The Real (Business) World Application of VR


Stefan Muirhead

Managing Partner - Strategy


New communications technology inevitably is adopted by progressive companies for business purposes, and the early adopters are often richly rewarded. But is Virtual Reality a technology that can be used NOW, by businesses, or is still it too early? This blog series explores the current state of VR and answers this question. Once you’ve read it we would welcome your thoughts, reactions or ideas at vr@ignition72.com

At Ignition72 we are always looking for ways to help our clients leverage technology in order to accomplish goals, whether they are teaching financial literacy, training the Army to reduce the number of Traumatic Brain Injuries, or simply helping an organization represent themselves digitally on the web. We have two complete state-of-the-art systems in the dedicated VR space in our office. We have begun to delivering custom experiences to our partners and clients. 

Now that we have established a baseline on the technology, we explore ways the technology can be used. 

VR Blog Part 2

First of all, none of the rules of business change when in VR: everything needs to be relevant and appropriate to have the optimal impact. Having your sales presentation on a virtual beach will be as distracting as having a real sales presentation on a beach: you do not do this. 
Secondly: Even in VR the buyer decision process remains. If they are at your office or tradeshow booth, it is assumed they have problem/need recognition: They are planning on or need to buy something. They have come to you as part of their information search, they are looking for perspective about their options, and expertise to assist with the decision making process. 
Currently we respond to an opportunity with: 

  • A brochure, flier or handout
  • A speech/conversation
  • Possibly a product demonstration
  • If you are lucky, a video or animation

If you have worked in sales or marketing long enough, you have both attended and manned a tradeshow booth, and you know that escape to ANY alternate world is going to be something everybody is interested in. 
Now, it is worth saying that if a) your product is crap or b) your sales story is irrelevant, confusing or also crap, you are only providing entertainment to the trade show attendees. With this kind of new technology, they will both enjoy it and appreciate it. You can yield a positive response and memories, but is unlikely to yield a positive long term ROI (does your trade show currently achieve a positive ROI? )
Ignition72 has explored and tested approach alternatives, and using 360 degree video or custom built interactive environments provides us with some incredible ways to tell our clients’ stories, and create an engaging and influential engagement.

Specific Use Case

While I truly believe that you can create just about anything in VR, we have to confine ourselves to reality: GE recently launched the GE Subsea Experience to allow VR users to explore their newest Deep Sea Research Center. This is not a video, but a digital recreation of the research center and it is amazing. But we cannot all be GE. At Ignition72 we have found that the sales story in VR is made of three key components:

  1. Environments: We can take the tradeshow attendee anywhere, whether it is the deck of an aircraft carrier, your corporate office or a fantasy location. The space can include all of your products rendered in 3D ( reusing existing print and animation assets when possible). This environment can be variable, build progressively and contain an impossible display of primary messages (video is just the start, in VR you can create anything!). To work best, the environment needs to be as close to real world as possible: people should get used to the idea that they are somewhere else.  It should also be the launch point for separate, offshoot experiences.
  2. Experiences: A good experience is always a story, and with VR event he boring is exciting: Take people to a remote factory and explain how your product is made, show an exploded view of the product or process, make understanding easier. Represent data by showing realistic things: 10,000 units of your widget can be a line on a chart, but in VR, it can actually be a pile of 10,000 widgets. By doing something that should literally be impossible is a great way to get people to focus, retain and learn.
  3. Message: My favorite genre of books is scifi simply because by moving us to an alternate reality the author can explore any idea or concept. VR brings this opportunity to marketing, and no matter what your message is, VR is the perfect medium to deliver it. Working with a team that are both experience marketing professionals, designer, developers and strategists who not only get VR, but can deliver it, gives your message an incredible opportunity to get out.  

In our early tests we found that our users were overwhelmed by the experience for the first 2-3 minutes: they simply could not believe how good it was. By using a great demo app, The Blu, we quickly get people comfortable being in VR and able to focus on the focused custom experience.

In Conclusion

Trade shows are not the only opportunity for using VR in a Business to Business sales conversation, we have also consulted in permanent in-office installations including speccing and building out the custom computers and hardware. Anywhere that sales happens, VR can happen, so it is up to the imagination to define the limits.
Not sure if VR is the right thing for your business? Shoot us an email or give us a call, maybe we can give you a demo or help evolve your thinking and add VR to your communication toolset. Rest assured, it is not a question of if: VR is here, viable, and changing how we consume every kind of data. It is only a matter of time before it is fully embraced as a business sales tool too.
Stefan MuirheadManaging Partner - Strategy (& VR)VR@ignition72.com