Virtual Reality: The Missing Link to Digital Transformation

What does it take to compete in today's market? What steps should companies be taking today to ensure their relevance tomorrow? Last year we started hearing that businesses need to be concerned with aim towards digital transformation. Digital transformation is an organization change process which values creation, competitions, and interaction with customers. It is a concern for all industries as it makes us think how we can use new digital tools to transform business processes.

Virtual Reality is a digital technology that enables digital transformation. Virtual Reality (VR) is a change process disruptor because in VR you interact with the virtual world in the same way you do outside of it. VR forces innovative thinking as to new ways it can be used for customer interaction and creativity. It weeds out those who cannot adapt to the new ways companies do business through these types of virtual tools, so that only the ones who can see value in the tools to transform business are left. Virtual Reality is the type of technology that companies need to take advantage of in order to stay relevant and compete.

Unfortunately, not all companies are able to see a digital transformation technology when it presents itself. Some of the challenges that can keep a business from recognizing this opportunity are:

Lack of Impetus

  • Skepticism of emerging technologies
  • Lack of awareness of digital opportunities and threats

The best way to move past skepticism of emerging technologies is to set up mini experiments within the company. Most software vendors provide a trial version. Set up teams in advance and brief them on the goal to test the viability of the technology. Have teams come up with key ways they want to test the technology for how it can help their business. Running these experiments will also help to identify the opportunities and threats that come along with them.

Using Virtual Reality for instance, you may set up two distributed teams. One in an office in Detroit another an office in Tokyo. Tell the teams you want them to test running their daily stand up in VR for one week. Then ask them, while they are using the software to note what they like and what they don't like about it. Also ask them to identify other opportunities to use the software. You may find that the teams are more engaged in their stand ups since they are "in person" together.

Unclear Business Case

  • Lack of justifiable economic business plan
  • Use of marketing experiments

The number one business case for using virtual reality in the enterprise is this number: $1 trillion. Companies spend $1 trillion dollars annually to co-locate distributed teams. That's $1 trillion dollars that could be spent towards research and development, sustainability practices, employee enrichment programs, and more. Virtual Reality implementations cost less than traditional teleconferencing tools. A Typical Cisco on site implementation can run north of 25k per end point. With that the team is still stuck at that location, staring at a large screen. Virtual Reality cloud-hosted VR platforms are cheaper because they run on a per use licensing model which are flexible to a specific company’s needs.

It's not just the upfront cost of using these tools that companies have to think about. It's the long term effect of not using the right tool for the job. Companies spend so much money to co-locate their teams because people work better when they are in the same space together, congregated around the same whiteboard and reading each other’s body language. VR allows those team members the same experience without wasting time and energy travelling.  

Digital transformation is anything that allows enterprises to become more streamlined and faster to better compete in the market. To do this, companies must automate as many tasks as possible to reduce friction. One of those tasks in travelling for work. Time, energy, money, these are all tasks that take away from a business focusing on its core competencies. By reducing these barriers, companies can focus their energy on what keeps them competitive in the market instead.