Technology has been changing the world of business for the last hundred years and more, so more VR in business is inevitable. So, with that in mind, we’re going to take a look at the potential impact one particular technology – VR – might have on the commercial world.
Let’s get going:
By improving the idea of ‘try as you buy’
VR offers a huge amount of potential to retail firms selling products.
Why? Because you could soon be able to promote and demonstrate your products to retail customers in a way that offers insight never seen before.
If, for instance, you work in any kind of interior design, VR could be used to allow your customers to ‘walk around’ their kitchen or bathroom.
Using software, you could even work with them to create a number of different designs, allowing them to choose which one they enjoyed ‘visiting’ the most.
Anyone who’s ever had the feeling of loving something in-store and feeling let down by the same thing at home will understand the value of this!
This won’t just apply to home products, though: it’s expected that VR could have a big impact on the fashion industry under the same principles. Rather than having to buy a new coat or a new dress and then discover you don’t like it, you’ll be able to try your clothes on ‘virtually’ and only buy if you love them.
This will save both customers AND retailers the hassle of dealing with returns, saving everyone time and money.
VR can improve training processes
No business will turn down the chance to improve the way they train their employees. Good training methods are invaluable: they help employees and save the company a lot of money in the long run as a result.
VR will almost certainly become commonplace when it comes to workplace training. In certain industries, being able to run virtual simulations will save on legitimate training equipment.
One example has already taken place in the heating and air conditioning business, with the Houston Training Center for the market agreeing to install a VR experience designed to help students learn the trade through simulation.
A huge number of industries could benefit, including major ones such as medicine. Surgeons, for instance, could learn to train using simulations without having to put patients at risk.
In Britain, meanwhile, firefighters are already using Oculus Rift headsets to help trainees gain ‘real’ experience of hostile environments.
Even sports stars have started to use VR as part of their training: players for Arsenal, the UK soccer team, have started to use headsets in order to get a better idea of their on-pitch movement.
Communication technology has already done a lot to minimize business communication costs.
Once upon a time, the only way to enjoy a face-to-face meeting with an international clients was to actually get on a plane and go to visit them!
Though apps like Skype have helped make international working easier, VR could well take the next step, offering the experience of genuinely being in the room with clients and remote employees.
In terms of relationship building and management, VR could make the business world smaller than ever before. It will be possible for multiple businesses, all working in different countries, to hold ‘in-person’ meetings in the same room.
Companies often spend millions on international travel. VR could end the need for doing so.
Improved levels of customer service
Though technology has helped make many processes easier and more efficient, there’s no denying that in some ways, the human touch has gone missing from customer service.
In a world where so much communication is now done online, could VR provide the ideal middle ground.
Let’s say, for instance, you want to double check if your local store has a particular item in stock. In the old days, you’d simply call and ask.
With the web, you might simply type in a search (if the store’s site has the capability.)
VR, though, might allow you to communicate directly with the relevant department at the store, and to ask a real person if anything is in stock.
Though the result would be the same, VR would give businesses the chance to offer a more personal, friendly service without the customer losing the ‘ease’ of checking from home.
This combination could cause a real revolution in the way the customer service industry functions, and could impact a number of different market sectors.
A more specific branch of customer service – one that’s worth looking at individually – is the area of problem solving.
In any business where problem solving is required – IT troubleshooting, for instance, or coding – VR could be invaluable. For instance, if an IT technician needs to get access to a client’s computer to check the problem out, a VR set could be configured to allow them to do this remotely.
Though the technology does exist for this to be done via the technician’s computer – and indeed this occurs often in the current working environment – it’s hoped that VR will make the process quicker and easier – as well as simpler for less tech-savvy industries.
(It’ll also solve the problem of those experiencing the issue having to describe it verbally to specialists, which can be very time consuming in of itself.)
At one point, the only way to manufacture any new product was simply to keep making real prototypes until one worked.
VR could render that problem non-existent. By creating an accurate virtual reality program capable of simulating real-world manufacturing, companies will be able to build and test new product entirely within the simulation.
As a result, businesses will be able to save thousands – and more – on the development process.
What’s more, the VR environment could then be used as part of the pitch process to potential backers and investors.
By being show a full, realistic simulation of the real product, investors will have a much better idea of its potential. They’ll be able to ‘test’ the real deal themselves.
And by simulating designs, engineers will be able to perform the whole ‘ironing-out’ process without any errors having any real-world consequences.
Any business involved in manufacturing could save millions in development costs before the product ever becomes reality, thus increasing their profit margins and improving prosperity.
With the above points in mind, we’re now going to go through some of the different sectors that are already using VR – some of them we’ve already half-mentioned, some we haven’t, but it’s important to highlight that VR isn’t a pipe-dream: it’s already here!
Space and aviation
NASA was actually one of the earliest adopters when it comes to VR, and the Johnson Space Centre in Houston has been using simulations to help train astronauts since 1992!
Flight simulations as a whole, of course, have been in operation for years, and make up a key part of training for pilots to this day.
Marketing often adopts new technologies, so it’s not been a surprise to see VR used in a number of recent major promotional campaigns.
A number of the biggest Hollywood studios in have used VR experiences in order to try and hype films such as Star Wars, Jurassic World and Insurgent, as well as others.
Google were also unsurprisingly quick to use the technology, issuing their own Cardboard VR units to help promote their services.
Virtual reality has a huge part to play in the world of storytelling, and some of the world’s biggest journalism companies have used VR to help create ‘360 degree’ videos designed to give readers a more concrete experience of the topics (and locations) covered in their stories.
For example RYOT have produced videos designed to give readers a better idea of what it’s like to be in war-torn areas of the world, in order to try and give more insight into the cause of the refugee crisis.
Travel and holidays
It’s much easier to sell an exotic holiday if you’re able to give potential customers a taste of the destination upfront!
Hotel firms like Marriott have already begun to create virtual experiences capable of letting customers ‘teleport’ to destinations like London and Hawaii, and also to take a look at some of the best Marriott rooms in those areas.
Google have also adopted the technology in this area, through their app Wordlens, which allows users to aim their phones at street signs and have them translated automatically.
Though these two companies are leading the market, the potential for implementation in travel is obvious.
Real estate and property
As with travel, the potential for ‘showing off’ properties and locations to customers within the real estate market is obvious, and some companies are already taking advantage.
YouView, for instance, has used VR to allow customers to ‘visit’ their locations without spending the time needed to travel there.
The technology is going to increase, too, with Matterport – a company specializing in computer vision technology – raising $30 million to create a platform primarily geared towards the real estate market.
This combines both the manufacturing and automation points we made earlier.
Ford Motor Company have been using VR to help design their cars for years, as part of their ‘Immersion Lab’.
By using the oculus rift, their engineers are able to observe the car from all sides and even to sit in it, giving them a much more realistic idea of what the driver experience will be.
Ford aren’t alone, either. In 2014, Lexus created their own driving simulator.
If you’re interested in learning more about how virtual reality could be used to help you improve your business, call us today. We’d love to help.