There are many elements which need to be considered when adopting a new technology. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are no exception, as they are complex technologies which are still in a nascent stage. This means that the supporting strategies need to be robust and adaptable.
The implementation of these technologies can have a profound impact on business when developed correctly. On the flipside, if there is no defined strategic purpose, the tech can be viewed as a gimmick or a marketing toy.
There are some simple steps which all businesses can adopt to increase their chance of success.
Knowledge gathering, ongoing research, and engaging experts
AR/VR are important tools which should be owned and managed by the business directly with the support of studios or developers.
It is imperative that the business invests in its own time and resources to research. This research should include exploring both software and hardware options.
Employees should have this responsibility added to their role, to ensure they are able to dedicate a percentage of their time exclusively to this research.
The research should begin with some initial testing and exploration of devices and applications. You can’t truly understand the impact of virtual or augmented reality without using the applications and spending time in a headset.
The business should gather research and data from internal discovery sessions, attending conferences and speaking to industry peers who may have already begun to explore this space. By taking this approach the business can be armed with a myriad of viewpoints and diverse information prior to speaking with a commercial developer.
Your first project
Ideally you should explore some of the free or inexpensive content creation applications and develop a small prototype. This will give you a better understanding of the elements required to develop AR and VR. It can also assist with building a business case for the investment needed to develop a final application.
There are a range of simple creation applications for both AR and VR, which allow you to create or upload 3D models and interact with them via AR/ VR headsets or via a smartphone.
If Possible, Ensure The Application Delivers Some Unique Elements Which Are Only Achievable Via Augmented Or Virtual Reality
These applications can create experiences with limited technical knowledge. If the business has access to technical resources, more sophisticated applications can be created.
If possible, ensure the application delivers some unique elements which are only achievable via augmented or virtual reality. One of the most compelling features of immersive technology content is that the experience demands 100 percent attention. You can’t “press play” on an augmented or virtual reality experience and walk away. The medium, if developed correctly, requires constant interaction to function. This feature, combined with tracking analytics, gives a business powerful insight into how customers are consuming and engaging with the content.
Utility trumps marketing
Building an application which solves a problem or delivers a service in a unique and engaging way will always be perceived as more valuable than a gimmicky marketing focused experience.
The application should be a true utility, improving an existing business need with trackable analytics. By ensuring you have objective and measurable results, you can A/B test versus traditional media. This approach enables a business to demonstrate a compelling case for investment in immersive technology, underpinned by a tangible ROI.
Immersive technology can benefit marketing enormously but they should deliver additional information or experiences which more traditional digital marketing cannot deliver.
Working with developers– “know the process”
It is important that you are aware of how AR/VR applications are developed. This includes the components that you will need to supply to the developers and what deliverables the developer should supply you when completed.
If you have any existing CAD or 3D files, these can assist a developer as a reference and may reduce development time.
Before starting the process, you should also discuss Intellectual Property. Do you just want to pay for a final application (and rely on that developer for further support, with software and hardware updates) or do you want to retain all IP including source code, allowing you to develop further with your own developers or another vendor? The costs may vary depending on how much control or ownership you want of the final product.
It is important to pitch a business case for an adequate budget to continue developing and building beyond your initial projects. There are constant opportunities to improve previous projects, as software and hardware matures.
As your business explores the technology, you need to have the budget and authority to quickly develop applications. The investment should also cover multiple versions of applications, as you will need to improve the applications once you receive data and feedback from customers.
You will need to consider the cost of hardware… while augmented reality can be accessed via most smartphones, the more immersive virtual reality experiences will require investment in hardware for your staff (and possibly your customers). Luckily these costs are reducing rapidly, with the latest “standalone” VR headsets available from less than $400 USD.
Experiment Experiment Experiment
Lastly, continue your research, explore and experiment with the new technology. The rules for immersive technology are still being forged as the industry is still in its infancy. Businesses which keep an eye on trends and emerging opportunities can lead in this space.