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What’s the best business choice for my virtual reality?

Posted on Mar 22, 2017

I have had numerous discussions over the last few weeks regarding virtual reality (VR) and which platform offers the best solution for my business. Is it the mobile experience with devices like the Samsung Gear VR, Google’s Daydream VR or Cardboard, or the myriad other mobile VR devices hitting the market?

Maybe it’s the PC-tethered devices such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or the Playstation tethered PSVR. Finally, are 360-degree photo and videos the best way to truly understand the potential of Virtual Reality has to offer for my business, or is it best to create a fully 3D computer generated environment?

In the end, there are two pieces of advice that I give everyone I speak to:

  • Personally Experience the technology
  • Business Use Cases drive the decision

Personally Experience the technology

Much has been written and published on the potential of VR. Analysts, bloggers, media outlets, and social media posts have filled our screens with more information then we even know how to process. But what all of these sources of information cannot do well, is to provide the reader with an actual accurate depiction of what bring immersed in various forms of VR is truly like. It reminds me of a quote from Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver, that defines this idea perfectly, “how could you describe a hill and snow to someone who had never felt height or wind or that feathery, magical cold?”

In the same way, how do you explain VR and the various types of experiences, to someone who has never experienced it. In the same vain, how could someone determine which form factor, format, or environment is best for their business, if they have never experienced them. Of course, there are technical differences and deployment considerations, but ultimately without experiencing VR, at least in a couple of different formats, makes strategizing its use in your business nearly impossible.

Business Uses Cases Drive the Decision

Nothing new here. This should be the case with every implementation of a new technology. It’s not about the technology itself, it’s about the business goals and drivers. A recent note I published, “Immersive Technologies Offer Infinite Possibilities”, I discuss various use cases for immersive technologies. These technologies include: augmented reality(AR), mixed reality (MR), and virtual reality (VR) and the note covers some sample use cases for each.

One of the key questions from the note is, “Is there something intrinsic in immersive technology that will help meet business drivers and goals?”. This is something application leaders and strategists need to always ask themselves. Once you have experienced the form factors and the technologies, and then review the opportunities these specific technologies may be used to help achieve specific business goals and drivers, that’s the question that needs to be answered first.

With the business use case defined, the choice to use an immersive technology is clear, then looking at the market for the specific form factor, content type, and environment makes a whole lot more sense and will be more effective in achieving the business goals.

The caution here is that in some cases, the technology may not be mature enough or the right choice, for all of your business goals, but focus on what you could accomplish now, with an eye on what’s next.

Marty Resnick is an analyst at Gartner.