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The Future is Now
By Johnny Ang, Regional Senior Director, Value Added Services & Innovation, Asia Pacific, Wirecard
Whether Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) or the latest Merged Reality (MR) that has been in the limelight in 2018, it has created buzz as the next must haves for businesses looking to bridge the online and offline gap and deliver a holistic shopping experience. Businesses– big and small – have come running to announce or implement these technologies. Amazon, eBay, Airbnb, Ikea, Macy’s, Target, Walmart… all of these companies have made some type of notable AR/VR move in the last year or so.
The fact is that AR, VR or MR happened through numerous years of day dreaming, experiments, technology improvements and gaining a deeper understanding of customer journey experiences. There are numerous uses for businesses which mainly revolve around improving user experience.
Before we get all excited, management gives the go-ahead and everybody expects it to be launched tomorrow, let’s take a step back and ask what infrastructure, equipment and requirements are needed to support these new and exciting experiences. I will just explain a few:
AR, VR and MR are already here and it is going to be a paradigm shift in the way of how businesses communicate with their customers
Data speed and accessibility as facilitated by the local telecommunication providers must be affordable, unlimited, stable and fast. This is critical, especially if you are accessing external or internal networks using in-house or personal mobile devices. You do not want to compromise the quality of images, sound, check-out and payment with lagging experiences. That will cause more harm to your brand image.
Improving the buying experience
AR, VR and MR are already here and it is going to be a paradigm shift in the way of how businesses communicate with their customers. The uses are going to expand beyond our imagination in the next couple of years. When it comes to retail for example, as Wirecard recently clearly stated in our International Holiday Shopping Report, customers worldwide expect an excellently integrated omnichannel retail – over 90 percent of APAC respondents said they combine channels (mobile, app, in-store, online) during the purchasing process. VR/AR technology gives physical retail trade the opportunity to build on its strengths and stay relevant in an increasingly online society.
The use of technologies such as VR/AR helps to provide buyers with a memorable shopping and consulting experience, for example when they can experience exactly what their future kitchen will look like with data glasses or how a top in different colors will look to them via smart mirrors.
Currently, VR shopping apps are much more about showcasing products in an environment that you feel like you can walk around in look at from any angle you choose. As we look to the future, it is clear that it something that consumers want to see taken even further. In our recent shopping survey, a third of respondents from APAC said that VR/AR technology was one of the top two shopping-related tech developments they would like to see implemented to improve their shopping experience.
Science fiction author and futurist Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic”. When it comes to VR and AR technology, it’s definitely time to believe in magic.