The reality of augmenting workers’ skills: Augmented reality in the enterprise

The numbers that flocked to the App Store and Google Play revealed the extent to which Pokémon Go caught the public’s imagination. At its heart was augmented reality technology, and before long the broader potential beyond the parameters of media and entertainment was decisively cemented. The traction has, in fact, provided a wakeup call for many online businesses to assess how putting a digital layer over the physical world could be harnessed to boost everything from employee productivity and working practices, to providing a more engaging customer experience.

As an immersive technology incorporating multiple senses, the impact on how we consume and present data is particularly significant, from enhancing access to the flow of information to bolstering real time decision-making. One area that this is set to have significant repercussions in the business environment, is as a tool for supporting ‘on the fly’ learning and real-time knowledge transfer. Both of which are predicted to become a growing priority for the future workforce, as we gear up for a significant cultural shift in how people work.

Principally, we are in the midst of a freelance revolution – most notably in the US, with freelance workers expected to comprise 50% of the US workforce by 2020 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. More broadly, an increasingly transient approach will define how all of us globally do our jobs.

While the concept of a job for life has long been consigned to the history vault – we can now expect to see professional evolution go up another gear, as more workers embrace having a more eclectic and evolving skillset as rapid advances in technology make continuous on-the-job learning the norm. Against this backdrop, an individual’s existing qualifications are just the start, and ultimately people will be judged on their ability to acquire more knowledge and retain additional competentancies as they progress through their career.

This constant expectation for knowledge acquisition poses a challenge; we can no longer rely on the expense and time-consuming nature of training schools and designated centres. Nor can those signed up to the flexible gig economy expect to access the traditional avenues of workplace inductions and onboarding processes for their learning fix.

This is where I expect to see augmented reality technologies gain traction as an efficient and cost-effective alternative to on-the-job learning. We cannot be far off an environment in which workers equipped with an augmented reality headset will regularly receive the information they need instantly, both in real time and across their field of vision to address knowledge gaps and ensure they can perform to the best of their ability.

If we drill deeper, we can see that by enabling information and work instructions to be displayed over a worker’s physical environment, this blending of experiential media with human judgement becomes a very intuitive way of guiding an individual through the processes. Furthermore, it exemplifies how, quite literally, human intelligence can be seamlessly augmented as opposed to the usual narrative that positions man against machine as either/or opponents.

Beyond the added value to the company, it is an approach that becomes very empowering for the worker themselves. They become equipped with the tools that can steer their personal progression and broaden their skillset, career aspirations and ultimately earning power.

It’s an empowerment that extends to core workplace roles and functions such as analytics. The benefits for greater data democracy already play out in organisations, which as a result, are further down the line in their digital transformation journey. They are the ones reaping the productivity benefits of improved actionable insight, having incorporated augmented intelligence and machine learning capabilities into their business intelligence and analytics tools. Augmented analytics raises the bar further, tearing through the complexity of excessive information and homing in on the most relevant morsels.

While the actual extent to which augmented reality will manifest itself in today’s workplace is still an unknown proposition, already we are seeing a glimpse of how it could transform future ways of working for the better. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

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