VR is quickly becoming a staple in many industries, from manufacturing and retail to consumer electronics and technology. New VR headsets are flooding the market and while they are often associated with the gaming industry, they have plenty of other useful business applications.

One area of business every organization must consider — whether offering goods or services — is supply chain management (SCM). SCM is crucial in today’s fast-paced, demanding environment. Did you know you can use VR for more efficient, effective SCM?

Why Use VR in SCM?

VR and other types of simulated realities like augmented reality and mixed reality are becoming increasingly popular across all sectors of the economy. Major corporations are leveraging the new tech for various purposes, such as employee training or to give customers novel shopping experiences. With new VR applications emerging constantly, there are several reasons why supply chain managers should consider using the immersive technology.

VR is Constantly Improving

Since VR is still in its early stages, there’s plenty of time for VR to become even more advanced than it already is. VR could reach a point where users have a hard time distinguishing reality from simulated environments. In a 2021 Forbes article, a few tech experts suggest that VR could enable:

  • Nostalgia or reminiscence therapy for patients.
  • Better student engagement in schools.
  • Training for dangerous occupations.
  • Virtual workspaces for remote-first employees.

These are only a few ways people could use VR in the future, but the possibilities are endless.

VR is Easy to Adopt

New hardware and software capabilities allow for easy VR adoption. Companies can benefit from the upcoming 5G revolution, which will increase speeds, reduce latency and enable VR headsets to connect without a centralized, powerful computer system.

Additionally, headsets will continue to become more affordable for businesses as they become more widely used in the competitive, tech-driven business landscape. Overall, VR will prove to be worthwhile investments for the future.

Gives Companies a Competitive Edge

Any company using VR right now is on the cusp of a revolution. VR will soon become a regular part of life, as the aggregate market is expected to reach an estimated $28 billion in revenue by 2026. SCMs looking to get in on the market should consider doing so before their competitors. Maintaining a competitive edge can mean the difference between a business shutting down and succeeding.

Will VR Revenue Exceed $28 Billion by 2026?

Deloitte — How VR Improves 4 Areas of SCM

Deloitte — a leading audit, consulting, tax and advisory services firm — published a valuable resource for SCMs titled “Utilizing Virtual Reality to Drive Supply Chain Innovation.” Within Deloitte’s report are four critical areas of SCM — product and process design, data and process visualization, employee collaboration and experience-based training — which could all improve with VR. If VR is used for these applications, supply chain managers and their teams could reap major benefits.

1. Product and Process Design

VR can make a significant impact in the product and process design within all areas of SCM. It can reduce the time it takes to craft products, services and processes because product designers and engineers can visualize designs and analyze their viability within an immersive, lifelike environment.

For example, supply chain managers can visualize a new warehouse to determine the best approach to organizing inventory or take measurements of the space to see how much vertical storage to build. This application could improve warehouse process efficiency by speeding up order packaging and shipping.

2. Data and Process Visualization

Any supply chain manager would agree that, in the SCM world, big data is becoming increasingly essential. Data analytics, predictive maintenance and more valuable insights are some benefits companies reap from leveraging big data tools.

However, some enterprise data is too complex to understand. With VR, supply chain managers can discover new, unique ways to visualize data in ways they can understand. Making sense of essential company data and key performance indicators allows for faster, more effective SCM.

3. Employee Collaboration

The COVID-19 pandemic proved remote workers are valuable assets for any organization. Employees can actually do much of the work people thought had to be done in the office in remote settings, such as a coworking space or from their home.

VR headsets could help bridge the physical distance between workers, allowing them to communicate and collaborate on projects more effectively. This is crucial as the number of remote workers increases.

4. Experience-Based Training

Last but not least, VR can improve SCM training programs for employees and executives. Company training is something employees typically want to avoid, but VR experiences could make it much more engaging.

Instead of taking notes throughout a simple training session, team members using VR headsets benefit from experience-based classes, which are known to be more effective. Immersive, VR-enhanced training could even garner more high-quality candidates at each stage of the supply chain.

SCMs — Consider Integrating VR for Its Many Benefits

The SCM industry is ripe for innovation, especially as companies worldwide take on digital transformations. The future of business is digital, requiring organizations to adopt and implement the latest technologies — VR is no exception. If you’re responsible for any portion of your company’s supply chain, consider adopting VR for the four primary benefits outlined above.

Devin Partida is Editor-in-Chief at ReHack Magazine and editorial contributor at AR Insider. See her work here and follow her @rehackmagazine. Header image credit: Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash 

More from AR Insider…