By Patrick Harper, Chief Technology Officer, PGi

As Virtual Reality (VR) becomes ever more commonplace in our lives, so will its place within the enterprise. VR has the potential to change the way we communicate, collaborate and present information.  That said, here are four ways VR is already being used in the workplace:

Collaboration in a virtual world

Collaboration is an everyday occurrence in our offices today, helping people work together more efficiently. Making calls to clients and colleagues from across the globe can be done with a few short clicks, however, there are some drawbacks and limitations including, difficulty in expressing or reading body language.

Imagine having the technology capabilities to virtually see someone standing in front of you, and having the ability to work with them within that virtual environment. Virtual Reality and virtual meeting spaces still have some way to go, but it has the potential to take collaboration to another level by bringing even more personalisation to our connections.

However, it will still be some time before the back-end communication network infrastructures are in place to facilitate the vast amounts of data that will need to be carried through data networks.  Despite this, we expect UC&C VR use to grow significantly in the future.

Human Resources & Training

Virtual Reality also has the potential to streamline and improve HR processes, particularly in wooing potential new recruits.  VR can also be beneficial beyond the interview process, as it can be used as a tool for training and on-boarding.

Within recruitment, VR can be used to improve HR processes by engaging new recruits and providing them with a glimpse into their future role.  When hired, it can be used by new employees to facilitate virtual company tours.

For training purposes, NASA, for example, uses VR technology to help prepare astronauts for missions by using flight simulators that replicate the space experience. Another great example of VR training is in the case of Lincoln Electric which uses VR Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs) to train their welders.  

VR for marketing and sales

The number of people owning virtual reality headsets is predicted to grow to over 200 million by 2020. With the increase in numbers, it’s no surprise the value VR can bring to the marketing and advertising industry.

For example, Marriott uses VR to virtually transport users into hotels in various exotic locations and Volvo allows potential buyers to virtually test drive new car models.

Additionally, VR can be used to facilitate smarter product testing. Retail brands and marketing teams are already doing this by using VR to test how product placements on shelves effect the buying behaviour of the average consumer.

By using VR, they create a virtual shopping experience for their test subjects, and allow them to pick up objects and examine the contents of their planned purchases.  This data is often then used to guide and influence the way stores are laid out, often with profitable results.

Virtual reality for presenting complex data

As cloud processing power improves and enables large amounts of data to be processed at speed, we face a dilemma because of the breadth of data and analytics available to us supersedes the capabilities of the technology we use to visualise and absorb the data.

Businesses are always looking for ways to make the presentation of data more engaging and VR can assist in a more versatile way.  It can go further than sight, and offer the potential to engage the senses of sound, and touch.  

Accepting virtual reality in the workplace may seem like a long way off, however, the wide scale adoption may come sooner than expected.  Statista believes that in 2018, the VR hardware market will reach a value of 7.3 billion USD.  For those looking to adopt virtual reality into their organisations successfully, it is important to resist being enticed by the ‘hype factor’. For those looking to adopt virtual reality, it’s important to determine if this technology addresses the needs of your organisation and more crucially your company culture.  Once virtual reality is perceived as a good fit, it won’t be long until you reap the benefits and it becomes a central part of your workplace environment.

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