Mixed Reality: The New Frontier of Customer Engagement

Success Stories

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A new breed of customers has come to the fore, thanks to innovation and digital transformation. Demanding, discriminating, and with greater controlling power in the buying cycle, they now expect a more humanised experience where they can relate to brands and services on a more emotional level.

But before companies can secure customer trust, they must first ensure a frictionless customer experience that is reliable, valuable, relevant, and trustable. In short, a form of engagement that isn’t just purely transactional.

This is where Mixed Reality can make a big impact on today’s industry. Defined as the convergence of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and the Internet of Things, MR blurs the divide between digital and physical worlds to offer customers an immersive experience where they can literally “talk, look and gesture.”

Asia as the Next Major Stop in Mixed Reality

The promise of Mixed Reality has been on the sights of big businesses for a few years now, with plenty of funding going into the development of these technologies.

In Asia, China is leading the way in MR adoption due to its strong mobile internet growth. We see commercial powerhouses like Alibaba showcase its MR savvy through a tie-up with Macy’s. The venture provided a virtual shopping experience at Macy’s where customers could “walk through aisles” and select items they fancy.

But even before then, MR has already found an early footing in gaming (the most popular being PokemonGo on mobile), education, and real estate (virtual tours), readily accessible by the country’s mobile-ready population.

However, this is not the case with the rest of Southeast Asia. Seen to favour a top-down leadership model, Southeast Asian enterprises have largely stayed low for decades, preferring stability and security over innovation.

Before companies can secure customer trust, they must first ensure a frictionless customer experience that is reliable, valuable, relevant, and trustable.

Indeed while business excitement has been high in implementing MR, its actual mass adoption continues to be slow due to lack of access to the device and anxiety toward its “silly” appearance.

Given such orientation of businesses toward digitisation, how can MR gain traction in this fast-moving economy? As a huge investment, can it quickly drive business outcomes for companies to easily win today’s mobile-ready customers?

Here are factors to consider when adopting MR for your business:

1. Benefits of productivity and efficiency. There are plenty of MR solutions that can help reduce overhead in manpower, allowing employees to focus on specialised areas of the business and cutting down the time needed to expend on tedious and repetitive (although necessary) tasks needed to run the business. Instead of spending time physically in a warehouse for inventory, for example, MR can give inventory feedback remotely to employees, providing them the capacity to view their warehouses in real time via bots and drones.

Utilising vision picking with wearable devices is also a good example to help companies increase their operational efficiency. Vision picking will revolutionise the way goods are handled, increasing precision and productivity in the supply chain, while at the same time lessening workers’ physical load.

Soon, other activities in the workplace where physical presence is required may be replaced by MR workspaces. A company with employees from around the globe may soon find themselves able to hold a holographic meeting with each other unrestricted by spatial or time concerns. A scenario like this is already being envisioned by SAP’s CIO Thomas Saueressig who sees MR being integrated into the functions of engineering, product innovation, IT support, and sales.

2. Available technologies. There are ways to integrate MR with existing hardware and software readily available in the market. This can be more feasible for mid-level businesses, which can bank on customers using their own devices as they design their businesses around MR (live AR via their mobile devices as they enter shops, or enabling VR options for remote customers).

future of warehousing

3. Connection availability. While connection speeds in the Asia Pacific region generally continue to be on par with global standards, there remain a number of countries whose internet connection has yet to pick up speed. Remember that MR relies heavily on the availability of data and its connections via IoT, so it’s important that internet is reliable and accessible to the majority of the market for MR to see mainstream adoption.

Step into the realm of mixed reality

These are just a couple of considerations companies must consider before they move into the realm of Mixed Reality. Majority in the Southeast Asia will probably take the slow-and-steady approach, but for those who are willing to risk it, MR just might be the thing that can take their company to the next level.

How can your company take advantage of Augmented Reality to drive its business outcomes? SAP AR Warehouse Picker offers exciting possibilities. Click here to learn more. 

Get to know what the Internet of Things holds for your business’s future by also checking out SAP Leonardo Internet of Things: Business Outcomes in a Connected World.

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