Top 10 XR/AR Benefits for Companies & Customers in 2023

Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term encompassing augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies that blend digital and physical worlds. As these immersive technologies evolve, they are unlocking new possibilities for businesses and customers alike.

According to Gartner, 10% of workers will use virtual spaces for activities like sales, customer engagement, and collaboration by 2025.1 This migration into virtual spaces is being powered by XR, which is transforming experiences. However, many business leaders are still learning about the tangible benefits XR can offer.

To shed light on this topic, we‘ve compiled the top 10 benefits of immersive XR technologies for both businesses and customers.

Overview of XR Technologies

Before diving into the benefits, it‘s helpful to level-set on the differences between the main XR technologies:

  • Augmented reality (AR) overlays digital information and objects onto the real-world environment. AR is commonly accessed through smartphones and tablets.
  • Virtual reality (VR) fully immerses users in a simulated 3D environment detached from the physical world. VR requires headsets and is less accessible than AR today.
  • Mixed reality (MR) seamlessly blends both physical and virtual worlds, where digital and real objects can interact. MR utilizes transparent headsets.

While VR and MR require specialized equipment, AR is gaining momentum thanks to the ubiquitous nature of smartphones and tablets. According to a Deloitte survey, 75% of the global population will be frequent AR users by 2025 as it becomes the new standard in mobile experiences.2

Now let‘s explore the top benefits XR unlock for companies first.

Benefits to Companies

1. Improved Training Outcomes

XR-based training offers active, immersive experiences that accurately mimic real on-the-job scenarios. This leads to better training outcomes including:3

  • 15% increase in knowledge retention
  • 80% increase in employee training engagement
  • 75% increase in the efficiency of training

These stats come from an AR/VR training program implemented by Coca-Cola that relied on realistic simulations.4 The beverage giant saw notable improvements in retention, engagement, and training efficiency.

XR training tools enable efficient information uptake thanks to active learning and unlimited repetition in a safe environment. These tools also allow companies to track key performance indicators (KPIs) like eye tracking, action time, and scores to optimize training programs over time.

According to Accenture research, nearly 60% of companies expect to make considerable investments in XR for learning and training purposes in the near future.5 The improved outcomes and engagement are convincing organizations to adopt immersive training methods.

2. Reduced Costs

XR technologies can reduce costs in areas like training, maintenance, and product development.

Training

XR reduces training costs in a variety of ways:

  • Eliminates travel costs associated with sending employees to training facilities
  • Minimizes the need to hire specialized trainers
  • Makes training simulations accessible from any location
  • Promotes trainee safety during skill development
  • Enhances training outcomes and employee performance

An analysis by PwC found VR training to be more cost-effective at scale than classroom learning.6 For example, training 50,000 employees with VR translated to $8.8 million in potential savings compared to classroom methods.

Maintenance & Repairs

For maintenance and repairs, XR reduces costs by:

  • Enabling effective remote specialist assistance
  • Providing technicians with seamless data access in the field

With AR headsets, technicians can access repair procedures and machine data hands-free while keeping their head up. XR training also boosts technician capabilities through practice in realistic environments.

In one case study, an industrial company achieved a 60% reduction in on-site support visits thanks to XR-enabled remote assistance. This significantly lowered travel costs.7

Product Development

XR enables companies to iterate and test products in virtual environments rather than relying solely on costly and time-consuming physical prototypes.

At Lockheed Martin, XR tools have delivered over $10 million in annual cost avoidance during product development cycles. The aerospace leader also achieved ROIs above 10x.8

3. Enhanced Customer Experience

Modern consumers expect personalized, engaging brand experiences. According to Snap Inc. and Deloitte, AR adoption is accelerating globally, with 75% of the population becoming frequent AR users by 2025.9

AR enables more interactive product experiences as customers can visualize items in their actual environment. Data shows AR brand experiences drive:10

  • 40% higher conversion rates
  • Increased levels of visual attention
  • More confidence in product quality
  • 25% less product returns

The ability to "try before you buy" and interact with products generates excitement while building trust. These immersive brand experiences are becoming expected, making AR a necessity.

4. Improved Communication & Collaboration

XR enhances remote collaboration by increasing immersion and engagement compared to standard video conferences.11 Key benefits include:

  • Increased sense of presence during meetings
  • Ability to collaborate in a 3D virtual space
  • Tools for more active participation
  • Insights based on session analytics

By better replicating in-person interactions in a virtual setting, XR collaboration tools lead to higher productivity compared to traditional video conferencing.

5. Eased Delivery of Value and Products

Visualizing information in 3D reduces cognitive load and boosts comprehension and recall. XR enables companies to deliver product value in more memorable ways.12

With AR mobile apps, customers can be inserted into the product experience before purchasing. This level of immersion builds confidence while easing the path to purchase.

Post-purchase, AR instructions and manuals improve customer support compared to traditional 2D methods. XR allows brands to interact with customers in new, helpful ways.

6. Improved Sustainability

XR enables companies to digitize materials used in advertising, marketing assets, manuals, and other areas. This shift from physical to digital reduces waste significantly.

For example, Burger King uses AR games in kids‘ meals instead of plastic toys to promote sustainability. XR also minimizes waste in product design, construction, and manufacturing through virtual prototyping and collaboration.

At leading companies like Airbus, XR has delivered considerable material savings and environmental benefits based on public case studies.13 Sustainability is an area where XR can provide tangible business value.

7. Streamlined Manufacturing Operations

In manufacturing, XR facilitates collaboration on digital twins of products. This reduces development times. XR supports tasks across the product lifecycle from design reviews to quality control.

According to research firm Kalypso, adopting XR in manufacturing yields:14

  • 80-90% less time spent in design reviews
  • 75-90% reduction in quality inspection durations
  • 10-35% higher productivity
  • 15-30% improved labor effectiveness

From automotive to aerospace, leading manufacturers are utilizing XR to enhance workflows and productivity based on these significant benefits.

8. Seamless Data Access

XR enables seamless data access by transforming datasets into immersive 3D environments. This spatial approach to data visualization simplifies spotting patterns and trends.

In domains like industrial maintenance, XR allows technicians to overlay data on machinery while keeping both hands free. Key use cases include:15

  • Remotely accessing documents and data while working
  • Performing repairs aided by visual step-by-step guidance
  • Monitoring equipment metrics and KPIs in real-time

By merging virtual data with the physical environment, XR enables natural interactions that boost productivity.

9. Improved Safety

XR delivers safety enhancements and training across multiple industries and applications. Training in hazardous virtual environments reduces risks while still providing realistic practice.

In one example, UPS relies on VR training to improve driver safety. The delivery firm observed a 50% decrease in accidents among VR-trained drivers compared to those trained using standard video.16

For aviation, XR enables cost-effective technical training that improves safety. Mechanics can practice procedures on virtual aircraft models, avoiding real equipment damage risks.

First responders also utilize XR training to prepare for diverse emergency scenarios while avoiding real-world hazards. The life-like simulations accelerate skills development.

10. Enhanced Skills Development & Assessment

XR creates data-rich learning environments that enable robust skills assessment. Metrics on user performance, attention, and progress in VR training simulations provide insights for personalized development.

Research from UC Santa Barbara found VR training led to 6x higher gains in skills versus traditional coursework over 8 weeks. The capability to quantify user actions in VR was instrumental.17

For recruitment, XR allows candidates to demonstrate hard and soft skills in virtual assessments modeled after real-world roles. This provides a new data point for skills evaluation.

By monitoring user behaviors and performance in contextual VR scenarios, XR enhances how companies develop and evaluate talent.

Benefits to Customers

Now let‘s explore the top XR benefits for customers and users:

1. Elevated Customer Experiences

For shoppers, AR retail apps enable more informed purchasing by visualizing products in their actual environment. IKEA‘s mobile app which sizes furniture in your home using AR is a top example.

AR also delivers digital experiences tied to physical locations. Museums and tourism sites can overlay information on exhibits and locations to engage visitors. AR gaming titles like Pokemon GO combine real-world exploration with virtual gameplay.

For marketing, AR boosts engagement as it places customers at the center of the experience. Snap Inc. found 93% of users interacting with AR ads took action afterward.18

2. Intuitive Self-Service Support

XR powers intuitive self-service support by providing visual step-by-step product guides. IKEA‘s AR instructions impose directions onto furniture to ease assembly.

AR training apps also enable customers to learn new skills by following virtual coaches. For example, Bosch utilizes AR instructions to teach automotive DIY repairs through smartphones.19

By delivering product support digitally through AR, companies can reduce customer service costs while providing personalized guidance.

3. Boosted Learning & Development

Immersive VR and AR learning experiences drive better knowledge retention thanks to how they engage multiple senses. XR tools are especially beneficial for practical skills development.

Research from Walmart found VR training improved test scores by 10-15% versus conventional methods.20 Employees trained with VR were also 76% more confident in applying their skills.

For soft skills like leadership and empathy, VR scenarios provide realistic practice communicating and collaborating virtually. XR enables safe skill-building.

4. Remote Collaboration

As hybrid work persists, XR fills the gap left by traditional video conferencing. Shared virtual environments enable seamless collaboration remotely with additional context.

ARD GmbH in Germany uses MR to allow workers to meet and interact with remote experts as if they are physically present. This boosts productivity and knowledge sharing.21

XR collaboration platforms like Spatial offer an alternative to 2D video meetings. As avatars, co-workers can connect in virtual offices for more natural interactions.

5. Ergonomic Working Environments

For frontline workers, AR headsets reduce physical strain by eliminating screen and paper references. Hands-free AR provides digital work instructions and data needed on the job.

In supply chain roles, AR glasses can cut neck strain issues up to 70% versus tablet use.22 Workers gain the benefits of digital systems without constant mobility restrictions.

XR enables a more ergonomic work environment by seamlessly delivering information to employees as they need it during tasks.

Key Takeaways

Immersive XR delivers tangible benefits across business functions today while offering a preview of future potential. Key highlights include:

  • More effective training & collaboration – XR boosts retention, outcomes and engagement while easing remote teamwork.
  • Cost reductions – Lower expenses in areas like training, maintenance, repairs and product development.
  • Enhanced customer experiences – AR enables brands to deliver personalized, interactive experiences that build loyalty.
  • Ecological benefits – XR reduces waste by shifting aspects of business to digital platforms and simulations.
  • Operational efficiency – For manufacturing and field work, XR optimizes workflows, productivity and safety.
  • Data visualization – XR provides intuitive access to data by blending virtual overlays with the real environment.

As XR applications expand, companies have an opportunity to reimagine processes to drive growth and efficiency gains over the competition. These technologies are reaching an inflection point where utilization at scale is becoming practical across industries.

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