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How IT can prepare for VR, AR and MR in the enterprise

Jake Widman | Aug. 15, 2017
Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality tools are coming to the workplace sooner than you think. Is your IT department ready?

 

Ready, set, go

What steps should enterprise IT take now to be ready for these technologies?

Recruit staff with the right expertise. “There are some real holes when companies start to think about both AR and VR,” says G2 Crowd’s Fauscette. “One of them is the skill set and talent you need. A lot of AR and VR apps are custom add-ins or extensions. The standard skill sets that most IT organizations have aren’t going to be the ones they need to do that.”

For developing such tools, he suggests thinking about recruiting staff from the gaming industry who understand the technology and the user experience. On the implementation side, take a cue from Boeing and look for workers who have mobile device management expertise.

Get help from the experts. One helpful resource is the Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance (AREA), launched in 2015 to help organizations make decisions about these new technologies. (Bosch and Boeing are both members.) The organization has recently developed a set of global enterprise AR hardware and software requirements in conjunction with UI Labs, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar and Procter & Gamble.

Because of the customization necessary, Fauscette and Gartner analyst Nguyen emphasize the value of partnerships. “There’s still a lot of specialized work and integration that needs to be done,” says Nguyen. “You have to look for different partners who can help with that. Ideally, you should be able to leverage a lot of the resources you already have.”

Accenture is already building a practice around these technologies, says Fauscette, adding that other large systems integrators are probably doing the same or soon will. “The general questions of, ‘I need to build this, integrate it, and build the content behind it’ could easily be the kind of help you get from a systems integration partner,” he says.

Begin a pilot project. AREA’s Sage says enterprises should set up an incubator-style project or a “skunkworks” to work on testing and getting ready. Conducting small test programs can help companies ensure that source data is accessible and properly structured; identify trouble spots in networking, storage and security infrastructure; work through systems integration issues; and develop best practices around data privacy and device management.

Whether you line up partners, start talking to integrators, set up a skunkworks, recruit staff with the right expertise — or all of the above — it’s not too late to get started. Remember, it was only about three to five years ago that BYOD was regarded as a new trend. For IT departments, reality in any form comes at you fast.

 

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