4 Valuable Opportunities for Augmented and Virtual Reality in B2B

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Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) are the hot  consumer technology today.

Augmented and Virtual Reality Search Trends

A peek at Google Trend data illustrates growing interest.

Accompanying that interest are the inevitable questions you face as a B2B marketer. From your sales team to your channel partners,  and even from the C-suite. Everyone is clamoring for you to add AR and VR to your marketing mix.

As with all trends, the challenge is in how to convert them to meaningful tools in your marketing mix. The key phrase being meaningful. Not shiny. Not new. Not cool. Not technology for technology sake.

But meaningful in the sense of adding quantifiable business value.

To use AR/VR effectively, you must look at opportunities leverage the technology to better engage with customers – and differentiate your offer – with buyers.

Once you identify these valuable opportunities, the decision to make investments becomes easy – both for you and for your upline management.

So let’s examine four of the most compelling use cases for AR/VR investments as a B2B marketer. By outlining the business situation, the role of AR/VR, the key technologies at play and industry examples, your project plan will be nearly complete.

1. Product Development and Prototyping

The Business Situation:

New products are expensive to build and critical to the future of your business. Prototyping and effective pre-production testing of products is critical.

Unfortunately, prototyping is expensive and time consuming. This can limit the ability to test in the development stage internally and with customers.

The Role of AR/VR:

AR/VR provides a way to rapidly see and test prototypes in a virtual space. AR/VR allows for rapid iteration and can fit in normal development workflow that extends from CAD.

This allows designers to detect usability and other product consideration sooner and make corrections in the design phase and before investments are made product/manufacturing.

Key Technologies:

HTC Vive – immersive VR with 6DOF (degrees of freedom) room scale capability that allows for a natural exploration of a space that is up 3 x 3 Meters. HTC Vive is currently shipping with intuitive and easy-to-use hand controllers.

Oculus Rift – immersive VR with 6DOF (degrees of freedom). Currently does not support room scale environments. Oculus experiences are typically standing or seated. Hand controllers shipping in 2H2016

B2B Example:

Caterpillar is using VR in their R&D Process. Designers can now navigate a 3D model of the equipment in development. The move enables improved collaboration with the manufacturing, allowing for late stage design changes if needed and cost-effective design validation.

2.  Marketing Large Products

The Business Situation:

Large products – as in physically large – present a unique challenge to show and demonstrate to customers.

Significant investments are main in getting the products in front of customers to see, touch and interact with them which is critical to the sales process.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to simply give a product to every sales executive. Rather, considerable expense in incurred shipping products, attending events, creating demonstration centers and funding travel.

The Role of AR/VR:

AR/VR provides allows customers to see and interact with large products in new ways.

An AR/VR experience would put these larger products in a virtual space, allowing customers to explore the products and interact with key product features. The portability of the AR/VR solution, compared to the expense of getting a customer in front of an actual product, makes it cost effective and potentially easier to schedule.

Consider that the AR/VR technology could be as small as a tablet or smart phone. Or, if the experience requires a full-size computer, it could fit into one or two Pelican cases. Either option are considerably easier to transport and ship than a large product.

Key Technologies:

HTC Vive – immersive VR with 6DOF (degrees of freedom) room scale capability that allows for a natural exploration of a space that is up 3 x 3 Meters. HTC Vive is currently shipping with intuitive and easy-to-use hand controllers.

Oculus Rift – immersive VR with 6DOF (degrees of freedom). Currently does not support room scale environments – Oculus experiences are typically standing or seated. Hand controllers shipping in 2H2016

Samsung Gear VR – phone based applications with 3DOF (3 degrees of freedom) mixed with “better” experience and portability.

Project-Tango — uses computer vision, typically infrared and stereo-pair cameras, on specific tablets and phones to detect and manage the position of fixed and computer-generated objects.

zSpace – 3D monitor that tracks the user’s viewing position and a stylus with simple haptics create the ability to interact and manipulate computer generated content comfortably in a holographic display.

B2B Example:

Data Center Tours is reinventing the typical facility tour. Using a combination of beacons, AR and mobile app, they are transforming the tour experience from blah to brilliant – with security and analytics for the data center operator.

Data Center Tours Use of Beacons AR

3. Communicating Complex Value Propositions

The Business Situation:

Some products are complicated and solve very complex problems. Explaining how these products actual work and their value proposition can be challenging at times. Many marketers struggle with communicating complex value propositions simply and clearly.

Traditional methods like white papers, technical presentations and animations all have their place, but still something is missing to make the complex story simple and clear to understand.

The Role of AR/VR:

AR/VR provides a way explain complex value propositions in new ways with an entire new set of tools. Not only does AR/VR bring in three dimensions, but also allows to direct user interaction.

Now customers can see what is not visible and interact with what is not normally possible. A properly designed AR/VR experience will make your value proposition stand out in a way not possible in the past.

Key Technologies:

HTC Vive – immersive VR with 6DOF (degrees of freedom) room scale capability that allows for a natural exploration of a space that is up 3 x 3 Meters. HTC Vive is currently shipping with intuitive and easy-to-use hand controllers.

Oculus Rift – immersive VR with 6DOF (degrees of freedom). Currently does not support room scale environments – Oculus experiences are typically standing or seated. Hand controllers shipping in 2H2016

Samsung Gear VR – phone based applications with 3DOF (3 degrees of freedom) mixed with “better” experience and portability

Project-Tango — uses computer vision, typically infrared and stereo-pair cameras, on specific tablets and phones to detect and manage the position of fixed and computer-generated objects

 zSpace – 3D monitor that tracks the user’s viewing position and a stylus with simple haptics create the ability to interact and manipulate computer generated content comfortably in a holographic display.

Low-cost VR –  Affordable VR viewers like Cardboard VR, use a standard smartphone to present animated and interactive content in stereo. Currently used for diverse audience distributions when ubiquity is more important than deeply immersive experiences. Custom printed VR viewers make a great give away.

B2B Example:

Hexagon is a global IT provider for geospatial and industrial enterprise applications. They used AR to communicate their complex design, measurement and visualization technologies in their annual report to investors. A page within the printed report document triggered the experience for investors.

B2B Augmented Reality Example

4. Trade Show and Events

The Business Situation:

Creating booth traffic and meaningful experiences at events is very important. Unfortunately, standing out in the crowd can be hard, resulting in low returns on marketing investment.

The Role of AR/VR:

AR/VR experiences are fantastic booth draws. AR/VR is engaging, unique and fun.

AR/VR experiences can be crafted as games related to your business model to create a booth competition. Other interactive experiences can also be crafted that link to product value propositions or the other use cases described above.

Key Technologies:

Elluminati – spheres, half or full domes come in various sizes to create an immersive experience well suited for theatrical displays for large audiences

Low-cost VR –  Affordable VR viewers like Cardboard VR, use a standard smartphone to present animated and interactive content in stereo. Currently used for diverse audience distributions when ubiquity is more important than deeply immersive experiences. Custom printed VR viewers make a great give away.

B2B Example:

Working in the highly regulated medical industry, Medtronic Minimally Invasive Therapies Group uses VR to drive traffic and engagement at their clinical trade show events. heir VR application viewed with Cardboard VR demonstrates the clinical impact of respiratory compromise in a compelling way. Respiratory therapists, nurses, ICU physicians and other clinicians waited in line for the award-winning experience and the app is now available for download in the App Store.

Trade Show Vritual Reality Example

The potential uses cases for AR and VR transcend just training and maintenance applications. The four use cases and examples are just the beginning of how AR and VR are transforming communications and technology marketing.

The possibilities are infinite yet can be challenging to invent on your own. A free 30-minute consultation with an AR VR project advisor can help you explore not only a good use case, but the right tools for your specific project – all while retaining the focus on customer engagement.

B2B Marketers Guide - AR and VR Glossary of Terms

Image Credit: Equipment World, Data Center Tours, Marxent

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