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AR and VR in Operations – Are we past the tipping point?

Blog: Capgemini CTO Blog

Augmented as well as Virtual Reality (AR and VR) are not new ideas. From the time of the genesis of the humble concept of multimedia, these ideas have been talked about in the industry. Yet, the traversal of AR and VR through the product hype cycle has been slow, although steady. Practical use cases which bear measurable returns on investment are only now beginning to appear on Operations side.

AR is the superimposition of a digital layer on the physical world. VR is creation of a completely digital world, which helps the user experience the real world without being part of it. Both AR and VR have got a leg up with the superfast advancement in the power of consumer hardware. From phones to tablets and from wearables to drones, the exponential rise in the processing power as well as software capabilities of devices is making it simpler for business operations to leverage AR / VR.

As per Capgemini research, businesses are more sanguine than ever before on applying AR and VR to their operations.

What goes in the favour of AR and VR adoption is that unlike consumer demands, the Operational needs are rather well-defined. At the minimum, it is possible to forecast what use a specific technology has and the differential leverage it brings. Hence once the deployment capability is close to the user expectation, the actual adoption can be faster. In the consumer world, the statement of needs itself keeps changing. This is one reason why smartphones applications of AR and VR have been rather limited. But we believe, this will not be the case for businesses.

Our surveys show that the use of AR and VR is fairly uniformly distributed globally. This is good news for technology vendors. They can pick and choose the right market and industry combination.

AR, VR

China taking a lead in adoption of new technology is now almost a base-case. Innovations are no longer being driven only out of Silicon Valley. A lot more patents are being filed in Asia, and businesses are now confident and cash-flow rich enough to experiment ahead of their western counterparts.

The most common use case that’s taking off in this space is on Repair and Maintenance. Bringing together physical machines with digital knowledge about their specific parts, engineering, and solutions to wear and tear is getting popular. This could involve viewing reference videos and digital manuals, searching organizational knowledge archives or Internet, creating better visualizations for the parts under repair, and following a specific instruction set is possible in the maintain and repair space using AR and / or VR.

Design and Assembly, Product Training, and Quality Assurance are the next areas of focus.

We believe that tangible productivity and efficiency measurement will help AR and VR climb the S curve rapidly. If this further leads to product quality improvement in the 25% to 50% range, businesses will invest in this space more wholeheartedly.

It is imperative that the decision makers choose high-recall use cases to prove the utility of these technologies. Human safety is a great example. As businesses become more responsible towards environment, health, and safety, applying AR / VR to reduce physical task risk can help jump a few hoops of organizational resistance. Automotive, utility, and mining and natural resources sectors are likely to take the first shot in this area.

Amongst various facets of Digital Transformation, AR and VR is perhaps not as talked about as the front-end consumer technologies. However, this may just be the area of rapid development in the years to come.

Download Capgemini Research Institute’s Latest Report On  Augmented and Virtual Reality in Operations: A guide for investment  to get a 360 view on these Immersive Technologies

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