The Internet of Things (IoT) is already changing the way we interact with the world. Our devices are smarter, and I envision a future where we can turn on our lights, preheat our ovens, and set our thermostat to the perfect temperature before driving home from work. Augmented reality blurs the line between our physical world and the internet. Though some write AR off as a lot of bluster and no substance, I see the marriage of AR and IoT revolutionizing the way we do business.
We now live in a world where consumer markets directly influence business trends. With IoT, consumers have been on the leading edge of adoption, embracing technology like smartwatches and smart home security systems. Businesses are just now seeing the value in IoT and are beginning to embed sensors in production equipment. These devices produce enormous amounts of data that companies are starting to leverage to gain an edge over competitors.
Embrace The New Working Revolution
Take a moment to remember your work life before cellphones. You had to be physically at your desk to take customer calls or answer inquiries. The turnaround time for returning messages was measured in hours, even days. Now remember what it was like to work without smartphones. Emails were returned in the morning, and telecommuting wasn’t an option. Neither was accessing work materials from home. It’s hard to appreciate how much these inventions have revolutionized our daily work lives.
Last year I wrote about what IoT will mean for business, but when combined with AR, we can expect a business revolution beyond cellphones and smartphones. The key to this revolution will be access to data. For example, in the construction industry, smart helmets gather information about a worker’s surroundings and formulates instructions. Designers can use AR to receive 3D instructions while working at the site itself.
This flood of support will not only affect internal operations by streamlining business processes; it will also impact external competition. Those who explore and integrate AR into their practices will create a first mover’s advantage in their fields.
Become A First Mover
If you understand the business environment you’re in, you are better prepared to out-position your competitors. At this stage of early adoption, making the decision to be an early mover depends on a myriad of factors:
- Your company’s resources. Incorporating AR requires the ability to educate and support. If you don’t foresee the ability to support either your employees or consumers, wait until competitors build the demand for you.
- The speed of technology. Consider the role that technology plays in market shifts. You don’t want to invest in something that will quickly become obsolete.
- Barriers to entry. Consider things like compliance to industry guidelines and federal regulations before investing the capital. For example, medical devices will have to garner FDA approval before they hit the market. If the cost of fighting these guidelines trumps your profits, you’re best off waiting for the competition. After all, you can walk through the barriers they had to bust through.
Survey, Then Lead The Charge
If you want to lead the charge in the AR market, survey your stakeholders. Find out where the technology will have the most impact, and realize that no application is too small. Also, don’t forget the importance of hardware. No matter where the AR is being implemented, it must withstand its operating environment.
Finding a desired audience is as easy as addressing your industry’s pain points. Look to trailblazers who want to maximize efficiency and save money, and especially those who have some difficulty with the physical environment. Construction or mining is a good example, as workers often have to operate in volatile environments. Those who have the greatest need will be most willing to push the current limits of technology.
IoT and AR are poised to bring about the next workplace revolution. With a proactive approach and a critical eye, enterprising businesses can be the first to put their foot in the door. First movers will find themselves with a distinct competitive advantage when the floodgates burst open.
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