A lot of thought gets put into how businesses might enable employees to achieve peak performance. A key aspect that often gets overlooked is the basic medium of our tools and interactions. Going back to first principles, it’s important to take into account that humans are fundamentally driven to operate in a three-dimensional world. The way we experience, interact, and create is just more natural and intuitive in 3D.
Yet in the era of computing, much of our working life occurs in 2D, changing our daily workflow into a constant shift between 2D and 3D. We’ve become accustomed to staring at flat screens for everything from data to presentations to videoconference calls, but it’s not always the most impactful means. 2D computing is a distinct compromise and we’ve resigned ourselves to settle for it.
We now have the opportunity to return to a more natural and intuitive way to work – through virtual reality, mixed reality and augmented reality (cumulatively “XR”). The rise of XR technologies is rooted in its fundamental usefulness and efficiency to train, teach, design, collaborate, share, and more.
Like nearly every emerging technology, XR takes time for advancement and adoption, but we are now entering an inflection point for growth. In particular, the enterprise segment of XR hardware and software has traction and is forecasted to grow to over $60 billion by 2023, according to IDC and ARtillery Intelligence. Moreover, COVID-19 is clearly having a substantial impact on the mindset and tools for working collaboratively, acting as an accelerant for these technologies.
View from an Investor
Through VIVE X, the accelerator arm of HTC Vive, we have a unique lens into the market. We started our early-stage investment business four years ago, focused on companies within the realm of XR, as well as the related areas of AI and 5G. Today we are the most active investor in XR, with more than 100 deals in 6 global locations. To date, the value of our investments has nearly doubled.
We’re seeing that many companies advancing enterprise XR today are focused on horizontal applications that most greatly benefit from a 3D environment: training, design, collaboration, events, analytics, and visualization are examples. The vertical industries that these apply to are endless, including architecture, automotive and transportation, healthcare, oil and gas, and technology. Today they are largely individual applications, and in the future you’ll see more integrated offerings and comprehensive platforms.
The ROI for companies utilizing XR technology is compelling. In many use cases, we’ve seen 5-to-10X reduction in training costs per employee, 30%+ increases in employee satisfaction with training, 25-80% efficiency improvements in various areas of operations, and up to 14X time-to-market improvements in complex use cases.
While these horizontals are proving to be the first to broadly take hold in enterprise, we are already seeing new applications starting to take hold in high value verticals like healthcare and industrial uses. The value is just too great for it not to – from efficiency and effectiveness, to engagement and ROI. The fundamentals of XR offer an important tool for growth and competitive advantage for those who see the inevitable path forward.