Recent events have flipped the business landscape on its head. Needless to say, the Coronavirus Pandemic has changed the ways businesses have had to adjust in the face of the changed trajectory of 2021. Those who want to take advantage of new business trends will have to depend on AR.
Year on year; marketers, financial institutions, business owners and product developers look to emerging trends across their markets. These inform business operations, budgets and expansion plans. Thanks to relentless technological developments, the effects of the pandemic, ongoing environmental crisis, and social change; the forces of 2021’s business trends are set to be powerful, to say the least. One tool in particular will enable businesses to navigate these new trends and come out on top in their market; augmented reality (AR).
Growth of AR/VR applications 2020 – 2025: (CitiBank)
AR in commercial/enterprise application is growing and the business trends that will consume 2021, will in no doubt contribute to this growth.
What is AR?
The rising star in business and consumer tech is Augmented Reality. It generates an interactive experience of a real-world environment – where the objects are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information. AR can be used with devices as simple as a camera-enabled smartphone.
Real-life objects are enhanced and supplemented by information, sound, and visuals. These include text, imagery, video and diagrams. It’s clear to see how AR can be implemented into business operations, from marketing to product development, communication, training and sales. AR is specifically set up to aid the navigation of 2021s business trends.
5 Business trends that will depend on AR in 2021
Data as an Asset
Data is traditionally an intangible asset that is not recognized as an ‘asset’ by modern account standards. Until now, data hasn’t been managed as an asset. Over the last few years, we, as a society, have generated a lot of it. In fact, it’s estimated that in 2020, 1.7MB of data was created every second for every person on earth. From filling out forms and shopping online to loyalty programmes and grocery shopping; the businesses that leverage this data are better posed to understand their customers and improve their decision making.
Businesses are catching on and the notion of data as an asset is set to be big this year. Not only will businesses need to protect and secure their data – just as they would any other asset – but also configure ways to boost data literacy in order to use it in decision making.
That’s where augmented reality comes in. AR allows for data visualisation – a tool that business owners and executives can use to quickly explore and understand vast and complex data. Users can visualise their data in AR through smartphones and tablets.
Visualising data in 3D allows businesses to uncover trends and patterns that may not be immediately visible with 2D visualisations. The ability to approach, back away from and manipulate the data in augmented reality makes it easier to notice trends, outliers and patterns. Should data as an asset start trending soon, AR is the best tool to analyse your own.
Granted, sustainability as a business trend is not new to 2021, but it’s forecast to become ever more important. The pandemic has helped shift this emphasis. More businesses are recognising the environmental crisis and their impact on the environment. This trend of sustainability comes at a good time since the predominant consumers of today – millennials – have been found to be 73% more likely to buy from a sustainable brand.
This trend will see businesses promoting their social initiatives and clearly demonstrating how they are working to reduce their carbon and water footprint. Augmented reality has a central role to play in both instances.
AR companion apps help businesses to introduce feature-rich AR content alongside its print and digital publication. It helps to extend reach and engagement through immersive editorial content. Bringing your articles to life could help businesses shed more light on their social initiatives. Take customers on a journey to experience the social and environmental work your business is undertaking.
AR is also transforming the corporate training setting. Experiential training sessions using AR allow employees to experience in-depth, engaging and interactive learning platforms remotely. AR training content for employees can limit the waste of resources since they can be guided through computer-generated, real-time information, and reduce travel as the technology makes remote training incredibly efficient. Further, the same training content can be used time and time again.
A trend many brands are already exploring and one that has been further exemplified by the effects of the pandemic. Businesses have been working to find new ways of delivering services to customers without the need to visit physical stores. Augmented reality has been key to generating digital content that complies with stay-at-home orders.
‘Try before you buy’ in the beauty, fashion and homeware industries have proven to be particularly successful. The ubiquity of mobile devices, combined with the prevalent customer expectations of digital services, situates augmented reality in the perfect place to accompany this growing trend throughout 2021.
Business model innovation
There’s no doubt that in 2021, every business owner will have to reflect on what they’re offering customers and how they operate. Many, if not most industries were transformed in 2020 in light of the pandemic. The businesses that continued to be profitable through the pandemic and in spite of it were those who were able to adapt to changes in the market. Restaurants had to enable and expand their take-out capabilities and Formula 1 companies began to produce ventilators. That’s not to mention the hundreds of textile manufacturers who turned their hand to face coverings.
Whilst it can be argued that businesses have always had to consider market changes and shift to align themselves with new trends; the importance of innovating your business model will be more prevalent in 2021. The combination of data visualisation, sustainability and virtual engagement will play key roles in effective business innovation.
Over the past decade, brands have come to the realisation that the more they engage with their consumers, the better equipped they become to drive loyalty, repeat purchases and strengthen their brand image. 2020 saw brands forced into relying on social media to engage with their customers. The next 12 months will see businesses establish a more authentic presence on social media – one less curated by social media experts.
It’s also expected that influencers and micro-influencers will continue to ramp up dominance when it comes to driving conversations and getting people engaged with brands. With the help of augmented reality, influencers and customers can engage with product designs, promotional material and branded content for personalisation, social sharing and deeper engagement.