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Enterprise AR/VR technologies: 'Just say yes'

Augmented and virtual reality technologies today are associated largely with the gaming business and marketing organizations eager to get their hands on the next new thing. But that doesn't mean these two emerging technologies won't loom large in enterprise IT strategies.

Indeed, Kelly Manthey, chief strategy officer at Solstice Mobile, believes AR/VR technologies are poised to become the next platform for customer engagement. While CIOs don't have to add enterprise AR/VR technologies to their five-year technology roadmaps just yet, IT leaders who are discussing possible use cases and experimenting with the technology now are laying the groundwork for a down-the-road decision, she said.  

Manthey sat down with SearchCIO's senior news writer, Nicole Laskowski, at the recent Fusion CEO-CIO Symposium to talk about AR/VR technologies in the enterprise and the role of the CIO. 

Why should CIOs be thinking about augmented and virtual reality technologies now?

Kelly Manthey: We look at AR and VR as the next platform. Much like mobile was a new channel and a new platform -- and we certainly didn't imagine all of the things we could be doing with our phones now -- AR and VR [are] headed that way. It's an opportunity to create this new world for engaging with users. Right now, the opportunity is limited to what we know and what we see out there. Largely, it's marketing organizations that are adopting this hot technology to help promote a product just like it was with mobile.

How can CIOs drive enterprise AR/VR technology into their companies?

Manthey: Just say yes. It's adopting the mindset of, 'We should be experimenting.' Think about these new technologies as experiments. What's the right level of investment, the right use cases and the right audiences to start experimenting with? And then it grows from there.

So being comfortable with saying yes, with leaving enough white space and chaos to let innovation happen to see what these experiments result in -- that helps you determine which ways you should continue to say yes.

You've said AR/VR technologies won't create impersonal experiences the way that some technologies can. What do you mean by that?

Manthey: With mobile, we created commerce apps, which afforded us the opportunity to have purchasing power in our pocket at all times. With AR and VR technologies, I can now step into an immersive experience that actually replicates going into a store, or I can interact with store associates now. So it actually brings the human back to me and helps businesses create more engaging experiences to interact with their [customers] -- all facilitated by these new emerging channels.

How are you seeing companies get started with enterprise AR/VR technologies?

Manthey: It's largely experiments. We're working with the organizations that are saying yes, that are saying, 'We should experiment. We have to see what the potential is and what the possibility is so that if something does take off, we've got some basic information and insight into what the opportunity is.'

You see AR/VR technology in the marketplace largely around gaming and marketing. And that's typically where things start. Marketing organizations like the shiny new thing, it gets a lot of buzz, and so they're usually the early adopters of the channels and figure out ways to engage customers with it. And then it starts to spread within the rest of the organization around, 'Well how can we start using this channel now for transactions or for efficiency.'

Let us know what you think of the story; email Nicole Laskowski, senior news writer, or find her on Twitter @TT_Nicole.

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