Interactive agenda: Transform your customer relationships

Digital Perspectives

New Views. Applied Now.

November 27, 2017
Interactive agenda: Transform your customer relationships
By: Andrew Whelan

How immersive experiences could transform your relationship with customers

A quick scan through Wired magazine’s wonderful cover collection shows that it was back in June 2014 that a VR Headset took centre stage for the first time; the Oculus Rift in this case, and strangely only in the Italian edition. Since then, it has been hard to get away from the hype and hyperbole of VR and AR. Touring Mobile World Congress this year in Barcelona, brands who wanted to differentiate their stand from others simply had to not have a Microsoft Hololens experience on offer!

Beyond the hype

With all this noise, it’s quite reasonable that many marketers might have dismissed AR/VR as a gadget or gimmick for the few, rather than a strategic opportunity for the masses. Yet something big is happening in our virtual worlds. Gartner’s Hype Curve of Emerging Technologies in 2017 flagged Virtual Reality as well on the way up "The Slope of Enlightenment"; and while Augmented Reality was right at the bottom of the "Trough of Disillusionment", history shows that even six months on, it’s likely AR will be climbing out the other side.

A key reason for this is that whereas even now VR and AR capable devices are relatively few and far between, moves to integrate location-aware, augmented reality capabilities into consumers’ handsets, along with increasing variations of headsets linked either to phones or consoles, mean that first generation VR/AR capabilities are going to be in the hands of many consumers and colleagues very soon.

Apple has developed ARKit for iOS, which allows users to create AR experiences on iPhone and iPad. This will roll out to the mass market with the proliferation of the latest iPhones on iOS 11. On the Android side, Google has released the competitor framework ARCore. Based on leading research and the current adoption levels of ARKit on iOS11, our prediction is that 200-300m phones are likely to be capable of handling sophisticated AR within months.

Enabling new experiences

We believe 2018 is the year to really understand how AR/VR might integrate into the human experiences of both your customers and your colleagues. So, what immersive human experiences might we be able to create?

  • Imagine if you could help ophthalmologists experience the eye conditions they’re treating through the eyes of their patients; allowing an augmented reality view of the world seen with a cataract, glaucoma or colour blindness. Imagine the higher levels of empathy and better patient-to-practitioner conversations this could enable.
  • Imagine sitting in a car in the car showroom, and as you look around the car, being able to make changes to finishes and features to personalise the car to your tastes. Not only does this aid up-sell and customisation, it generates a valuable stream of data for future design and production.
  • Imagine charities of lobbyists being able to put those they wish to influence in the boat with an RNLI crew, experiencing the sensory overload felt by those suffering from autism, or putting you right at the heart of the Calais Jungle, understanding what its really like to have your life on hold in that environment.

Imagine if all the above were real and in action now, gathering insight and feedback from customers and developing the immersive experiences of the future. Well, all the above are in action right now; delivering insights, lessons learnt and results. If you’re not exploring these ideas, which of your competitors are, and what experiential opportunities might they seize before you do?

You don’t have to know what the ultimate immersive experience is for your customers before you start experimenting and learning. Understand how immersive human experiences could transform your relationship with customers and colleagues and design experiments to ensure the opportunities don’t pass you by.


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