Where to start with a mixed reality experiment

  • Posted on September 28, 2017
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
mixed reality experiment

Mixed reality technology is quickly moving from entertainment to business solutions. Our recent research in the Netherlands shows that 55.4% of the companies give mixed and virtual reality (MR and VR) priority for the coming year and want to start experimenting. Especially for companies working in the Information, Communication and Hospitality industries.  

Unfortunately, the study also shows that managers have no clear idea where to start. I belief that this trend is similar in other regions around the world. More and more companies will make use of mixed reality applications to serve customers and employees. 

The study shows that companies want to focus more on experimenting (32.5%) and simple application of the technology (27.5%). So how do you start with this? In this two-part blog series, I will focus on the first steps companies can take to start using mixed reality by experimenting.

The benefits of experimenting with MR
So first let’s start with the question why companies want to experiment with technologies like MR and VR. Managers see several benefits for their businesses. Most companies wants to get a higher customer satisfaction and efficiency. MR also helps you to support and improve the product development process. The entire outcome can be seen in the figure below.

Our own experience with clients and projects confirms that MR and VR increased the efficiency and improves the customer experience. One example of increased efficiency is when MR supports field workers with complex tasks and additional aid using over the shoulder coaching, ensuring higher quality results with less rework.

3 Steps to start an experiment
Let’s say you want to start experimenting with these new technologies in your organization. Where do you start? Because this technology is very different from the more traditional software technologies like websites and business applications. The technology allows for entire new scenarios and new ways of working, which were not possible before. This requires a very broad view on these potential new mixed reality concepts for business.

At Avanade, we advise our clients not only to start, but to continue to experiment regularly to discover new opportunities. The following steps will help you kick start your experiment:

  1. Ideation workshop: start with a workshop with a group no more than 12 people from different processes and disciplines in the company. In mixed groups, these people will create high-level business cases. The most positive business cases are selected for follow-up sessions.
  2. Prototype: create a prototype of the concept to test the different aspects like desirability, feasibility and viability. Vital to the success of a prototype phase is a user centric approach. During the prototype phase we address the following subjects:
    • Proof of Concept: test the desirability of the concept with end users.
    • Proof of Technology: test the feasibility of the concept by identifying and validating the most important technical challenges for the prototype.
    • Proof of Value: test the viability of the concept with the business.
  3. Pilot: start with the development of a real product based on the Minimal Viable Product (MVP) principle. Ask a small test group to work in the field with the first version of the tool. With their feedback, you can continue the development and expand the tool.

Important conditions for experimenting 
After completing those 3 steps, you can now start experimenting. But there are some important conditions. Research shows that companies see the following as the top 4 conditions:
A team with the right technical skills
Acceptance within your organization
Support from the management team

35% of managers indicate that a lack of software development skills is one of the biggest challenges for implementing a prototype or pilot. There aren’t a lot of companies that have developers with 3D development skills or designers who can build 3D models, which poses a big challenge when starting a prototype with these technologies. However, these are required skills when developing applications for MR.

In my next blog post, I will provide tips on how you can actually create a prototype and what an ideal team should look like.

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