Now is the time when business leaders often evaluate the most recent prominent technologies and discuss how they might impact the year ahead. In 2017, virtual reality hit the mainstream for the consumer market and let them experience things they hadn’t considered possible. However, it’s not hard to see how the same technology could benefit the business sector.
Below, we’ll look at several ways it likely will. The potential applications could save money, develop better products and more.
Giving Workers Identical Perspectives From Afar
One of the hallmark characteristics of virtual reality is that can show people things that aren’t otherwise part of their environment. For example, a person can strap on a VR headset and take a trip to outer space or go to a picturesque Hawaiian beach.
Virtual reality could also reduce unnecessary corporate spending through a technique referred to as “see what I see.” It’s particularly useful for employees working in field settings who encounter things they’d normally rely on support teams to fix. Before virtual reality was possible, workers in that situation might use phone conversations to describe symptoms they noticed. Then they’d request in-person backup assistance from other team members.
Now, it’s possible for multiple people to see the same thing across distances, usually by wearing special glasses. Individuals can now give expertise without necessarily having to travel to job sites.
Making Store Openings or Product Launches More Successful
Companies dedicate significant amounts of money to marketing campaigns in hopes of helping products gain momentum. That practice is also common before the opening of a new store location or office.
Print campaigns, social media contests and television advertisements are some of the typical ways to promote such events. But, what if businesses add virtual reality into the mix during 2018?
Swedish retailer IKEA already did it recently to help users experience what it’s like to shop in a store and understand why the brand’s products are worth owning. The promotional effort took place for a store in a Dallas, TX suburb and captured the attention of several hundred people. Participants spent several minutes in IKEA’s virtual world while checking out furniture or learning about design principles.
Improving User Experiences (and Business Revenues)
A smooth user experience cuts down on development costs, results in long-term revenue and increases adoption from the target audience. Ideally, user experience goals cater to customers and businesses simultaneously.
Imagine how virtual reality capabilities could allow developers to envision prototypes, functionality and potential use cases before coming up with tangible products or bare-bones versions of websites.
The details shown in the virtual realm could inform decisions or highlight possible issues while keeping costs as low as possible. In turn, the results have a higher likelihood of strengthening the business and satisfying the target market.
Training Workers to Stay Calm Under Pressure
On-the-job education helps employees know how to conduct themselves during typical (and atypical) days at work. However, some scenarios are hard to recreate in role-playing exercises or other commonly used techniques.
Mega-brand Walmart understood that when it turned to virtual reality to train employees for the holiday season. It aimed to offer this technology to over 140,000 employees at 200 training academies by the end of 2017. Workers reportedly like using virtual reality because it’s different from the norm and equips them with need-to-know skills in fun ways.
During a trial period of the virtual reality training, Walmart found when workers received it, they were more likely to remember the information compared to employees who didn’t. That’s meaningful, especially since once holiday shopping is in full swing, retail stores turn into high-pressure environments characterized by long lines, frustrated parents and fussy toddlers, just to name a few.
All those distractions could make workers more likely to forget what they know. However, virtual reality could reduce that possibility.
Keeping People Motivated and Engaged
Some businesses are associated with activities that people might find unpleasant — working out at the gym, for example. Many fitness centers have kept up with the times and made exercising as pleasant as possible by fitting their equipment with televisions.
However, some gyms have gone even further and installed virtual reality machines. They simulate deep-sea diving or traveling through fantasy worlds as users do core workouts or use stationary rowers.
Think about other things people don’t like to do, such as filing taxes or going to the doctor. It’s not hard to see how virtual reality could make those things more appealing, too.
Consider how humans are creatures of habit. If they participate in something made more interesting due to virtual reality, they’ll probably want to try it again in the future. They’ll likely tell their friends about it too, which increases curiosity about what a given business is doing to keep people coming back.
We’ve just looked at several ways you can expect VR to change things for the better in 2018. As you’ve seen from the relevant case studies, some businesses became early adopters and used VR for fascinating reasons.
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