The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Business: 2018 Report

The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Business: 2018 Report

Virtual reality and augmented reality are two of the most innovative technologies to gain mainstream traction over the past several years. These nascent media have taken content cues from the related fields of cinema and video gaming: that is to say that a significant amount of the content has been devoted to the purpose of consumer entertainment. However, businesses have identified other compelling use cases for these media that are all largely focused around the concept of utility.

 

Put simply, digital interfaces have the capacity to function as useful tools, and some of these tools make work easier, faster, safer, and more efficient. (For a more significant breakdown of the concept of utility apps, check out this post from Shockoe COO Alex Otañez). In the case of VR and AR, companies have been embracing these unique tools as a means of improving operations for a variety of use cases, all stemming from unique affordances inherent to the media themselves. I would encourage anyone who has read this far to download the full report posted below — while this post is a great start, the downloadable PDF provides a much deeper dive into technologies and use cases of how emerging technologies are impacting businesses and operations in 2018.

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Adoption Outlook

In a 2018 survey from immersive technology research group VR Intelligence, companies reported significant growth of VR and AR technology in both consumer and enterprise applications. In fact, 38% of respondents reported strong or very strong growth in VR for enterprise, and 43% reported strong or very strong growth in AR for enterprise. Additionally, enterprises have reported a significant intention to invest in immersive technology, with 61% citing VR and 58% citing AR as high priority business areas.

On the surface, it may seem that many companies are attempting to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive landscape. However, the powerful benefits of these new interaction methods can, in many cases, result in a significant benefit to the business in a variety of departments and across many different industry verticals. While respondents in education, AEC (Architecture / Engineering / Construction), and Manufacturing indicated the greatest adoption of XR tech, it is becoming clear that significant use cases exist for everything from health care, to banking & finance, to retail. The most commonly integrated use cases include:

  • Product Design & Prototyping
  • Sales, Marketing & External Communication
  • Manufacturing
  • Workforce Collaboration & Internal Communication
  • Training & Knowledge Retention
  • Educational Learning.

The common thread throughout all of these use cases? Utility.

Understanding the Medium

Implementation of immersive media must begin with developing a clear understanding of the affordances and constraints of the medium itself. For both VR and AR, you are interacting with objects and environments that are three dimensional. For VR, the user is placed into that environment and interacts from within. For AR, the user maintains a sense of their true environment and places and manipulates objects within it. Both media afford the user a true sense of the following:

  • Sense of Size – The actual dimensions of a given object or space.
  • Sense of Scale – How large something is in comparison to the user, or other objects.
  • Sense of Distance – The actual distance covered.
  • Sense of Proximity – How near or far something is to a user or another object.
  • Sense of Materiality – The color, texture, and material type of a given object, and how it is affected by changes in lighting.

In addition, VR affords the addition of:

  • Sense of Presence – The feeling of “being there.”
  • Sense of Ambience – What the character and atmosphere of a space are like when all of the previous factors are taken into consideration. This can include lighting and acoustics in a space.

Understanding these unique affordances of the media can help guide businesses when attempting to identify use cases in the areas outlined in the above section. For example, a true sense of size and scale can help manufacturers use AR to improve their quality assurance process or use VR to iteratively design product in a tactile manner.

Considering the Benefits

It would benefit companies to look to smart speakers as a good example of how a medium’s inherent qualities can enable utility. For example, Google Assistant is a virtual personal assistant (or VPA) that is implicitly designed to offer useful benefits to the user. What makes it groundbreaking is the fact that voice interaction is so natively ingrained in day-to-day user interactions. Native language communication is one of the earliest developmental milestones for us as humans. As such, it is an interaction method that is largely heuristic, allowing users to interact in a natural manner to engender the desired outcome. In other words, the affordances of the medium itself make it more useful.

Virtual reality and fully spatialized augmented reality possess a similar quality. Even before we develop language, we develop fine motor skills in order to interact with the world around us. Picking up and manipulating objects is one of the greatest evolutionary benefits we have as a species. It has allowed for the development of tools, which has in turn allowed for the development of complex societies. Despite this, many traditional digital two-dimensional interfaces are limited in their tactility, forcing the user to operate in a rectilinear environment consisting only of an X and a Y axis. That’s not to diminish the value of two-dimensional interfaces—GUIs and touch-enabled mobile devices have been among two of the most groundbreaking societal advances. Yet, there are still certain tasks that might be better accomplished through three-dimensional interaction. By understanding the nature of immersive media, businesses can build useful applications that were previously impossible, thus improving accuracy, efficiency, connectivity, and mobility.

Want to read more? Download the Full report

To learn more about how emerging technology is improving the way that businesses operate, download the 2018 Shockoe Emerging Outlook Report.

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Dan Cotting

Dan Cotting

Director of Immersive Technology

With over a decade of customer and user experience strategy under his belt, Dan Cotting is Shockoe’s Director of Immersive Technology and resident “future-tech-crazy-person.” Dan fully believes that virtual and augmented reality will pave the way for an entirely new approach to business operations: improving the lives of both employees and consumers, while simultaneously increasing business efficiency and productivity. When he isn’t dreaming about this “Ready Player One” future, Dan spends his free time playing bass guitar, practicing 18th century photographic techniques, brewing beer, and enjoying time with his wife Kelly and son Marshall, and their five rescue pets. He holds a B.S. from Boston University and an M.S. from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Mobile Apps for the Supply Chain

Mobile Apps for the Supply Chain

Don’t Limit Yourself

While computing in the supply chain is nothing new, many of the existing systems and platforms are typically running on bulky and dated equipment, limiting the flexibility and efficiency of employees. This issue isn’t confined to one segment of the supply chain. Everyone from suppliers to retailers is often conducting day-to-day operations with outdated supply chain applications and hardware. With the ubiquity of mobile technology, introducing apps into the supply chain can be beneficial and seamless. Mobile supply chain apps can lead to improvements at every step, often in similar ways across segments. For example, inventory management apps allow suppliers to track their raw materials, manufacturers to decrease the time to manufacture and ship, and retailers to more effectively track their stock.

Companies frequently focus the majority of their mobile technology investment on consumer-facing apps, often at the expense of mobilizing their supply chain operations. Shockoe has partnered with several big box retailers, as their supply chain app developer, to create apps that support supply chain workforce and processes. The infographic, below, outlines examples of how these supply chain apps can support desired customer experiences by improving processes such as inventory management, production planning, material management, and resource planning processes, to name a few.

See The Potential

As a supply chain app developer, we work with our clients to help them gain insight into points along the supply chain that will benefit from mobile app investment in order to get customers their product faster, more efficiently, and more effectively. This leads to a better customer experience, which maximizes their existing investment in consumer-facing solutions and increases customer loyalty.

How Suppliers Benefit:

  • Accurate sourcing: track and distribute raw materials anytime, anywhere. Mobile apps connect manufacturers to the first step of the supply chain, the raw materials supplier.
  • Easier inventory control: inventory management with the tap of a finger. Warehouse management apps give you 24/7 control of inventory
  • Simplified logistics: order fulfillment that’s simple, intuitive, and on the go. Track the transit of materials from anywhere in the field.

How Manufacturers Benefit:

  • Faster production times: supply chain apps integrate with legacy systems to cut down on the overall production process, decreasing the time to manufacture and ship.
  • Recall/damage control: simplify field assessments and integrate data captured in the field from mobile apps with back office applications. The faster a customer complaint is resolved, the more likely customers are to become repeat customers.
  • Better final product: tighter quality control means better oversight. All of this amounts to a higher quality product.

How Distributors Benefit:

  • Improved warehouse management
  • Smarter communication
  • Increased “on-time” delivery

How Retailers Benefit:

  • Better stock management
  • More efficient front-line employees
  • Less shrinkage

How Consumers Benefit:

  • Faster shipments
  • Accurate order tracking
  • Great customer experience

Increase Your Bottom Line

Partnering with an experienced supply chain app developer to digitize the supply chain means organizations can have the best of both worlds by increasing efficiency to decrease costs and making sure customers become ambassadors for the brand, leading to repeat business and long-term revenue growth.

 

Apps for the Supply Chain

 

Digital transformation through an attorney’s eyes

Digital transformation through an attorney’s eyes

Like many of my colleagues at Shockoe, I began writing computer code in a high school classroom.  However, in my case, the school was particularly advanced for its time in offering such a course, and our “computer” was a keyboard, dot-matrix printer, and a modem connection to the University of Virginia, where the actual computer occupied an entire floor of a large building.  And while most of those colleagues went on a path that brought them relatively quickly to Shockoe, I spent two decades working as an attorney in New York, Seoul, and Virginia.

Now in my third year of software development I have felt particularly happy to be at Shockoe because I believe it addresses needs that I often saw during my time working as an attorney, needs that I am certain are shared by many industries.

In my experience, the following was typical of the manner in which law firms implement technology.  First, the decisions are made by senior partners who, being busy with the representation of clients, have little time to keep up-to-date with what is available or most desirable in technology.  This leads either to an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, or an attempt to take care of the problem in one fell swoop with a package solution that may or may not fit comfortably with the way they have set up their practice.  In the latter case, the acquired technology may go unused, or used only to the extent required by the firm.  For example, if a time-tracking application is difficult to use, an attorney may keep track of his time on post-it notes as she always did before, then have her secretary type it all into the application at the end of the week.

In either case, what then happens is that employees begin finding their own solutions. Each attorney and his or her assistants devise their own system, piecing together hardware and applications as they see fit.  Depending on their level of technological sophistication, they may, or may not, arrive at a solution that works well for them.  However, this approach drastically reduces the potential for collaboration, and creates a host of potential problems, as the less technologically-adept might adopt solutions that introduce security vulnerabilities or other problems.

Although so often noted as to sound trite, an average employee today with a typical mobile device is comparable to an employee with superpowers two or three decades ago. To make the most of those powers, however, requires sophisticated solutions.  This includes, of course, a focus on the possible pitfalls of any new technology. A device that allows employees to watch training videos at convenient times may also allow them to spend the working day watching Netflix. Large collections of data become valuable, and thus must be protected, not only from hackers in foreign locales but from disgruntled or former employees.  Yet while minimizing risk demands much attention, it is just as important to make certain that new technology is used to its full potential. Making one’s workforce five times more efficient is simply not good enough in a competitive business environment if the competition makes their workforce eight times more efficient.  

This is what excites me about working at Shockoe, being able to use my skills to allow our clients to make the greatest possible use of the technology available to them. Apps created now increase employee productivity, streamline task performance and ensure employees have real-time data access they need for day to day exchange opposed to the opposite stagnant mentality. If this sounds familiar to you, check out our work for Financial Services Mobile Technology and contact us for any innovative ideas to help your team tackle your digital transformation with a great mobile strategy.