The use of virtual reality in business has been a hot topic over the last year, with a wealth of both corporate grade and consumer level products launched by major manufacturers. Here we look at how virtual reality will be used for business in 2017 and beyond to transform staff training, sales & marketing, system optimisation and more.
VR devices like Google Cardboard have offered consumers a low cost peek into the possibilities of the technology, more sophisticated offerings from Samsung and HTC have captured the mid-range, and immersive dedicated devices from Sony and Oculus are gaining traction. However, so far, the focus has mainly been on virtual gaming.
This is likely to change over the next year, as virtual reality hardware and software evolves, and interest from early adopters translates into adoption by the mainstream market, which is projected to be worth over $120 billion by 2020.
The potential applications for VR are widespread, and the potential benefits to businesses are significant.
VR in Marketing
Experiential marketing is key for companies launching new products or seeking to build brand loyalty, and virtual reality opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to giving potential customers a “hands-on” experience.
Car manufacturer Audi recently tested a virtual dealership where customers could view and interact with any one of the many models available, as well as instantly customise the virtual car to their own specification, choosing paintwork, interior leather, alternate wheels and other options.
NBC used virtual reality to allow fans of hit show “The Voice” to sit alongside the judging panel, watch performances and give feedback. Using VR allowed NBC to connect with many more fans than would have been possible with a purely physical experience.
Last year, Coca-Cola created a virtual reality “Santa’s Sleigh Ride” which allowed consumers to experience a flight around the world, and have even issued a guide to creating a simple VR headset from one of their multipack boxes paired with a mobile phone.
As more and more consumers have access to virtual reality devices in their home over the coming year, we can expect marketing departments to come up with increasingly innovative uses of the technology to bring their products and brands to life and engage a new generation of consumers.
In a recent survey in the US, 80 to 90% of respondents indicated a preference to work remotely at least some of the time, and it’s estimated that as many as half of all jobs are currently compatible with “teleworking”. This could be further increased with the use of virtual reality as it develops to the point of accurately replicating real-world interactions.
Currently, remote meetings are carried out by conference calls, or video conferencing, but there are many issues with these technologies, including technical glitches, lack of non-verbal communication leading to misunderstanding, interruptions and delays due to the need to repeat material.