Customers and developers both need training on AR and VR. Source: Shutterstock

Customers and developers both need training on AR and VR. Source: Shutterstock

VR and AR developers still need to focus on customer education

UNDERSTANDING what a customer needs is critical to anyone running a creative agency — but for Ministry XR CEO Ivan Khoo, educating new and existing customers is a big part of the job.

Ministry XR, a creative team with offices in Malaysia and Singapore, helps clients such as Ford, Maxis, Pizza Hut, and Subaru design augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (XR) experiences for customers and employees.

Khoo, who deals with a variety of clients, finds that initial contact with new clients often involves explaining the differences between the “spatial computing” technologies, discussing capabilities, and ideating, together, about possibilities given the circumstances, needs, and vision of the brand.

“Sometimes, we sometimes spend up to 80 percent of our time educating a customer about the capabilities and possibilities of AR and VR — before getting started with a project,” Khoo told Tech Wire Asia.

Of course, that’s not true in every case. Sometimes, especially when clients reach out to Ministry XR with a certain marketing campaign in mind, the client knows exactly what they need — and rely on Khoo’s team to deliver to specification — quickly, albeit with a touch of their own creativity.

However, in many instances, Khoo and his team talk to customers about expanding their vision given the excellent use cases of AR, VR, and XR that align with the client’s own needs and business proposition.

Ministry XR CTO Andrew Yew, who often finds himself simplifying how “spatial computing” works to clients, told Tech Wire Asia that his team often finds that customers that come knocking on the company’s doors because of the novelty aspect of the technology — end up seeing the great potential of the technology once they’re educated.

According to developers of AR and VR experiences, the reality is that a majority of the spend on this technology has been, up to this point, driven by marketers.

By design, therefore, those projects have a short term focus and are centered around a particular campaign. With Maxis, for example, that entailed building an AR app for Chinese New Year.

However, over time, as Ministry XR discussed the potential of AR, VR, and XR with Maxis, the team realized that there was more that could be done to delight customers.

Often, Khoo pointed out, customers that fully understand the value of AR and VR tend to engage with the team on a long-term project that has several milestones — each of which delivers value to either the customer, the employee, or the business, and works to achieve a greater transformation effort for the organization as a whole.

While Yew and Khoo spend time training customers, they admit that as an agency, they need to spend time training themselves as well, as hardware and software upgrades are released quite frequently, creating new possibilities for everyone.

The reality is that AR, VR, and XR are quite exciting technologies — but businesses need to work with agencies to not only understand the possibilities but to push the envelope when it comes to thinking about projects.

Marketing campaigns with a short-term vision are sure to delight customers and create some buzz, and might also be the bread and butter for most agencies, including Ministry XR, but real business value is created when organizations work on long-term projects that cut across organizational silos to connect systems and delight stakeholders across the board.