There are a multitude of articles out there on how to make your business more successful, and top tips on how to utilise technology to increase productivity and work smarter. One theme that always recurs is how digital transformation is propelling enterprise forward in this increasingly technological world, says Chris Martin, CTO of Powwownow.
It doesn’t get much more exciting in terms of technological evolution than new virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Both have hit the headlines in recent years with their out of this world ability to launch users into new environments or enhance gaming experiences.
However, whilst many believe that VR and AR will thrive mainly in the gaming sector, it will also have a huge impact on the workplace. Without knowing it, VR is already widely used by businesses around the globe. But there is a significant amount of potential for AR and VR to be incorporated further into enterprise.
Looking to the future of enterprise
It’s safe to say that currently the vast majority of people think of AR glasses and VR headsets as a bit of fun – a novelty technology to play around with at the weekend. However, these applications of technology will bring serious value to global enterprise.
AR contact lenses or glasses will soon support the traditional PowerPoint presentation. Additional supporting information and statistics will be provided that will improve viewer engagement and offer additional tailored data.
AR and VR will really come in to their own in sectors which require experiential training. Situational VR and AR can simulate environments that are difficult to replicate under normal circumstances, for example a plane crashing or suffering a severe malfunction.
In industries such as manufacturing and medicine which require huge levels of technical knowledge, AR will add real value and provide, in some cases, essential support. Take, for example a major incident in a city centre, involving a collapsed building which required fire-crew to attend the scene. The fire fighters could be provided with additional information about the building structure from their AR headsets which could enable them to make faster decisions about how to proceed, potentially saving many lives.
VR is already being embraced by some sectors as an important tool for dealing with difficult situations. Doctors in London hospitals have recently used an VR simulation game to prepare young children who are having MRI scans for the first time. The headset takes the child through the journey they will undertake, right from entering the hospital, going through the corridors, and entering the theatre room. This enables children to become accustomed to the process and to help prevent them being frightened.
Today’s offices are already virtual
Unconsciously, the vast majority of businesses are actually already using basic forms of VR in their everyday office practices.
Conference lines and sharing technologies such as iMeet, that enable employees to share computer screens with other team mates remotely are normal tools heavily relied upon in today’s offices. They incorporate basic VR to allow staff to work remotely and thereby smarter, by sharing important documents wherever they are in the world.
This idea of collaboration without borders goes hand in hand with how VR will have a significant impact on enterprise. Forward thinking organisations should view VR as the most essential tool for collaboration today.
The traditional working day of nine to five is already changing. On average, UK workers spend two hours and 34 minutes out of the office each week, according to a recent study we conducted into working habits. This change in working attitude and culture has been fundamentally facilitated by VR tools. Employees can dial into a call using VR headsets and immerse themselves in the detail of the call regardless of where they are in the country or even world.
Since the turn of the 21st century, there has been a tremendous level of digital transformation that has taken place in every level of enterprise and society. Having firmly established itself into the day to day practice of the office, VR is here to stay and will continue to add further value to enterprise. We have yet to see the real value that AR will bring to businesses, but this will definitely change in the coming years. AR and VR offer real opportunities for businesses, from increasing collaboration to improving productivity and enabling smarter working.