Uses of Augmented Reality for Enterprise
In any business, efficiency and productivity are king.
Even in this day and age, time-consuming training, human error, and inadequate communication continue to be huge drains that eat away at enterprise resources and revenue.
There’s a new ripple effect: More and more businesses are tapping into the unrealized potential of augmented reality for enterprise (AR). And can you blame them? Although originally designed for entertainment purposes, AR is taking enterprise productivity, efficiency, and the employee and customer experience alike to a whole new, immersive level.
With AR in their toolbelt, enterprises can enhance the employee training process, reduce errors in every facet of the business, and improve communication over simple and complex problems alike. And as more use cases pop up, augmented reality shows how it can pave the way for a more streamlined and efficient tool for enterprise.
What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
Augmented reality – or AR for short – is a technology that superimposes computer-generated images or information onto the real world through a smartphone, smart glasses, or headset. Like a magical lens that adds layers of digital information to your surroundings, AR enables you to see virtual objects or data in the real world.
Virtual reality – or VR – is a different ballgame. Instead of adding digital content to the real world, VR creates a completely immersive digital environment that you can interact with using a headset. So, while both AR and VR involve digital elements, the main difference is that AR blends the virtual with the real, while VR creates an entirely digital experience.
How Does Augmented Reality for Enterprise Work?
Both AR and VR technologies can have a big impact on things like productivity, communication, and user experience. But it’s the ‘mixed reality’ aspect that makes augmented reality for enterprise a real game-changer for business operations, influencing everything from remote assistance to training.
Remote Assist AR
Remote assist AR enables a remote expert to view and diagnose issues from the perspective of the person wearing the AR-enabled device. With this setup, the remote expert can provide real-time guidance and instructions by overlaying digital information onto the real-world environment, streamlining use cases such as:
1) Technical Support
With the help of remote assist AR, agents can remotely diagnose and solve common technical issues by visually guiding the customers through the steps. They can view the equipment and provide visual instructions on the screen to simplify things like solving cable wire issues, installing new appliances, cleaning washing machine filters, or fixing internet connectivity – all remotely.
2) Field Services
AR remote assistance enables technicians to access all the required data and instructions they need in real-time. Technicians can connect with remote experts right when they need them, streamlining the entire field service process. With no delays in waiting for expert input, technicians can efficiently execute field repairs and communicate with customers more effectively.
3) Billing Issues
By overlaying billing information onto the user’s environment, both parties can easily see and understand the relevant billing details. This can help users visualize their billing details, identify any discrepancies, document any disputes, and take corrective action.
One prominent example? Mercedes-Benz is adding Remote Assist AR to their techs’ toolkit.
By utilizing this technology, Mercedes-Benz experts can remotely examine what a technician sees in real-time, helping them diagnose and fix complicated problems without having to visit the dealership.
They’re not alone, either. Porsche Cars North America also uses a similar system with AR glasses.
Design and Manufacturing
But training isn’t the only place AR can make a difference. Design and manufacturing are both highly competitive and dynamic environments where AR can help enterprises get in front of new challenges. AR could be used in applications like:
1) Visualization and Prototyping
With augmented reality for enterprise, designers can visualize 3D models of products in real-time and make changes on the go. This allows them to identify design issues early on and make necessary adjustments to their prototypes, saving time and money that would be wasted later in the design process.
AR is also being used to assist workers in the assembly of products. AR glasses or headsets can guide workers through the assembly process, showing them the exact location of parts and providing instructions on how to assemble them correctly. This can help reduce errors and improve efficiency.
3) Client Proposals and Demonstrations
AR can help architects and construction managers show their clients what their proposed design will look like in the real world. By overlaying a 3D model of the design onto a physical environment, clients can get a better understanding of the design concept and its impact on the surrounding space.
For instance, DHL recently tested this technology for their picking processes in their warehouses. While they found that their staff operates much faster and error-free using AR headsets, the best part of this process was something no one expected.
By seeing this technology work in action, DHL workers also uncovered how they could apply this same technology to improve operations in transportation, last-mile delivery, and value-added services.
Similarly, SKODA has rolled out AR projections to support logistics (like pallet loading) when packing kits for export markets, which they found helps to prevent errors and increases workplace safety.
And in the architecture and construction space, BNBuilders started using AR to show clients proposed designs in the context of existing conditions. When their clients could actually visualize the design in their space, they were much more confident in the team and the design.
Maintenance and Repair
And, of course, if you’re using AR to help design and manufacture original products, you can apply it to your maintenance and repair processes.
Technicians can use AR glasses to overlay digital information onto physical equipment, allowing them to see step-by-step, detailed instructions on how to repair or replace components. Rather than techs repeatedly referring to instruction manuals – which, let’s be honest, often leave knowledge gaps – AR can reduce the time it takes to complete a repair, minimizing downtime.
Take cars, for instance. Nowadays, unless you’re a car-savvy motor junkie, even simple vehicle-related tasks can be difficult, so if you’re planning on working on your vehicle independently, you’ll need to reference the instructions in the ever-growing owner’s manual.
Hyundai realized this and, in an effort to simplify life for its car owners, built an augmented reality app called the Virtual Guide which can virtually identify and provide how-to information on the several features of their cars.
Of course, they’re just the leader of the pack. It’s likely that we’ll see this technology available from all mainstream car manufacturers pretty soon.
Marketing and Sales
Augmented reality for enterprise has applications beyond just the technical aspects of work. AR technology can be utilized in marketing and sales enterprise settings to enhance customer engagement and improve sales. That might include applications like:
1) Product Visualization
With AR, customers can visualize and interact with products virtually. When customers can see the products in 3D, rotate and zoom in on them, and view additional product information, they not only have a better experience but also make more informed purchasing decisions.
2) Virtual Try-On
Customers can see how clothing, makeup, and accessories like glasses will look on them without having to try them on physically. This saves time, reduces return rates, and provides a more personalized shopping experience.
3) Interactive Advertising
Now, customers can scan a QR code on a product or a poster to access an AR experience that showcases the product in a creative and engaging way.
Even if you’re not a “gamer” per se, AR can be used to gamify the shopping experience. Customers can participate in scavenger hunts, earn rewards, and compete with friends, enhancing their engagement with the brand and increasing the likelihood of a sale.
And enterprises like Magnolia Market and Warby Parker are capitalizing on this. Magnolia Market used AR technology in their marketing campaign (Magnolia AR) to promote their home decor products. The Magnolia AR campaign utilized a mobile app that allowed customers to place Magnolia Market’s products in their own homes virtually.
Warby Parker, on the other hand, uses AR to let customers try on glasses over the phone before they make a purchase.
And it doesn’t end with their e-commerce app. In their brick-and-mortar locations, customers can use AR-enabled mirrors to see how glasses frames would look on them without having to try them on physically.
One of the benefits of using AR for new and existing employee training is that it allows employees to practice tasks with real tools and products in conjunction with a real-time AR guide. Say goodbye to the days of manuals and mentor oversight! Now, AR shows them what needs to be accomplished. Of course, some tasks can be learned in a “trial-and-error” fashion, but for those high-risk or complex tasks where mistakes can be costly, you can now turn to AR.
Consider these use cases:
1) Equipment and Machinery Training
AR enables interactive training programs that allow employees to practice operating equipment or machinery in a safe and controlled environment. This application has two big benefits: it reduces the risk of accidents and injuries and improves the speed and accuracy of training.
2) Safety Training
AR can be used to simulate emergency situations – like fires or chemical spills – and train employees on how to respond appropriately. In fact, the National Safety Council found AR training to be more effective than traditional classroom training programs and helped improve knowledge recall and retention.
3) Product Training
AR can be used to create interactive product demos that allow employees to learn about new products or features, improving the speed and effectiveness of product training while allowing employees to become proficient in selling or using new products quickly.
This isn’t all speculation, either. Several enterprises see the benefits of AR in their firsthand case studies.
Boeing, for instance, is incorporating AR during daily training with the technicians in charge of the electrical wiring in their aircraft. While their studies suggest that they could see measurable increases in quality while they see decreases in time to completion, they’re actually experiencing 40% increases in productivity.
And they’re not the only ones. PTC is discovering how they can use AR to train their frontline employees and protect themselves against knowledge loss when their experts retire.
On the customer service training front, Lowe’s has adopted AR to help customer service representatives reach the required level of expertise through hands-on experience. Lowe’s 3D AR app creates high-fidelity 3D models that allow users to view and experience its products digitally.
They’ve rolled this out beyond training staff, too. It’s now available to customers who may want to test features before buying them.
Challenges of AR in Enterprises
No technology is without its challenges. While AR has the potential to transform how enterprises operate, there are a few (surmountable) obstacles, including:
Despite some challenges, however, the future of augmented reality for enterprise is bright and full of possibilities. As it continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, it can truly transform the way enterprises operate, impacting everything from big, one-off projects to redundant, daily tasks.
Ultimately, integrating AR technology with conventional processes paves the way for a more streamlined and successful business. And as more use cases continue to pop up, AR tech will undoubtedly become an integral part of the enterprise ecosystem, increasing productivity, efficiency, and employee and customer experience alike.
Of course, managing XR devices and wearables manually is difficult, and most MDMs are limiting. But by partnering with the right XR MDM, like ArborXR, you can manage AR devices, remotely install content, and control what users see and do in AR. Welcome to the future of business operations.
Want to explore the use of AR in your operations? Give us a shout or get started today.
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