Arrived in Reality: Virtual Reality in the Business World (B2B)
The work world determines a large part of our life. There is no lack of will to change. We want to increase efficiency, save costs, and avoid mistakes. In short: we always want to improve. Because of this desire for improvement, we are continually developing and implementing new technologies. Digitalization, in particular, offers unprecedented potential for development. Virtual reality is a promising technology that has been conquering the corporate landscape for several years now.
The manufacturers of VR hardware have recognized the need and developed special VR glasses for professional use. In this way, the VR software can play its full part. The number of VR applications available is continuously increasing. Virtual reality has long since outgrown its infancy and is now an integral part of the corporate landscape. Experience has been positive: According to a study by consulting firm Capgemini, 82% of the surveyed VR/AR users say it clearly meets or exceed expectations. (1)
This article gives a short overview of the possibilities of Virtual Reality in companies.
Construction and Planning
VR is a great help in the planning and development of new products. The technology makes it possible to visualize the design of a product even before the prototype is built. Improvements can be incorporated into the development process at an early stage. This incorporation accelerates product development and reduces costs. Through the use of CAD-based visualization and planning software – in combination with virtual reality – everything can be planned virtually, from individual screws to entire real estate properties.
- Full production plants, including process planning, are initially created virtually and can be visualized with VR.
- Logistics uses Virtual Reality to display entire warehouse systems in 3D. DB Schenker, therefore, is improving warehouse and process planning. (4)
- Spanish automobile manufacturer SEAT uses VR for the product development of new cars, which has made it possible to save every second prototype. (2)
- Swedish machine manufacturer, AP&T Tranemonutz, uses Virtual Reality to coordinate and, if necessary, adapt production systems with its customers prior to installation. (3)
Training and Education
Virtual Reality enables the decoupling of the location and the training environment. This disassociation is why the technology pays off, especially in the area of training. Realistic working environments can be simulated to scale so that only a small part of the training needs to take place on site. The training can be conducted locally and across different locations. The direct perception of the virtual space creates an incredibly realistic impression, which helps someone to get to know the environment without risk.
- Unexperienced employees can be prepared for dangerous situations without having to shut down machines or production lines for inspection. The car manufacturer, Ford, was thus able to reduce the risk of injury to its employees by 70% (1).
- With the help of VR, components can be viewed three-dimensionally and down to the smallest detail. Employees can be familiarized with new objects quickly and efficiently. (5)
- Virtual Reality is also used for training purposes in medicine, for example, to prepare for medical interventions. Through the detailed representation in the VR, a realistic conception of the human body can be produced. (1)
- Pilot training has been taking place in flight simulators for a long time. These are continually improved to duplicate the real environments as well as possible and to prepare the pilots for difficult situations. (6)
- The German railway uses VR to simulate coupling processes of wagons where the risk of injury for new employees is very high. (7)
- Volkswagen uses Virtual Reality to train work processes on the assembly line. As a result, production lines have to be stopped less frequently. (8)
Product Presentation and Marketing
In order to attract the attention of potential customers, companies today use a variety of means of communication. Virtual reality is also increasingly moving into the focus of sales and marketing. The use of VR for product presentation is very helpful for unique productions of single pieces. This use enables customers to inspect products in advance of production and make any necessary adjustments. For this purpose, the supplier provides a product configurator, for example.
- The real estate industry uses the virtual representation to make buildings accessible even before they are built. Finished properties can also be presented without the need for an in-person viewing. (9)
- The tourism industry uses VR to present customers with travel destinations. Landscape, hotels, and places of interest can be experienced and offer a better basis for making holiday decisions. (10)
- In recruiting, VR helps to make job profiles known and to present the working environment to potential applicants – for example, at a trade fair. (11)
- Audi equips its car dealers with Virtual Reality to make the car configuration directly visible and experienceable. (7)
- IKEA allows you to plan your kitchen from the comfort of your own home so that you can experience it before you buy and make any changes to the configuration. (1)
- Media Saturn operates an online shop that can be accessed via VR, providing customers with an advisor and making shopping a virtual experience. (12)
Meetings and Workshops
Increasingly connected and decentralized work over long distances is becoming more and more significant in our world. This relevance is also reflected in the rise in the use of telephone and video conferencing systems. Remote meetings facilitate communication between individual team members, no matter where they are. Virtual Reality significantly expands the application possibilities of remote meetings. Seminars and large conferences can also be held in Virtual Reality, reducing time-consuming and costly business trips.
- In February 2019, one of the first big marketing conferences with 5000 participants starts with the “Virtual Marketing Revolution” entirely held in VR. (13)
- Facebook made it possible to participate in the Oculus Connect 5 developer conference using VR glasses. (14)
- Innogy uses Virtual Reality to enable decentralized project teams to collaborate to reduce lead times and travel costs. (15)
- In cross-location product development, VR conferencing is used to work together on 3D-CAD objects and save prototypes.
And the list goes on with VR
Virtual reality has arrived in the business world and is already being used productively in many different company departments. This article only examines a selection of possible application scenarios. Also interesting is the connection with other technologies of Industry 4.0, such as “Digital Twin” or 3D printing. Virtual Reality thus offers an almost inexhaustible universe of possibilities that have yet to be discovered.
(15) WeAre GmbH