Why Your Business Needs a Strategy for VR (and other emerging technologies)
Virtual reality. VR. You would literally have to be living under a rock not to notice that it is currently one of the “in” topics in technology. However, today when I Googled “Virtual Reality Strategy for enterprise” to see what content had been written on the topic I came up with a pretty lean result.
Why is this? What’s the reason for this time lag in business (and I will add non-government bodies here) thinking about how VR (and other emerging technologies like ioT and AR – though I won’t talk about these in this post) may possible impact their business?
Here we are on the cusp of what Goldman Sachs called “the next computing platform” and if the Google search results are anything to go by there appears to be no clear direction or thinking – yet- happening around how business can harness the power of VR to achieve business goals.
It’s not like there are no precedence that organisations can look to for lessons to be learned in terms of the dangers of adopting a wait and see approach to an emerging technology to determine its potential impact on business.
Take social media for instance.
Facebook was founded in 2004, Twitter in 2006 and for the first few years of their existence many businesses adopted a wait and see approach. But people flocked to social media, the platforms matured and ultimately drove a change in how business was and is undertaken. Social media has touched the whole business life-cycle from sales and marketing, customer service, communications and business development. At a macro level social media has also had a tremendous impact on our culture, media, politics, business and even how we engage with our friends, family and feel about ourselves.Social technologies were consumer driven transformative technologies and VR is also looking to be.
Many businesses may not have a concerted VR ( or even a broader emerging technology) strategy at the moment because of a mistaken assumption about VR is still predominantly about games and gamers and if you don’t work in this area then it’s not relevant. Perhaps it’s about a belief that consumer adoption of VR headsets is still low or that the price tag of VR headsets needs to decrease (to drive consumer uptake) and when these things happen then perhaps it’s time to look at the technology and its impact on business.
These are understandable assumptions in some way especially if your business has decided at some point in the past to pursue a “wait and see” approach to VR. You wouldn’t be alone. For example late last year Electronic Arts (EA) games (US developer and publisher of video games – for eg StarWars Battlefront) CFO Blake Jorgensen is reported to have said the company were adopting a “wait and see approach” to VR.
“certainly [be] a market” for VR games in “five-plus years.”
But a few months can prove to be a long time in VR land.
Only last week it was reported that EA games StarWars Battlefront has now confirmed a compatible title for the Playstation VR.
And in January 2016 a report by US based Goldman Sachs on VR was released exploring the potential size of the VR/AR market, the VR /AR ecosytem and categorising it into potential market areas. Only five months old if you look at the report now it is interesting to see how fast the market is moving.
For example on p6 under “VR/AR Ecosystem” the data is already outdated. It lacks many startups working in VR that have come online over the last six months. [Snobal is not mentioned though we have been around since 2014 – but I am assuming this is because the report is a US based snapshot].
When the Goldman Sachs reported was published it looked at nine use cases or “meaningful drivers of the market in the near term” (p4). This included live events, video, healthcare, education, retail, engineering,military and real-estate. No mention was made though of corporate training and of operations(facilities asset) management – the two key markets that Snobal is working in with VR.
The take home message from this?
The pace of development and innovation in emerging technologies such as VR appears to be happening at a faster rate than the pace of innovation in prior emerging technologies such as social technologies. This may indicate that consumer uptake will be quicker. It also means all businesses need to be constantly evaluating the VR market (and other emerging technologies) and the potential impact on business.
So if your business has decided for whatever reason to date to adopt a wait and see approach be careful that this does not quickly turn into a “wait and catch-up” approach.
Developing a strategy for VR
What exactly is a VR strategy?
If I go back to my days of developing digital strategies for organisations there are many similarities. A VR strategy really is no different than any other business strategy. In fact your business most likely may decide not to have a distinct VR strategy but to instead include VR and other emerging technologies in its existing IT strategy. The important point is that emerging technologies like VR are being critically discussed.
As with all strategies it goes back to your organisations vision and the resources available. Being the best at what you do, communicating this effectively to your customers and (in this instance) how you can best use VR to achieve this. Having a dedicated strategy for VR enables your business to have detail and focus on how best VR (and other emerging technologies) can be leveraged to achieve business goals with the knowledge and resources available at the time.
Last year Daniel Allen, Creative Director and UX Interaction Design at VR studio, Block Interval wrote a posted entitled — Stay Employed: Learn about VR”. In the article he writes that he believes that we are at least five years away from perfection of the technology (though as above at the pace of technological innovation in the space this time-frame maybe shorter).
“if you invest your brain into learning VR right now, you’re going to stay employed.”
The same might be said for your business. If you invest now in understanding how VR is likely to impact your business, you’re going to stay competitive – and relevant.[ Want to hear more about how VR may impact your business? Talk to us.]