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Map your Business Challenges to AR Solutions

Last Updated: July 19, 2019


In order to get the most value from augmented reality, it’s important to start with selecting the best use case and understand how AR can solve the problem. 

How will your organization select a business use case for augmented reality? Instead of asking “how will we use AR,” consider your business challenges first. Start by imagining problems that arise when your technicians, customers, or other stakeholders must engage with complex information. These scenarios happen on the factory floor, in the field, and beyond—where user mobility is essential. Brainstorm situations in which mobile phones, tablets, and eyewear devices could empower people to see and interact with 3D augmentations and animations.

To begin developing your business use case, consider these common paint points:

Shortage of qualified workers: AR can narrow the skills gap by improving knowledge transfer and accelerating training for new workers. AR remote expert guidance enables experienced experts to assist other workers from anywhere. It can also help organizations retain the tribal knowledge that’s lost when workers leave their jobs or retire.

Poor training and communication methods: AR provides workers with a more effective way to learn technical information for training, maintenance, and service purposes. Organizations that use AR technology can quickly upskill inexperienced or seasonal workers by providing AR experiences to guide them through complex procedures.

Increasingly complex products: AR empowers workers to maintain complex equipment, and prevents failures and downtime. Predictive maintenance alerts, rapid parts identification, and easy-to-follow repair sequences provide all the information operators need to resolve problems and keep equipment running as efficiently as possible.

Now that you have a few ideas for how AR can enable solutions to business challenges, start developing your use case. Below are three key steps to help you identify your specific opportunities.

1. Identify your Organization’s Most Critical Problems

Focus on the strategic initiatives and the key metrics of your business.

Create a list of your business challenges: Not all business challenges will be applicable for AR (or software solutions in general). But documenting a wide range of possibilities is a good first step. These challenges should be measurable and have financial consequences for your organization.

Brainstorm use cases: Assemble the right mix of subject matter experts. After identifying challenges, ask why these problems haven’t been fixed before, and what capabilities of AR-enabled, mobile/tablet, or wearable technologies could provide a breakthrough approach. At this stage, engage people who live through the pain of these challenges, and include PTC experts familiar with AR in the conversation.

Rank your use cases by business impact: Identify a short list of candidate applications that have clear business value and well-delineated set of specific functionalities. Avoid lumping multiple use cases into one ambiguous application.

Connect to business value and prioritize: Gather cost and impact data related to the “as-is” business process for your short list of candidates. Set initial, realistic targets for a new process that uses these new tools and technologies.

2. Connect your Challenge to Business Value

Determine which challenges are most likely to provide substantial business value.

  • Pain Point: What is the business challenge you want to solve with AR? Where do you see opportunity?
  • Requirements: What do you want to do? What is the action?
  • Solution: How will AR solve your business challenge? This step will map your challenge to an AR solution.
  • Value: What will this do for the business? How will the solution achieve business value? How will you assess the value? Use metrics.

Below are two examples for manufacturing and service use cases:

Manufacturing Example:

  • Pain: Maintenance is often time consuming as teams gather information on particular machines, parts, and procedures. 
  • Requirements: Identify needed or upcoming maintence, understand current performance of the machine, then provide visual maintenance instructions for a specific task. 
  • Solution: Using IoT readings, show technicians the current machine status and performance history. Then provide guidance with easy-to-follow step-by-step AR experiences showing how to resolve the unique needs of each machine.  
  • Value: Reduce downtime, increase overall equipment effectiveness, and meet production targets. 

Service Example:

  • Pain: In my service organization, documentation is poorly organized, inconvenient to access, and too often relies on tribal knowledge. We service a large variety of products and models and it’s impossible for each technician to know how to fix every issue on every machine. Responses are often delayed (to wait for specific individual to come available) or are done incorrectly; resulting in second trips and frustrated customers.
  • Requirements: Deliver accurate, relevant content for on-site service technicians that allows them to quickly and accurately diagnose problems and fix problems the first time.  
  • Solution: Provide a mobile/tablet application that delivers easy-to-understand, easy-to-consume, in-context service information. Enable technicians at varying skill levels to confidently work on a wider range machines and service issues.  
  • Value: Improve first-time fix rate and achieve greater service profitability.

3. Choose One High-Impact Use Case

Your use case should be specific and realistic. Once you have identified your use case, clearly define the desired outcome. Start assigning metrics that will quantify the value you’ve identified. Before you implement AR, get a baseline measurement of your key metrics: documenting the “as-is” state will help you measure return on investment.

Identifying the best use case to achieve business value is the first step to including AR into your business strategy.

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