What will we learn from VR analytics?

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Oculus for Business supplied

Virtual reality (VR) solutions hold promise for improving corporate training and collaboration – but they also can provide new levels of insights into how customers and employees engage and interact with your organization.

Data gleaned from VR activities can help enterprises better evaluate risks, understand behaviors, and ultimately improve activities such as employee training and customer interactions. For example, VR analytics tools can capture eye gaze and fixation, right down to the length of time an individual’s eyes take to find and observe specific information. In addition, hand and body movement can be tracked to measure how individuals interact with and respond to objects.

Capturing these insights will require a new take on traditional metrics.

“Coming from the mobile analytics space, we tried to apply some of those metrics and capabilities to early VR experiences,” said Tony Bevilacqua, CEO of Cognitive3D, during a panel discussion at last year’s Oculus Connect conference. “We discovered that VR content must be measured differently … and needed new methods to understand and quantify user behavior in a virtual environment.”

Start early to understand critical KPIs

One thing that VR doesn’t change from traditional analytics practices is the need to begin with the business problem and work backwards to determine the right metrics and KPIs.

Experts on the panel at Oculus Connect suggested that IT and business analysts start by asking: What problem are we trying to solve? How will we know we’ve been successful? Then define the metrics that align with those goals.

For example, if you’re seeking greater efficiency with a specific process, the right metrics might involve the length of time it takes for users to complete tasks within that process. Or if you’re trying to improve worker safety, consider how to quantify a safer environment. Otherwise, you risk launching a solution that has no clear path to success.

“We have had enterprises approach us who think we can just install our analytics solution [into their VR headsets] and ‘Boom, ROI, we’re done.’ That would result in failure.”

To that end, it’s also important to engage researchers and analysts early in the VR design process.

“If you don’t integrate research from the very beginning of the design phase, the process becomes reactive rather than substantive,” said Grace Ahn, Associate Professor at the University of Georgia. Researchers also help to ensure consideration of the appropriate ethical and data privacy concerns, she added.

An immersive data experience

VR environments not only let organizations capture new data-driven insights – they also allow users to interact in different ways with existing data.

“VR is a natural platform for collaborative data visualization and visual exploration,” writes George Djorgovski, Co-founder and Chief Virtual Reality Officer of Virtualitics. “Users can interact with the data and with each other in a shared virtual space even if they are continents apart in the physical world.”

An immersive experience – looking at the data “from the inside out” – makes it easier to perceive patterns and relationships in the data, Djorgovski added. “We are creatures optimized to deal with the physical 3D world in which we are immersed,” he wrote, “and our minds are most effective if we are looking for patterns in such a space even if the space itself is abstract in nature.

Learn more about how VR can eliminate physical barriers to provide new ways for companies to connect, collaborate, and learn.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.