Published on August 2nd, 2018 | by Emergent Enterprise0
Mixed Reality Means Business
A survey by the Harvard Business Review and Microsoft shows that most companies are embracing immersive tech as a key part of their strategy.
In the recently published survey conducted in partnership between Microsoft and the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services 68 percent of respondents expressed confidence that mixed reality would play an important role in achieving their companies’ strategic goals over the next 18 months, and 87 percent are already in the process of exploring, piloting or deploying mixed reality in their institutional workflows.
According to Lorraine Bardeen, GM Studio Manager, Mixed Reality at Microsoft, this mirrors signals they’ve long observed at the tech giant, and aligns with the high levels of activity they continue seeing in the this space:
“Mixed-reality technology is increasingly providing demonstrable value across a wide range of workplace scenarios, which is fueling further interest from developers and businesses alike.”
The research surveyed 394 executives of companies with more than 250 employees each and spanning several industries, from manufacturing, engineering, and construction to retail, defense, and education, and identified several key opportunities, such as empowering and up skilling Firstline Workers.
These workers make up 80 percent of the workforce but often have limited access to relevant, contextual information due to the on-the-field nature of their jobs. As Bardeen explains,
“These are the workers who are typically on the frontlines of any business workflow: behind the counters, in the clinics, traveling between customers for field service, or on the factory floors. Several of Microsoft’s commercial customers are already empowering their Firstline Workers mixed reality solutions that enable remote assistance, spatial planning, environmentally contextual data, and much more. Mixed reality allows these workers to conduct their usual, day-to-day activities with the added benefit of heads-up, hands-free access to incredibly valuable, contextual information.”
Microsoft has succeeded in building a thriving enterprise ecosystem for its HoloLens Mixed Reality technology, and recent moves such as enabling businesses to access the devices and deployment support via a subscription service are likely to help these efforts scale to the business community who might have previously hesitated to invest in it.
It remains to be seen is whether smaller industry-focused players in this space such as Daqri, or even the ultra-hyped and persistently secretive Magic Leap eventually manage to steal away some of this first-mover advantage from Microsoft, or if we might see companies like Apple taking a bigger share of the immersive pie.
Much will depend on whether the highly anticipated second iteration of the HoloLens – due out this year – will improve the experience and functionality significantly, and address some of the persistent niggles raised by the community, such as the relatively small field of view. What is certainly clear, however, is that this is much bigger than any single company. The evolution in computing that Mixed Reality offers is not yet a consumer reality, but it is being driven by the business community instead.
The evolution in computing that Mixed Reality offers is not yet a consumer reality, but it is being driven by the business community instead.
Alice Bonasio is a VR Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedInand follow @alicebonasio and @techtrends_tech on Twitter.