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Immersive tech takes off for enterprises: 7 takeaways from a new study

December 13, 2021 in Industry | 6 min. read
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Someone lifting an ipad to take a photo of a unity screen

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Supply chain disruptions, canceled events, restricted access to materials and facilities, employee health and safety – these are just some of the many problems businesses have encountered in the last two years. Unity commissioned Forrester Consulting to survey over 300 business and technology leaders, gathering insights into how immersive technologies helped them navigate these challenges and, in the process, accelerate their digital transformations. Check out the study here.

As many as 75% of Fortune 500 CEOs are accelerating their companies’ technology transformation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Immersive technologies such as real-time 3D, augmented and mixed reality (AR and MR) and virtual reality (VR) are a central part of this shift. In industries such as architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), manufacturing, retail, transportation and energy, many businesses adopted or accelerated their use of immersive tech to be more resilient and innovative in how they tackled these disruptions.

To get a better understanding of the short- and long-term impact of this defining event, we commissioned Forrester Consulting, a part of leading global research and advisory company Forrester Research, to conduct a study. Here are seven compelling findings from the study:  

1) How did the pandemic impact the use of immersive technologies in the enterprise sector?

It was both a catalyst and accelerant: Approximately one-third (34%) of companies using immersive technologies today did not use them pre-pandemic and were motivated to do so. Over half (54%) accelerated their use due to the pandemic, underscoring their effectiveness in navigating an array of challenges.

2) Where did enterprises experience the greatest challenge in the pandemic?

COVID-19 disrupted every stage of work – design, engineering, production, operations, training. But here’s where businesses felt the most pain: Nearly three in four leaders (74%) said it was more difficult to carry out marketing and sales activities in the first few months of the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic. While companies such as Volkswagen and HOMAG were nimble and turned canceled tradeshows into immersive experiences online, most companies had a rude awakening when they lost the ability to display products or demonstrate features in person.

3) What are the biggest priority shifts influenced by the pandemic?

In response to the acute problems of pandemic conditions, 79% of organizations say increasing digital marketing and e-commerce capabilities is more important than before the pandemic – higher than any other organizational goal. Their reprioritized agendas also consider improving visualization tools (72%) and remote collaboration (67%) as vital.

4) Which work stage saw the greatest increase in immersive tech use?

Design and prototyping saw the greatest increase in immersive tech use from pre-pandemic (used by 19% of workers) to now (29%), a 50% increase. Being able to conduct immersive design reviews among distributed teams is just one example of how this technology proved pivotal in navigating new challenges. The momentum is expected to increase: Nearly four in five leaders (79%) are now more interested in using immersive tech for design and prototyping – higher than any other stage of work (e.g., engineering, marketing, operations).

5) Which industry increased its use of immersive tech the most during the pandemic? And which industry is poised to use it most in the future?

The energy industry saw the greatest uptick, with adoption increasing by 53% over pre-pandemic levels. One inspiring pandemic project comes from Zutari, which leverages real-time 3D technology to make better design and construction decisions about large-scale solar sites. 

Meanwhile, the AEC industry is anticipated to increase immersive tech use by 115% over the next 12 to 24 months, outpacing any other industry included in the study. This growth may be fueled by the industry’s reconsidered priorities, the top of which is remote collaboration across and beyond the organization.

6) Which industry has the greatest untapped potential for AR and VR?

Education tops the list. With the issues of remote learning brought front and center during the pandemic, respondents see the opportunities and benefits for more immersive ways of learning.

7) What is the trajectory for immersive tech in enterprise?

Over the next 12 to 24 months, 37% of companies say they will use immersive tech – up from 26% today, which represents a 42% increase. From interactive 3D product configurators that deliver immersive shopping experiences to digital twins that shape the future of cities, the applications of immersive tech will continue to run the gamut and deliver business impact across the enterprise.

Check out other top findings here:

Infographic of Forrester report

Learn more

Get the study now: The New Way of Working Is Immersive. For more analysis on this research, watch a replay of Unity’s special event with guest speaker J.P. Gownder, principal analyst and vice president at Forrester.

December 13, 2021 in Industry | 6 min. read

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