Innovation

5 strategies for navigating VR in the enterprise

Advances in virtual reality hold promise for CX professionals, but challenges remain, according to Forrester.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • VR use cases are moving beyond video gaming and into areas such as professional training and content creation. — Forrester, 2018
  • While 5G and AI will help power VR experiences and adoption, those technologies will not be ready for several years. — Forrester, 2018

Enterprises are slowly dipping their toes into the virtual reality (VR) landscape, examining what advances in these technologies mean for their business. At this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Forrester analysts tested VR experiences to determine how they can help customer experience (CX) professionals in particular.

"VR experiences were everywhere at MWC 2018 to showcase new headsets or just draw an audience to spread awareness," according to a report from Forrester analyst Jennifer Wise. "We waded through the announcements and waited in line to test the experiences, to discern how the technology will have an impact on CX and your VR strategy."

Here are the top five takeaways for enterprises navigating VR technology and refining their content and experience design strategy, according to Forrester.

SEE: Virtual and augmented reality policy (Tech Pro Research)

1. New use cases for VR are emerging, and they go beyond gaming

Most VR experiences on display at MWC were used to simulate virtual sports, travel, and games, the report noted. However, several other applications were showcased that demonstrate the technology's potential in other fields.

One major use case is simulating environments for professional training. "VR can provide a training platform for professional skills in medicine, automotive, and more that today require costly, complex, real-world arrangements or are even impossible due to physical inaccessibility," the report noted.

For example, Stanford Medicine is using an HTC VR-based training system for simulating medical procedures, the report noted. A number of industries are also already using VR for training purposes.

2. Vendors are betting big on 5G and AI, but neither will pay off until 2020

The tech industry frequently claims that future enhancements in 5G and artificial intelligence (AI) will help unlock VR's full potential, the report noted. It's true that 5G's high-speed, low-latency connections will boost image quality and enable streaming VR that operates through the cloud instead of a cord. And AI will be key for building these enhanced VR experiences, identifying user input, determining context, and putting together experiences in real time.

However, both AI and 5G remain in their infancy, and will take until at least 2020 to mature, Forrester said. "Companies will have to wait several years to be able to design these promised experiences reliably, as 5G slowly rolls out and AI applications get smarter," according to the report.

3. Smartphone VR is more available to the masses, but it's not standalone

Smartphone VR usage will continue to grow, as more phones are compatible with the technology and lower-cost smartphone VR headsets, the report said. However, standalone VR headsets are still expensive—the premium experience of HTC's Vive Focus is more than $500—and the price point is preventing mainstream adoption anytime soon.

4. Hardware gets better, but still needs ergonomic and affordance design help

While VR headset graphics and accessories have improved, the headset design itself needs improvement, Forrester said. The fit and focus of headsets need to be optimized, as many still can't withstand movement, or are difficult to put on, or have bulky audio systems.

5. VR content has improved, but still contains many flaws

VR experiences, such as driving cars, flying planes, and performing surgery, feel more real than in the past, the report found, thanks to wide-angle headsets, crisp graphics, and low-latency improvements. However, the match between reality and VR sensory interactions remains weak, and experience dissonance is common, Forrester noted.

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Image: iStockphoto/bernardbodo

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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