By Hal Fickett
In 2016, virtual reality will close in on being a billion dollar industry. VR has been around for some time now, and multiple industries are adopting the technology for their purposes. Leif Walcutt’s article “Not Just Gaming: 5 Industries Virtual Reality Is Changing” paints a clear picture of how different fields are using the tech to create immersive experiences for varying purposes. Users are utilizing VR in creative ways, and the technology seems ripe with possibilities. It will be fascinating to see how different industries use the tech for their purposes, and in what ways they use VR to accomplish strategic goals. If you’re a business professional, the time to start preparing for virtual reality innovation is now.
A Flexible Technology
In his article, Walcutt discusses a few ways the healthcare industry is leveraging VR; such as using it as a means for training, and diagnosing illnesses. “Its applications range from robotic surgery to PTSD rehabilitation for veterans.” However, what if we applied the technology to an online magazine; how could VR be used in that context to create an interactive experience for the reader?
Imagine a user visiting an online magazine on a desktop or mobile device and having the article come to life in front of their eyes. Having selected a post, the user consumes the story through an engaging multimedia experience; they read part of the article, then another piece of the post morphs into a quick movie, then a 3D photo gallery with an accompanying voiceover, then back to copy (most likely ending with a quick advertisement!).
Fertile Ground for Innovation
I believe VR is a fertile ground for innovation. The more cost-effective the technology becomes, the more accessible it will be to different industries. Assuming VR does become more affordable for the masses in the future, how can companies foster or begin fostering a creative environment that could explore ways to use the technology to add value to their customers and increase profits? In their book, “The Management of Technology and Innovation: A Strategic Approach, 2nd Edition,” authors White and Bruton discuss diverse ways companies can foster creativity and innovation such as recognizing opportunities, expanding capabilities through education, not being afraid to take risks and making sure funds are available to support innovative research and implementation.
Opportunities exist for all companies. Perhaps VR can help create a richer experience for their customers, and make their services or products more enticing to consumers they have yet to convert into clients. Alternatively, virtual reality might allow them to expand into new markets, or develop new services or products through the capabilities the technology offers them.
Education can help to foster innovation as it helps professionals develop different skill sets, expands their knowledge, and exposes them to different ideas and processes. White and Bruton cite how Pixar Animation Studios started Pixar University, which gives employees the opportunity to explore various topics that are relevant to Pixar’s work over a period of three months. In this way, Pixar invests in innovation through educational opportunities for their workers, increasing the possibility for future positive change.
Fostering a Creative Culture
For change to occur, companies need to test new ideas and processes once they have identified opportunities. Despite best intentions, some ideas may not be successful, which is part of the creative process. If organizations show their employees it is okay to fail they will foster an environment of risk taking that can lead to the innovation they are wanting to achieve.
Time is money, and innovation takes time. If companies are trying to foster innovation with VR, they must recognize it is not an overnight process, and make sure they have budgeted accordingly.
Virtual reality is clearly a flexible technology. As VR becomes more cost-effective and accessible to different industries and consumers, I can see how its adoption will continue to add value to customers and increase profits for companies.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on VR. What industries do you think virtual reality will play a prominent role in and change for the better?