The interplay of digital and physical technology is bringing about new ‘realities’ for users – each with a potential to transform HR and people management.
In Accenture’s forecast, Technology Vision 2018, immersive technologies are “changing the way people connect with information, experiences, and each other”.
“Through virtual and augmented reality, extended reality is the first technology to ‘relocate’ people in time and space – and it’s bringing about the end of distance,” Accenture said.
For HR and business leaders aiming to capitalize on the emerging tech, it’s important to understand extended reality or cross reality (XR) as the umbrella concept of all other immersive experiences, from VR to hybrid, and that these serve an HR purpose:
Virtual reality transports the user to a fully artificial or computer-generated world. VR is currently applied in police and military training, such as in the simulation of conflict scenarios.
Augmented reality enhances real-world settings such as an office or laboratory then superimposes that environment with computer graphics carrying specific functions. Think Google Glass of yesteryears. AR allows users to see the real world while graphics such as email notifications pop up in the corner of their eye.
Blended/Hybrid/Mixed reality takes elaborate simulations akin to VR then sets them in a real-world environment. This is useful for hands-on training or on-site simulation such as a boardroom meeting that casts the hologram of a virtual attendee.
Extended reality is particularly useful to companies managing a global workforce because the tech is designed to “remove the hurdle of distance,” the analysts said.
“XR will also help businesses address the largest workforce challenge they face: the distance between themselves and the talent they need to grow,” they said. “The technology supports an on-demand workforce approach, which not only saves in recruitment costs, but also helps businesses engage an ever-growing pool of talent that desires flexibility.”
Accenture’s predictive study suggested businesses are poised to “tap expertise in thousands of skills from anywhere in the world.”