It’s fortunate that discussions about AR tech will inevitably turn to returns on investment. While engineers and other professionals might show enthusiasm for adopting the latest AR technology to help them work more efficiently and effectively, those who want to see direct gains or savings will want something more than excitement to convince them to invest.
Augmented reality technology does offer several spaces where it provides huge ROI over time, whether by shaving waste from manufacturing or increasing effective marketing. The strength of AR technology is how readily it fits into numerous business contexts, and how it can promote savings and efficiency across several verticals in your company.
Here, we’ll talk more about some of these verticals, and how AR technology sets the stage for a big ROI if implemented right.
Segments Where Measurable ROI Emerges
Depending on your specific industry, there are several segments of your business operation where AR can provide a measurable ROI. Some of these include:
- Manufacturing and Assembly
- Marketing and Advertising
- Training and Instructions
The real strength of AR is that it bridges the gaps between these verticals. It provides serious advantages in any single context, while also linking those contexts together through information and ease of work.
Manufacturing and Assembly
Some of the biggest costs in an industrial manufacturing operation involve the efficiency of labor and the elimination of waste.
The most readily apparent application of AR is for employees working directly on a manufacturing site. Using wearables or handheld devices, these employees can use AR software to overlay static documents, media, and other information over their work so that they don’t have to glance at manuals or instructions. This results in a huge savings in man-hours that adds up over days, weeks, and years. That’s not to mention how integrating AR with IoT applications provides more seamless movement between working and non-working contexts, reducing the time needed to clock in or out or break down a job.
Extensive AR solutions also help businesses shift into “lean manufacturing” paradigms. Lean manufacturing is an approach to manufacturing that seeks to reduce as much waste as possible from a process by removing “non-value-adding” activities and materials. Staff with advanced AR tools can leverage at-hand information quickly to work more productively and accurately, reducing wastes of time and materials.
Marketing and Advertising
Customers like businesses that engage them with the newest technologies… things that wow them and provide an exciting view of the future. Augmented reality provides such a presentation approach while also offering real, practical benefits for sharing information.
With AR technology, advertisers can leverage 3D presentation to utilize a more immersive medium for telling stories and providing information. This also includes the potential to include interactive elements involving spatial and temporal engagement, or full-on gamification strategies. And that’s not to mention advances in AR that integrate seamlessly with already-existing landmarks, like giving virtual tours of homes.
Take the example of the guided tours above. In B2C marketing this kind of AR application could provide customers with the information they need to buy a home or product. However, in B2B marketing, you could show clients the innovative new manufacturing process or technique.
In this second sense, outreach becomes less about selling your product and more about selling your innovation, talent, and business. It’s still selling and AR creates an interactive model for creating a narrative, the key for outreach, and you can use it to create a narrative around your business or manufacturing operation.
ROI in marketing endeavors can be measured in new revenue and increased sales. It can also be measured in grant funding. If you are a business that lives and dies on external investments of grants, however, investing in outreach is just as crucial as a sales strategy. This is doubly important if your marketing is focused on social or industry impact as much as sales to consumers.
AR is one of the new and important paradigmatic shifts in on-site training. In fields like healthcare, aerospace manufacturing, and logistics, AR is helping companies embed staff training into the everyday operations of their companies.
- Shrinking the gap between training and on-site work.
- Bringing more accurate and relevant data to the employee.
- Allowing for more real-time data collection on-site.
Each of these aspects works directly to provide a significant ROI. If employees need less time and resources to train, get up to speed faster, and work more accurately during and after training, then you have already saved money on that aspect of your business. This kind of ROI only gets bigger as the need for continuing education and professionalization increases.
There are real and relevant, conversations that happen in numerous companies regarding the value of adopting augmented reality as a solution for any number of problems. And, like any investment, executives are going to weigh the pros and cons of a given solution.
But one way to give the adoption of AR some context is that it isn’t simply a replacement of existing technologies tied to customer engagement, training, or manufacturing. It is a distinct move away from older, more analog ways of doing things by bringing information and media directly to its target.
And, in a world of big data, this importance of this cannot be understated. Cost-cutting isn’t a case of cutting huge and costly departments or business segments in your company: often, it is finding places where seemingly small gains and losses become huge ones over days, months, and years. With AR in place, your people can have even more tools to manage these edge cases to develop efficient work habits and effective communication strategies.