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Why companies need to embrace augmented reality

Ryan Faas | Aug. 7, 2017
Apple is doubling down on the technology, which means it'll be showing up soon on millions of iPhones and iPads and could be a boon to collaboration and workplace productivity.

It's important to remember that for AR to be effective, it must deliver real and actionable value. AR should be added as an enterprise app component thoughtfully, not in a way that appears gimmicky.

Don't get cute

As with any new technology, there will be a rush to build AR into new and existing apps. That rush will almost certainly include apps that have AR simply because it's the latest thing, not because it delivers value or engagement. These apps make an initial splash, then often fall into disuse and/or get deleted quickly. Adding AR to an enterprise app strategy needs to be done thoughtfully and, like every app initiative, should be undertaken with input from all stakeholders, particularly targeted users, to ensure it delivers value and, equally important, fits into existing workflows.


Remember customer engagement

Beyond internal-only enterprise apps, AR offers new ways to engage current and potential customers or clients. Apple demonstrated this very effectively at WWDC by showcasing an app from IKEA that allows users to see exactly what pieces of furniture will look like in their homes. This may appear a simple or basic feature, but it will prove incredibly useful to IKEA customers and encourage them not just to pick a single piece of furniture but to explore additional pieces or products. This example can be applied to a wide variety of retail operations.

AR also opens up new customer support options, since representatives can now see the problems a user is having and display or even demonstrate the actions needed to resolve them. It's an extention of the approach used in technical support via remote access/desktop that brings such support into the real world and far beyond PC or other device troubleshooting. AR can also open new opportunities in customer education by delivering data -- including information and media -- directly into real-world contexts. This can include a new generation of digital marketing and ads, all of which can be delivered in a variety of public and private locations. Such engagement in public venues, particularly through the use of real-time notifications based on location services, can even deliver a highly engaging form of gamification.

Capitalise on popular AR games and apps

Pokemon Go highlighted a number of ways businesses could capitalise on the location-based nature of the game. As ARKit and other platforms proliferate, more AR games and apps such as social media, navigation and others will begin to integrate AR features. Many are likely to support links to outside apps via APIs. Even apps that don't encourage such broad integration can be used for business, à la Pokemon Go. AR apps can offer businesses various ways to capitalise on such apps, directly or indirectly. As a result, this type of app linking should be part of a company's app strateg,y as well as its social media and marketing strategy -- highlighting the need for IT to maintain a close working relationship with other parts of the organisation.


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