AUGMENTED REALITY (AR) IS RAPIDLY MOVING from the IT world’s radar screen to its computer screens, ushering in new and sometimes remarkable capabilities that are changing how people go about their work. “Organizations are looking for ways to better manage the explosion of data,” observes Michael Sutcliff, group CEO of next-generation technology consultancy Accenture Digital. “Augmented and virtual reality technologies are part of the answer.”
Indeed, by displaying virtual information about physical objects, highlighting items of particular interest, and guiding users through step-by-step work processes, AR enables real-time decision making and innovation on a level unimaginable just a few years ago. The technology is particularly suited to mobile platforms, including smartphones, tablets, and headsets or eyewear. IDC estimates that the global market for AR headsets will exceed $30 billion by 2021, with commercial buyers accounting for 82.5 percent of those purchases.
Augmented reality is no passing fad either. Experts see it transforming entire industries in coming years. Retailer IKEA, for example, already has an AR app that shows shoppers what its furniture looks like in houses or businesses, while Sherwin-Williams has a similar program to illustrate how different paint colors will appear on walls.
Eventually, AR will touch everything from sales and e-commerce to training and technical support, according to Sathish Mariappan, co-founder of Innoppl, an Atlanta-based digital consulting and mobile app development firm. “The technology is currently in the early adoption phase, but it will serve as the foundation for many activities and capabilities in the future,” he says. “Companies that tap AR effectively will leapfrog their competitors.”
Enhancing the Experience
Still, augmented reality represents a challenge as well as an opportunity for channel pros. Though it can transform business processes, MSPs must understand where and when AR offers actual value, and know how to translate customer ideas into viable apps or solutions.
Where to begin? Mariappan advises channel pros to study up on AR development platforms, including Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. “Any developer who is familiar with iOS or Android can learn to build AR apps and features,” he says.
Now’s a good time to get started too. “Over the next few years, AR will move into the mainstream,” says Innoppl CEO and co-founder Nash Ogden. Along the way, he adds, it will both revolutionize a wide range of activities and drive an arraay of new opportunities for channel pros who understand the technology and what it can do for their clients.
Opening image: Pixabay