In the rapidly changing world of business dynamics, most businesses start up, and then fail within their first year. There is a myriad of reasons for this, a lot of them out of the business owner’s control. Sometimes it can be because the economy shifts so suddenly, any new and unestablished company will get whiplash. Sometimes it’s because the business plan didn’t include a step to mitigate these changes. Sometimes it’s because of improperly trained employees or negative customer experiences. New technologies and social media platforms arise that can change the way that even well-established companies operate. These changes can be good, or they can be bad, but it’s all really in how businesses utilize them.
Enter extended reality. With the implementation of XR technology, new and old businesses alike can make positive changes in their operating procedures to make their companies better. Here’s how you can use XR tech to achieve your business goals.
1. Why use XR technology in business?
1.1 Good Customer Experience:
Customer experience sits at the height of importance in any business. Be it technical issues with their computer, finding the exact earrings to fit the dress, or learning the difference between a bull and steer for a kid’s 4-H program, extended reality can drastically improve customer experience. It could be the difference between a one time or a lifetime customer.
1.2 Faster Troubleshooting:
Any business will run into problems with their design, products, and even customer service areas. With XR technology, the people most intimately involved in that particular facet of the company would be able to open up a diagram and figure out the problem before it ever became a real issue for the company. Consider a car company designing a new diesel engine where the spark plug doesn’t operate properly. This could easily be fixed in design with 3D imaging and simulation, preventing the overpriced necessity for an eventual recall.
1.3 Measurable Return on Investment (ROI):
One of the most important aspects of managing a business is the return on investment. This is the time that it takes to break even on the initial investment into any endeavor and one of the most measurable aspects of business management. It’s what most business owners turn to when measuring their success and the primary business goal. With XR, making accurate projections and keeping to solidified budgets in areas already discussed is easy.
1.4 Cost Reduction:
Similar to ROI, there is a definitive reduction in cost to business endeavors when XR is properly utilized. Business owners can see in areas such as employee training, travel expenses, and product testing that the amount spent is drastically reduced and can be used in other areas of business where funds are needed.
1.5 Faster Employee Training:
The employment of virtual and augmented reality in training scenarios has been proven to drastically improve both the type and speed of training, making XR an efficient way of training a variety of employees. From healthcare to retail to engineering, XR is reshaping the way we train employees.
2. Actionable steps to using XR technology to achieve your business goals
Let’s assume that for the sake of this example, the business in mind is eagerly hoping to get their small boutique in their first year off the ground. There are many challenges that come with being a small business owner, let alone a small group of people with different ideas and mindsets trying to work on the same vision.
The first step for this group, before even opening up to the public, would be to create a vision plan. They would want to know what they’re selling, the design of their shop (whether brick and mortar or strictly online retail). It’s difficult to see into the minds of other people, so collaborating on a specific vision would be difficult. However, with mixed reality or MR goggles, jumping between different ideas and images in a virtual reality simulation of their physical stores would make the vision come alive. With a swipe of their hand, a person could change small or large details about the shop or product without making any physical changes before they’re ready and everybody is onboard.
Step two is to create a definitive goal. They want to be making a profit by the end of their first year in production. This is definitely a task easier said than done, but there are certainly ways to go about it. For instance, reducing cost wherever they can without cutting corners. By reducing the amount of money they’re spending, it will be easier and faster to start making a profit. One area they could reduce their spending is by applying XR tech to areas such as travel expenses (having virtual collaborative meetings instead of traveling to a physical meeting place), training employees (an area where cost and time spent have been proven to correlate in a positive way), and changing design and product plans virtually to see the pros and cons before making the physical changes.
Step three is to calculate the return-on-investment rate (ROI). This information is vital in determining when and how the company will begin earning more money than it spends. Of course, the cost of any XR technology would be calculated into this business investment. In an analysis on XR’s ROI, the authors conclude that XR would have the most significant impact in training where it fills in an existing gap, replaces ineffective and expensive training methods, and reduces employee dependence (more on these in step five). (Source)
Step four is to create a customer experience that will bring them back to the store or website time and time again. Using mixed reality (MR), a customer could try on a blouse or suit at home to see if they like it enough to purchase it without the hassle of a fitting room or even stepping foot into the boutique. Of course, some customers would prefer to come into the physical store so having knowledgeable employees is paramount. Marketing is especially important here because it’s important to make the customer feel welcome, and not like they’re being preached at. With social media apps here for the long haul, using augmented reality (AR) to make a quick display on a person’s phone screen of how a particular mascara looks on their eyes is just one way to catch their attention and pull them in.
Step five is training employees before the store even opens. Using any combination of the XR spectrum enables employees to train faster with better retention rates than if they didn’t utilize this technology. For instance, VR has been proven to be highly effective by reducing training time by 40% and improving employee performance by 70% when compared to traditional training. (Source) This means better, faster trained employees. This small boutique could have fully trained and equipped employees when the store opens and offer opportunities for ongoing training in an efficient manner when the need arises.
Many things in the world fluctuate, but among the few things that will be constant is XR technology. It’s bound to grow, and with its mainstream popularity in areas like social media, healthcare, and gaming, the world of XR tech is here to stay. Its applications in the business world are endless and ultimately benefit those who have adopted the technology already. It’s still in its adolescence as a technological development and is changing constantly. But don’t let that deter you. Now is the perfect time to use XR technology to achieve your business goals.
About the Author: Anna Taylor
Anna Taylor is a freelance writer and avid researcher- a jack of all trades, but a master of none. She graduated from the University of Hawai'i with an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts because she had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up. She has since found her love of Extended Reality and the possibilities it brings to the world, as well as gardening, cooking, and writing. Anna lives in Interior Alaska with her family.