If you believe virtual reality is a futuristic concept limited to gaming, you weren’t at the 2017 Oculus Connect conference in San Jose October 11-12. At Oculus Connect, the Facebook-owned company convenes engineers, designers, and creatives to explore the state of the art in virtual reality. On Day 1, Oculus announced Oculus for Business, a bundled set of Oculus products designed to help businesses build virtual reality applications. On Day 2, Oculus gave attendees more insight into how virtual reality is delivering results to companies today.
For example, I attended a panel discussion that included executives from Audi, STRIVR, Procter & Gamble, Andrew Lucas Studios, Oculus, and Cisco. Within one hour, I saw some compelling examples of how virtual reality supports businesses to meet strategic needs such as selling products and training employees. To wit:
- STRIVR, which provides human performance training tools, is helping Walmart use virtual reality to train employees in areas such as customer service (more about that here).
- Andrew Lucas Studios has used virtual reality to more efficiently design the Boulevard Theatre in London. Virtual reality has helped the design team collaborate by envisioning and testing the design concepts.
- As we noted on our blog October 11, Audi has been using virtual reality to help customers configure their driving experience, thus improving the sales process.
- Procter & Gamble has been using virtual reality for more than seven years to test shopping experiences and different store environments to inform product development and distribution to stores. (P&G’s partner Accenture provides more detail in this PDF).
- Cisco created the Cisco Spark VR concept to improve how team members collaborate by using virtual reality tools for information creation and sharing, among other uses.
These businesses are succeeding with virtual reality for a number of reasons, among them:
- Matching the right experience for the right customer need. Audi provides a simple new use case for ergonomic design, simply put, no headstrap. Why? Because customers only need five-to-ten minutes to use virtual reality to meet their virtual experience needs, and they’ve learned that customers really don’t want to mess their hair.
- Applying their scale. Procter & Gamble possesses the marketing muscle, resources, and means to do deep testing of products in virtual reality over a period of years. Procter & Gamble understands that it can leapfrog seemingly more nimble start-ups by accelerating the uptake of virtual reality.
But the most important factor tying these examples together: these businesses are creating virtual reality products that are useful, accessible, and emotional: in a word, lovable. When products become lovable, they achieve uptake. They go beyond the testing lab and start supporting businesses.
To be sure, virtual reality has its challenges at these companies, such as the challenge of matching the right equipment with the appropriate task. (Not all headsets are the same.) But these businesses are working through the challenges.
At Moonshot, we recommend apply the right test-and-learn process to assess the role virtual reality fits in your product development strategy while mitigating the costs of doing so. Our FUEL methodology leverages the techniques of design thinking and lean innovation to create minimum lovable products for your customers and then scale those products for commercial application.
When products are lovable, they deliver value here and now. Virtual reality is doing just that.