Augmented reality, a subset of extended reality (XR), has become one of the major factors contributing to effective marketing tactics in the business world, not to mention its availability to benefit businesses in other ways. It's an effective tool to improve brand awareness, develop product demos, and 3D modeling. It can also help with ROI projections and help demonstrate best- and worst-case scenarios in business planning. Even with all of these benefits, business owners and operators are hesitant to adopt AR technology into their own business model.
This can be problematic because it could halt augmented reality development, AR already being such a big factor in business management. In fact, the global AR market size is expected to grow at a rate of 40.9% from USD 25.33 billion between 2022 and 2030. (Source
) If businesses stop using AR for regular operations, AR development will stall. It's necessary to AR as a whole for companies to know what it is, how to use it, its pitfalls, and how to fix them. So, here are some benefits and use cases of AR in business, as well as the current business barriers to AR adoption and what is being done to overcome them.
Benefits and Use Cases of AR in Business
Augmented reality found its place in the business world early on. It's become a standard in marketing strategy because of its seamless use in social media and other avenues. Its natural and intuitive uses make for a way for business owners to reach their target audience where they're at instead of finding ways for the customer to come to them. In fact, the introduction of hand-held AR capable devices introduced a whole new way of marketing. But that's not the only place that AR has found its way into business.
In line with helping reach customers, augmented reality offers businesses to help their customers remotely and is an especially beneficial tool for manufacturers of household products like ovens, washing machines, and boilers. Users can open an app, find instruction manuals and tutorials on fixing a broken part with AR overlaying features that show specifically how to fix it.
Manufacturers use augmented reality to streamline the manufacturing process. It's become an integral part of product development, helping with product modeling and prototyping. It helps cut down costs in almost every facet by making it so they don't spend too much time or material on unnecessary models, and even helps in the warehouse by reducing employee injury with highly effective training programs.
Augmented reality proves incredibly helpful with training because it taps into the human necessity for immersive learning. Users can focus wholly on the subject matter and increase memory retention by using the technology.
Current Barriers for AR Adoption in Business
Even with all of these benefits and use cases, some business owners still find the adoption of augmented reality a difficult hurdle to overcome. Here are five categories of business barriers where AR adoption is concerned. Let's look at them.
Uncertainty of value and lack of strategic planning play a huge role in stopping many businesses from adopting AR. The key to adopting any new technology in business is understanding what value the technology can bring to that business. The fact that AR is still unrecognized as the powerhouse it is limits its use cases to what people can understand, and most people aren't technological pundits. It comes down to familiarity and understanding. The more people see and use the technology, the more likely they are to adopt it into their business plan.
Business propositions still fail in the end due to financial barriers. There is generally insufficient information regarding the cost involved and the return on investment (ROI) possibilities, making business owners hesitant. Even despite tools designed to calculate costs and ROI, the cost of hardware, services and software licenses are a limiting factor.
IT and security concerns tend to be a major barrier between businesses and the use of AR for growth. Given that AR relies on the delivery of intellectual property (IP) to new deices outside the corporate firewall, there are obviously major risks involved. This is a major problem, but there are companies equally devoted to overcoming them by studying cybersecurity topics with an AR focus in order to propose best practices when implementing augmented reality into a business plan.
The human factors involved include concerns for privacy, change, and safety. Resistance to change is the root of these issues, and is generally easy to overcome by consistent availability, and a greater understanding of the technology. Deeper security issues arise because augmented reality relies on the capturing of information about a user's surroundings, and those poses inherent security risks to their home, family, and privacy. Businesses can help with this by always including disclaimers on what is being captured and why, and how it'll be used. If the user is uncertain, they can opt to not use that service, or learn more about it. This would help the business also gain more recognition as a reputable company by simultaneously understanding and eliminating customer concern.
How do companies use their existing content with newer AR applications? Remodeling current content to work with AR applications can be a rather intensive remodel and come with its own set of issues, including time and expense of funds. Why would a company use a new avenue of connection when the same thing has worked for decades? Eventually, because the mainstream population is always adapting to new technology, there will only be these newer ways of reaching them. While that's a reason for change, it doesn't necessarily speak to overcoming the issue: creating new AR content with existing information. For this, there are many companies created to help with any augmented reality need, from creating apps to maintaining them, and creating effective business plans.
The difference between small- and large-scale businesses pose an increased risk for the ability of smaller businesses to adopt AR. These differences include funding, available talent pool, and integration complexity, to name a few. The truth is that sometimes its just not possible for smaller businesses to adapt to changing tactics as swiftly and efficiently as larger businesses. Lack of qualified staff can lead to lack of efficient strategy, and eventually and stagnation or complete disappearance of these smaller businesses simply because they could not keep up. They're not starting from the same places, and so have different needs where technology is concerned.
Augmented reality has already proven a successful tool in standard and non-standard business operations. It has valuable use cases across industries that help build better business models and create better business equity. In the end, there is one major factor that each of these barriers boils down to: uncertainty of a new technology. There is only one thing to do as augmented reality makes its way deeper into the business world: adopt, and work through the issues as they arise. Implementing a new technology into a previously established business it bound to have its own set of challenges, but without taking the initiative, these issues will never be resolved. In the end, it's those pioneers of adaptation that the business world will have to thank for testing and implementing AR into their business strategy.