Following the recent acquisition by Google of the heart of HTC’s smartphone division for $1.1 billion, I believe this is the exact right moment for us B2B marketers and sales people to status on the real potential of Virtual Reality for the B2B market. I contacted Hervé Fontaine, Vice-President of Virtual Reality B2B at HTC Vive, to guide us through this exercise.
Call me opportunistic, but the recent acquisition of the heart of HTC’s smartphone division by Google rang a bell to me. While a lot of analysts where expecting HTC to “get rid off” its VR business, the Taiwanese company decided to sell its better-known smartphone business off to Google.
Many articles state that “VR is already in decline”. Of course, certain counter-performances happened last year in the VR world : in 2016 the overall VR hardware revenue forecast was $3.8 billion and finally ended at $2.7 billion. VR is not declining, the growth expectations were very high, and most of all, VR is much more than hardware. In simple words: the business health of VR hardware does not give a complete status of VR business in general, just of the most visible part of the iceberg.
What is sure and tangible, however, is that the biggest potential of VR is crystallized in the B2B industries. The overall manifesto of VR is to allow a greater emotional connection with the products/solutions you are trying to sell. The average business opportunity volume being much higher in B2B than in B2C, it makes perfect sense that the pre-sales/sales facilitator that is VR will have a proportionally bigger impact on the the worldwide economy. This being said, let’s investigate whether and why you should investigate more about the potential of VR for your B2B company (B2B2C in most cases). Due to the fact that I spent my whole (though short) career working in the 3D engineering software world, don’t feel surprise if I sound like I am focusing on the engineering, manufacturing, IT, industrial sectors (professional deformation).
Below are listed 7 things you can do with VR which can influence positively your B2B-driven revenue activities:
- Visualize any possible variant and product in the portfolio even if never built yet,
- Educational : get to explain and interact with (e.g.) the features of a car before buying it,
- Save costs in materials to support sales (e.g.): no need to build 1:1 physical prototypes, ability to interactively illustrate travel experiences (aerospace), avoid transporting heavy machinery to events or training, etc.
- Allows category management of (e.g.) retail stores with minimal cost,
- Use gaze tracking for analytics, with the view of product development optimization, ergonomics enhancement, etc.
- Create a critically more engaging emotional experience with client,
- Training staff on the product they will sell before the first samples arrive.