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Early stages of any emerging tech require experimentation and feeling around to pinpoint product and business models. This makes sharing best practices and examining buying behavior key exercises. The latest lessons come from Atheer & Telus at the VRARA Summit (video below).

These companies collectively have complimentary messages, given that one is an enterprise AR software & services provider while the other is a telecom giant. That puts Telus on the buy side of the AR ecosystem. And it sees several ways AR fits into its business lines, like healthcare IT.

“We provide solutions for physicians and health insurance companies,” said Telus’ Parm Sandhu. “We have software that we’ve launched that allows customers to do virtual visits with their doctors. We live in a unique region where they allow virtual visits for patients.”

The way AR could play into such a scenario is with “see what I see” support. Like in industrial contexts, where remote experts guide on-site workers through machine maintenance, doctors can “see” patients remotely. This can streamline lots of non-emergency care and save everyone time.

But Telus’ AR enthusiasm isn’t the norm. It’s still early stages for enterprise AR. Though the ROI case is often positive, it will be a learning curve for large organizations which naturally resist change. This means that hand-holding is required, says Atheer COO Amar Dhaliwal.

“Folks are starting to experiment [and] see potential business cases,” he said. “But I’m always reminding our team that we’re at the very beginnings of this journey so it’s incumbent on us on the vendor side of the community to support customers [to] move as quickly as we can.”

The good news is that there’s clear momentum in year-over-year demand. And enterprise use cases are naturally segmenting into categories like maintenance and training, around which Atheer is organizing its services and marketing. This makes things more digestible for enterprises.

“There’s been a huge difference and a huge move just in the last year in terms of the type of conversations that we’re having with enterprises,” said Dhaliwal. “We see a set of use cases [such as] maintenance and repair operations… training and certification [and] warehousing and logistics.

Atheer, for example, executed a successful AR program with Porche dealers that we recently examined. But Dhaliwal warns that such results require certain factors like the clients’ readiness. He also recommends focused pilot programs to achieve both technical and business validation.

“Only after you’ve done those should we be talking about production-wide deployment,” he said. “My advice is don’t try to boil the ocean. Don’t try multiple use cases. Pick one, make it successful, demonstrate ROI, take the ROI up to the powers that be and use that as the capital.”

Telus agrees from a buyer/adopter perspective and adds that pilot programs should look at every possible vantage point. For example, in its healthcare-related implementations mentioned above, consider how the new technology plays with doctors, insurance companies and patients.

“If I walk into a doctor’s office and my doctor is recording everything, I’m going to freak out the first time I see it,” said Sanshu. “It’s not natural yet. So my encouragement is to look at it from both a business and metrics perspective, but also from a human and UX perspective.”

A lot of these adoption issues can also benefit from the established corporate practice of change management, as we examined recently with Scope AR. Telus is a big believer in this, given the natural challenges of enterprise inertia and tech adoption within large enterprises like itself.

“You can imagine the challenges to introduce technology like this into Telus, and trying to get everyone engaged,” said Sandhu. “You need to validate the technology — the hardware and the platform — then work with your enabling teams to address human change management.”

But despite adoption challenges, we project enterprise AR to grow to $29 billion by 2022. Historical evidence points to a tipping point, similar to the enterprise smartphone adoption cycle a decade ago. Knowing that inevitability should signal enterprises to gain an early edge.

“This is a new category of enterprise software,” said Dhaliwal. “It’s inevitable, it is coming, and if you’re not thinking about it today, I promise that your competition [is]. Over the next couple of years, there will be very few industrial enterprises that are not investing in this technology.”

See the full presentation below and our past analysis of Atheer’s work with Porche.

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Disclosure: AR Insider 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.

Header image credit: AR in Action, YouTube