, we believe that the metaverse will be the next evolution of digital platforms – and will be the successor to the mobile internet.

It’s also important to understand that the metaverse won’t be built by a single company. It will likely consist of many different components and Meta isn’t going to build, own or run the metaverse on its own. To help bring this to life, we’re collaborating with industry partners, civil rights groups, governments, nonprofits and academic institutions all around the world and in Australia to think through all of the issues and opportunities in the metaverse.

I’m interested in the intentionality built into the diversity and inclusiveness of this era of technology. Building products that are inclusive of our diverse communities and designing hardware that isn’t one-size-fits-all is fundamental, but not simple. A rising conversation about gender roles, gender symbols and gender-neutral language reflects a gender evolution in full bloom.

Carli Johnson, co-founder of Virtual Method, and founder of Women in AR/VR shared her thoughts last week at ADMA Global Forum on this very issue. She said: “A lot of the time men experience content and understand virtual worlds through parallax,” referring to the way our eyes perceive the position and size of objects in space. “[Whereas] women look at gradients and shadows – it’s really primal.”

This impacts the design choice, which reflects our unconscious bias and cultural values. “Now is definitely the time to get in if you’re a female,”  Johnson said, urging women to “try everything” related to the metaverse and keep in mind that many skills will be transferable to the new media it affords.

For modern businesses, we believe this will be the biggest opportunity since the creation of the internet, presenting a magnitude of immersive ways to engage with new and existing customers.

And as a marketer, I want to know what’s driving these shifts. How are consumers pushing for progress? People want presence, convenience, curiosity and sustainability. The past couple of years has already underscored the need for more immersive technology that can help us connect more authentically from a distance, and that connectivity is a red thread through the metaverse, but still only a part of it.

The vastness of opportunity is a little overwhelming, so as a marketer how can your brand build a bridge into the future? There is a lot that can be done already with AR, and immersive experiences and aligning those alongside the value chain, marketing funnel or audience segmentation. There are foundational products from Meta that you can leverage today that will help you start building.

  • Live Shopping to encourage virtual commerce
  • Leveraging Meta Spark to change 2D interactions into 3D experiences like AR try-ons to boost purchasing confidence or AR Ads to drive discoverability in new, engaging ways.
  • Capturing a new marketing/storytelling perspective through Ray-Ban Stories and sharing that content to your community or using it to develop a new point of view.

In addition, you’ll see us leaning into our investments around unlocking the power of this creativity. Through Meta Immersive Learning, Meta is investing $US150 million (approx $200 million) to help others develop the ecosystem and empower the next generation of creators, launch high-quality immersive experiences that transform the way we learn, and increase access to learning through technology. Programs like this will help creativity without the limitations and unlock incredible inspiration and opportunity for all brands and creators.

You can find out more about that here.

We’re at the very start of our journey. In the next 5 to 10 years, the metaverse will enable the next generation of online social experiences and represent the next evolution in social technology, and I’m excited to see the pivotal impact that women have on this technology.

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Cat Bowe Meta Women Leading Tech 2022

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