Leaders, are you empowering your people to connect in new ways and think ahead?
If your organization is planning or building digital experiences for your brand or your client brands, then this cry is for you. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) can no longer be ignored. It is mainstream.
Global shipments of AR and VR headsets set a record 2nd quarter this year. Shipments are expected to exceed 50 million by 2025. Based on research from the IDC, VR and AR has clearly passed the early-adoption phase and are firmly part of the mass market.
According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle, VR was last featured in the “Slope of enlightenment” in 2017, which is stage 4 out of 5 on the way to mass adoption. In 2018, VR had disappeared from the chart. Gartner said then that VR technologies were almost mature, and didn’t need to be evaluated as a new.
So what are you waiting for?
Leaders of companies large or small, I have two questions for you:
1. Do you consider your organization progressive? [ if no, please stop here ].
If the answer is no to #2, please stop reading and commit to it first. Otherwise it will be impossible to grasp my proposition. Please get your hands on a VR headset and meet with a colleague in a virtual environment. The experience is brilliantly eye-opening. Then please re-read this article’s headline.
Ok, you’ve caught up. You’ve experienced a peek into the future of remote connection.
Now, here’s 8 reasons why you should provide VR headsets to your teams, yesterday…
1. Holding daily meetings or special events.
You can launch your headset, tap into a room and join a teammate across the country for a planned meeting or a spur of the moment ‘catch up’. You can share digital files, hold a creative concept presentation or collaborate live on a pitch deck. Or surprise a friend with a virtual birthday party with digital cake and champagne – it happened to me.
2. Dreaming up future digital experiences
Regardless of the size of your enterprise or startup, your people need to be granted time to experiment. Your workforce or your founding team need to shift from ‘what’s all this buzz about’ to ‘this could be the future of work and play’. Ask yourselves, „do your new hires have to beg for a computer when they join your company?“. So why should they have to beg for a VR headset? See my earlier post on ‚Why you must try VR now‘.
3. Education & Training
We’ve all sat through training courses and meetings in Webex or Zoom calls. The experience is flat. Even with the most entertaining host in a pre-recorded lesson it can still be hard to truly engage, especially for long periods. Image joining a virtual classroom with your hologram host and learn together live with colleagues from around the world?
Companies like Groove Jones, are developing next-generation virtual experiences to engage audiences and train professionals. Here’s an example of a VR experience they produced to help pool professionals experience the steps of installing the new pool heater equipment.
4. Attending conferences
Inside platforms such as Spatial, custom event halls can be created to be as intimate or grand as desired. I’ve attended small gatherings in single rooms and also events such as AWE in September (above) in vast meeting spaces with presentation slides and content pinned to digital walls. Following this was a post-event networking session in a ginormous convention hall in outer space. As your avatar you can hover up to others and enjoy conversation with immersive spatial audio to not only hear the person in front of you but other chatter from groups around you. You can exchange business cards, share content and record video right there.
You won’t find many established industry events that are not considering offering a hybrid option for future gatherings – as the virtual remote option has proven itself during the pandemic. Get ready to elect the ‚virtual‘ option on your next event ticket purchase and grab your headset for an enhanced experience.
5. Onboarding new hires remotely
The recruitment landscape has changed and talent pools have extended beyond proximity to home office locations. This will remain even after the pandemic. So all companies will be challenged with conveying culture for new hires – virtual reality can help solve this.
Along with Spatial and Horizon Workrooms, Microsoft is also in the race. MS Teams has 250m users worldwide. Your company likely uses it to unite your workforce. Next year, we will be able to take Teams meetings in virtual spaces with VR headsets (as seen above).
6. Pitching new business
Will there come a time when the new business pitch will no longer require traveling to be in person? The pandemic shifted many of these to Zoom calls or Webex/Teams meetings, but to pitch in a virtual environment… imagine that!
7. Companies have already started. Two major announcements last month alone.
Accenture: News broke on Oct 13th that they acquired 60,000 Oculus headsets for training new hires. CEO Julie Sweet said: “Why are we doing that [supplying virtual reality (VR) headsets for training new recruits]? Because the way you build connections is also through experiences, and it’s super cool.” Accenture has been onboarding tens of thousands of new employees during the pandemic inside a virtual global HQ.
Bank of America: On Oct 7, they declared themselves as the first in their industry to launch a VR training program in 4,300 financial centers. “This innovative training technology will allow approximately 50,000 employees to practice a range of routine to complex tasks and simulate client interactions through a virtual environment“.
8. Black Friday is coming.
Black Friday is likely to produce some attractive deals. Wink wink.
OK, so what’s next?
Apple is rumored to be working on an advanced mixed reality headset likely similar to Facebook’s Oculus Quest but with sleeker design. According to MacRumors, “It’s said to feature two high-resolution 8K displays and eye-detecting cameras that will let users read small type and see other people standing in front of and behind virtual objects“.
There is a lot of hype on next-generation internet technologies given Facebook’s recent Meta announcement. They teased out several applications for metaverse technologies they plan to build, most will require a VR headset. Just yesterday, Meta gave an update on their haptics progress coming out of their Reality Labs. The next phase of immersive virtual will be not only avatars and spatial audio – but the added dimension of touch/pressure. Haptics is the ability to touch and feel virtual objects. This is forecast as the next era of human-computer interaction. See a preview below:
What should progressive companies do with all this?
Realize the opportunities to connect your people and welcome new people. Be ahead of the curve. Its a no-brainer that your team members need to not only be aware of these technologies, but be comfortable with them. Once comfortable, the creative juices start flowing. Your teams will then be poised to dream up new possibilities for the future of brand experiences.