Virtual and augmented reality are the future of the digital world, and businesses are beginning put it to use it for many of their processes.
However, a deeper look into the technology raises a number of questions. In what direction is virtual reality heading? And how will it impact the competitive business scene?
These were the questions that the World of Digital Panel addressed at OmniChannel Media’s CxO Disrupt, Brisbane, focusing on digital disruption and the customer.
The panellists all stated that their company had begun using virtual or augmented reality to improve their digital experience. One example was how Flight Centre has used the augmented world to allow customers to view their prospective tourist destinations.
There were contrasting views regarding the future direction of virtual reality. While some of the panel believed that it could soon be the cornerstone of organisations, others thought it would be more of a recreational tool.
“I think virtual will be more of an individual-use case. I don’t see it as being something on 24/7 like the mobile,” said Nathan Bush, Group Digital Manager at Super Retail Group.
Libby O’Brien, Head of Digital at Flight Centre, alternatively believes that virtual reality will be integrated into the real world and its applications will reach beyond leisure activities.
“The mixed reality is where I think the exciting experience is going to be, which is the inclusion of virtual and real world. If a surgeon is operating on a heart he can see that heart in 3D, that’s where I see the real advantages of virtual reality.”
The panel unanimously agreed that virtual reality is slowly seeping into mainstream.
Greg Moore, Head of Digital Services at RACQ, said the key to making augmented reality commonplace is not necessarily a standout product like the smartphone, but instead, finding the right applications for it.
“I don’t think we particularly need a hero product like the smartphone. I think we just need to find the right applications for that technology in society. I think it’s coming already and I don’t think it will be long before it’s mainstream.”
Bush believes there is still a long way to go, however, as Google Glass illustrated the need for a seamless transition between reality and the virtual experience.
“We’ve learnt a lot from Google Glass, and to me, the fall factor of it is that people don’t like things that impede between themselves and the real world. It has to be that seamless experience.”
Although there is a long way to go before virtual reality becomes popular tech, the organisation that can utilise augmented reality to create distinct characteristics for their business could surpass the competition.
Christian Bowman, General Manager of CX and Innovation at Ladbrokes, believes the future of marketing will focus on differentiating your organisation by creating a unique, personalised experience in order to appeal to customers.
“It comes back to the idea of being distinct, creating differentiation. Create a personalised experience that has flavour; have characteristics that are unique to the organisation.”
If digital processes are going to create a personality for the organisation, then virtual reality is a key factor in the customer’s perception of your business.