If intellectual capital powers the knowledge economy, then sophisticated collaboration is how businesses will earn a return on investment.
The competition for adaptive, problem-solving employees is fierce. Trouble is, employers don’t know what to do with them. In some cases, they’re partitioned to one area of the business, work on brilliant projects in isolation, and then move on to the next company, taking valuable insights and institutional knowledge with them.
Maximizing an organization’s intellectual capital is not just about embracing collaboration - they’ve got to excel at it too, and doing so requires the use of cutting-edge technology.
While the latest AR/VR and 3D technologies have been applied to the worlds of gaming and entertainment for years, the opportunity for more immersive experiences within enterprise learning, training and workflow management is now, for the first time, on the verge of global adoption.
From interactive content being built by meshing detailed CAD models with the incredible capabilities of leading game engines, to deploying the resulting experiences via next-gen headsets built by the reigning champions in workplace productivity (Microsoft, Google, etc.), the future of collaboration has never looked more promising - while conjuring up imagery of sci-fi movies set in decades well into the future.
But such high hopes for visualized information with seamless communication often come with challenges. Namely, in making these experiences accessible to more people around the world, working remotely, and doing so in the most cost-efficient way possible. After all, what good is increased productivity and workflow management if you can’t measure it’s return?
Luckily, 3D visualization tools have rewritten the rules of enterprise-level collaboration.
Immersive, photorealistic 3D experiences allow cross-functional teams to discuss models and projects in real time, cross-border teams to pop in and out of virtual workrooms, and companies to provide enhanced training and customer service experiences for their customers.
The future of collaboration with 3D visualization tools is exciting, and these macro-trends are shaping what exactly this (virtual) landscape will look like.
Enterprises Will Use Mixed Reality Headsets Like Microsoft HoloLens To Collaborate
When the Xbox maker unveiled HoloLens 2, they weren’t interested in the flashy features of the gaming world. Instead, they focused their narrative on potential enterprise applications in medical and industrial environments, a notable departure from the strategy of other HMD makers.
Why? Well, Microsoft pays attention to what business clients need. The software giant’s betting cross-border, cross-functional 3D collaboration tools will play a critical role in forward-thinking enterprises, and they want HoloLens to facilitate this.
With HoloLens, users can create 3D objects, experience 360 degree views of virtual spaces, and view holograms during Skype calls. In fact, Microsoft is actively working on creating virtual meeting rooms using augmented reality.
Collaborators in different offices - or different countries - can enter the mixed-reality workspace, complete tasks, and leave text or voice notes for other collaborators.
Collaborative VR Content Will Transcend Dedicated Workstations and Reduce Training and Customer Support Costs
Enterprises walk a tightrope when allocating funds to their employee training program or customer service apparatus. Invest too little in employee training and your employees will enter the workforce unprepared and a potential liability. Spend too much time on employee training and you fail to get boots on the ground fast enough.
Enterprise customer service presents the same challenges on the back end. While good customer service equals happy consumers and repeat business, investing too much can be cost-prohibitive.
Interestingly, both employee training and customer service are examples of collaboration, but they’re rarely discussed in this context. Virtual reality (VR) tools can boost the effectiveness of these hard-to-scale activities. For instance, Walmart has used Oculus Go headsets to extend manager-level training to associates. Meanwhile, companies are exploring ways for technical support representatives to use VR to view a customer’s machinery and provide virtual assistance.
That said, VR is a demanding piece of technology. Streaming a rendering from a remote server to a VR headset calls for some serious processing power, making it difficult to untether users from dedicated workstations.
But as technological advancements make VR streaming friendly, more companies will adopt it to solve common enterprise problems in collaboration, training, and customer service. Indeed, Goldman Sachs projects a $16.1 billion enterprise and public sector market for AR/VR technology by 2025.
PureWeb’s Reality solution allows organizations to share interactive 3D experiences with employees, customers, and prospects through any web browser, adding scale to training and support, virtual tours and walkthroughs. Forward-thinking businesses will integrate these solutions into their tech stack early.
The Gap Between Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Tools and Game Engines Will Narrow
The architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry has long been familiar with CAD tools, but there’s a shift happening in consumer expectations and enterprise cost management.
Consumers are no longer content to accept an architect or contractor’s description of what a final project will look like. Similarly, companies want tools to identify design flaws sooner rather than later and avoid sinking capital into expensive failures. Fuelling these expectations are 3D rendering and visualization technology.
For instance, while a construction firm may use AutoCAD for functional 3D modelling, its customers may demand a photorealistic rendering of the final development, set in a real urban environment. Today, it’s considered standard practice to provide renderings of the inside of a building as well, with an interior that allows the buyer to visualize themselves within the space.
Likewise, car companies want to create photorealistic renderings of their vehicles and easily position those renderings within various landscapes without expensive photoshoots.
As a result, the gap between CAD use cases and game engine use cases is narrowing.
Game engines allow designers to bring together various functionalities in modelling, sound, collision detection, and more to create an immersive experience. Originally, curious professionals from the AEC space played around by importing their CAD models to game engines and experimenting with advanced features. Today, game engines are exploring partnerships to facilitate the work of these early enterprise adopters. It’s why companies like Unity and Autodesk have partnered in the past to create software for AEC applications.
3D Visualization Will Unleash Powerful Insights Through Cross-Disciplinary and Cross-Industry Collaboration
An idea that’s mundane in one group can be a valuable insight in another.
According to Professor Ronald Burt from the University of Chicago, individuals with diverse networks become idea brokers. Innovation doesn’t stem from one lone genius. Rather, game changing insights are the byproduct of people from different disciplines and industries interacting.
In other words, incorporating people and ideas from different disciplines can jog good answers to tough problems loose.
One of the key challenges of cross-disciplinary collaboration is conveying technical concepts to non-technical subject matter experts. Simply transferring data to a teammate isn’t productive if they don’t have the training to interpret or manipulate it.
On the other hand, 3D visualization technology allows technical and non-technical experts to stream, view, and discuss models remotely and in real time.
Whether working with global employees or remote contractors, the traditional bottlenecks in enterprise workflows are reduced or eliminated. Team members spend less time creating the conditions for collaboration and more time actually collaborating.
Complementary Tech Will Transform Powerful Trends Into Tangible Results
Powerful trends in technology and talent management will determine the future of collaboration with 3D visualization. Nevertheless, it’ll take complementary technology to transform these trends from potentially impressive forces to tangible results for companies. Specifically, the ability to streamline and simplify the delivery of 3D experiences will decide whether 3D visualization becomes an extension of collaboration and creation efforts.
Looking for a real-time collaboration platform built for CAD designers and game engine creators?
Reach out to learn more about PureWeb Spaces as well as Reality, our interactive streaming service for game engine projects and used for a variety of enterprise use-cases, from 3D product configurators to training and simulation.