As skepticism starts to surround consumer VR — or at least its timeline to ubiquity — attention shifts to the enterprise. The same can be said for AR, but it’s more pronounced in VR, given slower consumer hardware sales. This was the topic of a recent SVVR panel (video below).
Besides the enterprise factors that create fertile ground for VR — such as clear ROI in areas like design collaboration — the timing is also right. This is because VR has been “consumerized” in the form of powerful off-the-shelf headsets like Oculus Rift, now $399 with touch controllers.
“We now have access to the technology that NASA [and] the department of defense have been using for years,” said HTC Exec Director of VR Vinay Narayan. “The technology is here and it works. Now it’s really up to us as industry professionals to harness the power of that platform.”
Speak the language
But it’s also about navigating enterprises in terms of speaking their language and understanding tech buying patterns. And for that, the path of least resistance is to adapt to the customs and cadence of the enterprise software world, says Comcast Ventures’ Michael Yang.
“To really understand how to create a software solution for them, you have to understand their underlying business process,” he said. “Talking amongst other VR people isn’t going to move the agenda in terms of getting an enterprise oriented app into corporate America.”
This is about understanding business processes and the types of software that has erstwhile supported them said Yang. It’s about CRM and ERP and other enterprise software. Knowledge of those processes, in addition to technical chops with VR, will be a winning combo.
“Many folks we meet aren’t thinking that way,” said Yang. “It’s because we haven’t cross-fertilized the DNA. If you haven’t spent time with enterprise software developers or systems integrators, you’re not really understanding the business problem you’re trying to apply VR to.”
The Bright Side
This applies to pricing as well. In this exercise of adapting to enterprise software patterns, there’s an opportunity to benefit from its advantages. And one of enterprise software’s biggest advantages is the recurring revenue, scalability and unit economics of SaaS packaging.
“If it’s going to be an enterprise businesses that wants to be valued appropriately, it has to be a SAAS subscription-based software license model,” said Yang. “Corporations are accustomed that. They’re buying CRM, they’re buying databases, they’re buying stuff in that way.”
And despite the challenges, Yang says there’s a bright side in that enterprises will increasingly need VR integrations. And they’re not going to do it themselves, as it’s not their competency. This will open up lots of opportunity to VR companies that can speak the right language.
“I would challenge VR folks to step right into that,” he said. “[Enterprise software] is a multi-billion dollar global business and they don’t know anything about VR. They’re scared about VR and AR and frankly need your help, so that’s where it can all come together.”
As VR makes its way into the enterprise in all of the above ways, it could do the overall VR industry a favor by accelerating consumer adoption. As history has taught us, technologies often start in the enterprise then migrate to homes after people get exposed to them at work.
“Most new technology starts in the enterprise then gets adopted at home,” said Narayan. “PC adoption happened because you use Excel at work and then see that makes it a lot of sense, and I’m going to use Excel at home.”
Samsung Director of Developer Advocacy Rob Vawter agrees but warns that the enterprise use cases have to be adaptable to consumer settings. Put another way, they should have some sex appeal or fun to inspire thinking about the ways can be used in non-work contexts.
“A lot of what we do at work is text input or text reading,” he said. “Neither of those are enjoyable. So we need to find use cases that would come back home. Things like real estate showcasing or training simulations could be very cool and a great first exposure.”
See the entire session below.
Disclosure: ARtillry has no financial stake in the companies mentioned in this post, nor received payment for its production. Disclosure and ethics policy can be seen here.