With several companies promising to start shipping virtual reality headsets in Q1 2016, techies are getting antsy to switch the calendar year. While nobody’s more excited than diehard gamers, VR could have much farther-reaching tendrils than we can currently imagine. For gamers, the jump in technology could be like going from Pong to League of Legends. For the Enterprise? Lots of changes are coming to the office, too.
Facebook’s (News - Alert) Oculus Rift VR gear is poised to be first to the market and one of the best VR systems. But it’s so early in the game, they could easily be bested by Sony, Microsoft (News - Alert), Valve, Steam or some other company you haven’t even heard of yet. Gamers will surely beat enterprise when it comes to being the earliest adopters. The gear won’t be cheap – headsets, omnidirectional treadmills, special gloves – and you’ll need a PC strong enough to power it. Some forward-thinking companies will shell out the money and be way ahead of the competition when VR takes off. Others will stall, and then play catch-up.
VR is sure to revolutionize many facets of business. But conference calls will never be the same. Workers in disparate parts of the country or the world can don their headsets and feel like they’re in the same room. Better yet, instead of a virtual conference room, you can pick exotic locales. The team is going to be much more excited when they can choose a virtual destination for their meeting, such as Rome, a tropical beach, ancient Egypt or outer space. Will it even be “you” on the VR conference call? Maybe it will be you’re more polished and attractive avatar.
On a less fanciful and more bottom line-driven note, VR conference calls could replace many face-to-face meetings. Which could in turn trim business travel, saving companies money and travel time. VR applications make you feel like you’re in the same room, collaborating with your teammates. You can all look at the same chart or computer, sharing your feedback and making decisions as though you’re really together.
VR is going to be big for distance training. Companies will use it to train workers at far-flung locations, whether call center personnel, sales reps or many other fields. This will be the perfect way to give a little extra tutoring to your offshore consultants without taking that 20-hour flight.
There’s always a supervisor to two that imagine remote employees are wearing pajamas while playing with their dog. Now it will be easier to find out who’s slacking off and who’s working hard. VR can move you from your couch to a virtual office surrounded by other virtual employees who are really on their couches. This could give personnel a much stronger sense of team unity, while drastically improving the fashion of home-based workers. Or maybe they’ll use avatars!
Modeling and Sales
VR will drastically change the experience of consumers and the entire sales process. Imagine the realtor who’s working with a client about to relocate across the country. VR tech could allow that client to tour 20 houses in an afternoon from her desk. Consumers could virtually drive different makes and models of cars without going to a car lot. Architects could build a virtual model of a structure and let their clients walk through it before laying a cornerstone. Tourists could virtually try out different ships before paying for a big cruise. Let’s not think too hard how this could apply to dating services.
Of course, nothing new comes without a few drawbacks. In addition to the cost of equipment, building virtual environments is costly in time. If you want a realistic model of that new shopping mall your architecture firm is bidding on, you’ll have to put in the time to get the details right. Plus you’ll need a fiber optic voice and data network to power all the innovations of VR.
Some people won’t be able to handle VR. Instead of floating freely with their avatar, they have old-fashioned physical problems, such as nausea. This could be due to perceptual changes relating to balance and the inner ear. Be careful – a barfing avatar makes a bad impression in any conference call.
Speaking of the physical, some people get so caught up in the virtual environment that they lose all situational awareness. Places where you engage in VR should be chosen carefully. The roadways already have enough problems with people texting and driving.
We’re in early days now. By the end of next year, after a few VR systems are freely circulating in the market, we’ll have a glimpse into the future of VR for the enterprise. Now is the time for the daring, forward-thinking and risk-taking companies to get in on VR’s infancy.
Ben Brinkman is the VP of Sales at c2mtech, a TX-based telecommunications reseller delivering comprehensive technology solutions to businesses in all industries. Through a team of certified technicians, business analysts and technology executives, c2mtech installs, services and maintains business telephony, structured cabling, computer networks, data and voice over IP (VOIP), audio visual systems (AV) and security systems.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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