Will AR and VR tech revolutionize digital business management?

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Virtual environments have been depicted in science fiction and movies for years, but only recently have augmented reality and virtual reality products moved into the mainstream. We’ve all seen footage of astronauts being trained for space travel in virtual environments, and VR and AR technologies are now being implemented in consumer products such as video games. Now, the business world is starting to catch up, as companies are using AR and VR tech to boost productivity, allow remote collaboration and improve training.

And as contributing writer Mary K. Pratt states in this month’s cover story, the AR and VR technologies market is expected to continue its growth: IDC predicted in August that worldwide revenues for AR and VR technologies will grow from $5.2 billion this year to more than $162 billion in 2020. But even as these new technologies become more refined, questions remain as to whether they will provide real value to companies. Pratt notes that enterprise IT departments — and their CIOs — still must develop the content to feed into these systems, as well as integrate them with back-end systems to deliver the data.

But despite these considerations, CIOs shouldn’t wait to take advantage of the AR and VR “revolution,” according to Matteo Aliberti, digital innovation lead for Accenture Interactive. As Aliberti told Pratt, these technologies will only become increasingly prevalent in the business setting, and it’s important that companies get into the AR and VR game now.

“There will be a lot of trials in terms of getting it right, finding the right use case scenarios, making sure you have the assets [and integrations] you need,” he said.

We try to help companies do just that and get out in front of the trend in this issue of CIO Decisions. To do that, we talked to companies about their experiences implementing AR and VR technology and its influence on digital business strategy.

Elsewhere in this issue, representatives from the MIT Media Lab discuss whether autonomous machines can have morals, and the CIO of Oral Roberts University discusses how to overcome the “IKEA effect” on IT.