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By Brian Blau
How great would it be to see home improvements before investing in them? Lowe’s makes this possible with Holoroom, an in-store virtual reality (VR) room. Customers can virtually test different materials, lights and home products before making a purchase. DHL is applying augmented reality (AR) to logistics. The company’s Vision Picking Program uses advanced smartglasses in shipping warehouses to reduce errors and increase the speed of pick-and-pack tasks.
Enterprise architecture (EA) and technology innovation leaders should consider integrating AR and VR to improve customer and employee interactions and business performance. AR and VR offer new ways for customers to engage with brands and for organizations to achieve efficiencies via devices like smartphone VR, head-mounted displays (HMDs), smartglasses and 3D experience rooms. Immersive technology provides many benefits including ease of use, scalability, and new types of content and application experiences for customers and employees.
AR and VR will transform today’s user experience into a more continuous and contextual one that significantly changes how people interact with each other and computing systems.
The immersive technology market is quickly advancing. Gartner forecasts that by 2020, both consumers and businesses will have easy access to quality devices, systems, tools and services. The market currently offers more consumer devices than enterprise-ready ones. However, the gap between consumer and enterprise adoption will close, possibly by 2019, once market segments for both consumers and businesses are firmly established. By 2019, AR, VR and mixed reality (MR) solutions will be evaluated and adopted in 20% of large-enterprise businesses.
AR and VR require input from user movement, sensors and historical data. When combined with other technology like conversational platforms, immersive technology can be used to create extremely personalized products, services and experiences for customers.
AR and VR can also enhance employee job functions. Organizations are using immersive technology solutions for training, product visualization, maintenance and prototyping. For example, the British Army and Visualise created a 360-degree VR recruitment video, so prospects could experience military training. The VR video increased awareness of the British Army’s recruitment campaign by 20%.
EA and technology innovation leaders can take these five steps to implement immersive technology:
1. Plan: Research immersive technologies and providers to understand their capabilities and determine what solutions may work for your organization’s specific business processes. Consider collaborating with immersive developers for pilot projects, but also develop internal expertise to cultivate knowledge and consistency.
2. Identify: Pinpoint where AR and VR can help seize opportunities or overcome challenges with the goal to instigate behavioral change. First focus on how AR and VR can improve processes before designing for digital touchpoints, HMDs and censored environments.
3. Design: Architect use cases. Focus on the use of immersion to design experiences and solutions that match business data to immersive worlds.
4. Scale: Map use cases to business outcomes, capabilities and processes to determine how AR and VR can incite improvements.
5. Analyze: Continue to improve and create a valuable user experience (UX). Repeat AR and VR programs and use analytics to determine what generates the best UX and meets predetermined business ROI goals.
Although AR and VR are currently 5 to 10 years away from mainstream adoption, organizations are already realizing the significant benefits of immersive technology. A recent Gartner survey showed that out of the organizations that are currently using or piloting AR, 40% found the technology to exceed expectations.
EA and technology innovations leaders should consider using AR and VR to engage customers in new, unique ways and improve employee job functions.
The author is research vice president at Gartner.