Augmented reality is a booming industry today. Organizations are finding a higher volume and wider diversity of applications for the technology, and this is bolstering sales of relevant hardware and software around the globe. At first, augmented reality appeared to be a far more consumer-focused trend, especially when it comes to games and entertainment, but now various industries are leveraging it for business processes, workflows, and other activities both in and out of the office.
Globally, International Data Corporation recently forecast spending on augmented and virtual reality technology to exceed $160 billion ($210 billion CAD) annually by the end of the decade, rising from $5.2 billion this year. That translates to a 181.3 per cent compound annual growth rate between 2016 and 2020, which might be the highest rate of increased investment in any segment of the technology.
Interestingly, IDC released a separate report on the Canadian market for these solutions and tools, and found that the Great White North will account for a very large portion of the whole. This means some significant preparations will need to take place across corporate infrastructure, security, and management frameworks to ensure augmented reality adds value rather than risk.
The Great White North will spend a lot on augmented reality next year.
First, let’s take a look at the report’s findings, then evaluate how Canadian organizations will need to prepare.
Massive growth in adoption
By next year, IDC expects Canada to be investing $650 million CAD into augmented and virtual reality technology, placing it among the top countries by way of spending. Like so many other trends, including cloud computing, security transformation, infrastructure modernization, and the Internet of Things, the lion’s share of the investments will actually be devoted to the underlying systems, networks, support, and services necessary to use augmented reality.
“From a Canadian perspective, because AR/VR technology is still in the early stages of adoption, we expect large year-over-year growth to the tune of over 230 per cent annually throughout the forecast,” IDC Canada Research Analyst Manish Nargas explained. “While consumer VR adoption will see initial uptake in the Canadian market in the short term, it is the combination of AR and VR hardware in both consumer and commercial that will drive the overall market by 2020. 360-degree video viewing, social AR/VR gaming, and virtual shopping experiences are just some use cases that are at our ‘virtual’ doorstep.”
Interestingly, the researchers believe that industries such as health care, business management, and product design will adopt the technology at an exponential rate in the coming years. At the same time, other reports have shown that manufacturers and construction companies have already dove into augmented reality.
“The concepts of virtual and augmented reality have been around for many years, but now with inexpensive mobile and PC hardware powering affordable branded VR headsets, and apps enabling simple AR experiences right on the mobile devices, we can expect to see the interest level increase,” IDC Canada Mobility Research Director Krista Collins added.
It will be important to prepare proactively.
Action points for Canadian firms
Enterprises that want to get the most out of augmented reality without taking on excessive risk must focus on the following action points:
- Evaluate and mitigate the potential threats to corporate security that will arise in light of augmented reality deployments.
- Modernize infrastructure to ensure it can not only support augmented reality, but do so at scale once more equipment is implemented.
- Fortify the network to avoid disruptions, as augmented reality devices can take up a tremendous amount of capacity and bandwidth.
- Deploy cloud computing, as the hardware needs easy access to all relevant systems.
Perhaps most importantly, Canadian leaders ought to be working with their IT service provider to establish an action place for their augmented reality initiatives.
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