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AR and VR – New realities for business

AR and VR – New realities for business

To stay competitive in a tech-driven world, organisations can’t let any advantage slip by. AR and VR technologies hold vast potential to fuel growth and improve customer experience, but the best way to see how they work, and how they could revolutionise a business or disrupt a sector, is to just get started.

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Organisations determined to thrive in a technology-fuelled future cannot afford to look past Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), or a combination of both, to ignite their growth and improve the customer experience.

While much of this technology is nascent, vast opportunity exists for organisations from all sectors to take advantage of its potential. Every business wants to be the disruptor, not the disrupted, and these tools could help enhance operations, processes, products and services – or even change a whole industry.

However with so many AR and VR technologies emerging, the questions for most are – what are these new ‘realities’, how can we engage with them, and how should we invest?

What are these 'new realities'?

AR is technology that enhances the ‘real world’ with a contextually relevant virtual overlay of images, data or holograms. VR offers an ‘immersive’ experience, taking users into a purely virtual world, and can incorporate 3D audio to deepen the sense of realism.
The use of 3D holograms is referred to as Mixed Reality (MR), which effectively creates an environment where users treat objects as if they are really there. Neuro Reality (NR), a subset of VR, is also emerging. This involves technologies that interface directly with the human brain to create a deeper sensory experience.
AR is commonly used for utility – i.e. information accessibility, product customisation or trial. VR is most effective for creating emotional resonance through the immersive experience.

According to Digi-Capital, the market for these technologies is forecasted to reach $108 billion globally by 2021, with AR taking $83 billion (a 79 percent majority) and VR $25 billion. As of July 2017, Venture Capital firms had invested approximately $2 billion into the sector in the previous 12 months.

Today’s tools of the trade

AR can be accessed via mobile phone, or a head-mounted display such as the Microsoft HoloLens (which focuses on MR). Google Glass 2.0, Google’s AR head-mounted device, has been revived and is now being used by enterprises with a focus on workforce productivity.

In the VR space, HTC Vive is a head-mounted display with hand controllers, which is designed to offer an immersive and fluid VR experience. The Oculus Rift is also a head-mounted display, mostly used for gaming. Elon Musk (founder of Tesla and SpaceX) is pioneering research into brain computer interface capability (NR) with the brand Neuralink.

A few examples of AR/VR hardware

How sectors are embracing AR and VR

AR and VR technologies are finding their way into many sectors in many different ways. Here are some examples:

How can businesses engage AR and VR?

Despite early optimism, AR/VR is still nascent and may still face a long road to widespread adoption, although the increasing pace of platform development and developer toolkits (particularly for Mobile AR) may bring this on sooner than many expect.

Clearly there is a first-mover advantage to be had. Redefining the customer experience, transforming ways of working, enhancing products and services, and the creation of new revenue streams are all possible. For example, the NBA in the US has developed the NBA League Pass – a partnership with broadcaster NextVR – offering subscribers the choice to watch live events in VR.

For organisations looking to build awareness of the technology available and how it can be used, trying existing AR and VR experiences is a good starting point. This is where a ‘safe to fail’ culture is beneficial.

Investing in some devices for team members to experiment with can spark innovation. Ideas could flow regarding how the technology could improve the productivity of a certain role or department, or how it could bring products and services to ‘life’ for customers.

Tapping into existing talent and collaborating with the right external partners and developer communities to develop proof of concepts is a logical next step, prior to determining if it is viable to build a business case for further levels of investment.

For organisations who take on the challenge to build AR and/or VR into their business, there are great opportunities ahead. However, where to start and assess the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ to use AR/VR can be overwhelming. You need to consider what is right for your customers, products/services and organisation.

In summary

Organisations that want to be relevant in a future where technologies such as AR and VR are universal have the chance to start small and be at the forefront of the opportunities. Looking at processes and services, and thinking about customer engagement through an AR and VR lens could lead to a shakeup of customer experience and sector boundaries. Test and learn in order to identify one or two core ideas to invest in to open up new realities.

 

KPMG has undertaken a range of experiments including developing a VR experience of Healthcare in the future; designing a stadium VR experience to enhance fan and player engagement, and creating an interactive AR game that enables our clients to ‘surf the waves of disruption’. We have access to learnings and insights from our counterparts across Asia Pacific, the UK and the US. If you are looking to explore new realities for business, contact KPMG to accelerate your journey.

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