Written by Luke Fitzpatrick, Founder of Ghacklabs and PayPress | The Future | October 2016

You’re probably not aware that VR will affect you in more ways than one. Not just your business, but your personal habits too.

How Will Virtual Reality Affect Your Business?

A few days ago, I gave a guest lecture on ‘Cross Cultural Management’ at Sydney University. It explored the impacts that technology will have on business in the future, covering a diverse range of topics: iOT, cryptocurrency and virtual reality to name a few.

Virtual reality is right around the corner. It will affect your business; in this article we’ll discuss up-and-coming uses for VR in the business world,  giving you a general overview on what to expect and how to prepare for the future that VR presents.

 

Employee Simulation Training 

Virtual reality can be used to simulate real-life experiences in a virtual space.

NASA uses VR to simulate space. They train astronauts before they step onto a spaceship.  If you’re curious about this, check out this short YouTube video.

It’s not just NASA using virtual reality for training – the NFL uses VR to simulate and analyse their opponents – and, AGL Energy Limited uses VR to give new workers a taste of life at the company. (Source: VentureBeat)

 

Virtual Reality and iOT

VR has far greater implications when fused with the Internet of Things (iOT).

iOT may seem overly technical or hard to grasp for those that are unfamiliar with the term – an easy way to think of it is a ‘chip’ embedded into physical objects with Internet connectivity.

An easy way to imagine iOT is a beer glass. It tracks the alcohol percentage, how many glasses you have had – and controls the temperature of the glass. This may seem a little farfetched however startups like ePint are creating such tech.

Going back to VR; imagine you’re a large organisation looking to establish a branch overseas, in a new market that speaks a different language. Virtual reality can be used for cross-cultural management training to simulate a virtual cultural space – whilst at the same time using iOT to track which employees respond better to living overseas.

iOT has the potential to create massive amounts of big data – and when this data is combined with virtual simulations, it allows companies to make smarter decisions. This could range from choosing the best hires, training and selling products.

 

Virtual Stores and Consumer Purchases

A few weeks ago, a well-known virtual reality startup Humense hosted a private event for investors. The event attracted a lot of influential people, including Alibaba.

Some of you might be thinking naturally, why would Alibaba be interested in virtual reality?

As you may already be aware ‘Alibaba’ is a Chinese company that does a range of things like connecting products, suppliers, imports, exports and has it’s very own shopping portal. And, Alibaba has just invested in Humense.

In the near future, consumers will be able to purchase products using virtual / augmented reality. And, Scott O’Brien, founder of Humense is considered to be a thought leader in the Sydney VR space. Scott is also one of Academy XI’s instructors.

Here’s an example of how it might look: you walk into a shop and try on some clothes, a virtual assistant walks over to you and tells you how good you like, and you buy it.

Consumer buying is not solely limited to shopping for clothes – some real estates are beginning to experiment with virtual reality too. If this proves popular, Airbnb may very well adapt VR.

 

Some Examples of Possible VR Applications

The examples provided below are only possible applications for VR in different market segments. Real companies have been used to demonstrate how VR may affect various industries.

 

  • Programming: RiftSketch, allows programmers to live code and edit programs in real-time. Coder Factory Academy, teaches students to learn to code use VR to teach code virtually, and edit and see code live.
  • Banking: Interact with banks using avatars; customers could literally step inside virtual banks. Pointing to a serious question for the banking industry: “Are brick and mortar banks on the out?”
  • Recruitment: Job search platforms like Workible could provide recruiters’ with a virtual interface to hire and scout potential candidates. Companies can use this for virtual workspace tours and virtual interviews.
  • Events: Event marketplaces like iVvy and Venuemob could host virtual events. Imagine you really want to go to ‘Techcrunch Disrupt’ but for some unknown reason, you can’t make it. You can log in virtually, meet people at the event, watch pitches and take walk through all of the startup booths. Wouldn’t that be fab?
  • Social Networks: Social networks at some point in the near future will become virtual-based; how we interact today will be considered a remnant of the past. It’s know wonder why Facebook acquired the virtual reality startup ‘Occulus VR.’
  • Crowdfunding: Platforms like Pozible and JoeyCrowd could use virtual reality in their crowdfunding campaigns. When consumers are considering to crowdfund products, using VR they could interact with the products that they’re interested in. It also makes crowdfunding more social.
  • Gambling: Casinos could let you play poker virtually with real money.
  • Medical Procedures: In the future, it’s very likely that medical training will use some form of virtual reality for surgeries.
  • Travel: Today, emphasis is placed on booking flights and tours. Tomorrow, flight apps like SparrowFlights could potentially integrate VR and let you travel to destinations virtually. Imagine walking through the streets of Paris in your living room.
  • Architecture: VR could be used for prototyping buildings, and let designers create real-life interactive designs.
  • Education: Instead of going to class at University, students could log into virtual classrooms.
  • FinTech: Simply Wall St helps investors make informed decisions by providing institutional quality data and analysis in an easy to read visual format. A virtual space could be created to let investors discuss potential investments in real-time.
  • Virtual Piggy Banks: WealthNation acts as a virtual piggy bank; every time you spend money on your card it automatically saves a small portion of it for you (in a savings account, not an investment portfolio). WealthNation could create a virtual piggy bank that allows people to visualize how small amounts of money saved automatically can turn into fun amounts of money.

 

How Will VR affect Small Business?

It’s going to change the way businesses do marketing, interact with customers, hire staff and lots of other things too.

In business, there will be winners and losers – those that do lose out in the new world of VR, will have either integrated VR too early, or too late. My prediction, most business owners will adopt VR-tech after the market has become saturated.

Businesses should pay close attention to virtual reality, big data and iOT – and ask important questions like: “How will VR affect my business?”

 

The main takeaway:

Almost every industry will be affected by virtual reality. From medical procedure training, buying online, and property, to training and hiring staff – virtual reality is around the corner, paving the way for a new human frontier to begin.

 

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the best tips and resources on design and tech, delivered weekly.