When we think of virtual reality (VR) we tend to think of games and entertainment. While these are likely to be the first widespread use cases for this technology, the applications for VR goes far beyond these. Virtual reality will almost certainly play an important role in every aspect of business and marketing. Virtual reality will not only be vital for businesses selling to business, but for Business to Business (B2B) operations as well. Here we look at the ways that B2B businesses are likely to take advantage of virtual reality.
Meeting with B2B clients
Telepresence, or the ability to be virtually present anywhere in the world no matter your geographical location is one of the greatest selling points for virtual reality. It is estimated that the average business person travelling in the United States spends $949 on travel costs, hotels and other expenses.
While business travel is a cost, it is one which sees a positive return on investment. For every dollar that a company spends on travel, on average, it increases profits by $2.90 and increase revenues by $9.50. Virtual reality could enable businesses to capture those gains ,without having to spend as much money on physically moving employees around the country or globe.
VR will allow people to use virtual avatars to represent themselves in meetings with new clients and colleagues back at the home office. There are already a number of companies that are exploring this technology. Facebook has recently announced that they have made strong inroads into developing virtual chat. While virtual reality has not yet achieved the same level of experience that can be achieved from an in-person meeting, the technology comes closer every single year.
It seems only a matter of time before we have the ability to strongly replicate the experience of meeting someone in person. This will include the ability to accurately convey micro-expressions and body language. Haptics will also be able to replicate the experience of giving a firm handshake or a pat on the back.
Virtual reality technology will also make it simple to collaborate and communicate new items. Once 3D printing becomes more widely available actual physical demonstrations of the product in a virtual environment will be possible.
Construction using VR technology
Construction firms, engineers and architects are already taking advantage of virtual reality technology. When UK Defense Contractor BAE System was designing and constructing the new Type 26 Global Combat Ships for the UK Royal Navy at used immersive virtual reality technology. Approximately 150 engineers were using virtual reality technology to design the new combat ships on a daily basis. This allowed engineers to simultaneously collaborate on the construction the matter their physical location. The cost savings of using virtual reality technology to test designs for physical construction can lead to both savings in time and costs.
BAE Systems engineers use the virtual reality technology to test whether compartments were deemed three of hazards before moving to physical construction. Using the virtue of the environment they were able to see if there were features that might compromise the safety of the crew without having to first construct each of the 800 compartments.
VR for pharmaceutical and biotechnology
The challenge faced by pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms is how to efficiently convey complex data to audiences. Virtual reality offers a way of communicating this information in a way which is immersive, entertain and intuitive. This can be useful for sales presentations and investor relations.
Using virtual reality, health care professionals can be familiarized with the latest pharmaceutical products in a way which is both engaging and entertaining. There is actually a large opportunity at the moment in using virtual reality technology as a sales tool because of the novelty factor. People are more willing to try VR, and consequently be exposed to information, because it’s an experience they wouldn’t normally otherwise have.
Another advantage of VR is that it allows a healthcare professional large amount of self-direction about what they want to learn about. They can explore a certain area of drug for biotech breakthrough in more detail, while passing over areas which may already be familiar with. The ability to self direct helps to avoid boredom but also ensures that they have received information that they require.
Finally virtual reality has a certain wow factor. The positive emotion that can be created using virtual reality is often translated to the product itself.
Virtual walk-throughs for commercial real estate
Virtual reality is well suited for market commercial real estate. Potential tenants of commercial property can explore the property without having to be physical present. This is useful for foreign investors who may not actually be able to visit the property in person.
Through VR a virtual fit-out can be performed at minimal cost. A potential tenant or buyer can get a better sense of what would be my to actually have their company located inside of the building. Using a virtual tour they can walk around inside of the building. All of this can be done before the building is even complete.
B2B corporate training
Virtual reality will transform many different types of B2B corporate training. From leadership development to employee onboarding, virtual reality can play an important role. The military was actually one of the first adopters of virtual reality technology and have used it widely as a way to train soldiers in a diverse range of combat environments. All of this can be done at a much lower cost than live training. Studies have shown that virtual reality training improves soldiers performance when they are presented with life fire environment.
Virtual reality can be used for management training. Managers can practice speaking in front of audiences and leadership skills in a virtual environment with (comfort and receive real-time feedback on the performance. Virtual reality has already been used by researchers to help treat autistic individuals. By coaching them through real-life interactions in a virtual reality environment they can receive advice and support from a virtual coach inside of the environment. The same principles can be applied for business training where a business development coach will be able to be present in the virtual reality environment providing advice.
Doctors will have the ability to practice medical procedures in a virtual environment which is extremely realistic without exposing patients to risk. The military has again been an early adopter of this technology using virtual reality for medics to practice field surgery.
Corporate relations and PR
Virtual reality technology will play a role in corporate relations and public relations. When General Electric was demonstrating their newly built Brazilian research Centre in 2014 the used virtual reality. Sitting inside of an armchair visitors could visit a subsea factory. Taking visitors to the real life subsea factory would be nearly impossible. Since the demonstration GE is now created virtually real expensive to show off a wide range of installations that they have been involved with. Virtual reality is perfect for demonstrating complex technology which would otherwise be difficult to explain to an audience.
Virtual Reality still has something of a novelty factor. As the cost of VR falls, and the quality of the experiences improve, it will increasingly become embedded into B2B commerce. The day that we no longer even notice that we are using VR in the same way as we use our smartphone today, will be the day that VR has truly arrived.