The growing demand for AR/VR in the workplace
By Daniel Newman, Principal Analyst of Futurum Research
Content Sponsored by Dell
It started with Pokémon GO—a simple, yet ingenious app that enabled anyone to catch and train Pokémon in the “real” world—or at least the augmented reality (AR) world. Pokémon fans and nonfans alike scrambled to catch Pokémon, visiting local retailers and landmarks as they hunted. While Pokémon GO was by no means the world’s first glance at AR, it brought AR to real, practical use. The app marked the rise of the AR app in the mainstream, and left users hungry for more. Now, increased demand for AR and virtual reality (VR) applications in the workplace is giving life to new ways to leverage this immersive technology to benefit businesses.
Track the Move from Mobile to Goggle
Just as we techies tracked the shift from desktop to mobile—mobile finally tipped the scale in 2014—we are also tracking the rate of “goggle” adoption. We’ve already witnessed an impressive move from desktop screen to goggles, headsets, and accessories in 2016—and new tools are burgeoning on the horizon. Virtualization engineers and designers are making the hardware more wearable in 2017 and beyond. Major brands such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Samsung, and GoPro are pouring funds into VR and AR applications (Apple, IBM, and Amazon projects are also in development), proving that virtualization isn’t a passing trend or tech fad—it’s here to stay.
That’s not to say goggles will replace mobile, or even replace the desktop. Rather, virtualization hardware and software will work intuitively with mobile devices, creating the seamless user experience we enjoyed on our devices with Pokémon GO. AR and VR technologies may also take over as the go-to technology in the workplace. I’ve been an outspoken advocate of AR/VR in the workplace since the beginning, recognizing its potential for incredible business applications such as marketing, driving traffic to retailers, and creating the ultimate user experience. Now, innovations are catching up with ideations.
Learn How to Use AR/VR in the Real Workplace
It’s easy to say that AR and VR technologies are transforming the workplace, but it may be hard to imagine what the technologies really look like until you try them out for your business. However, with a bit of imagination and a look at some surprising statistics, you may be able to better envision an AR/VR/mixed reality (MR) workplace. When Dell surveyed global workplace professionals regarding AR/VR technologies, they learned that modern workers expect—in the future—these applications to:
- Collaborate first. Sixty-seven percent of millennials and 48 percent of baby boomers believe using AR/VR production in meetings and collaborative products is important.
- Train second. Twenty-three percent of professionals want to use AR/VR products to learn new skills and train in virtual environments.
- Market third. Nineteen percent of millennial professionals—as compared to 11 percent of baby boomers—would use AR/VR products to showcase ideas and products to clients.
- Socialize fourth. Six percent of professionals imagine using AR/VR to socialize with colleagues.
The majority of millennials (63 percent) and Generation X professionals (58 percent) would prefer having technological perks, such as AR and VR applications, in the workplace. In developing countries, 77 percent of professionals would rather have high-tech perks, compared to 45 percent in developed countries. This data indicates that although AR and VR may be budding technologies in the workplace, business professionals around the globe are eager to get their hands on mixed reality devices.
Harness the Power of a Mixed-Reality Workplace
Virtually every industry can benefit from AR and VR in some way, whether it’s to make hands-on training more fun or to take clients on virtual real estate tours. The options are as limitless as your imagination—especially with new, business-driven AR/VR technologies. Here are a few AR/VR workplace applications to watch for:
- Get your head in the game. AR gamification—with help from Pokémon GO—is a potential tool to improve the workplace without the need for major technology adoptions. The gamification of everyday business applications such as training, collaboration, marketing, and sales can lead to more productive, engaged, and happy employees. Gamification rewards employees for their hard work, increases competition, and gives workers the motivation they need to carry out a task.
- Give employees risk-free hands-on training. Incorporating VR headsets into a training infrastructure can reduce the costs of employee training and enable hands-on training without risk of injury. This is especially important for tasks using heavy machinery, dangerous applications, and life-and-death situations, such as in the operating room. VR headsets during training can give the employee an idea of what it’s like to perform the job without risk of harm.
- Connect remote workers. The potential for AR and VR for remote employees is incredible thanks to holographic imagery technologies. Imagine holographic telepresence meetings with workers from different locations, or your human resources department interviewing a talented candidate from across the globe using VR technology. These innovations are more attainable than you might think—as far back as 2014, the Right Management’s Flux Report showed that 49 percent of HR decision-makers predicted using holographs in the next five years.
- Market like you never have before. Just as Pokémon GO made waves with users worldwide, your company can utilize AR/VR tech to market your brand in new and exciting ways, using digital signage walls, apps, and other smart technologies. Reaching out to your target audience with AR apps for mobile is an authentic, enjoyable way to engage your consumers. Get your message across without irritating customers with pop-up ads, using AR to provide an entirely new platform for advertising.
Let’s face it—tomorrow’s workers won’t be impressed with a brick-and-mortar office or 20th-century pen and paper collaborations. Here’s a telling statistic for you: 77 percent of millennials are willing to use AR and VR in their professional lives, compared to only 47 percent of baby boomers. Workers expect to be operating in a smart office in the very near future. To attract and retain top talent in your industry, you need to jump onboard with the latest innovations. That’s not to say you should purchase every new device that hits the market, but trust me—AR and VR are technologies you want to invest in.