How Businesses Are Using Immersive Tech Tools to Maintain a Competitive Edge
Immersive tech and artificial intelligence are just a few of the many emerging technologies that are starting to transform the business world. Once regarded as novelties, they have matured to the point where they now offer businesses who adopt them a substantial competitive advantage.
Hundreds of internet startups are currently developing new ways that businesses can use them to help increase efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve their bottom line. We’re going to look at the five technologies that companies will start to adopt as we move into 2020.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual reality gained popularity as video game designers used it to immerse players in 3D worlds. Over the years, it has found its way into many different business niches such as medical, real estate, and even retail stores. Many internet startups are developing specific training programs that can help businesses onboard and improve employee performance.
Walmart is one such company that’s recently taken advantage of virtual reality. They’ve purchased thousands of Oculus Go devices and are now using them for training employees in three areas: soft skills such as customer service and empathy, new technology, and compliance. Employees who have participated in the early VR program have reported a 30 percent higher training satisfaction versus traditional materials.
Tesla brought autonomous driving to the mainstream with the autopilot feature that’s enabled in all of their cars. While it technically can drive and navigate the vehicle on its own, it still requires a person in the driver seat to assist in the event of an emergency.
In October of 2016, Anheuser-Busch used an autonomous truck to deliver 51,744 cans of beer. This highly publicized event saw the entire highway shut down, the truck surrounded at all times by four Colorado state patrol vehicles, and three other support cars.
It’s safe to say that autonomous driving is not quite there yet, however, such companies as Starsky Robotics, Volvo, and UPS are currently researching and developing the technology for use in autonomous trucks. It’s estimated that it will take another ten years before it’s proven itself trustworthy, safe, and reliable.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Almost everyone remembers the failed Google Glass debacle that happened in 2013. The $1,500 pair of AR glasses failed to take off and instead were the brunt of jokes, criticism, and privacy concerns. While there are many reasons why Google Glass wasn’t widely adopted, the general consensus is that it didn’t have a good use above and beyond an expensive pair of novelty sunglasses.
The business world, however, took notice and saw the immense potential value that they offered their employees. Boeing is one of those companies that was looking for a solution that helped its wire-harness techs perform their job more efficiently.
They started a Google Glass test pilot program and after a few weeks, found that the wire-harness techs had decreased assembly time by 25 percent and significantly reduced error rates.
When companies in the past wanted to take advantage of the benefits of artificial intelligence, they had to purchase expensive hardware, software, and hire a team of techs to keep it running. This was not only cost-prohibitive but if new advancements came out, it would require significant R&D time before they could take advantage of them.
Such companies as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM are now providing businesses with AI as a cloud-based service. This new technology eliminates the need for expensive on-site computer equipment and allows companies to scale up or down as needed.
There are also many new niche internet startups who are offering AI-as-a-service for specific industries such as medical, financial, and legal. These niche services off a much more bespoke experience that can help companies become more efficient and provide better service to their customers.
If you ask a non-tech-savvy company about blockchain, you’ll probably get met with more than a few blank stares. It’s essentially a digital ledger that’s used to record transactions—yet it’s highly secure due to its decentralized nature and encryption. Bitcoin is the most famous application that uses blockchain technology.
Expedia and Priceline are two travel service aggregators that have almost completely dominated online airfare bookings—at a significantly increased cost to both airlines and travelers due to fees and surcharges.
A blockchain-based startup called Winding Tree is looking to challenge these two behemoths by allowing travelers to remove the middleman and connect directly with travel service providers such as hotels, airlines, and even tour guides. This will significantly reduce costs and reduce the number of middlemen that tend to tack on service fees.
Emerging Immersive Tech in 2020 and Beyond
As we move into 2020 it stands to reason that new advancements and discoveries will make the above five technologies even more powerful—and available to the business world. Companies will have no choice but to adopt these new immersive technologies if they wish to have and hold a competitive edge.