While AR clearly has enormous potential for games that people can't bring themselves to put down (even if it's dangerous!), Augmented Reality also has real business cases - applications that could transform how industries function. While gamers are busy trying to 'Catch 'Em All,' business owners are starting to catch on...
Over the past several years, I've been watching how Augmented Reality is shaping into a technology that has a real business case, as opposed to a shiny new toy that people are using.
When it first came on the scene, it was incredible to see how companies were superimposing a video or map on top of a printed brochure or product. Now, in 2016, we've moved way beyond that. While there is still an application for consumer-facing Augmented Reality experiences, there are far more uses and businesses cases to be made about the use of AR in the enterprise.
I've had the privilege to be a part of the conversation that's being had about emerging technology across companies of all sizes. Today, I wanted to share some of the ideas that have come from those private conversations so that you can get some ideas and get the wheels turning on the benefits of AR in your own company.
AR Business Case #1: Cost Reduction At Trade Shows
When you have a large or complex product, shipping it around the world and/or sending a team along with it for assembly can be extremely costly.
An aerospace company has a new add-on assembly to enhance the cargo storage of any commercial plane. They want to sell this to current owners of planes and to buyers of new planes. This new add-on assembly takes 2 oversize semi trucks to transport and a team of 5 technicians 3 days to assemble it. It would cost thousands of dollars in freight costs, union labor, and overall logistics to showcase this product at a trade show or event.
This scenario is where Augmented Reality can really shine. Instead of paying to ship your product to yet another event, take several specially designed AR tablets and a custom AR software solution with you. Small enough to transport in a backpack, yet powerful enough to showcase your large product to your potential customers in a full-size 3D hologram-like replica. And better yet, one click of an on-screen button can rotate between different configurations and SKUs, or show the features and benefits called out in text on top of the machine.
AR Business Case #2: Service Technician Training
When a car or equipment dealership hires a mechanic to service customers it does several things:
- Customer satisfaction goes up because your repair speed increases
- Customer satisfaction goes up because the wait time for service decreases
- Revenue goes up because mechanics are able to sell more parts for the dealership
It's no secret that finding qualified service technicians is becoming harder and harder. Dealerships are looking for highly educated and skilled employees to hire, but the pool of qualified candidates is small.
Augmented Reality can help this.
Training manuals and equipment service documents are complicated and take real skill to understand and then apply what has been learned. By using AR, we can remove that barrier to learning.
A service technician arrives on-site where a piece of machinery is broken. The ODB port is telling the technician that there is a malfunction with the air-intake system. The technician holds an iPad up to the machine and chooses "air-intake system troubleshooting" from the menu. The iPad then steps the technician through the procedure of things to check by using the camera of the device and overlaying the steps one-by-one.
This solves the need to hire such a trained field technician. Anyone with basic mechanical skills and the ability to use an iPad can now service any issue. If they need assistance, click the button on the iPad and get connected to a senior level tech back at the dealership.
AR Business Case #3: On-Site Sales
When you have account reps in the field selling your products, you know how important it is to give them the tools they need to close the sale. One popular sales technique is to put your product in the hands of your customer so they can visualize themselves owning it and then they're more likely to make the purchase. But how do you do this when your product is too large for a salesman to take with them to demo?
You're selling large generators that power hospitals, apartment buildings, and resorts and your sales team is always on the road pitching your product. When your salesman meets with a prospective customer, instead of just talking through the benefits of your product through brochures or videos, they can use a tablet and virtually place your product, at full scale, exactly where it would be installed. Now your prospective customer can actually see this product in their physical space instead of hypothetically guessing how much space it would take up.
In addition to this example, your sales team can now highlight the features and benefits of your product as they virtually walk around it with the customer.
AR Business Case #4: Marketing Material Enhancement
The QR code is dead. In fact, I'm confident that the QR code was barely alive to begin with. The code that was designed for package tracking was ultimately adopted by marketers and placed on everything from billboards to business cards.
An ugly move.
Augmented Reality changes that by offering not only the same benefits that a QR code offered, but much much more, without the ugliness.
Picture this:You've been publishing product information pamphlets for the past 10 years and they are out there in nearly every dealership and customer location. You release a new mobile app and want to start tying your printed fliers and brochures to content within your app.
With AR, you can not only enable new brochures, but also all of the legacy pamphlets you have published in the past. Your mobile app can be configured to bring any piece of your content (past and future) to life and show a product video, direct people to your website, and more.
Look: the bottom line when it comes to Augmented Reality is that I see many practical business cases for this technology every day. The real question is, how do you see AR benefiting your industry?