Augmented Reality (AR) can be a real game changer for any business. Organisations are already leveraging AR technology to gain a strategic advantage, educate field technicians, improve customer satisfaction and transform the product life cycle. Cutting through all the hype and white noise around this technology can proof difficult. Business leaders are still asking: What's the real value of Augmented reality for my business and is it worth an investment?
While some markets, sectors and individual businesses are more advanced than others, AR is still at a fairly early stage of development overall. The increasing market share of virtual and augmented reality industry is fueled both by private consumers and by companies and there are opportunities to leapfrog the competition early on. Smartglasses and VR headsets are now used in a variety of markets, most commonly within healthcare, education, manufacturing, logistics, military and real estate. Most common business functions benefiting form AR technology include, among others sales and marketing, operations and service. But, what is the real impact on those areas, you may ask.
IDC recently completed a custom project for PTC in the United States where they surveyed a mix of IT decision makers, enterprise executives, and line-of-business managers and found that service-based AR experiences drove investment (ROI) for 62% of the respondents. The primary ways of achieving the ROI was by introducing AR to service area through better knowledge transfer among employees, increased efficiency on site and improved first-time fix rates as well as fewer total truck rolls.
Companies that implemented AR into their training, name training classes without travel was the top reason for using AR, followed byvideo capture for later training playback, and access to service manuals and instructions, and videoconferencing. 51% of respondents said that their company had already seen a measurable return on their investment when it came to using AR for employee training and knowledge transfer.
Other companies (68%) said they were using AR for sales personnel training and another 60% said it was for customer-facing AR experiences, and nearly 52% said they were using it for videoconferencing. The key way sales is using AR for customer-facing experiences was for product demonstrations without transporting the product. Respondents also mentioned the ability to place a digital version of the product into the customer's environment as well as virtual customization of the product and product instruction manuals.
However, AR technology received the most positive response within manufacturing as more than 76% of respondents said their company was already measuring real ROI for this use case. The biggest AR value driver was increased manufacturing efficiency (70%), followed by the ability to speed the time between training and operations (60%). Other key metrics included avoiding manufacturing mistakes (42%) and decreased downtime (39%). As you can see, AR in manufacturing isn't a future technology, its one that's here right now.
So is Augmented Reality an investment worth making?
IDC's survey respondents reported Augmented Reality delivering positive results across different use cases. From taking the complexity out of manufacturing operations, improving quality of service, simplifying sales process to making training more effective. AR investment can bring a series of challenges. For one, new ideas and new technology are often met with resistance to change within an organisation. Also, business leaders must bare in mind that Augmented Reality is not expensive to get started; however is a long-term investment for a company.
With all of the above points in mind, we can't deny that augmented Reality is here and now. If your company has a focus in any of the previously noted key areas — from services to training to sales and marketing to manufacturing — it is time to get started.
Otherwise, you will soon find yourself running fast to catch up with your competition.
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Augmented reality isn't some pie in the sky technology that's coming someday soon. It's here now, and it's driving real-world use cases that will have industry-shaking ramifications in the very near future. A large percentage of companies have already recognized this and are moving fast to embrace this revolutionary technology.
In this report, IDC shares the results of a survey deployed to identify the most popular use cases for AR technology already driving measurable ROI in the industrial enterprise: