A Guide to Virtual Reality for Businesses

How are companies using VR to drive revenue?

We’ve all seen the adverts when it comes to gaming, but we’re here to explore its impact on other industries.

Virtual reality (VR) is an interactive computer-generated experience within a simulated environment. This is typically delivered through a headset or smartphone. Systems that include vibrations or other sensations, known as force feedback, through a game controller or such devices are called haptic systems. VR is not to be confused with augmented reality (AR) which layers its virtual element over a live camera feed and occasionally allows you to catch Pokémon. 

VR is already to be found in entertainment, defence, education, medicine and more. Widespread use in the business arena may seem a long way down the road but, in fact, it is virtually on our doorstep. Any process that can be carried out in the physical world — from customer experience to human resources to finance — can be simulated in VR. Use cases in business are expected to outgrow leisure with spending reaching $9.2 billion by 2021.

SEE ALSO: A guide to autonomous vehicles

Virtual training

VR enables us to experience any possible situation. Simulations that are becoming increasingly photorealistic trick our brain into believing what is happening in front of our eyes is real. Oculus’s VirtualSpeech app, for example, provides photorealistic environments to practice public speaking, sales training, business networking and interview preparation.

Surgeons are using VR to train in carrying out complex operations, even going so far as to scan three-dimensional representations of the nurses with whom the surgeons will be working . This is to fully simulate their working environment.

Police in New Jersey can rehearse for everything from traffic jams to being under fire. The company is even incorporating technology to deliver an electric shock to trainees if they make a mistake. This creates a real fear of consequence akin to what one would experience in the field.

Virtual customers

In the not-too-distant future, customers will be able to view a virtual showroom with artificial intelligence (AI) constructs posing as sales assistants. If they want to try a new product without changing out of their pyjamas, customers will have that chance. 

Physical showrooms will surely never become obsolete as customers will at some point need to test the actual product. However, for prospects higher up the sales funnel, VR is an easy alternative. In September 2017, IKEA launched its IKEA Place AR app which allows customers to examine products and actually visualise how they will look inside their homes. 

SEE ALSO: 5 use cases for AI in healthcare 

Virtual tourism 

Is your skin more suited to Transylvania than the Sahara? Take a virtual holiday instead. 

Destination B.C.’s The Wild Within is an interactive, 360* video that allows travelers to experience the rainforest of British Columbia, exploring coastlines and glacial waterfalls. With the use of Taclim VR boots from Cerevo, virtual tourists can actually feel the terrain beneath their feet. 

Virtual manufacturing 

The notion of simulating any possible process is ideal for a manufacturing business. Performance of a part or mechanism can be examined under any condition more cost-effectively, quickly and safely rather than building full-scale working prototypes. Boeing is now using simulated digital spaces to design and test new models. 

SEE ALSO: Intelligent Process Automation in Insurance 

Virtual sales 

The Audi VR experience uses proprietary software and visualization technology to help customers configure their own dream car, adding bespoke options and accessories in any virtual setting from a race track to the National Library in Paris to the moon.

Forbes reported that new car sales accelerated from 60 to 70 per cent with customers buying cars at 120 per cent of the price because of optional feature purchases. 50 per cent of customers even bought their cars without a physical test drive!

Virtual conclusion 

In terms of the topic at hand, what I find most interesting about VR is how valuable it can be as an analytical tool. When someone is engaging with an entirely virtual world, every action they make can be recorded and analyzed. This could be invaluable in the future of customer data and training.

I am not the only one to see the value. To greet its rapid growth in the business world, VR services are already becoming available, from hireable VR suites to world-building tools. Devices that were previously expensive and unwieldy are becoming a lot more capable. This ironing of limiting factors means VR is likely to keep growing, spreading into industries as diverse as online dating, therapeutic services and entertainment. 

Ironically, virtual reality is looking like a very real component of businesses of the future.

Want to see more insights about the intelligent enterprise of the future? Check out AI 2020: the global state of intelligent enterprise