Bringing Virtual Reality Into Your Business

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Virtual reality might be the most promising enterprise technology your organization can adopt today—and the most misunderstood. 

In business, VR’s emerging reputation is now overcoming the outdated misconceptions about it: that it’s futuristic, cumbersome, and aimed primarily at gaming or entertainment consumers. In reality, VR is growing rapidly as businesses recognize its potential to help them grow. And the pace of its technological development positions it to transform industries, not just tomorrow but starting today. 

Adoption and Applications 

VR’s contribution to the GDP is valued at $13.5 billion globally in 2019, according to PwC, which anticipates that figure reaching $450.5 billion, and supporting more than 23 million jobs worldwide, by 2030. Given the rapid global adoption of remote-work practices in the wake of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, that rate of adoption could happen even faster and more widely than expected. 

Half of the IT Decision Makers in a 2019 survey said their companies had started researching, testing, piloting, or deploying VR (IDC Market Spotlightsponsored by Oculus, Technology Evolution and Use Case Expansion Drive Virtual Reality Growth in Enterprise, May 2020). And as the technology continues to improve, businesses are adopting VR hardware faster than consumers. Worldwide spending on commercial virtual reality solutions inclusive of hardware, software, and services will grow to $7.1 billion in 2020, up from $4.5 billion in 2019. 

Businesses are seeing the multiple advantages of enterprise VR, including real-time collaboration in a virtual workspace, regardless of location. While the advances VR enables are already evident in sectors including retail, automotive, manufacturing, hospitality, and healthcare, this technology could have far wider applications for other industries. 

Virtual Meetings and Collaboration 

Despite the disruption and economic fallout of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, the employees, partners, and clients of businesses using VR to collaborate may be experiencing a relatively seamless transition to remote collaboration. 

As accustomed as many employees have become to video chat and meetings conducted from personal spaces, VR technology offers an immersive and inclusive experience that more closely resembles in-person interaction for meetings, screen-sharing, whiteboarding and brainstorming, 3D design, and data visualization. At one global pet-food company, VR has helped the sales staff meet “in person,” offer retail customers 360-degree views of its factories, and plan shelf displays with far greater visual detail than they could with spreadsheets. 

Physical Skills 

Training employees in specialized skills often challenges businesses with costly, time-consuming, and in some cases dangerous work on location. Employees hired to operate critical hardware that can’t be taken offline for training, or conduct manufacturing or other dangerous work in busy or complex environments, have had to practice in situations that pose risk. 

But VR technology can help reduce or eliminate both the costs and risk by placing employees in realistic and immersive virtual environments. 

Leadership Skills 

Beyond its utility in advancing specialized training, VR is proving a critical technology to training in the “soft skills” of leadership and management. Human resources finds VR applications in augmenting new-hire recruiting and onboarding, employee retention, sales staff trainingand customer-facing experiences. Without the costs and logistics of in-person training, businesses using VR can train their employees faster, giving them an immediate head start that can result in a measurable ROI. 

Getting Started 

The many advantages and use cases for VR are already clear to industries including retail, personal and consumer services, manufacturing, construction, transportation, government, and healthcare, among others. 

Before you help your business adopt VR, you’ll want to evaluate your readiness. Without prior experience in the area, your company’s IT leaders will need to learn the hardware, software, and services associated with buying, configuring, deploying, and managing VR technology. Engaging the right independent software vendor (ISV) will be critical to your efforts to develop training content relevant for your company and applying it to help you grow your business. 

With the right planning and investing, VR can give your business a powerful boost. In the coming months, this article series will address these considerations in finer detail to help you get started. 

Click here to learn more.


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