Though we spend ample time examining consumer-based AR applications and strategies, greater near-term impact is seen today in the enterprise. As is the case with many emerging technologies, enterprise AR spending has erstwhile outweighed its consumer equivalent.
So how big is this opportunity and what are best practices for enterprises to implement AR and realize strong ROI? This is the topic of ARtillery Intelligence’s recent report on enterprise AR case studies. It’s also the focus of the latest ARtillery Briefs episode (video and takeaways below).
First, to define Enterprise AR, it takes many forms including data visualization in corporate settings, and line-of-sight instructions to support assembly and maintenance in industrial settings. It also shines in field maintenance or remote support for dispatched IT services.
In all these cases, AR’s line-of-sight orientation can guide front-line workers. Compared to the “mental mapping” they do with 2D instructions, AR lets them achieve operational efficiencies which — when implemented at scale — can add up to worthwhile bottom-line impact.
Beyond those micro-economic benefits, macro-benefits include lessening job strain and streamlining knowledge transfer, which in turn preserves institutional knowledge. That happens by both delaying retirement for skilled workers and upskilling novice workers faster.
But it’s not all good news. Practical barriers stand in the way, including organizational inertia, politics, and fear of new technology among stakeholders like front-line workers. When you add up these common barriers, some have more to do with HR than AR.
Organizations are People
One outcome of the above challenges is the dreaded “pilot purgatory.” This is when AR is adopted at the pilot stage but never progresses to full deployment. It’s the biggest pain point in industrial AR today. So what are effective tactics being practiced today to overcome it?
This traces back to our “3Ps” construct: people, product, and process. These are the areas where AR falls down, so it’s also where implementation strategies should focus. Again, it’s less about technology than it’s about internal communications and change management.
Starting with people, enterprise AR’s value proposition should be customized to individual stakeholders. What often happens is that the same ROI metrics that appeal to the C-suite are used to win over front-line workers. Instead, stress personal benefits like reduction in job strain.
One example from this batch of case studies is Boeing. It was able to appeal to enterprise AR end users — in this case, aircraft assembly technicians — by demonstrating that the technology can make their jobs easier with less mental strain, which resonated and boosted adoption.
Moving on to product strategies, AR should be applied where it has the best product/market fit. For example, AR is effective in guiding complex, non-repetitive tasks like heavy-equipment assembly. But it doesn’t add value to simple, repetitive tasks like changing the oil in your car.
AR’s value is also felt greatest where there are high stakes. For example, in one of our case studies, Lockheed Martin used AR in spacecraft assembly, which made the process faster and more accurate. And with spacecraft, accuracy can mean not only saving dollars but also lives.
Finally, the last P is process, which is all about deployment and communications. Internal programs should follow a marketing playbook. Make the technology sexy, stress its advantages, and use thoughtful language consistently….sort of like an ad campaign.
For example, we saw BMW do this in one of our case studies to achieve meaningful traction among its personnel to use AR for new vehicle prototyping. The resulting adoption allowed BMW to lessen its timeline for vehicle concept and prototype engineering by as much as 12 months.
All of the above just scratches the surface and you can see more case studies in the full report. In total, there are 10 case studies that span vertical industries and use cases. Each breaks down campaign goals, implementation, results, and tactical takeaways.
A common thread in these case studies is counteracting organizational pitfalls. And that’s all about setting AR up with the best chance to succeed. After all the investment to bring AR into an organization, tangible returns can be better realized if it’s then deployed effectively.
In total, these best practices will represent an accelerant to enterprise AR’s long road to ubiquity. They’ll be required for the technology to hit its stride and reach its eventual tipping point.
For more color, see the full video below.