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5 ways to use virtual reality in the enterprise

Sharon Gaudin | March 30, 2015
As Facebook and others push VR forward, there will be more uses for it than just games and social networking

What will that mean for all those employees who generally work in their PJs or sweats? Well, if they use an avatar, they won't need to change their attire at all.

3. Less business travel
Today, when most workers need to attend an important meeting — whether it's in another corporate location or at a client's office — they head to the airport, work their way through security and endure a plain ride, sometimes squeezed in that dreaded middle seat.

Of course, some people use videoconferencing, but it's not widespread. And that experience still isn't quite like being in the same room and sitting down face-to-face with colleagues or clients.

A virtual reality meeting could make it seem like a manager is in an actual face-to-face meeting when he or she is actually alone in the office.

"Will this replace business travel? Nope, but it will reduce business travel as long as companies use it well," said Kagan.

What companies will notice is a reduction in travel costs and in the administrative work it takes to make the travel arrangements and deal with the expenses. It also will reduce the amount of time workers are outside the office and unavailable.

"It could lower travel costs because meetings in a virtual world could massively exceed what we can now do with videoconferencing," said Enderle. "Done right, this could actually be better than real face-to-face in some instances."

Virtual reality wouldn't just help with avoiding flying to business meetings.

Moorhead pointed out that it would be useful for scientists, maintenance workers or engineers working remotely.

"What if you were an engine designer working with another [remotely based] designer to troubleshoot a problem?" he asked. "With virtual reality, you could both walk around the engine, point out parts that need to be changed, outline specific changes and even make changes on the fly."

4. Sales. Sales. Sales.
If someone is interested in comparing two different types of smartphones before buying one, testing them both out via virtual reality would be the perfect solution.

The same would go with someone looking to buy a new car, a new boat or even a house.

Salespeople could help their potential customers to virtually try before they buy. Customers could feel like they're sitting in a car. They'd see how it would steer and feel on the road and how the interior looks up close. They could see how roomy it is — all before taking the time to drive to a dealer to see it in person.

"One of the bigger challenges sellers have is the time it takes someone to make a decision to buy something," said Moorhead. "This is driven many times by uncertainty and not feeling they did enough research. Think about if you want to rent a house or go on an expensive trip? You want as much information as you can get your hands on before you feel comfortable. With virtual reality, the seller could put you there so you could virtually walk through that house or hotel, more as if you were actually there."


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