Encourage your XR customers to lean in because the world has changed
by Jason Marsh
Without a lot of warning, the world changed these last few weeks. I’ve changed how I’m talking to my enterprise XR customers because of the impending economic crisis. I want them to see that XR will have a direct impact on short term remote work effectiveness and long term competitive advantage once social distancing subsides.
We XR professionals have been tracking this “global change event” and the XR community has ignited around the remote meeting use case, enhancing personal connection and overcoming the physical limitations of space.
Mr. Customer, are you going to pull back and hide under a rock until this passes, or are you going to be the organization that thrives with fewer competitors in your space? A great way to embrace this future is to be able to schedule three effective remote sales meetings a day instead of three a week. Perhaps the meetings will even be better, such as including powerful data visualizations that help organizations make better data-driven decisions. over-simplified, emotional decision.
How can we help pitch our enterprise XR customers to see this as a success opportunity to thrive and protect XR projects from across-the-board budget cuts? We want to give our internal champions the ammunition they need to go to bat for increasing XR spend. We need them to lean into the new reality, because the crisis will radically accelerate shifts already occurring.
There are great articles about the vendors and their short-term successes, so no need to iterate them again here.
Social/technological shifts were already underway prior to Covid-19, such as:
1. Climate change causing pressures on travel
The enterprise relationship with travel has not been on a sustainable course for a while, and the younger generation will push for significant change. There are voices within the airline industry that have been raising an existential alarm for years, but growth has been the norm, and with miles increasing every year, those voices have been ignored. As Generation Z comes into the workforce that will change.
The easiest way to define Gen Z is those young adults that have no memory of life without a connected super-computer in their hand, also known as the smartphone. They identify climate-change as their first political priority.
Gen Z isn’t alone. Maybe we should all be able to quote from Larry Fink’s latest letter to CEOs, which describes how climate sustainability will be impacting BlackRock’s investment decisions.
2. Generation Z social norms
Gen Z is especially comfortable with remote communication. They texted friends late into the night in middle school, embraced FaceTime, and largely stayed home, despite some feelings of loneliness. My 22-year-old Gen Z daughter has taught me that this generation is not surprised by a global pandemic. They were raised on apocalyptic movies: even the children’s movie Wall-E was about a dystopian future. Professors and parents have instilled in them a dislike for the excesses of capitalism and worries about climate. They’ve been told that it will be their responsibility to fix the Boomer generation’s failures. The “OK Boomer” meme encapsulates their push-back.
This generation grew up in non-stop connection with their friends, but remotely from home. To them, work travel is not mythical nor exciting. Even before Gen Z, we have seen a decline in workforce mobility in the US as people are less willing to relocate for work. My daughter hesitated to accept a position with a big consultancy because she doesn’t want to travel so much. She doesn’t hesitate to embrace her remote college classes, and finds it more efficient than in-class (often she was already skipping class and just watching the lecture video, where she could repeat a complicated point multiple times and skip the pleasantries.) This group is ambitious and wants to get it done, and tech is their enabler.
3) Scheduling and effort of travel
The benefit of in-person meetings to build trusting relationships is well-known. But many hours are spent in travel time during the 445 million business trips taken per year. Domestic business travel average trip cost is $949, international $1260.
But perhaps more than the wasted hours, how often are enterprise processes pushed out because of the difficulty of scheduling in-person meetings with parties traveling around the country or globe? Every sale that is delayed, and every project delivery that is hampered by time delays, hurts the bottom line. But an online meeting is much easier to schedule, and if we can achieve similar trust-building with XR remote meetings, suddenly every XR project shifts from nice-to-have to mission-critical. Finally, XR has found its ROI.
4. Business efficiency: ‘Cool’ = Mastery + Control
Conference calling has accelerated at lighting speed the last few weeks. But it doesn’t feel great, and part of the issue may be a sense of loss of control: distracted participants and even more slideware.
Here’s an idea for highlighting the power of XR. I have taken to gently correcting customers when they respond to a demo with ‘That’s cool!’ (And they do say it every time, don’t they?) I say, “What does ‘cool’ mean? Cool means mastery over a difficult problem. A hot skateboard trick perfectly executed is cool. Tony Stark doing molecular visualizations and discoveries are cool. We vicariously feel the mastery and control. This is not just novelty we demo when we show XR, this is control, and control is increased accomplishment. Put your participants into a space where they all experience control, instead of passive screen-watching. And with control, you can understand more quickly and increase business efficiency.”
One way to pitch that the future is XR. Covid-19 is on everyone’s mind. But I’m not pitching XR to customers to just solve just today’s immediate craziness. I remind people that travel as we knew it is over: climate change, the rising generation, business efficiency, and better interaction were already impacting it. This crisis just accelerates the inevitable.
Crises have built so much of our society today: this one looks to be a doozy. Mr. Customer, embrace the change: be the organization that is set up to thrive.
Jason Marsh is the CEO of Flow Immersive.