Sample Business Paper on Extended Reality and Business Performance

Technology is an essential component of the contemporary corporate environment due to its numerous advantages to businesses. Advancement in technology has led to a more interconnected world where distance and geographical location is no longer a challenge to communication and business transactions. However, the development of technology in the domain of extended reality has elevated interconnectedness as it has integrated reality with virtuality. Extended reality, a contemporary form of immersive technology, combines fiction and reality to create experiences that complement human interactive abilities. Extended reality technology consists of divergent interactive forms, such as augmented, mixed, and virtual reality, and is currently used in the business world, particularly in marketing, real estate, and project management. Extended reality technology, which is at the core of future technological advancements in the business environment, provides immense opportunities to the corporate world as it can be exploited in several ways to improve business performance and customer satisfaction.

Literature Review

Contemporary technology has developed to incorporate reality and virtuality through the novel concept of extended reality. Extended reality (XR) is the collective term for the emerging immersive and interactive forms of technology. XR encompasses the entire spectrum of modern-day immersive technology; thus, covering the entire scope of the reality-virtuality continuum (Morrow 178). The reality-virtuality continuum is a continuous scale integrating all possible variations of reality and virtuality. The reality-virtuality continuum was invented by Paul Milgram and stretches from the completely real to completely virtual (Morrow 178). XR technology is composed of divergent representative and immersive forms: augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and Virtual Reality (VR). AR, MR, and VR vary based on their position in Milgram’s reality-virtuality continuum. XR technology incorporates several technologies related to the basic human senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste to facilitate immersive experiences among users (Marr). XR technologies are based on artificial intelligence (AI) systems, which enable them to accentuate basic human experiences.

AR is the most ubiquitous and mass-produced form of XR technology, as it is closer to reality than other interactive forms. AR creates interactive and representative experiences by enhancing real-world objects through artificially-generated perceptual information (Morrow 179). AR utilizes sensory modalities pertinent to humans, such as visual and auditory senses, to enhance the interactive presentation of computer-generated perceptual information (Wohlgenannt, Alexander, and Stefan 2). AR overlays virtual and perceptual information and objects in the real world, thus enhancing real-world experiences. A good example of the practical use of AR is the famous digital game Pokémon Go. AR does not require the use of complex interactive interfaces nor processing technology due to its closeness to reality than virtuality. Therefore, it can be easily accessed via laptops and smartphones. This has enabled its mass production and uses, especially in the gaming and business fields.

MR integrates the extreme ends of Milgram’s reality-virtuality continuum; thus, it encompasses both augmented reality and augmented virtuality. Through MR, virtual and real-world objects are made to co-exist in real-time to create an advanced form of interaction that encompasses both reality and fiction (Morrow 179; Knauer-Arnold 103). Also known as hybrid reality, MR is created when augmented reality and augmented virtuality are combined to create an inter-reality system that can be projected in real-time (Knauer-Arnold 103). MR is quite pertinent in the construction, project management, and even real-estate domains as they can be utilized to create virtual objects that can be interacted with and tailored to individual tastes. However, MR requires top-notch technology as it involves the fusion of two completely different poles, reality, and virtuality. Therefore, MR’s actualization requires massive amounts of processing power and expensive technology, such as the MR headset.

VR is based on complete virtuality based on a simulated digital environment. VR can be used to create experiences either similar to the real world or completely fictional and imaginary. VR relies on simulators that utilize artificial intelligence to create computer-generated information that is then relayed to the users’ sensory systems to create interactive fictional experiences (Wohlgenannt et al. 2). For example, plane simulators currently used to train rookie pilots give the pilots on board the impression of actually flying a real aircraft. VR thus provides completely imaginary and imitative simulations that though completely fictional, make the user’s mind believe in their existence. VR technology is quite important in the corporate environment as it can be utilized in the training of staff through the projection of practical business transactions (Knauer-Arnold 110). The VR concept has also been utilized to maximum effect in the military, engineering, and healthcare fields.

XR technology, through its divergent forms, such as AR, MR, and VR, is quite integral to business performance in the contemporary and future world. Both VR and MR can be utilized to create virtual business processes, such as selling and marketing. Both Rolex and IKEA, massive multinationals dealing in luxury watches and furniture, respectively, are currently utilizing VR and MR to give their customers a virtual opportunity to try and test the suitability of their products before buying them (Marr; Fast-Berglund et al. 37). This enables both IKEA and Rolex to adjust their products according to customers’ specifications and preferences; thus, increasing customer and brand loyalty. Moreover, XR technology can be utilized to create real-life models and projects that can be utilized for decision-making purposes, and therefore, ensure that companies avoid making losses in practical business transactions. British Petroleum (BP) utilizes XR backed up by AI to calculate the potential profitability and efficacy of its projects before it invests in them (Fast-Berglund et al. 33). This has made BP one of the best oil companies in the world with massive revenue earnings. XR technology can also be utilized to provide virtual firsthand training to a company’s employees. A good example is PepsiCo. which utilizes XR to create virtual training programs for its staff, which has enabled the company to improve its business performance, particularly in the domain of customer relations (Knauer-Arnold 112). XR has numerous advantageous features that can be exploited to improve business performance.

Opportunities for Adopting These Technologies

XR technology and its divergent interactive forms provide several opportunities to contemporary businesses. AR, VR, and MR imitative forms provide modern-day businesses with an opportunity to cut production expenses by investing more in task workers. Task workers are employees who are not physically attached to a company’s workplace and are only hired to perform specific tasks for the company (Chuah 12). Employees hired as task workers are usually paid according to the tasks performed, enabling companies to cut down on production costs compared to full-time employees. Using both VR and MR, workers can connect with their colleagues and clients at the comfort of their homes in a manner that makes both sides feel that they are in the same room (Marr; Chuah 12). Therefore, modern companies can easily track, monitor, and coordinate task workers even in the comfort of their homes through XR technologies. XR technology provides companies with an opportunity to scale down their employment of full-time employees and focus on recruiting task workers without compromising productivity.

The interactive forms of XR, VR, and AR expand the scope of data collection and analysis, and this provides a huge opportunity for modern businesses to improve their productivity. XR technology is based on AI systems that can collect, tabulate, process, and analyze vast amounts of data (Morvan et al. 3). The AI systems, together with the massive 3-D data that makes XR technology feasible, profoundly expand the contemporary scope of data analysis in the corporate environment. XR technologies open up non-conventional ways of exploiting available data, especially when it can be overlaid on real-world objects using AR and can be used to enhance decision-making in huge companies (Morvan et al. 4). A practical example of the importance of XR in decision-making can be seen in the operations of the multinational logistics company Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn (DHL) International GmbH. In 2009, DHL rolled out an XR-based technology, Google Glass-based Vision Picking Program, which utilizes bar-code scanning in the company’s European warehouses for easy location and identification of parcels (Knauer-Arnold 111). The Google Glass-based Vision Picking Program rolled out by DHL enabled the company to report productivity savings of 15 percent through more accurate fulfillment of warehouse operations (Knauer-Arnold 111). DHL’s XR technology enables its workers to make correct decisions quickly, thus making their operations more productive.

XR technology also expands the contemporary domain of marketing and provides an opportunity for businesses to expand their market base. The use of AR, MR, and VR provides modern businesses with opportunities of engaging prospective customers through XR; thus, convincing customers more effectively. In 2018, PepsiCo., while advertising Pepsi MAX in London, utilized an AR-enabled bus stop display (Hu et al. 22). Using a mixture of both real and virtual objects, PepsiCo. wowed thousands of Londoners with an interactive form of a prowling tiger, a meteor crashing, and an alien tentacle grabbing individuals off the street (Marr; Hu et al. 21). PepsiCo’s XR London show resulted in several individuals, particularly the young, being more interested in the Pepsi brand across Europe (Georgiev, and Casakin 21). Apart from expanding the scope of marketing, ER can be used to provide firsthand training to sales professionals. Using both virtual and real objects, ER can be utilized to improve the practicality of sales and marketing training.

 Possible Negative Impacts

ER, like any other technology, has negative impacts, particularly concerning security and privacy. Representative and interactive forms of ER technology require a lot of information and data to function. This poses a big challenge, especially in the contemporary business world, characterized by data breaches and cybercrime. XR technologies collect and process huge amounts of personal data, particularly without the user’s express permission. This is a huge infringement on peoples’ right to privacy (Hariharan et al. 46). The current forms of XR technology being mass-produced and used in the business field collect several private data that may be susceptible to cybercrime and data breaches (Hariharan et al. 46). In conservative societies such as the United Arab Emirates, the use of XR technologies is highly likely to cause several ethical and legal issues, particularly due to the overriding need to protect and preserve peoples’ private data and information. Moreover, the use of XR requires the establishment of an advanced cybersecurity infrastructure that is costly and does not fully protect peoples’ data from data breaches by unscrupulous companies.

The use of XR technologies in the business environment also poses a big health problem to their users. The divergent forms of XR technologies, such as MR and VR, utilize sensory modalities to enhance the representative and imitative effects of their presentations. This explains why all XR forms of representation are replete with wearable hardware devices meant to be worn on the user’s head or eyes. The wearable hardware devices that make XR operational are quite dangerous to the human body’s optimum functioning, particularly when used over long durations. XR devices are harmful to their users’ senses over the long-term, particularly to the eye and ears as images and sound effects are accentuated for better imitative experiences (Klos et al. 57). The mental health repercussions of using XR are still fully unknown due to its limited use globally. Long-term use of XR technology is dangerous to mental health and is linked to reduced concentration in humans (Klos et al. 59). Moreover, XR technology is captivating and addictive and may result in reduced productivity levels among frequent users.

Application of Technology in Project Management

XR technology and its representative and interactive forms of AR, MR, and VR are quite useful and pertinent in the field of project management. Both AR and MR can be utilized to come up with model project designs based on both real and virtual objects using appropriate technology, such as Microsoft HoloLens or the Oculus (Knauer-Arnold 101). The use of XR technology in the development of interactive 3-D models is faster and more effective as compared to reliance on human labor, which is prone to errors (Knauer-Arnold 104). For example, a project can be quickly virtually created, analyzed, presented, and modified using the Microsoft HoloLens technology integrated with Skype. Moreover, XR technology collects and integrates a wide range of pertinent data and information, which can be utilized to make proper decisions about any given project. For example, in real estate, XR technology can be utilized to collect relevant data concerning contemporary housing designs, and the preferences of the target market, and therefore, help project managers make well-informed decisions before investing in a project. Therefore, using both AI and 3-D data, XR technology provides relevant data that can determine the efficacy of projects, and therefore, help minimize losses.

Future of XR Technologies

XR and other representative forms of technology are the future of not only the corporate environment but also other several fields, such as military, engineering, and healthcare. Due to their massive ability, XR technology has to bridge the geographical distance between companies and their customers, making it the framework for future business transactions. Almost 80 percent of top company executives in the world hold that XR technologies are the future of business transactions and the only lifeline of existence for companies intending to stay in the mainstream corporate world past 2030 (Wohlgenannt et al. 3). It is estimated that 27 percent of multinational companies’ executives argue that it is quite important for their organizations to invest and take a leading role in XR solutions (Wohlgenannt et al. 3). The XR market is gradually expanding and is expected to be worth more than $200 billion by 2025 (Wohlgenannt et al. 3). The massive hype gained by the Pokémon Go game highlighted the high potential of XR technologies in the world, and I opine that interests in it are only set to increase.

Summary and Conclusion

Advancement in technology has resulted in the fusion of reality and fiction through representative and imitative technologies. ER technology, an umbrella term for AR, MR, and VR, combines various levels of reality and virtuality to improve human representative forms. ER technology offers immense opportunities for businesses, such as reduced production costs, increased productivity, and decision-making abilities. However, like other forms of technology, ER also has its disadvantages concerning privacy, health, and security. ER technologies collect scores of users’ private data, resulting in security and privacy quagmires. The wearable hardware of ER negatively impacts human health, particularly the sensory and mental organs. Therefore, the efficacy of ER technologies has to be determined by weighing its advantages and disadvantages before advocating for its widespread use in the global business environment.

 

 

Works Cited

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Morvan, Laurence, Francis Hintermann, and Armen Ovanessoff. “Preparing for the Risky World of Extended Reality.” MIT Sloan Management Review 61.2 (2020): 1-4., https://search.proquest.com/openview/2fb169eeb43d78f3d387b20b23daf168/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=26142

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