How Virtual Reality is going to impact your IT Strategy

How Virtual Reality is going to impact your IT Strategy

Future WorkplaceIf you could design your perfect office, what would it look like? Multiple interactive screens on the walls? Presentations that appear anywhere in the room? Perhaps even a view of the beach? It may sound far-fetched but Virtual Reality (VR) could make all of this happen, changing the way you and your business operates forever.

Microsoft has been piloting its HoloLens VR headset for a year or so. To be honest, VR has been largely hype to date but this summer, things shifted up a gear when Microsoft announced plans to run its Windows Holographic OS on it, and that it might support other headsets such as HTC’s Vive.

Microsoft and others paint a fascinating picture of the future office. Many people will wince at the thought of immersing themselves in an environment with multiple Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and Word documents surrounding them. But while VR may be seen as a gimmick by some, it’s going to have a real impact on the business world.

One VR company, Pygmal Technologies, currently simulates six screens in VR with its SPACE solution. Using a headset, people can work with multiple documents, productivity apps, web pages and videos on a virtual beach if they want to.

Microsoft wants to take things even further through the use of augmented reality and holographic simulation. Their vision of the office of tomorrow involves people in different locations working together in 3D space. They can be represented by three-dimensional avatars, and communicate in different ways, much as we do now, using voice, video or text, and even real-time translation – only in a virtual shared space.

When it comes to business applications of this technology, there are lots of interesting things you can do. In fact, there are a lot of companies that already use VR in manufacturing, product design and quality control.

Designers can use VR to create and manipulate models of their work. Engineers can play with physics-based designs, visualising them and tweaking them in a virtual space. Architects and shop fitters can try out different designs, materials and colours in 3D, while corporate estate agents can show clients around virtual premises.

This gets even more useful when you add augmented reality into the mix – what Microsoft terms ‘mixed reality’. By layering the physical office with VR, workers can interact with wall spaces, desks and cabinets, gaining a new layer of productivity. You could pull a 3D interactive presentation out of the wall, or have your diary slide up out of your desk. You can walk around 3D objects or walk alongside them – maybe a product you’re working on.

Your office space can become a meeting room as other people from around the world join using their headsets. Today’s videoconferencing will become tomorrow’s holo-conferencing.

You’ll have the opportunity to use technology to transform the way employees collaborate with each other, with customers and suppliers. So this really is an area where tech will revolutionise the way your business works, and forward-thinking IT leaders should consider it a strategic opportunity.

Just like Mobility brought huge changes to the business world by enabling the mobile workforce and, rightly or wrongly, challenging the convention of the 9 to 5, VR will change the look and feel of your business. So it’s important to keep a close eye on these developments, even if they feel like a gimmick today.

In many ways, the underlying principles and technologies will remain the same. Data, document and content sharing, and robust networking infrastructure will still underpin everything. It will still be important to create and share the files, presentations, communications and information. The massive difference is the way we’ll do it.

VR is about to give us new and creative ways to work together, but you don’t need to wait for new technologies to make collaboration a part of your business’s DNA. For more on how collaboration can give you a competitive edge today, check out Box’s eBook.

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