A new year brings new opportunities for businesses interested in leading the way in digital investments. But what can they expect in 2023? With a changing economic landscape and new innovations shaking up the tech landscape knowing where to focus takes expertise. That’s where our team comes in, we sat down with Shockoe’s CEO Alex Otanez and CTO Edwin Huertas to dive into what’s on the horizon for 2023.
1. What current immersive tech do you expect to see play a large role in 2023?
Alex: First and foremost we’re just at the starting point with ChatGPT and AI in general, but this year will be a big year for it. The power of these tools is incredible, and they are bound to shake up the way we interact with tech and design for tech. In general, if I see players like Google ratcheting up investments in solutions like AI I know it’s something to watch for. Secondly this year we’ll see a growth in ecosystem plays. Users are connected through their cars, their phones, and their watches, and all of these devices need to work together for a greater experience. 2023 will be the year for designing experiences for a more connected world.
Edwin: This year I expect to see a much faster rate of adoption for augmented reality and mixed reality. While these technologies don’t offer a fully immersive experience like virtual reality does, they’re already more widely accepted by consumers. Additionally, Apple is likely to release its first headset, and that means consumer adoption will follow. Our job in 2023 is to lay the best foundation for the consumers that are about to come into immersive experiences and AR and MR for the first time and to find user-friendly and intuitive ways to use it. If you look back on smartwatches it took 5 years before the adoption was at its height, we’re at that same inflection point, it’s on the horizon and we’re ready to build it.
2. What do you think is the sleeper trend in immersive and connected for 2023?
Alex: With the downturn in the economy we’ll see businesses change how they measure results, slightly moving away from traditional marketing spend and towards engagement initiatives that grow revenue and where you can measure results more clearly. This year businesses need to be less focused on time on screen (i.e. scrolling), and more on productive experience, touchpoints, or engagements with customers or employees. I’m also excited to see the potential for a hybrid cloud / edge solution in the connected space. Moving to a hybrid approach means faster experiences that are highly controlled, especially for immersive and connected apps, we will start to see this in the retail space, the healthcare space and the CPG / warehouse space, I also thing this will shine in the the Residential / Multifamily space with protocols like matter.
Edwin: An important trend I hope to see in the year to come is a better definition of web3. Right now web3 feels abstract to people, like the internet did in the 90s, but in 2023 I believe we’ll begin to see a clearer picture of the opportunities for it and how it differentiates from web2. Elements of it are getting attention in the news right now so people are paying attention, but what comes next is showing them how it can make a difference, and what digital ownership looks like in terms of your data and how you use it.
3. What was your biggest takeaway from 2022 in the immersive space?
Alex: This past year I saw people become more aware of who they’re giving their data to and how it’s being used. It’s our job as technologists to be good stewards of that data, designing for data privacy and security first and foremost. We also saw more companies invest in the metaverse and web3 and use it to blend new experiences with physical goods and services. Whether it was virtual concerts or Walmart investing in Roblox big names gave validity and value to the metaverse this year.
Edwin: It’s hard to share just one big takeaway, but working in this space daily I’ve noticed in 2022 we began seeing easier tools for developers and designers to create immersive experiences faster. I’ve also noticed there’s still an opportunity to find the usefulness of the immersive experiences being developed. I see a lot of “wow” solutions but not a lot of practical uses. How can immersive help consumers shop for groceries? Or train employees? Work is being done here (including at Shockoe) but in 2022 there were still a lot of unknowns around the usefulness of immersive.
4. With hiring freezes on the rise and tightening budgets what role do you see for immersive in 2023?
Alex: In the last few years many companies had more than enough money, so they overhired. And while this meant more team members to develop new solutions, it also meant less strategy overall. We are now starting to see some of that shedding, but the demand for new and robust technology driven experiences will still be there. With the uncertainty in the market right now companies are turning to experts in the immersive space to continue to make quality digital experiences with detailed plans to measure success and impact the top or bottom line. I expect to see progress continue for companies investing in immersive by relying on outside experts to move things forward in the best way, financially and for quality.
Edwin: For companies that want to lead the way in immersive I’d recommend starting with a proof of concept, it’s a model we see success in with our clients. This means quickly creating a proof of concept to see if the solution matches your needs, and then creating the strategy and the structure to develop it fully. This is a great cost-saving approach in the short term, and in the long term shows the viability of the new solution. From there you can build a team or budget around it if there’s value to the proof of concept.
5. What focus areas do you expect to see immersive and connected tech play a role in for 2023?
Alex: Sports and entertainment come to mind first. In this space, there’s a huge opportunity for technology to help move attendees from beyond the screen and into a more connected world and experience. Venues can engage consumers through wearables, watches, or glasses so attendees can actually engage in the physical experience, with the benefits of digital. I also see real potential for immersive in retail, the tech is there to improve the shopper experience in entirely new ways. Consider grocery shoppers with food allergies, right now they read labels to make sure a food is safe, with an AR overlay, shoppers could quickly see allergen information. For retailers, there also needs to be conversations about attaching digital tokens and NFTs to physical products for sale. How do you monetize it? Overall I see 2023 as the year we move into these mature digital experiences across industries.
Edwin: I imagine the gaming industry will play a major role in immersive in 2023. It’s what draws users in and builds that comfort level that’s needed for future adoption. We don’t know what type of devices users will gravitate towards, headsets or phone features that work as overlays, but with Apple potentially jumping into the space we’ll get a better sense of consumer adoption this year. I also expect to see immersive play a larger role in sports, the PGA has been working on new AR features, and others are right there too as they look for new ways to engage fans and sponsors.
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