The next wave of digital interface: Virtual and augmented reality

While wearable and mobile technologies have been gaining tremendous traction in the enterprise realm, Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) technologies, now hold immense potential.

Traditionally, VR/AR focused on providing more immersive gaming and entertainment experiences to consumers, but its true value lies in the ability to redesign an enterprise’s business processes and to enrich business stakeholder interactions in the digital world of the future.

Predictions for 2017

I envision that, in 2017, we will see a continued increase in the number of players entering the fray, most with the goal of supporting enterprises across multiple sectors. This influx of VR/AR products and solutions will make an impact by reducing device costs year on year.

Incubators and Angel/VC investments are also set to continue funding applications and services ideas for enterprise-use cases. In turn, companies will start taking steps to:

  • Develop business cases to firm up adoption strategies
  • Invest/implement use cases and proof of concepts
  • Evaluate data privacy and cybersecurity risks
  • Restructure business processes
  • Step up legacy modernization initiatives to seamlessly align VR/AR technologies to achieve their business objectives

Adoption trends across sectors

While gaming and “edutainment” will be key drivers of this market in the near term, we should start to see evidence of uptake in sectors such as healthcare, construction and real estate, manufacturing and logistics, retail, government/ public/ non-profit agencies and defense.

Some pertinent use cases are outlined below, representing potential uses in communication and collaboration; training and simulation; and field and customer service.

Healthcare
– Adding data from CT scans and MRIs into doctors’ fields of vision while performing operations
– Training medical students on operations procedures
– Conducting video-based visits remotely to the patients

Manufacturing/Logistics
– Giving instructions to workers to repair a technical glitch remotely by assessing the situation by AR devices worn by the workers
– Testing product design scenarios and improving navigation around warehouse
– Designing software to aid pickers to ship the right product in the designated container

Construction/Real Estate
– Training unskilled labor remotely to perform highly technical tasks
– Using AR to project homebuyer’s items into the home
– Exploring properties and reviewing amenities virtually

Retail/Consumer Product Goods
– Using AR/VR for in-store retail displays; using AR to view retail shelf inventory and sales data
– Creating VR-based case studies to train employees in different real world situations
– Using to configure cars at a dealership or help customers see how clothes will look without even trying them on

Aerospace & Defense
– Integrating maps, weapon control systems and project satellite information
– Creating flight simulations and battlefield simulations to train personnel
– Aiding disaster recovery efforts and war room simulations

Public Sector/Non-Profit Agencies
– Facilitating interactions between government agencies /stakeholders, especially in large countries such as the U.S., China and India
– Simulating the efficacy of a Public distribution plan; training and testing emergencies services’ preparedness to natural disasters, wars, and so on
– Building empathy; UNICEF recently created a VR program for viewers to experience the terrible plight of post-war Ethiopia to mobilize donations

We are at the cusp of customer and employee-centric interface transformation as standards are defined, and app ecosystems begin to emerge, specifically in the areas of communication, collaboration, training, simulation and field & customer service. This shift will be a precursor to how organizations redesign the role of an individual in a workplace environment.

What enterprises need to consider

Enterprises will have to reimagine interactions among platforms, systems, data, processes and people in a digital environment. They will need to plan, design, integrate and implement solutions that not only deliver unmatched user/stakeholder experience, but are also cost effective, flexible and usage/outcome based.

These solutions must also seamlessly integrate with other emerging technologies, such IoT, sensor and beacon technologies, artificial intelligence and machine learning tools.
Not surprisingly, Innovators and Early adopters will encounter some setbacks as they introduce VR/AR solutions. However, forward-looking firms will believe that the potential benefits of incorporating this technology far outweigh the fallout from its failure, given that the adoption of VR/AR is a crucial step to becoming a truly integrated digital enterprise.

Sources and References:


sunil-musilSunil Musti leads the Technology research practice in CSC’s ResearchNetwork which supports the strategy, business development, product development and other key corporate functions within the organization. Previously, he set up the Global Research Practice at Xchanging (a CSC Company). Connect with him on Twitter.

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