From The Editor | December 21, 2017

5 Essential Questions That Will Shape Your AR Strategy

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Sarah Nicastro

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
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Augmented Reality

James Heppelman, president and CEO of PTC, recently co-authored an article for Harvard Business Review along with Michael E. Porter, a University Professor at Harvard. The article, titled “Why Every Organization Needs An Augmented Reality Strategy,” takes a deep dive into how Augmented Reality (AR) is impacting our world, especially from a business sense.

The article begins by saying, “There is a fundamental disconnect between the wealth of digital data available to us and the physical world in which we apply it. While reality is three-dimensional, the rich data we now have to inform our decisions and actions remains trapped on two-dimensional pages and screens.” This statement struck me, because I have talked with countless field service organizations struggling immensely with the issue of what to do with all of the data they’re now collecting. They feel inundated and overwhelmed, and can’t determine how to turn their company’s data into true business insights and actionable information. To me, the beginning statement of this article perfectly summarized the issue so many companies are struggling with.

The article goes on to say that AR is well positioned to help close this gap. The issue lies in the fact that, as the article states, AR is still in its infancy. So while it may be a tool that many companies will find immensely valuable in bridging their two-dimensional and three-dimensional worlds, the majority aren’t able to experience that benefit just yet.

First, there is an education that needs to take place for companies to understand just how AR works, as well as the value it can provide their specific organization. I believe that this education is underway for many field service organizations today, and I think a fair amount are ready to move beyond theory and bring the value of AR to life within their companies (in fact, some are already doing so).

I urge you to read this HBR article, because it does an excellent job of outlining AR’s core capabilities (visualize, instruct, and interact). It talks about how Virtual Reality is different from AR, but how and in what applications it can tie in. The article also outlines the value AR can bring to a variety of different industries and applications.

After providing a great summary of AR capabilities and value, it goes on to outline specific considerations for developing an AR strategy. As the article states, “AR will have a widespread impact on how companies compete,” so it’s imperative you’re thinking through the technology’s application in your business. The article highlights five essential questions every company faces in developing their AR strategy:

  1. What is the range of AR opportunities in the industry, and in what sequence should they be pursued?
  2. How will AR reinforce a company’s product differentiation?
  3. Where will AR have the greatest impact on cost reduction?
  4. Should the company make AR design and deployment a core strength, or will outsourcing or partnering be sufficient?
  5. How will AR change communications with stakeholders?

So if you’re looking for a starting point to frame how AR will play a role in your business, exploring these five questions is a great place to begin. As you think through your answers to these questions, you should be able to begin forming opinions on what your company’s AR strategy will look like.

Check out the full article for additional insight on what I’ve outlined above, as well as five important considerations for AR deployment, an overview of the broader impact of AR, and some of the most common misinterpretations of the technology.