Gartner predicts that 10% of workers will use virtual spaces for activities such as sales, customer engagement, remote collaboration, and onboarding by 2025.1 This migration into virtual spaces is powered by extended reality (XR) technology which is transforming experiences for businesses and customers (see Figure 1).
However, we are still in the early adoption stage of this immersive technology-enabled digital transformation journey, therefore, some business leaders are not well-informed about the benefits of XR technologies. To close the knowledge gap, We compiled the top 10 benefits of immersive XR technologies for businesses and customers.
Benefits to companies
1. Improved training outcomes
Conventional classrooms and current e-learning methods fail to deliver desired results, as over 90% of executives surveyed by Accenture believe that existing employee training methods need to be more effective.2
Studies suggest that most people are practical learners, as they develop 70% of their skills and knowledge from experiential learning while on the job.3 XR-based training offers active and immersive experiences that accurately mimic on-the-job scenarios, which leads to:
- 15% increase in knowledge retention
- 80% increase in employee training engagement
- 75% increase in the efficiency of training
as found in a case study by ARuVR and Coca-Cola.4
XR training helps efficient information uptake with active learning and unlimited repetition possibility within a safe environment. XR technology also facilitates tracking key performance indicators (eye tracking, action time, score, etc.) to improve training methods and results.
A survey by Accenture reveals that nearly 60% of companies are planning to make considerable investments in XR technology for learning and training (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Survey on XR learning investment, Source: Accenture
2. Reduced costs
XR reduces training costs by:
- eliminating specialist hiring costs
- minimizing travel costs associated with training
- making various training simulations accessible
- promoting trainee safety during and after training
- enhancing training outcomes and employee performance
A study by PwC reveals that VR training is cost-effective at scale compared to classroom learning and e-learn (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: Cost comparison of training methods, Source: PwC
Maintenance and repair
XR reduces costs associated with maintenance and repairs by:
- enabling effective remote specialist assistance
- providing seamless data access for technicians
Technicians can access data related to the machinery and repair procedures with head-mounted displays utilizing AR technology while keeping their heads up and hands-free.
In addition to on-the-job assistance, XR enhances technician performance with immersive and immense training simulations, which translate to real-life scenarios.
A case study by Kognitiv Spark on utilizing XR in maintenance and repair revealed that:
- more than 60% of support issues were solved without sending specialists on-site, reducing travel costs
- equipment downtime was reduced by an average of 14-20 hours
In summary, XR eases maintenance and repair procedures while customers receive faster quality help.
Product design, development & prototyping
Physical prototyping can be time-consuming and costly, but XR enables companies to develop and test their products in the virtual environment. Relying on virtual visualization can save the company time and resources.
Lockheed Martin, among many other industry giants, utilizes XR in product design and development, which yields:
- ~$10M in yearly cost avoidance by early issue discovery
- ~$500K in yearly travel savings
- an ROI of over 10
- significant reduction in program schedules and risk
3. Enhanced customer experience
Modern consumers expect personalized and engaging experiences from brands to influence their choices. Augmented reality is the new standard in mobile experience to drive engagement with brands, enhance customer experience, and increase brand revenue. Research by Snap Inc. and Deloitte finds that 75% of the global population will be frequent AR users by 2025, which signals the great demand and untapped potential for AR in customer engagement.5
Augmented reality is redefining the mobile consumer experience by effectively inserting the consumer in the experience as opposed to non-AR experiences, which do not incorporate the consumer or the consumer’s environment.
Think about how trying on the shoe you want to buy on your foot is better than guessing your foot size, or learning how your new coffee machine works on your actual machine is better than reading manuals. XR enhances the customer experience by effectively involving you and your environment.
Utilizing AR in product and brand experiences leads to
- Increased levels of visual attention compared to non-AR equivalent
- 40% increase in the likelihood of purchase
- More confidence in product quality
- ~94% higher conversion rates
- ~25% decrease in return orders (same source as 5)
The business benefits and tremendous consumer interest makes AR a top-priority tool in redefining and improving customer experience.
4. Improved communication and collaboration
Research finds that people who transitioned to remote work following the pandemic are less productive in collaborative tasks. Although current video conferencing tools have benefits such as availability and familiarity, they are tailored towards voice/video-heavy or PowerPoint-driven communications in which not all participants are active and engaged.
The lack of interactive content and collaboration tools raise the necessity for XR collaboration tools which offer:
- Increased presence/immersion
- Fewer distractions during the meeting
- Collaboration in 3D space
- Session analytics/insights
- Simultaneous multi-user engagement
XR can enhance productivity for remote team members by increasing engagement and presence in collaborative tasks (see Figure 4).
Figure 4: Benefits of XR collaboration tools, Source: XR Ignite
5. Eased value/product delivery
The ability to present information visually in 3D reduces the brain’s cognitive load, leading to efficient comprehension and knowledge retention.6 This arises the need for memorable digital brand and product interactions in the competitive digital business landscape.
AR more closely replicates the experience of physically inspecting a product before purchasing it, with the added benefit of access to detailed information, as if a salesperson were present. AR tools that enable potential clients to configure, personalize, try on, or otherwise test drive products are expected to become commonplace in the near future.
Companies can use AR to interact with customers in new and meaningful ways after they make a purchase. With AR user manuals, instructions, and feature guidance, ongoing product support after the sale can be far more beneficial.
Below is an example of how AR can be used for product showcases.
6. Improved sustainability
XR has the potential to save tons of paper, plastic, and materials by utilizing virtual environments and digital mediums. Companies have the opportunity to shift their services and processes with XR to expand sustainability while improving customer experience.
XR has the potential to digitize many advertising campaigns, add-ons, and customer support utilities (manuals, brochures, etc.) which would significantly reduce material waste.
Burger King is providing AR games and experiences with kid’s menus instead of plastic toys to promote sustainability.
Industries such as engineering, construction, and manufacturing can use XR solutions to streamline operations while promoting sustainability by
- Enabling efficient project management and material estimation
- Reducing the need for physical prototyping
- Preventing mistakes and associated waste
- Offering realistic and rich virtual R&D
Case studies from Airbus, INFINITI, and many more have proven that XR can reduce material waste and streamline manufacturing operations. Learn more about these case studies in our “Top 25 XR/AR Case Studies in 2023” article.
7. Streamlined manufacturing operations
XR tools allow multiple users to interact with a product’s digital twin which enhances collaboration and reduces development times. XR can assist designers and field workers in many steps of operation, such as design validation, prototyping, and assembly. Case studies by Kalypso find that utilizing XR in manufacturing operations can lead to
- 80-90% reduction in time for design reviews
- 75-90% reduction in time for quality inspections
- 15-30% improved labor effectiveness
- 10-35% increase in productivity
- 5-10% reduction in rework and waste
8. Seamless data access
XR eases data access by making data viewing and data analysis more realistic and interactive. XR can immerse users in a 3D display of a data set, allow users to superimpose data on top of the real environment, and engage with data in a hybrid (virtual-real) environment. This enables users to put data in the desired context, making it simpler to spot patterns and trends.
XR is beneficial in showing relevant data on display while performing tasks, which is why XR technology is widely adopted in maintenance and repair. XR enables workers to
- Access remote assistance/documents/data seamlessly while working
- Operate with step-by-step visual procedures
- Track and analyze machinery metrics
Case studies prove that utilizing XR in data access improves repair and maintenance by increasing worker efficiency. While current data is mostly accessed through 2D applications such as screens or papers, XR enables immersion into data to redefine how we interact and operate with it.
Benefits to customers
9. Improved customer experience (Customer’s POV)
XR has the potential to elevate the customer experience by enhancing customers’ understanding of data and easing access. XR tools, especially AR due to ease of access with smartphones, can assist consumers by imposing data on their surroundings and acting as assistants to make informed decisions.
AR shopping assistants are an example of AR tools that elevate customer experiences.
AR tools are efficient in delivering dynamic visual information which makes them preferable to static 2D solutions. Below is an example of how Zara used AR in experiential selling.
10. Improved self-service support
AR solutions can successfully replicate customer support services with step-by-step visual guides and product apps for smartphones. The availability and quality of these solutions help customers with product
Visual guides and real-time instructions imposed on the product help simplify complex machinery and procedures, allowing for smoother and more successful self-service support.
Below is an example of how AR can assist customers in product troubleshooting.