At Logica, now part of CGI, my job is to advise CIOs on how they can realise the greatest net value from the adoption of disruptive technology trends.

We’re happy with our methods for most of the talked-about trends (analytics, social media, mobility, cloud…).  But we need to keep horizon-scanning too, so the question naturally arises: How soon should we adopt the next major trend into our method? 

And a parallel question should exercise CIOs:  How soon should the next major trend feature in my strategic planning? 

Gartner’s Hype Cycles only tell us part of the answer: Whilst many CIOs can afford to wait for the “Plateau of Productivity”, others could realise benefits much sooner because of the specific characteristics of their organisation or industry , or just by choosing to become first-mover in some new product or service line.

Let’s apply this thinking to one of the less mature disruptive technologies: Augmented Reality (AR) …

AR is the superimposition of additional relevant information on top of the sensory data we naturally collect.  It’s typified by the heads-up display which shows air speed and engine data on a pilot’s visor, but is also starting make its impact felt on smart phones and tablets where the combination of a camera, internet connection and large screen provide the resources for AR to thrive.

Enterprises will find an astonishing number of applications for AR.  It’s already positioned to:

  • Train inexperienced field engineering staff on the job (perhaps in utilities, oil and gas, or distribution)
  • Support time-critical decision-making (healthcare, emergency services, military)
  • Empower customers by overlaying customer reviews, social media commentary and comparative price data (retail)
  • Augmented our hearing with real-time language translation (at any multi-national)

Unfortunately, every silver lining has a cloud, so these opportunities must always be pursued with careful consideration of constraints. 

How will you make sense of context and location data to provide the right augmentation? Can you be sure of secure, uninterrupted connectivity? How will you find the right end-user technologies, many of which are still emerging?

And how will you efficiently integrate AR technologies with existing user devices, and with back-end services?

So can CIOs afford to ignore AR in 2013? 

Not really.  They should quickly consider AR’s potential across the portfolio of current and future business functions, then move to a short, predictive study if they spot anything interesting.

I’ve just talked myself into some more work, haven’t I?  If CIOs should be considering AR, then it’s time I expanded our innovation advisory service to take account of AR’s opportunities and constraints.   If you have any pointers for me, or relevant experiences or insights to offer, please do get in touch.

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