How virtual reality can transform businesses

VR (Virtual Reality) has been the buzz of the internet over the past couple of years ever since it debuted with the “Oculus Rift” back in 2012, and now with the Oculus Rift officially being released for consumer use along with other brands jumping the wagon like HTC and Sony. The next five to ten years will be huge for virtual reality. Already, VR promises to connect us, making geographic locations irrelevant and changing our ability to experience something that would otherwise be out of our reach. What does this mean to businesses?

VR extends to many aspects of life and isn’t just for entertainment. Imagine being inside the store without leaving your home, attending classes in the comfort of your living room, or even attending a meeting in another continent without leaving your office!  Trying to connect everyone by phone and talking to laggy, pixelated faces on a flat screen is probably one of the biggest let-downs in modern business. Virtual reality will change that and allow these sorts of meetings to take on a more personal and natural feel. As the technology progresses, hopefully it will be able to incorporate expressions, eye contact and other human elements we currently lack. This will make our telecommuting lives better and our meetings more productive. When fully formed, it might even reduce business travel significantly.

In 20 years, desk-based businesses may see office space as a wasteful, indulgent luxury, and their staff may not need to buy expensive, cramped urban property just to be within commuting distance.

VR means people can interact easily with colleagues across their entire department around the world instead of only seeing those close by. Confidential meetings can be arranged at the tap of a virtual shoulder. Nothing can match the in-person interaction experience, but VR may come close while vastly exceeding in-person meetings for convenience. Fewer offices and less travel may drive down energy use and the oil price with obvious knock-on effects on power producers, energy consuming industries like manufacturing and oil producing economies. Even the definition of “utilities” may shift to include elements of telecommunication infrastructure.

Communication will be a key aspect of VR; especially that the social media giant, Facebook, is already ahead of the curve by supporting the VR movement first hand. PR agents will be able to incorporate VR’s offerings into their business in many forms, and it isn’t just in hosting international conference calls. It will help break the “Sound only” barrier with our media connections, where we can meet up with our journalist friends without worrying about traffic and travel time. Not to mention being able to hold interviews with clients on the virtual space while they are by their stand at a conference in another country! The options are limitless!

It’s crucial that as communications and marketing professionals, we understand the impact the technology can make on our strategy. We don’t all have to be experts with the hardware, but we do have to be adapting it and knowing when it can be used and who to call upon to make it work. VR is here to stay. Get used to it.