Businesses, brace yourselves: our reality is not the only one you have to fight for your place in.
A new kind of reality — and thus arena — is emerging; it’s virtual reality. And the possibilities it unlocks are boundless.
It’s not just changing the business landscape and offering room for more competitive advantage; VR’s impact reaches and transforms day-to-day business operations and interactions between consumers and brands, as well as has the potential to revolutionize any industry with a light touch.
VR has the potential to bring together people and entities in such a way that takes interaction to a whole new level. VR removes the traditional communication barrier of distance and enables real-time, making meaningful and effective communication between colleagues, friends and family possible and on par with in-person interactions.
According to a research by the London Business School, the majority of employees will choose to work remotely by 2020, which poses a great challenge in front of the companies to keep employees continuously engaged. With VR solutions, companies can develop online training programs that could be easily sent to any part of the world; they can offer safe and controlled environments for skill testing and professional growth, as well as offer companies a more affordable alternative to employees’ long-distance travels for training.
VR also allows for better and more efficient collaboration for global teams scattered around the world. It allows to recreate a conference room environment where colleagues can exchange ideas, brainstorm, and move their projects forward just as they would in real-life meetings. For more hands-on and practical projects such as construction or architecture, the technology allows to recreate the project sites for detailed examination and progress tracking over longer distances.
For product development, design and production, VR makes it possible to visualize the prototype in the digital space first before bringing it to life. This can help companies avoid extra costs and risks with products by preventing issues and malfunctions before production. Ford, for example, is already ahead of the game, saving around $8 million per year by testing and designing car details and elements in the VR space first.
VR is also transforming how companies interact with their consumers. It doesn’t just provide the users an opportunity to closely interact with the products and services and experience them, but also establish personal relationships with the brands behind them.
Over 75% of global brands have already implemented VR solutions in their marketing campaigns. IKEA has launched a VR application that allows customers to virtually arrange furniture in their homes to get a feel of how the design looks. McDonalds found a new creative way to engage its younger customers by offering happy meals that easily transform into cardboard VR goggles.
Whether it’s a chance to test drive the latest Audi car or gain first-hand access to Tommy Hilfiger’s virtual runway, VR is opening new alleyways for consumer-brand interactions, moving them into a whole new — and more personal — dimension.
On the flip side, VR also can help companies gain valuable insights into what the consumers are thinking to optimize store layout and maximize sales. Through eye tracking technology, companies can amass data on the movement of the consumers’ eyes and the direction of their gaze, where their attention is directed, and what kind of content excites them in order to develop more engaging experiences and anticipate their needs.
An example of such technology in action today is Tobii Pro, which integrates the eye-tracking system into the VR set to help its clients understand what customers gear their attention to when entering a store. This not only offers insight into how the customers feel, but also what information they process.
The benefits of the technology are obvious; but how do you get around implementing it in your business processes for maximum efficiency?
The simple answer is: don’t rush and take a full swing. Instead, just ease into it.
VR itself is still in the earlier stages of development and acceptance globally, and while the strengths of the technology are clear as day, it will take some time until it becomes as ubiquitous and widely implemented as, for example, artificial intelligence.
So, take it one step at a time. But most importantly, figure out what the customers would want in the first place.
Are you a travel business? Give your customers a small opportunity to experience the destinations you offer traveling to.
Are you in manufacturing? Maybe you can create your products virtually before you produce them in real life to avoid extra costs.
Are you a global company with remote employees? Kick your conference calls up a notch and create a VR conference room.
Start small; think big.