Within the metaverse lies a realm of endless possibilities, where technology converges with human imagination, transcending boundaries and unlocking new horizons for all. In honor of Asian-American and Pacific Islander Month, we present an exclusive interview with the remarkable Imelda Alejandrino, CEO of AP42. Imelda, a digital strategist and creative director with over 25 years of experience, is here to make the metaverse less intimidating and highlight how it is significant for everyone, not just tech experts. Imelda delves into the core concepts of the metaverse, revealing its potential impact on both personal and professional spheres. She explores its applications across various platforms, including virtual reality, augmented reality, immersive experiences, film, retail, packaging, and events. Imelda simplifies the seemingly complex concept of Metaverse and shows the potential of this creative innovation in everyone’s lives. Don’t miss out on this episode that promises to expand your horizons and empower you to navigate the metaverse with confidence.
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What Is The Metaverse And Why Do We Care? With Imelda Alejandrino
What Non-Tech People Need To Know
In this episode, we are featuring my wonderful friend, Imelda Alejandrino, who is a Filipina because we’re recording this for Asian-American and Pacific Islander Month. I want to feature some of my friends who are experts who also come from Asian-American and Pacific Islander backgrounds. Imelda Alejandrino is the CEO of AP42. She is a proven digital strategist and creative director with over 25 years of results-driven success.
As the Chief Evangelist behind a top-performing digital team, Imelda finds creative quality, strategic focus, and technology expertise to deliver world-class communications. She has a proven track record of leading innovative creative efforts across all surfaces and channels, including digital, artificial reality, virtual reality, immersive virtual reality, film, retail, packaging, and events.
Imelda has worked with major brands such as Accenture, Meta, General Motors, Southern California Edison, Chevron, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Chase Bank. She’s a highly strategic thinker and a leader in breakthrough creative initiatives. Her expertise is showcased in Oggi, which is an immersive virtual reality event platform launched in 2020. Oggi has been successfully used for international events such as Accenture and national events such as General Motors.
With her deep understanding of the metaverse, Imelda is poised to drive continued success in this dynamic and evolving landscape. I’ve known Imelda for several years and I am in awe of her creativity and her leadership and the thing she knows. I know that you’ll learn a lot. I learned a lot in this interview. On to the interview featuring Imelda Alejandrino.
Imelda Alejandrino, my friend, I’m so happy that I finally got you onto the show. Welcome.
I’m so happy to be here. Thank you, Elizabeth, for inviting me.
We’ve known each other for quite some time. I’ve asked you before and then the time didn’t work out, whatever. You are doing so many cool things. I’m glad that I finally got you. Before we get started on explaining to me the tech that I don’t understand, please tell me who would be your dream interview. If you were to be on stage with someone who’s not necessarily with us anymore, what would your dream interview be and what would you say and who should be listening?
I have a ton of people I wish I could interview, but let’s see. This may sound very interesting, but I would interview my mother.
I had a lot of people tell me that.
I would interview her because she was around for at least 90 years. She has seen the transformation of how we lived. She’s a very simple woman, but very smart. She would be astounded by the progress that we made. I recall bringing home my first mobile phone. She took it and used it like it was a walkie-talkie. I thought that was so cute. “Mom, it’s a phone.”
My mom did that too.
For her to see the possibilities and what I’ve created, she would be blown away. Only because I was always pushing the envelope, not only with technology but also with being a daughter. I’m trying to figure out different ways of doing things. Why does it have to be that way? She would be the type of person who would listen and foster it. With the metaverse being new, that’s something that I would love to be able to share with her. That’s who I would interview.
That would be lovely. There are quite a few of my guests who want to interview an ancestor. The questions you would ask as you’re older that in your twenties, they were still around and you’re too self-involved to understand those things. Your parents came from the Philippines, right?
Yes, that is correct. They came from the Philippines.
How did you wind up landing in San Francisco and running your own business?
This is during the ‘60s. They had an option to either immigrate to Canada or the United States. Because most of my parents’ relatives and friends from their hometown landed in San Francisco, that was a good idea for them to be among their friends and family. With that, we lived in the Noe Valley in San Francisco, and if you know what that is. It’s fairly sunny over there. San Francisco is known for being very foggy.
Chilly and foggy.
My father decided that he didn’t want to live in the fog. That was what my dad was all about. It’s not necessarily forced-fitting yourself into a situation, it’s finding your situation, which is a good lesson for us. Both parents are very hardworking. What was very important to them was education because education is a leveling field from their point of view, especially if you’re an immigrant. Both parents were both professionals when they came to San Francisco but again, education was very important. My father was a teacher, so as you can see, that was very important to him.It's not necessarily forced-fitting yourself into a situation; it's finding your situation. Click To Tweet
Would they have ever imagined that you would be creating virtual reality?
Not at all.
It’s because nobody ever talked about virtual reality, except in the TV show The Jetsons and science fiction.
What’s interesting is that Star Trek comes to mind, when they get transported from one place to another. That was my explanation of what I do for my parents.
I grew up watching Star Trek. My parents thought it was crazy but I loved it. My German friends grew up with Raumschiff Enterprise. It was Star Trek dubbed in German. Tell me, how do you use Star Trek to explain what you’re doing now, and then I’ll get to the questions I’d planned.
It’s the imagination. Science fiction becomes science fact. What I love about Star Trek and other shows that are similar to that is they break beyond the expected. Who says it has to be that way? I’ll share my philosophy with you, and it’s expressed in a joke. How many art directors does it take to screw the light bulb?
Does it have to be a light bulb?
It doesn’t have to be a light bulb, yes.
That is the basis of my creativity. I’ve always been that way. It’s always, “Why does it have to be that way? Who says?”
When we first met, you were doing graphics. You were doing advertising campaigns. I remember you showed me a capability statement that you had done to apply for a corporate job. I nearly fell over with envy. I thought, “What she made is so beautiful.” The most I did was change a couple of fonts and change a little bit of color. That was so beautiful.
I’m in awe of people who can do graphics anyway because that’s something I have to outsource. It’s not my genius. I’m good with words but not so great with pictures. I invited you here to talk about the metaverse. We heard Facebook rebranded itself as Meta and whatever. For those of us who are still confused, what is the metaverse and why do we care?
What’s interesting is that technology keeps evolving. The biggest technology that’s going to facilitate this is Web 3.0, which means it has more features and different capabilities. Imagine everything that we’ve done since the web. We’ve had the websites and social media. Now, we have blockchain and all of that. There’s this need to have some connection with that or a place where you could facilitate that. That’s how you define the metaverse.
The metaverse could be augmented reality. It could be virtual reality. One of the things that’s happening now is that it’s the immersive digital reality that Web 3.0 can facilitate. With Meta, they’re creating all of these avatars that look like you or that could be a caricature of you. Now, where does that live and integrate with our everyday lives? It’s this need to continually advance digitally. The metaverse is a lot of things but at the end of the day, it is a single, shared, immersive, and persistent 3D virtual space where we can experience life in different ways that we couldn’t in the physical world. That is what the metaverse is.
For those of you who are tuning in, I highly recommend that you go back and check the video version because Imelda has a background behind her from her augmented reality system and platform creation. What do you call it?
I call it a web application.
With 30 years in opera, you spend a lot of time with technology and stories from previous centuries. I feel like I’m way behind catching up on this. What is Oggi, your augmented reality web application?
This was back in 2020. One of my clients was Accenture. I did their previous event.
Accenture is a large accounting company.
This happened in March 2020. Everything was shut down. They said, “I want to put an event together but I don’t want to use Zoom and I don’t want to use Teams.” Those are the two popular ones, at least, in the business industry. I started to think of different ways that we can communicate. I looked at video games. I looked at how people were moving around. I looked at all the avatars and I realized that it’s not only augmented reality, and it’s sometimes virtual reality.
It is an immersive digital reality as you can see behind me. I’m augmenting your experience with AR, which is augmented reality and VR. A good friend of mine is a fabulous branding professional. He helped me come up with the term Oggi. We wanted to make it friendly and approachable. Oggi was a takeoff on augmented and that’s how we came up with Oggi. That is the story behind that.
For our audience, one of the reasons I wanted to get into this is because I do think that five years from now, we’re going to be taking this for granted. Why do we need to know about the metaverse and what do we need to know?
Do you remember when websites started to become part of your business world? All of a sudden, “What is a website?” I liken that evolution to the metaverse. What’s facilitating this is the advancement of technology. What I mean by that is that now, it’s made so then your computer could go faster. You can stream faster. With that, the metaverse came about.
The metaverse is something that somebody came up with in 1960. It didn’t come to fruition until now because it took time for technology to catch up. Can you imagine that, 1960? With that, one of the reasons why I think the metaverse is going to be a big part of our life is that you can identify opportunities. For instance, if you had a potential virtual real estate, you can now go into the metaverse and I’m using that loosely, but you can go now online, have this experience, and go in and out of this real estate.
Another thing too is that it enhances the customer experience. What I mean by that is that now you can enhance engagement and loyalty by being immersed in all of the functionalities like clicking through and watching videos. Also, it’s improving operations. Imagine you can now do training worldwide out of one spot and that’s exactly what Oggi is catering to as well. One of the things that we have to also pay attention to is that this is so new.
We’re going to have to figure out how to navigate regulatory and ethical issues. How do you mitigate these issues? One of the things that you need to know about the metaverse is staying ahead of the competition. That is one of the advantages. Now, if I can go into your website, and if you’re a product company and you can show your product not only the features of the product but it’s used by a click of your mouse, that is what digital reality is. It is having it at your fingertips.
When I first came to the San Francisco Opera in 1983, the big deal was that Hewlett-Packard was looking for a tax deduction. They decided they were going to donate some computers to the San Francisco Opera, which was a nonprofit. We got one computer per room and one printer. The job was, “Could this be useful in business? Could you type on a computer instead of a typewriter?”
I’m old. I remember when that was the first time when we’d ever had computers in an office saying, “We think we could do that.” Even at that point, we used to have to produce documents on legal-sized paper and the printer couldn’t handle it. You could physically put legal size paper into the printer, but the program was going to stop at the end of an 8.5×11 page.
We learned that you had to print it, then you turned the printer off, turned it back on again, and then it would print the whole 14 inches because the technology hadn’t evolved yet to say, “People have to print on legal size paper as well.” I make myself remember that so that I don’t take it for granted. You and I are talking on Zoom from two different continents and recording this so I don’t take it for granted.
The secret to making your computer work again is turning it on and off. It has not stopped. There’s some compatibility. Just so you know, we have something in common. I worked on the San Francisco Opera back in the late ’90s back in the day. We did some work for them and I could only imagine what Oggi could do for the opera, reaching out to different types of audiences.
That will eliminate the need for scenery if you have screens that are large enough to project the backgrounds on, etc. What are the current pros and cons of the metaverse? The pluses and minuses, advantages and disadvantages?
The first disadvantage is that a lot of people don’t even know what metaverse is in the same way, we looked at all new technology. We don’t know how to use it. We don’t know when to use it, and more importantly, why would I need to use it? There are always certain types of people that the chasm between progress is yay big. There are people who are peering over the chasm and thinking, “Should I jump over?”
You also have those who completely have jumped over because that’s what they do. One of the disadvantages is understanding it and getting people into it. What’s interesting is that people don’t realize that they’re already in it. They’re already doing things that we define as metaverse, but now it’s coming together. It’s coalescing. It’s finally saying, “This is what the metaverse does.”
Too much of anything is not great. One of the things is the Zoom fatigue that we have is very real where you’re in front of the screen all the time. It’s that one-on-one eye visual that we have, not being able to move around and socialize. What happened with video conferencing is that the human need always evolved. Because we’re stuck in these boxes, what Oggi does is take you out of the box and bring back the human aspect of socializing, interacting, and meeting.
One of its advantages is it has taken us out of these boxes, giving you the ability to be mobile and have a social conversation. This is scientifically proven through research that when you’re having a meeting, it’s always good to have that social conversation in the very beginning because it does several things. It warms up the room, it helps you understand the boundaries but also, we’re social animals. That is one of the advantages of Oggi.
Many of the people I work with are working with teams in 4 or 5 different time zones. A presentation I was part of yesterday where if you’re in New Jersey, you get up early to talk to Europe and then you take a nap, and then you stay up late to talk to Tokyo. That is the reality for so many of us now. I guess that is the metaverse that we can do this in a digital form. You and I can see each other and see pretty good pictures of each other in real-time live.
I know I have seen you move around in one of your Oggi platforms where you were walking around a room and I was watching. It was very cool. It looked like the Salzburg Airport. It’s very interesting and cool. You were explaining what it was for those of us who don’t live in that world. It was very useful. I know that you do webinars about Metaverse 101, etc.
There is a series coming up next month and I’m happy to share it with you guys.
If you are excited about learning about the metaverse, how can you leverage it so that you are making the decisions and not having decisions made for you? Does that make sense? Leverage marketing, for instance, in the metaverse. Marketing your company and your product.
If I understand it correctly, how does that work or where is that?
We’ve heard you talk about business owners who can leverage the metaverse for marketing and if you are in a corporation, the metaverse is here. We’re going to be using it. How can we inform ourselves so that if there’s an opportunity, we can say, “I can handle that project,” for instance?
I totally understand that. I’ve had a conversation with Amazon and what was interesting is that they wanted a training platform that they can use. Amazon is worldwide. I would imagine the metaverse is a place where you can do that because things can be digitally physical. They can be digitally set up in a way where you’re going through certain courses.
You could do it for training. You could do it for team meetings as well. A great example of how this was used was for Chevrolet. Chevrolet has a program for historically Black universities and colleges. These are college students that they choose every year to understand how to be a marketing intern, but also understand business. Within Oggi, they train for three months, which gave them the ability to meet their mentors. It gave them the ability to interact with the AR functions within the metaverse.
It’s an artificial reality.
This is imagination. We had a game show in the Metaverse. We have balloons that pop that have questions on there. You would walk to it and what you do is that when you pop it, an answer will come up. In the backend, we have artificial intelligence tabulating that. The next question may be a different answer because of the data that’s being collected and what’s important to the people that are engaging in digital reality.
The metaverse could be anything that you want it to be. Let’s say you start with a customer. Make it so it’s easy for the customer to navigate through your website, especially around purchasing and going to the cart. For instance, there is a company. I believe it’s called GlassesUSA. You can purchase your glasses online. What they could do is choose a frame, click on it, and somehow it centers it on your face so you can see what the glasses would look like on your face digitally.The metaverse could be anything that you want it to be. Click To Tweet
I’ve heard of them.
It’s amazing. It’s been around but now it’s getting definitions, which is very different from some thoughts that we had about the metaverse. There are a lot of great things.
What I love about you is that you are so creative and you have so many interesting ideas that I love. For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been ahead of the pack with creative ideas and doing cool interesting things. Just for fun, what would be a dream project? Imagine I was representative of a multi-billion dollar company and I’ve got money I need to use up. I say, “Imelda, I want to spend it on you.” What would be a dream project for you?
Education has always been my love. Right now, we are talking to colleges about expanding their borders. Imagine being able to offer a country where they don’t have access to the best of the best. Coming from the Philippines, my parent’s hometown is what I would love to do, and there are so many like this around the world. Their parents’ hometowns back in their country may not be at the cusp of the digital age, but they have the internet.
The internet is a great way to access education. If I can deliver a worldwide university where students have access to not only education but to the best of the best to expand their world. Can you imagine how many geniuses are out there in the world if they were just given the opportunity of education? My dream job is to build an Oggi University where people around the world can learn and grow. That is my dream job.The internet is a great way to access education. Can you imagine how many geniuses are out there in the world if they were just given the opportunity of education? Click To Tweet
Imelda, that’s going to be the thing to stop on there. Whenever you are tuning in to this, I guarantee you’ll be able to learn from Imelda Alejandrino. She is one of the smartest and most creative people I know. If there’s any way I could help with that, I don’t have the bazillion dollars, but I may have it one of these days and then I will help donate to your university. Thank you so much for having been a guest.
Thank you, Elizabeth. Just the fact that we’re talking here about the metaverse is the best start. Let’s start talking about it.
I’ve learned a great deal and I knew I would, that’s why I wanted to get you onto the show. Thank you, Imelda. If you enjoyed this episode, please rate us. Tell your friends and leave us a good review on Apple Podcasts. Again, our YouTube channel. Subscribe and tell your friends so we can have more fabulous people like Imelda, and tell the world about the show. I’ll see you on the next one.
- Imelda Alejandrino
- San Francisco Opera
- Apple Podcasts – Speakers Who Get Results
- YouTube – Elizabeth Bachman, Strategic Speaking for Results
About Imelda Alejandrino
Imelda Alejandrino is a proven digital strategist and creative director with 25+ years of results-driven success. As the Chief Evangelist behind a top-performing digital team the groundbreaking marketing agency AP42, Imelda combines creative quality, strategic focus, and technology expertise to deliver world-class communications. With a proven track record of leading innovative, creative efforts across all surfaces and channels, including digital, AR, VR, immersive virtual reality, film, retail, packaging, and events, Imelda has worked with major brands such as Accenture, Meta, General Motors, SoCal Edison, Chevron, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Chase Bank.
Imelda is a highly strategic thinker and a leader in breakthrough creative initiatives. Her expertise has been showcased in Oggi, an immersive virtual reality event platform launched in 2020. Oggi has been successfully used for international events, such as Accenture’s I AM Awards, and national events, such as General Motors’ Discover The Unexpected program.
With her deep understanding of the metaverse, Imelda is poised to drive continued success in this dynamic and evolving landscape.