How AR and VR will change enterprise mobility

They may be down the road a ways, but augmented reality and virtual reality are definitely coming to the enterprise — and right back out again via mobile implementations. It’s not too soon to think about how to manage them.

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Two of the hottest technologies today — augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) — are likely to have a big impact on enterprise mobility strategies, according to industry experts. Not for a couple of years, it’s true. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared to deal with them as part of your enterprise mobility management (EMM). The funny thing about our ever-accelerating technology advances is that things that were only emerging one day are suddenly everyday business tools the next — and you have to manage them.

You will one day see AR and VR supporting workers as they tackle varied tasks. And AR/VR is certain to become untethered from the office and used out in the world.

AR and VR are related visualizing technologies. Whereas VR presents a completely digital environment, AR shows a user digital information overlaid on the real, physical world. AR/VR can support a number of applications in a variety of industries, which will help fuel growth in demand for the technologies.

“We’re just getting started with business use cases for AR/VR,” says Bryan Taylor,
research director at Gartner. “Much of the focus today is on task-oriented or front-line work. But from virtual meetings to interactive design to visualization of any type, the promise for knowledge work is vast.”

“The most common use cases today are in the areas of immersive design and demonstration, where a digital version of a physical structure or object is used to allow a user to ‘be there’ and experience a design/building/object as if it were physical,” Taylor says.

Another is “hands-free workflow,” where AR allows a worker to see digital information superimposed onto the work environment, so that the worker doesn’t have to walk away to retrieve information or instructions, he says.

Field service workers are among the early users of the technology, says Ramon Llamas, research manager for wearables and mobile phones at research firm IDC. “Instead of going back and forth to the shop to get manuals, and using up precious time and resources, AR and VR have made it possible for field service workers to access manuals online and keep their hands free to complete their work tickets,” he says. “This is actually happening now.”

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