Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies are removing the hurdle of distance to people, information, and experiences. Entire industries will be disrupted and transformed, as will the ways in which people do their jobs.
Customers and businesses have long shared a tactical pain point: distance. It can be difficult for people to get to the grocery store to pick up items for dinner, let alone the other side of the world to provide professional expertise or training.
The Internet has partially solved this problem through solutions such as online delivery services and collaboration tools. But immersive experiences delivered through VR and AR will take us much further in the digital future, eliminating distance altogether and extending our definition of reality.
Accenture calls this phenomenon “Extended Reality” (XR), and it creates entirely new ways for customers and employees to experience the world while giving them omni-present abilities. As shown in the Extended Reality chapter in the Accenture Technology Vision 2018, our annual tech trend report, XR erases the distance to:
People—With immersive technologies making it possible for employees to be anywhere, companies can bring trainers “on-site” from any location; training scenarios can also be set up anywhere, then run, re-run, and adjusted to give a firsthand experience of different situations, as Wal-Mart is doing by using VR to help managers prepare for Black Friday shopping crowds.
Information—DHL Supply Chain uses AR glasses in its operations to provide visual displays of order picking and placement direction, freeing operators’ hands of paper instructions and allowing them to work more efficiently and comfortably. By incorporating these extended reality solutions, DHL has averaged 15 percent productivity improvements while achieving higher accuracy rates.i
On the consumer side, people currently use 2D information gleaned from various sources such as web sites to make purchase decisions. XR provides information in 3D by immersing people virtually into products, helping them to visualize offerings and contextualize them into their own environment. Audi, for example, uses virtual reality to let prospective customers design and tour their own custom vehicle, while IKEA uses augmented reality to help customers virtually place furniture into rooms.ii,iii
Experiences—XR will ultimately allow digital businesses to branch into delivering entirely new product and service offerings, including bespoke environments that cater to customers’ specific wants and needs. Examples include shopping while immersed in a virtual experience as real estate company Redfin is doing by enabling people to “tour” real-world listings without setting foot on the property,iv or developing a customized travel itinerary by using XR to explore potential destinations and hotels before making reservations.
By eliminating the distance in these three areas, companies have many new opportunities to think differently about what is possible. From this, they can create new solutions that improve connections with customers, optimize the performance of employees, or create and monetize new digital products and services.
Extended reality sources talent from anywhere
In a world in which the idea of "place" is no longer important, AR technology and VR technology will also help businesses address the largest workforce challenge they face: the distance between themselves and the talent they need to fuel new business growth.
Through immersive experiences, businesses can tap expertise in thousands of skills from anywhere in the world. XR supports an on-demand workforce approach, which not only saves up to 12 percent in recruitment costs, but also helps businesses engage an ever-growing pool of talent who desires flexibility.v
XR also provides the option to smoothly manage knowledge transfer between generations. People in semi-retirement could still provide their expertise to new hires when needed, such as an experienced oil rig operator sitting comfortably at home while providing equipment maintenance directions to a new worker located on an onshore platform.
What’s more, as XR-based remote control of physical systems becomes common, companies will be able to hire for manufacturing, assembly, and robotics expertise from a global pool of the best candidates, regardless of where they live. The result is an opportunity to redesign business without the limiting factor of distance--and for workers, to eliminate geography-based constraints on opportunity. In this sense, globalization takes on a whole new meaning when distance is eliminated—and provides unprecedented opportunities for people to contribute.
Is your company prepared for a world where the most powerful experiences might be virtual? Do you have the extended reality strategy and in-house capabilities to get started now?
To learn more about this IT trend, I encourage you to:
Read the Accenture Technology Vision 2018 overview and trend highlights
View the essential slide shares, videos and infographics
Share your thoughts at #techvision2018
Reach out to us to put these innovation-led ideas to work in your enterprise.