Experiential consumerism is the term that describes the immersive experience that retailers are going to have to provide in the future to attract and woo customers.
For some, older consumers, this can be described as the ability to try on a shirt in a store as opposed to trusting that it will fit when buying from an online store. For most, however, the term describes an AR/VR-driven, IoT-enabled experience that can be had regardless of whether it occurs within the walls of a brick and mortar establishment or on one’s couch at home. While IoT has the potential to change just about every aspect of the consumer experience, much of that change has to do with sensors being used to send ads to your phone when you walk by a store. In my mind, this brand of experience, if not done properly, can border on invasive rather then experiential.
However, when we move beyond sensors to consider ways of implementing AR and/or VR-based experiences, that is where a truly customer-centric experience can be had. To be sure, a variety of retail outlets have begun attempts at integrating AR into their stores. These techniques will continue to become increasingly refined, widespread, and useful to consumers in a retail setting. At the same time, the potential impact for AR/VR applications in the intelligent building space goes well beyond retail and hospitality.
From a building automation perspective, it means that commercial real estate developers and facilities managers must not only be conversant on the infrastructure needed to support AR/VR applications within their buildings, but also understand the industry-specific requirements of a potential wide range of tenants. Here are three industries beyond retail that will be materially impaced by AR/VR.
AR/VR Use Cases by Industry
Healthcare – The range of potential applications for AR and VR in healthcare are numerous. It is also the vertical in which the most information about the topic exists. A simple Google search will yield a number of “Top X” type articles about the ways in which the technology can be used in healthcare. Here’s a Top 6 list, but it is far from the only one out there. For my part, I’ve done work with some very large companies to help train their sales force on selling AR/VR into the healthcare industry, and my personal list would include solutions that help automate two key vectors in the healthcare ecosystem: in-patient experience and pharmaceutical R&D. On the in-patient experience front, the ability to visualize procedures can help to not only educate a patient about the care they are about to receive, but also provide a comfort level that goes along with knowing more about what is about to happen to them. Naturally, there are also immersive entertainment and/or treatment experiences that have applications from nursing home patients to people dealing with PTSD to helping to guide a patient from the admissons desk to the department that they are checking-into. On the pharmaceutical front, with drug companies facing competitive pressures to deliver better drugs to market at a faster pace than ever, leveraging AR/VR to help automate and/or streamline the clinical trial process is a potential game changer in the way drugs are tested and brought to market.
Manufacturing: An umbrella topic that encompasses the pharma example cited above, AR/VR applications in are equally numerous in manufacturing as they are in healthcare. Again, referring back to the sales enablement work that I do for companies trying to sell their ICT solutions into vertical markets, the applicaiton that seems to resonate most at present is worker training. The ability to send an an installation or maintenance professional to a site with the installation and/or maintenance manual loaded onto an AR headset can dramatically reduce ramp-up times for new technicians and help seasoned techs to become proficient in new product requirements essentially while “in flight”. Within the factory walls AR-based visualizations of product design can effectively streamline product design cycles.
Financial services: Within the financial services vertical, specifically focusing on FinTech, the opportunity to use AR and/or VR to interact with clients is potentially transformative on a number of levels. First off, it can help enable customers to interact with a financial advisor at a remote location as if they were sitting in the advisors office. While not unique to FinTech, the ability to enhance the feeling of personal interaction in a remote setting is a big plus when dealing with matters as sensitive as personal finance issues. Going further, as we move closer to the era of a digital workforce (think: a robot as your financial advisor), using AR/VR technologies to help a client to visualize data stream that combine for form the basis of investment advice and/or decision making will go hand-in-glove with the longer-term automation of the entire finance industry.