How CIOs Should Prepare Their Companies For Virtual Worlds

Prepare your company for XR
The metaverse. Virtual reality. Augmented reality. Mixed reality. Does your company have a strategy or plan for incorporating these cutting-edge technologies? If not, the time is now. Here are the key steps.

Technologies that add to reality through digital means to a greater or lesser extent—such as full virtual reality on the more immersive side and mixed reality on the other end of the spectrum—can be referred to collectively as extended reality (XR). Since most products in the XR ecosystem are still in their early stages, some executives may feel tempted to wait and watch how other companies develop them.

However, this would be a mistake, as taking this approach would forfeit your own company’s ability to seize the competitive advantage. Precisely because the technology is still new, now is a great time to take the initiative and unlock capabilities your rivals have not yet tapped.

Additionally, these technologies aren’t as new as you may believe. Healthcare systems have been training surgeons in virtual reality for a decade now, and some of the world’s largest automakers save millions of dollars and time doing models with immersive technology rather than traditional clay models. Moreover, the value and impact XR technologies can bring to businesses are broadly accessible today.

The benefits of XR technology

XR technology has demonstrated its advantages for business operations and improved supply chain logistics for years. For instance, many major corporations already do their supply chain modeling in mixed reality, meaning they often no longer need to travel to collaborate with international partners on global supply chains. Instead, mixed reality solutions enable them to view and collaborate on models with global teams from home without the added cost.

Meanwhile, AI applications within XR spatial computing devices allow global teams to speed up decision-making. AI rapidly tests proposed solutions for viability and delivers the results so human decision-makers can move forward as efficiently as possible.

When businesses take advantage of multiple XR technologies and converge their insights like this, whole new levels of optimization open up at once. In my experience, this is where the real opportunities can be found and mobilized.

The first step

To start incorporating XR technology, the first step is to research business functions that have mature use cases to explore. Look for applications that promise to yield immediate value. For instance, XR already has a long history of proving its utility in learning and development, since simulations offer a safe, no-stakes environment in which to make mistakes while building skills.

I also advise exploring XR initiatives that would have a longer time horizon, such as three to five years. These programs are the ones that can catapult your business to the forefront of your industry.

The next step is to identify the right XR technology to achieve your goals.

Choosing the right XR technology

To ensure your pilot programs are enterprise-ready and secure, it’s usually best to proceed with existing virtual reality licensing solutions for businesses, such as Quest Devices and Quest for Business. Research can help point you toward existing technologies that could work best given your particular use cases and initiatives. Alternatively, XR technology consultants can help you identify these as quickly as possible.

The next step is to start a pilot program.

Starting an XR pilot program

Once you have chosen a use case and the appropriate XR technology for it, it’s time to launch your pilot programs and initiatives. In my experience, one of the biggest challenges is encouraging buy-in and getting your team to adopt and use these devices.

Keep in mind that, for most teams, this will be their first experience with these technologies. It would be normal for them to experience uncertainty. Indeed, some personalities tend to resist new technology as a matter of course.

That’s why it’s important to focus on delivering a frictionless experience for your people. They need to feel comfortable with the implementation process. If your business doesn’t already have staff members who have experience overseeing XR transitions, consider partnering with an implementation team of experts who can make things as smooth as possible.

That said, your team will naturally need time to gain familiarity with this technology. The schedule should specifically account for this learning curve. As the saying goes, sometimes slowing down is necessary to go faster.

Scaling your business with XR

Your pilot programs and initiatives should include ways to test outcomes along a set timeline. In particular, it’s important to ensure you can measure your return on investment beyond mere qualitative measures. Quantitative empirical data is imperative to drive future decisions, helping you to scale your investment in the most advantageous ways.

In the early phases of a program, accurately measuring its success can be difficult since there are many factors to control. As time goes on, however, you will be able to isolate the effects of various possible causes and understand how your organization is utilizing the technology best. Again, implementation partners can help position your business best to derive these insights fastest.

The future is today

Imagine wearing a device that gives you real-time input while an AI supplies context and direction. Businesses and people can now interact within these digital worlds in a way that was unimaginable only a short time ago.

We no longer need to imagine. This technology is available today.

XR will be the next computing platform. The convergence of emerging technologies like AI, extended reality, and spatial computing are all combining to create a whole new digital workplace. Traditional input methods like keyboards and mice will never be able to keep pace with vision and voice for input.

The future waits for no one. Forward-looking organizations that experiment with this technology will reap the rewards. With the help of XR, they will unleash new opportunities for their teams and customers and claim a competitive advantage.

Get the StrategicCIO360 Briefing

Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CIOs in every industry


Strategy, Insights, Action

In our weekly newsletter, get insight into the biggest issues facing CIOs, along with strategic ideas, solutions, and interviews.

Strategy, Insights, Action

Once a week, get insight into the biggest issues facing CIOs, along with strategic ideas, solutions, and interviews.

Your information is secure – we don’t sell or rent your data to any third-parties.