Patterns: Enterprise Value Creation with Augmented & Virtual Reality
It is an exciting time to be developing Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) solutions. AR and VR are already disrupting the gaming and entertainment sectors, and several great headset/hardware platforms are available or about to be released.
Gaming applications are terrific - but can AR/VR be used to solve problems and generate shareholder value for non-entertainment enterprise?
Very likely, Yes.
Goldman Sachs estimates nearly half of the total addressable $80 billion market by 2025 will be non-gaming, non-entertainment – and will include engineering, health care, training and education. 
And as it evolves, there is almost certainly a role for AR to play in the board room for BI and data-backed decision support, and in operations to facilitate knowledge transfer.
If you are not familiar with the difference between AR and VR technologies, or other terms like mixed reality, this link provides a good overview . Broadly speaking, VR provides an immersive experience where the world-in-view is generated completely by the computer system (like a first-person-shooter video game); AR on the other hand (also known as Mixed Reality or MR) is a blending of computer generated images with reality.
Many VR games and experiences derive their value from the immersive component, i.e. imagining oneself in a fantasy world. Reality is modeled, virtualized, re-drawn and consumed as part of the imagination.
For and AR example, we can imagine a Pokemon Go character standing on an actual park bench – or a 3-D model of a proposed 2019 Corvette design projected above an executive meeting room table in Detroit.
Augmented Reality, as the name suggests, layers signal on top of our real-world view. This is often done via a headset (glasses/headsets); tablet; mobile phone, and in future, probably contact lenses. Along with an actual artifact – e.g. bench, tree, or chair, an additional image is added to the scene. For example, for unified communications and meetings at a distance, a VP of Marketing located thousands of miles away might be projected into an empty seat at the conference table, and appear to be present/
AR keeps one foot in the real world – which is very helpful for professional environments.
Ok – so this all sounds like fun technology - but how can VR and AR generate shareholder value in the enterprise? Most of the 20+ use cases I’ve discussed with my colleagues seem to follow patterns - and fall broadly into these 5 types:
- Projecting Expertise at a Distance (teach me, help me)
- Decision Support & Data Insights (show me, tell me)
- Knowledge Sharing (teach me, inform me)
- Cognitive Wingman (talk to me)
- Cognitive Extenders (enrich me, enable me)
A little more about each one looking
1) Projecting Expertise at a Distance (teach me, help me) – The value of AR here is in shrinking the world and bringing people, knowledge and insights together. For example, let’s imagine a $5m piece of equipment operating on a North Sea oil platform. Oliver is a newly minted control technician on the rig, and he’s been asked to reconfigure firmware on the fly - to try to adjust for some problems that unchecked, may result in downtime or damage. Sally is in Michigan. She is a 20-year veteran and subject matter expert who designed the equipment. USE CASE: Oliver wears an AR headset as he opens the control panel. What he sees, she sees. She can also highlight and tag switches in his field of view. AR/VR helps Sally be Oliver’s “wingman”, and de-risk mission-critical changes.
2) Decision Support & Data Insights (show me, tell me)
Dark data, data exhaust, data byproducts – whatever we call it, it’s a giant mountain of data, much of it unstructured, not being fully utilized for the enterprise. If this sounds like the classic Business Intelligence (BI) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) value proposition – it should. It’s a process that processes data, extracts signal, analyzes, pulls insights, drives action tied to KPIs, delivers ROI, and ultimately shareholder value. Skepticism is justified here – on why/how AR/VR is better than a flat screen version of BI/ERP/CAD – but a few examples include:
- Benefits of Unified Communications combined with Business Intelligence
- Digital Twin and IOT use cases for trillions of dollars of assets
- Immersion into three dimensional models; or high dimensional data
3. Knowledge Sharing (teach me, inform me)
Education, training, practice. Whether it’s open heart surgery; or a nuanced approach to turbine repair – the ability to capture and store video, voice and ‘there-ness’ is powerful. Knowledge leakage with retiring workers can be reduced with AR overlays. Information retrieval from terabytes of long-tail data, can be summoned almost instantly.
4. Cognitive Wingman (talk to me)
Jarvis. A cognitive-powered executive assistant  that never sleeps, knows your needs and career goals, remembers prior conversations, and has access to the company’s databases.
5. Cognitive Extenders (enrich me)
More to come on this in future posts.
Though AR and VR are still in their nascent states, initial indications are that the technologies (Augmented Reality in particular) have enormous potential to solve problems and generate value in the enterprise.
Furthermore, the use cases we are seeing have a very clear line-of-site to existing KPI’s and demonstrable ROI. And so, with the emergence and availability of many great technology platforms, and demonstrable business value, a period of experimentation and validation of AR/VR for enterprise is upon us!
AR/VR is no longer just a game!
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Created: July 25, 2014Englishfrançais