Mixed reality and its combination of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT) is finally gaining traction in the middle market, according to a new report from Deloitte.
While in the past, mid-sized and private companies have lagged behind their larger competitors in terms of digital transformation, this year, they've experienced notable progress in the adoption of emerging technologies, the report found.
"There is compelling evidence that these companies are taking dramatic steps to not only deploy emerging technologies but also to eradicate the organizational barriers that once slowed their adoption," Roger Nanney, national managing partner of Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services and Anthony Stephan, technology strategy and transformation leader at Deloitte Consulting, wrote in the executive summary.
Deloitte surveyed 500 executives from mid-market companies across various industries, with annual revenues ranging from $100 million to a little over $1 billion. It found that these executives are increasingly investing in technology efforts: 69% of respondents said their companies' IT spend is "higher" or "significantly higher" than it was last year.
Mixed reality projects have seen surprising growth in this market: 67% of executives said they are experimenting, building, or have developed mature applications of mixed reality technology, the report found. And 53% reported that their companies have AR/VR pilot projects in the works or already underway.
Meanwhile, 33% have mixed reality projects in deployment.
"Respondents say mixed-reality technologies are proving particularly useful in employee learning and operations-related tasks," the report stated. Among specific industries, energy firms are investing the most in these technologies, with some reporting that employees work faster when using smart glasses, for example.
Consumer products and financial services firms are most likely to use VR and AR for training programs, the report found. And technology and consumer products firms are most likely to apply these technologies to tasks involving technicians, warehouse workers, or advanced machinery.
SEE: Virtual and augmented reality policy (Tech Pro Research)
Mixed reality tools are also helping companies better understand their customers, the report noted.
"Mixed reality technologies have the potential to fundamentally change the way consumers interact with their products," the report stated. For example, wearables—emerging as a go-to application for mixed reality tech—are now seeing use cases such as allowing VR viewers to see a sporting event from the perspective of an athlete, or augmenting shoppers' retail experiences by allowing them to virtually try on clothing and accessories.
"Private companies are using technology to become more directly intimate with customers through machine learning and predictive analytics, and it's helping them get much better at matching products and services to their needs," Stephan wrote in the report.
This data may signal a turning point for business adoption of mixed reality. A number of products are entering the market to help enterprises tap the technology. In October, Microsoft and Samsung released a Windows Mixed Reality headset called the Samsung HMD Odyssey—a premium AR headset that could be a strong option for businesses looking to explore the technology. The Facebook-owned Oculus recently launched an Oculus for Business bundle and a less expensive Oculus Go headset for enterprise use. And with an Apple AR headset reportedly on the way in 2020, the market appears to be getting more crowded.
Want to use this data in your next business presentation? Feel free to copy and paste these top takeaways into your next slideshow.
- 67% of mid-market executives said they are experimenting, building, or have developed mature applications of mixed reality technology. -Deloitte, 2017
- 53% of mid-market executives reported that their companies have AR/VR pilot projects in the works or already underway. -Deloitte, 2017
- 69% of mid-market executives said their companies' IT spend is "higher" or "significantly higher" than it was last year. -Deloitte, 2017
- Microsoft ups investment in AR with new Mixed Reality studio for content creators (TechRepublic)
- VR and AR: The Business Reality (ZDNet)
- Microsoft HoloLens: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- The first ARKit apps reveal how Apple's AR works (CNET)
- Augmented reality gaining more traction than virtual reality in the enterprise (Tech Pro Research)
Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.