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Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Mixed Reality in Business

CIO Jury: Only one-third of tech leaders say AR or VR is or will be a key technology in the next year

AR and VR are still lagging behind in the enterprise, according to our panel of tech leaders.

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There's plenty of potential for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in business, but whether a company has effectively implemented these technologies seems to depend on the industry.

VR and AR and their cousin, mixed reality, offer plenty of benefits for the enterprise, but many tech leaders have yet to see the justification for using it within their organizations, with only one-third saying it's a key technology for them now, or will be within the next year, according to a TechRepublic CIO Jury poll. 

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We polled TechRepublic's CIO Jury to learn more about how the enterprise is using AR and VR. When asked "Is AR and/or VR a key technology for your company, or will it be within the next year?", eight tech leaders said no, while four said yes. We didn't even touch upon mixed reality, since so much confusion already exists about the difference between the three.

For the record, VR is a multisensory computer-generated experience that opens up virtual worlds for the user with complete immersion into a simulated world. VR is in the same ballpark as AR in that it serves as a layer over the real world. With AR, the user is still aware of the external world, but with VR, the user is completely immersed in the virtual world. 

Mixed reality combines aspects of both VR and AR. The idea is that the user can see the real world (which is AR), but also see believable, virtual objects (which is VR). The uses in business include employee education and training, computer modeling, and simulations.

SEE: Augmented reality: Quick glossary (TechRepublic Premium)
 
John Gracyalny, vice president of digital member services at Coast Central Credit Union, said, "AR/VR is not on our company's radar for the next year, and does not really appear to be on the financial services industry's radar either. That being said, I have sketched out some of the requirements for a 'Virtual Bank Branch' that could replace traditional online/mobile banking interfaces. But other than it being 'cute,' and possibly having some appeal to younger customers, I'm not sure that I see any potential improvement in the user experience or in capabilities justifying the cost of development. Of course, as soon as one online banking vendor makes a move in that direction, everyone else will follow suit to avoid being perceived as antiquated."

The same goes for the legal field. Shawn Lehocky, chief strategy officer at Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano, said the attorneys at his firm are interested in integrating cutting-edge technology, "Human interaction is essential in providing holistic legal service to our clients and successfully representing them. That is why our attorneys continue to meet our clients no matter where they are throughout every step of their case, whether it is at their homes, in the courtrooms or even a coffee shop down the street. That is unique face-to-face connection that cannot be replicated or communicated with VR/AR."

Chris Mertens, director of information technology for the Hamilton County Government and Judicial Center in Noblesville, IN, said there hasn't been an opportunity yet in government to use AR or VR, but explained, "I do foresee the potential in areas around [the] Parks [department] and potentially our Transportation department. There could also be training opportunities either for employees or within our public safety environment."

But in Texas, Cory Wilburn, CIO for the Texas General Land Office, said that his agency expanded its reach to recently use VR in a project to enhance communication with constituents.

"We see AR and VR as great technologies to use in specific targeted situations, but they are probably not going to be some of the more heavily used tools in our toolbox, at least not in the next couple of years," Wilburn said.

And in the field of architecture, there's more use for augmented reality. 

AR is "absolutely making an impact," said Simon Johns, IT director for Sheppard Robson Architects LLP. "[It's] currently a big deal for us in architecture, we are able to drop clients into our models to show them the latest designs. We are looking at AR to enhance our work on-site so that we can work far more efficiently."

Here are this month's CIO Jury participants: 

  • Lance Taylor-Warren, CIO, Community Health Alliance

  • Craig Lurey, CTO and co-founder, Keeper Security

  • Simon Johns, IT director, Sheppard Robson Architects LLP

  • Michael Hanken, vice president of IT, Multiquip Inc.

  • Shawn Lehocky, chief strategy officer, Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano

  • John Gracyalny, vice president of digital member services, Coast Central Credit Union

  • Kris Seeburn, independent IT consultant, evangelist, and researcher

  • Madhushan Gokool, head of IT at Ergonomic Solutions

  • Chris Mertens, director of information technology, Hamilton County Government and Judicial Center (Noblesville, IN)

  • Ken O'Brien, executive vice president and CIO, RRD

  • Randy Krzyston, senior manager, IT security and compliance, Brinks Home Security

  • Cory Wilburn, CIO, Texas General Land Office

Want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say on the top issues for IT decision makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director, or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, email teena dot maddox at cbsinteractive dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.

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