When 2016 took off, so did the popularity of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Pokémon Go engaged over 50 million monthly active users with the technology’s entertainment factor and simplicity. Samsung, Verizon, and China’s OnePlus gave away headsets for free to give consumers a hint of the experience. Facebook-owned Oculus Rift pushed the envelope in its virtual capabilities. And Google Cardboard managed to make adoption easier at just a fraction of the price.
AR/VR technology is increasingly reaching mass adoption in the consumer market. But sadly, it has yet to become common in the workplace. Although many AR/VR applications are in use on the production floor and in the warehouse, for example, the vast majority of business technology professionals are unsure whether the benefits of the technology outweigh the risks, according to ISACA’s annual “IT Risk/Reward Barometer.”
Is AR/VR in the workplace just hype? Or will CIOs find a way to mainstream it across all business functions to unlock gains in productivity, efficiency, and quality of work?
Augmented and virtual reality: New fuel for business growth
In the report “Augmented and Virtual Reality Go to Work,” Deloitte predicts that enterprises could fast-track mass adoption while fundamentally reinventing business practices. And for the most part, many early adopters are shedding light into the possibilities.
For example, Lockheed Martin and ThyssenKrupp are using AR glasses equipped with cameras, depth sensors, and motion sensors to overlay images onto the actual work environment. Engineers can now access assembly instructions; see rendering to guide the installation of cables, bolts, and parts; and receive risk notifications in real time. This new approach is not only increasing engineers’ accuracy, but also accelerating production and services.
Deloitte believes that such achievements mark the infancy of this technology. The report cites four areas that can be reimagined, enabling IT to forever change the future workplace.
- Communication and collaboration: IT can fundamentally transform how employees of all levels – from the C-suite to the shop floor and everywhere in between – report and share information and take action. AR can give marketing managers access to retail shelf inventory and sales data. Engineering teams can collaborate in real time through VR to test and refine product designs. Even simple productivity tools, such as videoconferencing and live chats, can engage colleagues in immersive, face-to-face interactions that replicate facial expressions, physical gestures, and subtle nonverbal cues.
- Training and simulation: By retooling high-cost training and simulation, IT can help the business prepare for scenarios without real-world consequences. Manufacturers can virtualize maintenance and repair scenarios, and remote controls and robotics can remove the need for employees in hazardous situations.
- Field and customer service: When combined with connected devices, sensing objects, and relational data, AR can provide task-specific information to field reps on demand. Similarly, VR solutions can guide call-center agents with perceptive conversations and potential problem-solving scenarios. Meanwhile, remote experts can see what service reps in the field see and talk them through the process of installing and repairing machines or infrastructure.
- Customer experience and interactive marketing: Consumer-oriented businesses are beginning to use AR and VR to innovate new interactions with products and services. Travel, hospitality, and leisure firms are providing such experiences to allow consumers to preview the amenities of a cruise, hotel, or beach resort through their sense of sight, smell, hearing, and touch.
As an extension of a larger digital strategy, AR and VR have the potential to create unmatched efficiency and drive innovation never thought possible. But more important, the CIO has a great opportunity to be regarded as the corporate futurist who is highly knowledgeable in business realities and focused on driving bottom-line outcomes.
Innovate your business through the transformative power of augmented and virtual reality. Check out the Deloitte University Press report “Augmented and Virtual Reality Go to Work” to learn how.