B2B Use Cases in AR/VR

September 28, 2017

Posted by ljmcnitt. Published in Uncategorized

Cole Sandau is President and Founder of Optera. Cole’s passion is understanding how to effectively apply emerging technologies to complex communication problems. Over the past 4 years, Cole has focused on identifying commercial uses of AR/VR in the B2B and healthcare spaces. This has resulted in Cole being considered a nationally recognized leader in B2B and healthcare uses of AR/VR. Under Cole’s leadership, Optera has produced numerous nationally recognized AR/VR experiences over the past four years.

This blog post originally appeared on the Optera blog.

Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) is becoming a very meaningful tool in the marketing mix for B2B marketers. The key part is meaningful. Not shiny, not new, not cool, not technology for the sake of technology. But meaningful in the sense of adding quantifiable business value.

To use AR/VR effectively, you must look at opportunities to leverage the technology to better engage with customers – and differentiate your offer – with buyers. Once you identify these valuable opportunities, the decision to make investments becomes easy.  So let’s examine four of the most compelling use cases for AR/VR investments as a B2B marketer. By outlining the business situation, the role of AR/VR, the key technologies (best technology for the use case) at play and industry examples, your project plan will be nearly complete.

1. Product Development and Prototyping

The Business Situation:

New products are expensive to build and critical to the future of your business. Prototyping and effective pre-production testing of products is critical. Unfortunately, prototyping is expensive and time consuming. This can limit the ability to test in the development stage internally and with customers.

The Role of AR/VR:

AR/VR provides a way to rapidly see and test prototypes in a virtual space. AR/VR allows for rapid iteration and can fit in normal development workflow that extends from CAD. This allows designers to detect usability and other product considerations sooner and make corrections in the design phase and before investments are made in product/manufacturing.

B2B Example:

Airbus uses VR to test cabin design layout in their new aircraft.  Watch this video that explains the very important role VR plays for Airbus in product design.

Key Technologies:

HTC Vive – immersive VR with 6DOF (degrees of freedom) room scale capability that allows for a natural exploration of a space that is up 3 x 3 Meters. HTC Vive is currently shipping with intuitive and easy-to-use hand controllers.

2.  Marketing Large Products

The Business Situation:

Large products - as in physically large - present a unique challenge to show and demonstrate to customers. Significant investments are made in getting the products in front of customers to see, touch and interact with them, which is critical to the sales process.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to simply give a product to every sales executive. Rather, considerable expense is incurred shipping products, attending events, creating demonstration centers and funding travel.

The Role of AR/VR:

AR/VR provides/allows customers to see and interact with large products in new ways.

An AR/VR experience would put these larger products in a virtual space, allowing customers to explore the products and interact with key product features. The portability of the AR/VR solution, compared to the expense of getting a customer in front of an actual product, makes it cost effective and potentially easier to schedule.

Consider that the AR/VR technology could be as small as a tablet or smart phone. Or, if the experience requires a full-size computer, it could fit into one or two Pelican cases. Either option is considerably easier to transport and ship than a large product.

B2B Example:

Caterpilar’s 360 VR App puts you in the driver's seat of five pieces of heavy equipment.  The experience uses 360 video to explain a critical concept on managing load weights in heavy equipment.  Click here for instructions to download and experience for yourself.

Key Technologies:

HTC Vive – immersive VR with 6DOF (degrees of freedom) room scale capability that allows for a natural exploration of a space that is up to 3 x 3 Meters. HTC Vive is currently shipping with intuitive and easy-to-use hand controllers.

Samsung Gear VR – phone based applications with 3DOF (3 degrees of freedom) mixed with “better” experience and portability.

ZEISS VR One— a high quality VR viewer for phone based applications.  The VR One can be used with Apple phones to create an experience like Gear VR.

3. Communicating Complex Value Propositions

The Business Situation:

Some products are complicated and solve very complex problems. Explaining how these products actually work and their value proposition can be challenging at times. Many marketers struggle with communicating complex value propositions simply and clearly.

Traditional methods like white papers, technical presentations and animations all have their place, but still something is missing to make the complex story simple and clear to understand.

The Role of AR/VR:

AR/VR provides a way to explain complex value propositions in new ways with an entire new set of tools. Not only does AR/VR bring in three dimensions, but it also allows direct user interaction. Now customers can see what is not visible and interact with what is not normally possible. A properly designed AR/VR experience will make your value proposition stand out in a way not possible in the past.

B2B Example:

Hexagon is a global IT provider for geospatial and industrial enterprise applications. They used AR to communicate their complex design, measurement and visualization technologies in their annual report to investors. A page within the printed report document triggered the experience for investors.

Key Technologies:

Oculus Rift – immersive VR with 6DOF (degrees of freedom). Currently does not support room scale environments – Oculus experiences are typically standing or seated. Hand controllers shipping in 2H2016

Samsung Gear VR – phone based applications with 3DOF (3 degrees of freedom) mixed with “better” experience and portability

zSpace – 3D monitor that tracks the user’s viewing position and a stylus with simple haptics create the ability to interact and manipulate computer generated content comfortably in a holographic display.

4. Trade Show and Events

The Business Situation:

Creating booth traffic and meaningful experiences at events is very important. Unfortunately, standing out in the crowd can be hard, resulting in low returns on marketing investment.

The Role of AR/VR:

AR/VR experiences are fantastic booth draws. AR/VR is engaging, unique and fun.

AR/VR experiences can be crafted as games related to your business model to create a booth competition. Other interactive experiences can also be crafted that link to product value propositions or the other use cases described above.

Key Technologies:

Elluminati – spheres, half or full domes come in various sizes to create an immersive experience well suited for theatrical displays for large audiences

Low-cost VR –  Affordable VR viewers like Cardboard VR, use a standard smartphone to present animated and interactive content in stereo. Currently used for diverse audience distributions when ubiquity is more important than deeply immersive experiences. Custom printed VR viewers make a great give away.

The potential uses cases for AR and VR transcend just training and maintenance applications. The four use cases and examples are just the beginning of how AR and VR are transforming communications and technology marketing.


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