If it feels like you hear something new about virtual reality (VR) or artificial intelligence (AI) every day, you’re not alone. Like other communications technology, these areas have grown at astonishing rates. In fact, the virtual and augmented reality market may be worth 215 billion U.S. dollars by 2021. Likewise, there have been 14 times more startups in the AI space than in 2000.

As a business professional, all these new technologies can leave your head spinning. Each one promises to revolutionize your business, making it difficult to understand the real potential of each new technological release. Don’t let the speed and intensity of these industries turn you away from great communications technologies. Instead, take a moment to explore emerging VR, AR, and AI technologies to foster informed purchasing decisions.

HOW DO I DECIDE WHICH TECHNOLOGIES TO INTEGRATE?

Right now, organizations are facing a massive wave of disruption. The technology on top right now could be gone as quickly as it came. While this tsunami of disruption is great for innovation, it can be dizzying for businesses.

The best way to decide if a new technology is worth your investment is to consider if and how your employees or customers can use it. That may seem obvious, but it’s not always simple to know exactly what you will use. Consider if the innovation adds real value or if it’s just a shiny new object. Is it additive or disruptive?

VIRTUAL REALITY VERSUS AUGMENTED REALITY

Virtual Reality (VR) has gotten lots of media in recent years. The equipment creates an entirely immersive experience, which for some businesses is the whole appeal. For example, gaming companies are leveraging virtual reality to create a three dimensional environment that the player can interact with during the game. The high expense of VR may ultimately deter most organizations from using it and has definitely impacted it being widely adopted. Instead, its brother technology, Augmented Reality (AR), is better poised for widespread adoption and longevity.

AR adds to the existing world rather than creating an immersive world. When we look at gaming again the widespread popularity of Pokemon Go illustrates how easy to use this technology is and how widespread its adoption can be. However AR isn’t just for gamers, there a multitude of business applications from wayfinding to digital signage to advertising. Experts expect augmented reality to grow faster than its fully immersive counterpart. In fact, some predict the AR market to increase from $2.35 billion in 2015 to $117 billion in 2022. Companies like Pepsi Max have used this technology effectively in their signage, and you can expect to see more AR in advertising soon.

WHAT ABOUT ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?

If your mind automatically goes to the Terminator when you think of Artificial Intelligence (AI), think again. AI has been in homes and businesses across the globe for years. Every time someone asks their Amazon Echo a question, they utilize AI. In the business setting, AI has detected credit card fraud for years. However, while AI is an established part of our society, it is far from reaching its full potential.

AI will allow businesses to collect more and better data. Perhaps that is why experts expect spending on artificial intelligence in retail to grow from $2 billion in 2018 to $7.3 in 2022. AI will also allow businesses to better understand their customers and offer better services. With many organizations focused on improving employee and customer experience, AI will become a valuable tool.

THE BOTTOM LINE

In this time of incredible change, it is essential to keep up with emerging technology. However, it’s equally important not to get swept away in the wave of disruption and think about what is important to your business and what objectives you are trying to achieve.

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