Virtual reality and augmented reality: buzzwords with a shelf-life or here to stay?

For a while there, virtual reality was a gimmick to get the technology started, an obvious and natural segue into gaming software and hardware advancements.

But the moment you open up a new technology to consumers, and the cost-point isn’t too prohibitive, you have the opportunity to develop better, more effective and even more creative uses for the technology. Such is the case with VR/AR technologies.

Today, VR and AR technologies are touching every sphere. Consumers, businesses and technologists are keenly watching its rise, waiting to see how its applications will evolve when people use and interact with it.

Besides its early-stage application in spheres as diverse as project management, gaming, and healthcare, augmented reality and virtual reality have a real business use.

Employing VR and AR as part of your business strategy can streamline your processes, help you bring in more customers, train your employees more effectively and boost profits and productivity.

Customer product trials

Some aspects of VR/AR technology have a direct impact on your bottom line and business, while some simply enhance the customer’s experience, thereby trickling down and positively affecting your sales and/or brand perception.

Product trials and ‘demos’ offer that kind of customer experience enhancement. Product trials through a virtual environment allow the customer to experience the product, touch it, look through it, feel it and build an emotional connection.

Consider the fact that this sort of experience of a product not only helps drive more value, educating the customer, it ends up subtly convincing and converting them. It’s hard to walk away from a memorable and tangible experience such as the one virtual reality affords customers.

Driving marketing efforts

Experiential marketing and location-based promotions have always been one aspect of marketing that draws people in and creates an instant customer connection.

Leisure events, pop-up booths and promotional materials are a traditional use of marketing dollars but not usually one that can be directly tacked on to a specific number of sales.

VR/AR emerging technologies are poised to change all that. Through geolocation, a company’s AR app could deliver a promotion specifically when a customer walks into the designated geographical zone. Through AR, a customer could then experience the product offering right then and there.

Travel companies, for example, demonstrate a creative use of VR technology by offering users an ‘immersive’ experience into their tours.

LiveNation, an online events promoter and ticket hub, similarly used VR apps to allow users to stream concerts through their headsets, giving them a sneak peek into the action and creating an urgency for purchase that is far more emotional and subtle than the simple words-and-graphics combination that most ads offer.

Training an aging employee population

One of the best ways to retain talent, according to a Gallup poll of ‘disengaged’ workers in companies and organisations today, is to invest in and actively support employee ‘L&D’ (learning and development) initiatives.

At the same time, 73% of all workers today who are 50 and over say that one of the most significant issues they face with online courses for workplace training is the amount of time it takes to learn to navigate their way around the software or platform.

AR and VR could change all that. Part of business development is skills development. Incorporating VR/AR technology into online training can help to shorten the onboarding process, help employees retain skills more effectively, and allow them to complete the training in a hands-on way.

Working with clients by ‘seeing what I see’

For agencies that want to articulate a vision or outline a campaign, using VR or AR allows them to not only enhance the presentation but use these virtual environments to convince clients of a project’s viability.

AR apps, for example, allow users to ‘see what I see’, and businesses can use this feature to create a presentation that is interactive and demonstrative.

Spotting time and money drains

What if you could fast forward down the progression of a project and identify any pitfalls or possible issues through more than just hypotheticals?

Another great reason to incorporate AR and VR into your business strategy is the opportunity it affords companies to do precisely this. Using VR environments or interactions with an AR app, employees or project managers could essentially spot issues that are likely to arise in a given future context.

Predictive possibility, promotional viability and enhanced performance, productivity and profitability: incorporating VR and AR into your business’s everyday strategy could serve you on multiple fronts.