The role of technology needs to be looked at from an entirely different perspective – companies will have to reshape their IT delivery method and leverage disruptive technologies to be able to gratify today’s tech savvy consumers.
Augmented reality is taking the center stage in some of the leading enterprises today to create maximum impact on the behavior of traditional markets. Augmented and Virtual Reality systems are available in one form or other for the last 20 years. 15 years back these custom developed systems were reserved for a select few (large corporates, highly funded institutions (like defense, top research labs)). Now, the market dynamics are changing. Consumer demographics and psychographics have changed. We are in an era of empowered customers who desire to have choices and come with a lot of expectations. They will no longer walk down the street or wait in queues to purchase a product. Technology has witnessed a paradigm shift in business arena and has become a serious enabler to accomplish this. The initial business applications for AR started with digital marketing apps – like engaging customers with a brand using AR powered advertisements. In the last 5 years there has been a rapid productization of technologies that empower the smart phone eco-system (Quad Core processors, 4G network, reduced camera production costs, maturity in computer vision, 3D graphics, etc). Thanks to our gaming consumers, today we have smart phones with GPU’s to render high quality 3D graphics. This has enabled AR and VR Solutions to reach masses.
Today the consumers are active, informed and assertive of the choices they make. Consumer mind-sets, their patterns of purchase and their decision-making is being redefined by this new digital wave. The future holds substantial potential for AR and VR, with applications in a plethora of sectors, from agriculture, architecture, education and retail to medicine. Several technology firms have also jumped on to the Augmented Reality bandwagon. As technology matured and awareness improved, enterprises started to take advantage of AR in e-Commerce area. Some of the Indian Companies started using AR for selling Furniture. Apart from digital marketing and e-Commerce, the greatest value AR+VR Solutions can provide is in the immersive learning space to enhance human capacity to Imagine. They can dramatically decrease the cognitive load on the learner by providing 3D Visualization of a Complex Concept. This is very relevant to democratize educational delivery systems. AR and VR self-learning tools can deliver visualization of a complex scientific concept in the same format for an urban kid in an international school and also to a rural kid in government school. This Technology is a very meaningful neutralizer. Few Research Institutes are also trying to develop Intelligent apps that can be used by Farmers to diagnose the health of their crops (insect identification, pest management) using the camera of the smart phone.
Augmented reality has a lot going for it with several technology giants making huge investments in this. It is easy to use and engaging. It overcomes the challenge of merging physical experiences with digital content. Alongside, it creates brand awareness and enhances customer engagement in an exhilarating fashion. Augmented Reality will help us engage, indeed, and influence the benefits of staying connected. A recent report from Juniper Research suggests that the enterprise augmented reality app market is expected to reach $2.4 billion by 2019, growing tenfold from 2014. AR and VR has the most potential with consumers in the near term. Consumers are going to go into VR and AR with several expectations based on the very powerful smartphones they already carry in their pockets every day.
While we are generating more and more data, products are becoming progressively more complicated. Augmented reality enhances a user’s perception of and interaction with the real world. Therefore, AR is relevant in simplifying the complexity in all areas of industry, ranging from development to production, from logistics to training. After people have a new perception about reality, it is impossible to go back to the way things were. Customers will no longer want to go to a physical store or a desktop. This is something a company should give serious thought to. Businesses are becoming digital and so are the customers. This is most evident in the retail sector where consumers are using networking and mobility to make a purchase. Today, customers have 24×7 access to knowledge and opinions and this is shaping their preferences, expectations and choice of services. Therefore, companies are making sure they leverage digital technologies to take customer engagement to a new level and stay competitive; augmented reality promises this for them.
It’s not easy to meet the needs of this fresh raise of customer. Augmented reality is changing the way we view the world – or at least the way its users see the world. In a world that is ‘always prepped’, consumers have the power to choose and redefine their experience with expectations that are constantly evolving. They want a seamless experience across multiple channels. In everyday life augmented reality can help you with both small and big things in a practical fashion. All in all, flaunted as the technology of the future, AR+VR is making its way into the market place as brands continue to realise its potential to engage consumers.