For many people, virtual reality (VR) still seems like a thing of the future, especially for businesses that are still wrapping their minds around the necessity of digital and social media. While VR is far from a new concept, the industry has seen exponential growth in the past few years, with huge companies like Facebook acquiring smaller VR companies like Oculus, according to Virtual Reality: A 360-Degree View of the Future. Apple is in on it too, having bought three separate VR businesses already.
In the past year alone, VR has seen success across the gaming, sports, education and entertainments industries, all of which is telling us that it’s only a matter of time before businesses will be forced to adapt.
Virtual reality is here to stay and not only for industry leaders but for small businesses as well. If you want to get in before the rush, here are five things every business owner should know about VR.
1. VR Will Touch Everything
As VR continues to improve, experiences that we were once impossible will be within reach of consumers—think attending concerts across the US, never missing a family event and traveling abroad.
Just like the evolution of the Internet, it is expected to redefine the way humans interact with each other and the world around us. While VR has already been implemented into several industries this year, it will eventually change every business model—from healthcare and education to HR and manufacturing.
2. Multiple Departments Will See Benefits
The investment for VR could have far-reaching benefits for all departments within your business, including:
- Manufacturing: Before you even talk about an idea for a product, you can create a virtual model without paying for production—saving time and money.
- HR: When onboarding new employees, VR could enable them to spend some time in the virtual office space to see how well they’ll fit within the current office culture. For remote and onsite employees, communication, productivity and team bonding will significantly improve.
- Business Development: VR could potentially predict new opportunities and markets and allow you to give investors life-like experiences with your products and services, regardless of where they are.
- Sales: VR would provide a deeper connection with clients and buyers through simulated reality. Just imagine the onboarding process of a new client or customer who can learn with an employee “right there.”
- Employee Training: Employees can practice using machines and other equipment before actually putting their skills to test in real life.
3. Embrace It—or Get Left Behind
Companies who have yet to embrace digital Websites and responsive Website designs (RWD) are currently losing business thanks to clunky site navigation and lower search rankings. If you still haven’t mastered this shift in the direction of consumer information consumption, you’re going to be even further left behind when VR takes over.
To stay competitive in 2017 and beyond, take the necessary steps to include these recent advancements in your business model. When VR makes its debut into your industry, you’ll already be ahead of the curve. Consider the departments above when deciding who should be researching and preparing.
4. User Experience Will Improve
VR has the potential to improve user experience, or the relationship between people and technology, across all industries. Imagine if you’re in the market to buy a house in another state and instead of making a visit, you can walk through the properties with a simulated VR experience.
With our global economy growing more each day, this will allow businesses to broaden their horizons and customer base easily.
5. Consumer Buy-In is the Future of Marketing
Real-world perspective will become part of the purchasing cycle with VR. For marketers, simply providing informative content on various platforms will no longer be enough.
Building off what we already know to be true about purposeful content marketing, campaigns will eventually provide an enhanced, virtual experience—a consumer buy-in unlike any we’ve ever seen before. Overcoming these marketing challenges will lead to authentic VR experiences and impactful interactions that can lead to greater brand loyalty.
Virtual reality still feels like something out of The Jetsons for many of us, but for businesses, it needs to be embraced now. Whether you have a plan of action or not, simply being aware of the changes and advancements in VR technology will allow you to be prepared for the inevitable moment when it becomes a part of your business.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a lifestyle blogger. She is also the owner of her own small fitness business, Honest Body Fitness, and is using her experience from writing, editing and marketing to become a successful entrepreneur. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.