by Diana Bersohn

Immersive tech reaches critical momentum

Nov 09, 2021
Collaboration SoftwareSmall and Medium BusinessVirtual Reality

Companies that recognize the signal of business change and invest in immersive technologies will capture an expanding market.

What's Next?  >  Futuristic workspace with conceptual virtual interface / future planning / progress
Credit: Piranka / Getty Images

People may not fully realize it, but they’ve taken a step into the future over the past year. Consumers, businesses, and everyday citizens are living in a hybrid world between the virtual and reality. These immersive technologies have permeated almost every facet of life, from homebuying to the workplace.

For example, some hospitals created a virtual reality training experience to train frontline healthcare workers and medical staff on proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). After one practice attempt, 70% of the simulation group subjects were able to perform the correct sequence of steps compared to 20% of subjects in the control group.

And after more than a year of quarantining, the workplace is getting a digital makeover, with a range of immersive experiences set to blend in-person realities at the office. Boards and investors have already met in the so-called Zoom room, and according to Accenture’s Business Futures report, 88% of C-suite executives are investing in technologies to create virtual environments for their workplaces. Google, for example, is building a new meeting space called Campfire, where in-person meeting attendees will sit in a circle interspersed with virtual participants so that every person has a visible, present seat at the proverbial table.

CIOs are poised to capture this momentum.

Signals of change

Accenture has identified the blending of real and virtual worlds, what it calls Real Virtualities, as one of six signals of change for business, an indicator of where momentum is moving. Whether that be purpose-driven work, new supply chains, or immersive technology, CIOs that tap into these signals will set themselves up for future success and those that don’t risk being left behind.

Accenture found that immersive technologies are also a priority for the C-Suite, where 82% of executives believe that building virtual and more immersive environments will be important to their organization’s success. These technologies have the potential to improve employee training, create new value chains with virtual services and dismantle physical barriers to work that will make global collaboration and hiring seamless.

Examples of successful implementation of immersive technologies abound in retail and consumer goods brands, with consumers being offered a chance to access their everyday needs and for companies to continue to innovate their operations and even elevate them to include elements that in-person interaction couldn’t provide. Warby Parker customers can use the company’s augmented reality app to virtually try on glasses mapped to their faces. Similarly, MAC Cosmetics premiered their Try It On AR service that allows customers to “try on” different makeup products using their phones. Services such as these are especially important as demand for the convenience of online retail—without sacrificing in-person benefits—continues to increase. Customers who use immersive technologies to test products before they buy them were shown to be three times more likely to buy an item and spend 10% more, on average.

As these examples show, companies using VR or AR in tandem with other technologies in their strategy will reap the benefits. Imagine what immersive technologies powered by the cloud and connected through fast, secure 5G networks can accomplish. Future-conscious CIOs understand these advantages, not only for customers, but in their operations as well. What’s more, Accenture’s “Try It. Trust It. Buy It.” report found that over the past five years there has been a marked increase in immersive patents, largely due to 47% of consumers willing to pay extra for a product they could customize using immersive technologies.

The data on immersive tech is clear: companies that recognize this signal of business change and invest in immersive technologies will capture a burgeoning market, and those that don’t will miss this crucial moment of momentum.