According to an Altimeter report by analyst Omar Akhtar, the combined market size for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is expected to grow exponentially from about $18 billion in 2018 to $215 billion in 2021. With this growing push toward immersive technology, many business are questioning how they can utilize it and how to being implementing it into their strategies.
Emily Olman, CEO of VR/AR at Hopscotch Interactive, said in the report that immersive technology implementation is a question of "when, not if."
"The sooner your company is able to understand the language [of AR/VR] and become fluent in what the possibilities are, the faster they are going to be able to react," Olman said in the report.
SEE: Virtual and augmented reality policy (Tech Pro Research)
Here are the five use cases for immersive technology outlined in the report.
1. Create brand awareness
The report stated that companies that are looking to create "buzz" about their products can start with implementing AR. Companies can reach a large audience by showing off the technology during events, product launches, and ad campaigns.
2. Train employees
Immersive technology has proven itself to be an effective tool in training situations, according to the report. It can be useful in employee training by providing them with a close to real life experience to learn their skills and not have to deal with the cost consequences of mistakes. The report emphasized that this use of mixed reality (MR) or VR allows employees to learn by doing rather than by reading.
3. Test and learn customer needs and preferences
Customer satisfaction remains a top priority for most businesses, but testing more complex products can be a financial and logistics issue. The report suggests that implementing AR, MR, or VR could solve those problems. An immersive technology experience can allow potential customers to interact with a prototype allowing companies better insight on consumer preferences.
4. Build customer trust and confidence in the product
When selling high-end products like luxury goods or furniture, immersive technology offers businesses the opportunity to demonstrate the value of their products to customers who might be hesitant. The report noted that products like these are not easily bought so they can't easily be returned. AR, MR, or VR technology allows potential customers to see and experience the product for themselves before buying it.
5. Bring people together
The report noted that an easy way for companies to extend their reach and bring customers closer together and allow better communication was immersive technology. VR could bring teams from across the globe together or allow customers to experience a live event from far away.
The report offered six tips on how to begin implementing this technology.
- Decide what you will use it for. Though immersive tech possibilities are endless, the report suggested defining a clear plan for using it, whether with customers, products, or employees.
- Visualize outcomes to secure executive support. Develop a clear image of success for immersive tech to convince potential cynics of why it's useful.
- Assign an internal champion. To insure success, the report suggested finding an employee passionate about the technology who has a vision for its implementation.
- Imagine the impossible. The report suggested that using immersive technology doesn't have to be exactly like a real experience. The emerging tech can be anything so businesses should look at their ideas through a more creative lens.
- Get your 3D assets together. Organization, as noted in the report, is key for the 3D technology. Creating a centralized database of all 3D assets can make it easier for employees and vendors.
- Plan for interoperability. To continue a customer-centric unified experience, the report noted that companies should merge data generated from AR, MR, and VR with traditional data systems.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- To keep up with the immersive technology trend or AR, VR, and MR, businesses should consider implementing them into their strategies.
- Effective immersive tech can help build customer trust, train employees, and create brand awareness.
- Personal digital assistants: The current lineup (TechRepublic)
- Tactic: creating immersive experiences in real time (ZDNet)
- Virtual reality for business: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Demand for augmented and virtual reality expected to soar this year (ZDNet)
- Immersive journalism: What virtual reality means for the future of storytelling and empathy casting (TechRepublic)
Laurel Deppen is a student at Western Kentucky University.