Virtual Reality Is Becoming a Reality For Small Businesses
It's here and it is everything they said it would be. Virtual Reality is finding its place in business and disrupting the way we look at the world, literally. Is your business going to feel the impact?
There is no question that Virtual Reality (VR) is finally being adopted by consumers. Google, Samsung, and Sony are releasing extremely interactive products, and with complete DIY kits available, almost anyone can enter their own virtual world in minutes.
Looking at the industries that are toying with VR, we can see they all have at least one thing in common – they each encapsulate millions of small businesses. Any business that has a product, training program, physical environment, video component, or face-to-face component is being primed to use VR technology.
Where is VR Being Used in Business?
In more areas than you might expect.
Building a Virtual Reality experience can help almost any small business add intriguing dimension to existing media types without complicating the overall user experience. VR can be as simple, for example, as a video that allows interactivity through text explanations, embedded for the viewer to access.
And because VR doesn’t have to be complicated, the concept is popping up in various ways throughout the business world.
VR is the next best thing to reality when it comes to educating employees. It allows new hires to advance through training material at their own pace, significantly reducing costs for employers long-term. The success of trainings can also be monitored, scored, and reported through interactive experiences to ensure that employees can perform well on the job. Consequently, generating an effective training program through Virtual Reality might allow a company to reduce their turnover and better control the material used to educate their employees.
Top Industries: Education, Medical,
Sound too simple? Get this: Advanced uses for VR include optimizing the surgical process, allowing surgeons to practice a sensitive surgery before actually performing a real-life operation. For more information, check out Surgical Theater.
Manufacturing & Design
Enhanced by VR technology, the modern process for developing product prototypes has transformed the way we see new products before they are physically produced. Engineering firms, for example, develop virtually functioning components before production. This allows engineers to identify issues at a much earlier stage of development and then quickly update their design accordingly. Vehicle manufacturers are also using VR. Their engineers can virtually test new design elements, and their customers can virtually customize vehicles prior to production. This direct-to-consumer virtual customization process is transforming the car buying process, and may even eliminate the need for car sales positions.
Top Industries: Engineering, Manufacturing
Sales & Demonstration
If there's one thing many businesspeople question, it’s whether the salesman is really needed anymore. Most answers to customers’ questions can be found online. Photos show just about every aspect of a product, and customers can feel like they are right there in front of a product by watching online videos.
More and more every day, online shopping experiences are being further crafted in Virtual Reality to model a retailer's most successful brick-and-mortar stores. This gives customers the perfect shopping experience, without having to leave home. Similarly, within physical retail environments, VR is being used to demonstrate the full potential and features of products on-site, further reducing the need for sales positions.
Top Industries: Retail, Automotive, Fashion, Real Estate, Aerospace
The same way drones revealed a new opportunity in photography, Virtual Reality experiences are uncovering new revenue streams for live events. Imagine being able to experience a live concert in London from the comfort of your New York apartment. That event would never have captured a New Yorker’s attention (or ticket sale) if it hadn't been for VR.
VR delivers an immersive experience and can be accompanied with rich audio – two primary components of modern entertainment. It's no surprise that VR is finding its way into entertainment at live performances, virtual events, and other entertainment experiences.
For example, popular fashion brands such as Chanel are presenting runway modelling events over live-streaming VR, and concerts are being recorded in 360-degree video for later viewing by fans who couldn’t attend.
Whatever the performance is, with Virtual Reality, you feel like you're there.
Top Industries: Live Events, Movies, Gaming
Two incredible avenues for VR have materialized in the real estate industry – virtual tours and architectural planning.
Creating beautiful virtual tours of existing homes and commercial buildings has become one of the most popular uses of VR thus far. Prospective buyers can travel through each room and interact with different areas to get a better feel for the property without having to visit. Some tours even include important virtual notes about different rooms in the home, along with answers to common questions that viewers can read as the tour progresses.
(Check out a VR tour of a home on Sotheby's International Realty.)
The second phenomenal application of VR in the real estate industry has been in the architectural planning of new-construction homes. Future homeowners can experience virtual walkthroughs and rapidly make design decisions prior to building, minimizing expensive post-construction change orders.
Builders will continue to take advantage of Virtual Reality to provide amazing experiences in real estate, even for remodeling projects. No matter the project, homeowners and buyers will be able to see their ideas before they are produced.
Will Your Business Take Advantage of Virtual Reality?
If your business incorporates any of the above components, from employee training to real estate sales, you may see VR being used in your industry, either now or in the near future. NASA has made it clear that in merely 10 years, VR will become a technology we take for granted, just like television, cell phones, the Internet, and so many other technologies that were once considered revolutionary.
What does that mean for your business? For one, you can set yourself apart from your competition by diving into the possibilities of Virtual Reality right now. Clothing retailers who fail to adopt virtual shopping experiences will soon fall behind the times, if they haven’t already. Real estate agents who don’t offer virtual tours may lose out to agents who do.
Clients can more confidently buy into doing business with your company when you are innovating, planning ahead, and putting their needs first. If you have an opportunity to introduce Virtual Reality into your sales process, that VR experience alone could be impressive enough to seal the deal.
So perhaps the question isn’t will your business take advantage of VR, but when?
Check out some of these great websites for continuous updates on Virtual Reality:
Road to VR: http://www.roadtovr.com/
Wired Magazine: https://www.wired.com/tag/virtual-reality/
VR Status: https://www.vrstatus.com/news/