How to Gain Adoption to AR/VR in the Workplace

Don't miss out on a major opportunity your competitors are already pursuing

You've heard about augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications. You may have even invested in AR/VR for your business. But are your employees using these technologies to their fullest potential? Are they using them at all?

Augmented reality combines graphics, text, and audio with real-world objects and environments while virtual reality seeks to immerse the user in another environment. Augmented reality and virtual reality technologies in the workplace open the doors for optimized worker training, faster decision-making, and total workplace interconnectivity.

I'm not alone in my belief that AR/VR—and combinations of the two—will reach widespread adoption in the workplace by 2020. The question is: Will it happen sooner or later for your company?

Embrace Virtual Reality in the Real World with Mobile

More than a year ago, I discussed the potential for augmented reality to revolutionize how we work. I quoted Tuong Huy Nguyen, one of Gartner's principal research analysts, commenting on the usefulness of AR in the mobile environment, to “enhance the user's senses via digital instruments.” Little did I know the following year would bring mobile AR to the masses in the form of Pokémon GO. This app did what Google Glasses and Microsoft HoloLens had thus far failed to accomplish—widespread adoption of an AR technology.

Pokémon GO showcased the success of bringing AR to everyone via a common mobile device. Users needed only their smartphone to enjoy the unique experience of augmented reality. In part because of this, the app became wildly popular. Pokémon GO players don't have to invest in or wear awkward headsets or glasses. People of nearly any age could play the game, without worrying about breaking the gear. App developer Niantic bridged the gap between AR/VR technologies and real-world consumers by packaging it in a familiar, desirable medium.

Today, businesses can do the same to introduce their workers to AR/VR applications without significant investment or adoption costs. Adopting AR/VR in mobile apps can help you gradually implement the technology in the workplace without your employees facing a fear of the unfamiliar.

Any business, whether the company has a bring-your-own-device policy or furnishes employees with smartphones, can potentially use virtual technologies for internal training, design, collaboration, improved user experience, and more. It's not just for high-tech companies or early adopters—it's for everyday users of smartphone apps. If you want to improve adoption of VR/AR in your workplace, simply show your employees what these mobile apps can do. I bet they will love them!

Gamify the Workplace with AR and VR

Gamify the Workplace with AR and VR

You can ease into AR and VR adoption through gamification. Brands have already discovered the benefits of gamifying their mobile apps or products, increasing user engagement and brand loyalty. Now, businesses can use the same technique to help employees feel more invested in their work, more motivated to complete daily tasks, and happier in their jobs.

Create a mobile AR system with scoreboards or game-like elements that react to objects or actions in the employee's real-world environment, and let top performers earn immediate rewards or accrue points that can be turned in for later rewards, such as gift cards or paid time off. Gamify sales and customer service training by using AR to place employees in realistic situations, and then reward correct answers and behaviors.

Prioritize AR/VR Application Training

If you want to help ensure adoption of AR and VR apps, make sure to focus on training. Hire a new member of your IT team, if necessary, to show your employees how the technology works, how they should use it in day-to-day activities, and what outcomes you anticipate from the new practices.

Seventy-seven percent of millennials say they are willing to use AR and VR in their professional lives, according to the Dell Future Workforce Global study. But they may not be familiar with specific apps or how these apps are relevant to their day-to-day work life or the company as a whole. Also, older generations may not be as open to adopting this technology in the workplace. Only 47 percent of baby boomers said they'd be willing to use AR and VR products in their professional lives. The right training, though, could change their minds.

Let employees know that training sessions on these technologies are available on demand—in real time—to help encourage widespread adoption. Some companies see success in offering incentives to employees who seek training opportunities, such as paid training sessions or flexible scheduling hours.

As new VR and AR technologies become more affordable and widely used, your company may invest in higher-end products, such as the Oculus Rift headset, Microsoft HoloLens, Google Earth VR, Idealens, and 360-degree cameras. You may want to use these technologies for training, demos, tours, employee communication, or building prototypes. Whatever your future looks like with AR and VR, make sure your employees are prepared to make the most of your investment by offering training early, often, and at the employees' convenience.

Keep Your Team on the Same Page

Keep Your Team on the Same Page

To gain adoption of AR and VR, businesses need to create a workplace culture that sees the utilization of new technologies as a means to an end—that end being improving the company and facilitating individual employee success. In my experience, too many companies insist on throwing technology at human problems. Instead of using new tech as a catchall for issues in your internal and external functions, break down how AR and VR can improve your company and explain your thought process to employees. Explain why your company wants to use AR and VR, how it will do so, and how it will benefit the company and its workers. Keeping everyone on the same page can increase employee buy-in and adoption efforts.

As you learn more about augmented, virtual, and mixed realities, and discover the myriad exciting ways these technologies can improve your company, keep your employees in mind. Listen to their questions and concerns, and dedicate time and room in the budget to optimizing your training efforts. Consider integrating mobile devices that use AR/VR apps and games to ease into adoption. Examine your company's strengths and weaknesses as you use your AR/VR products, and measure your progress toward new technology goals.

Incorporating AR and VR may take a bit of time and effort, but trust me — you'll want to do whatever it takes to jump onboard with augmented and virtual reality in the workplace. Don't miss out on a major opportunity your competitors are already pursuing.

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