2020 challenged businesses with lockdown and restrictions and with it they have had to adapt rapidly by changing their working practices out of necessity. The long-term business impact of COVID-19 is yet to be fully realized; however, it has reinforced the need to innovate to boost productivity, retain and build customer bases and future proof businesses. Adopting VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) holds the key to success.
Opportunities for VR and AR Tech in the Business World
As VR hardware becomes more widely available and affordable, coupled with advances in software technology, VR and AR demonstrate business benefits, from helping to improve productivity, through to connecting with customers in new and unique ways, and ensuring that businesses are employing the right people, with the right skills. What’s more, VR and AR can help to reduce costs and improve a company’s environmental credentials.
Understanding the potential impact of VR and how they work is the first step to exploring how immersive technology could be successfully adopted to revolutionize your business.
Here’re top five business applications in VR and AR.
1. Experiential Marketing in VR and AR
In the digital age, our consumer habits are changing from how and where we access media, to how we perceive and associate with brands. This shift in behavior is having a profound effect on marketing and advertising activity, from attracting new audiences to retaining existing customer bases. By embracing VR and AR, brands can set themselves apart and connect with customers in new and exciting ways by putting the focus on the customer experience. Experiential marketing is a key way for businesses to build strong relationships with customers. It has the power to make customers physically connect with businesses, maximizing brand engagement and evoking an emotional response.
Brands can also provide a gimmick using VR and AR to make their product stand out from the crowd. A good example of this last year was the “Pepsi bus stop” marketing campaign.
2. Training in VR
Learning by doing is a tried and tested way of effectively training employees – and virtual reality takes this to the next level. VR training takes place in risk-free, virtual workspaces, where a variety of realistic scenarios give employees the chance to take a hands-on approach to hone their skills.
From highly intricate techniques required by trainee surgeons, through to procedural practices for field technicians or even soft skills training, VR training experiences facilitate practical learning. Collaborative training experiences are also possible where interdependent team skills can be developed with trainers and learners being able to share the same space, wherever they are in the world.
A comprehensive report by PWC in 2020 found that the learners in VR were four times more focused than e-learning.
3. Recruitment in VR
According to the Open University’s Business Barometer Report in 2019, more than two-thirds (68%) of UK employers struggle to find workers with the right skills. As businesses face the challenges of recruitment, VR can help secure potential new employees who will be the perfect fit for the organization, with geography no longer being a barrier to recruitment.
Recruiting in VR opens the talent pool for businesses as it is no longer about being the right person in the right place, but simply being the right person for the job.
4. Events in VR and AR
A great event has the power to connect people, as well as to educate and entertain – VR and AR has the potential to revolutionize how events are organized and experienced both now and in the future. By blending reality with creative digital content, thinking creatively and embracing new opportunities means that anything is possible.
Ensuring that attendees have an unforgettable and positive experience is at the heart of any successful event. Adding an element of interactivity will gamify the attendee experience, enable attendees to access resources during presentations and keynote speeches can be revolutionized with participation from delegates.
For events such as trade shows, product launches and exhibitions, augmented reality content can be visually stunning, giving brands a wow factor to increase customer brand engagement. Both VR and AR offer visitors the chance to explore and interact with a fuller version of a company’s range by being able to customize elements such as colors and interiors.
5. Construction in VR and AR
From electricians to crane operators, plumbers, civil engineers and beyond, VR and AR training can be applied to all roles from across the construction industry, including health and safety training and crane operating training. It has the potential to become an everyday tool used across the construction industry in the future and help to address the challenges that the sector faces in terms of improving productivity and efficiencies, as well as ensuring the long-term retention of skills.
Planning of realistic 3D modelling can be supercharged by using AR and VR. Building Information Modelling (BIM) can be integrated into AR platforms so that, in effect, plans can be blown up to scale and viewed as realistic versions of constructions in situ, before a single brick has been laid.
Product design and development
Creating ways to design and develop products faster and in a more cost-effective way is a driving force for business innovations across a broad range of sectors. By adopting VR and AR, businesses can significantly accelerate the product development process and get products to market in less time.
VR provides a practical collaborative space for employees to work together effectively by removing physical barriers. For example, it is revolutionizing the design process and workflows for R&D teams.
Virtual prototyping means that 3D models can be shared by team members who are brought together in a common virtual space for simultaneous working, no matter where they are in the world. This can significantly improve and speed up prototyping, by bringing designs to digital life and allowing teams to collectively scrutinize every aspect in meticulous detail.
The VR/AR industry is predicted to grow to an $80bn market by 2025 as the introduction of VR hardware such as Oculus Quest 2: paves the way for widespread adoption. VR and AR have the potential to become a part of our everyday lives.
Author: Tim Fleming, CEO, Future Visual Tim is CEO and co-founder of Future Visual, the award-winning VR & AR company with a range of clients including IATA, Peugeot and John Lewis.