AR has made a noticeable splash in consumer markets, most notably with 2016’s Pokémon Go mobile game, and more recently by way of ingenious consumer apps. And while consumer and gaming applications of AR are highly visible, they belie AR’s most fertile growth area—industrial applications.
A recent Global Market Insights report on the projected growth rate of AR puts the CAGR for AR between now and 2024 at 65%. More notably, the market size for industrial applications is expected to dwarf all other market segments. IDC’s recent report uncovered that 65% of the sales and marketing executives they interviewed were already seeing an ROI on their AR investments.
Given some of the exciting possibilities in medical, retail and aerospace, why are analysts so bullish on industrial applications? Why is AR expected to reshape a market that is often defined by long development and product lifecycles, and associated with legacy operational technology?
Industrial enterprise leaders already embracing AR will tell you that there are several use cases that provide rapid ROI, including manufacturing, service, and sales and marketing. We’ve covered these applications previously; but the sales and marketing use case is worth closer scrutiny. AR-enabled marketing and sales can feel counter-intuitive in industrial settings, until you consider the assets themselves. Here are three reasons why AR is so well suited for this space.
Conferences, trade shows and other events have a special role in promoting and marketing industrial equipment. Unlike software, there’s strong benefit to bringing prospects together with physical assets and equipment. That said, it can be extremely costly to fabricate, ship and assemble assets for trade shows; in some cases, the equipment is simply too large, heavy or even dangerous to physically bring onsite.
By using AR, companies that make a small upfront investment in wearable or touchscreen devices, AR authoring applications, and preexisting CAD/modeling files can easily build their own virtual product avatars. And unlike scale models physically fabricated for events, these virtual models can be animated, disassembled, and reveal operational data. AR models can be developed in-house, are infinitely more flexible, and can be easily adapted to reflect updates in assets themselves. They can even be distributed at almost no additional cost to booth visitors through downloadable apps, so potential buyers can take your model back to the office or shop floor, and share it with colleagues.
For many of the same reasons that physical equipment is difficult to bring to a showroom floor, it resists being brought onsite as part of the selling process. However, a sales setting makes these logistical barriers even more challenging. For heavy equipment, an account manager may need to be accompanied by a small SWAT team of technicians and sales engineers to bring equipment onsite. The alternative might be paying to fly a team of prospects to your customer experience center. Both of these scenarios are highly expensive, and certainly slows down the cadence of the selling process.
Instead, consider an account manager who can bring infinite virtual equipment and resources onsite to a customer. If the equipment will have to be configured to operate within specific physical spaces, the virtual model can immediately be tweaked to reflect that. It also lets the customer use the greatest asset to sales—their own imagination. By staging highly detailed, accurate and to-scale representations of your products in their environments, prospects can clear many of the mental barriers to sale.
Most industrial equipment either requires customization, or their components do. Once a final purchase order is submitted, that customization is a logical final step to delivery. However, customers may want, or require customizing and configuring assets to determine their needs. That, in and of itself, can dramatically slow down the sales cycle. If customized products require a preview, the selling process can grind to a halt.
An industrial AR solution can virtualize those custom configurations, accelerating important prospect decisions—and the entire selling-process overall. Sales teams can close more wins, and get to more prospects, to drive revenue.
The expert analysts at Ventana Research have probed the sales and marketing use cases for industrial AR; their findings are a boon to companies looking to adopt an AR strategy. Download this white paper to get a fine-grained perspective into how the best-in-class are using AR for sales and marketing, and the benefits being produced.