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How can AR help your B2B business?

November 25, 2020 BY EPM Agency

As 2020 wraps up, we’ve all seen a major shift in the way that businesses connect with customers and staff alike this year. Occupying the same space for a meeting seems like an almost impossible task nowadays, as face-to-face communication continues to decline. 

That doesn’t mean we have to stop all business activity however as technology can be harnessed to engage with one another from a distance. Augmented reality B2B is on the rise, and AR is just one method that particularly excels with this way of engagement. 

AR is an enriching, intelligent business tool as it overlays an immersive experience onto our real-world environment that can then be interacted with in real time on a device. It can build upon what is already physically in front of you and provide a whole gamut of extra information in the form of virtual 3D models or simply annotations and text. 

There are three major uses of AR within the B2B sector that is most beneficial: training, maintenance and product demos and this AR B2B guide will help explain how each use case works, and provide an example of it in practice too.  

Training in AR

An AR B2B training tool can reduce the need for constant back-and-forth reference to reading material, saving time and energy for actual learning. Naturally, AR is also more interactive too, enabling the user to absorb the information much quicker and easier than if they were to read a dusty manual. 

For example, equipment operators can benefit from practical on-the-job step-by-step AR training in the form of an interface that can be overlaid over their machinery, providing a to-scale guide. They can then use this information to learn how to use the equipment safely. 

In this example from Scope AR, you can see animated instructions digitally laid on top of the machinery that the operator observes first, in a real environment context with the physical equipment. He is then able to replicate the instructions having seen a to-scale rendition of the process, and do so while being aware of any hazards shown alongside the AR information. 

Not only is the AR training tool readily accessible, it also reduces risk and encourages consistency and standardised procedures throughout the entire business. It also massively reduces close-contact and manpower as supervisors don’t have to schedule in time for one-on-one training; the staff member can learn by themselves and feel more in control of their development in the process. 

AR Maintenance

In the same way that it can benefit training, an AR maintenance tool can be equally effective. With information at their fingertips, experts can safely shut down machinery and troubleshoot issues from a safe distance. 

This Bosch training tool provides workshops with an identification guide for faults as well as relevant information on broken parts quickly and efficiently. The technician can use the app as a diagnostics reference while repairing the car, or he can even put on smart glasses to go ‘hands-free’ while repairing.  

There have also been examples during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic where manufacturers were able to use AR to help doctors fix machinery themselves when it was unsafe for non-medical staff to be in hospitals. In this particular example, a ventilator technician remotely viewed the problem and oversaw the solution via a live video link and taught the doctor how to maintain the ventilator step by step.

In this example, you can see how Emerson Automation Solutions is able to use remote assistance and augmented reality to provide their customers with the same level of support and assistance from technicians that the customer would expect if they were on site. The technician uses annotations and a gallery of icons to direct the customer, and the videos are later saved as a further training resource within an ever-growing library. 

Having these creative, visual and informative solutions in the time of a crisis ensures that machinery can continue operating smoothly. 

Product demo AR

Demonstration of a product’s value no longer has to be restricted to an in-person tour around a ‘brick-and-mortar’ showroom with a product demo augmented reality app. Nor do sales staff have to rely on outdated hefty catalogues. 

Now, customers can view proportional, built-to-scale 3D models of products and view them in a real environment.

Just take a look at this example of an AR product demo app we created for Hamworthy Heating to get a better understanding of how it all works in practice. 

In this app, you can place Hamworthy Heating’s boilers virtually into a physical location and determine the product’s size, features, and how it looks in context with real-life surroundings. Bringing the product into the customer’s own setting lets them ‘try before they buy’ and builds trust in the product, so they can compare models and assess their usability. 

Sales teams will also be able to understand the customer better here and provide the best possible product for their needs.

Another great example of an AR product demo is IKEA’s Place app, which enables IKEA’s customers to see the Swedish flatpack furniture maker’s products in their own homes - all without having to step outside. In 2020, we’ve seen an upward trend towards searches for IKEA Place in Google Trends, most likely due to lockdowns being implemented across the globe. As workers headed towards a longer-term work-from-home setup this year, they looked to digital solutions to re-create their shopping experience. 

Want to find out more about AR or see how you can take your business further with AR?

Why not contact us or email us at [email protected].

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