Can IT Specialists Make the Most of Augmented Reality?

The consumerisation of technology continues to transform the way companies go about their business. 

Not so long ago, the IT department had complete power over all technology used within an organisation, but times have changed. 

While chief information officers still provide valuable advice and expertise, chief executives and financial professionals are having a greater say in what systems are used and how they are maintained. 

Much of this comes down to cost. Cutting-edge technology has revolutionised the workplace, with many companies now allowing their staff to work remotely, saving on overheads such as electricity, hardware costs and heating in the process. 

Businesses are always looking for new advancements that can help them operate more efficiently and it seems the latest development to catch their eye is augmented reality.

What is augmented reality? 

Augmented reality (AR) is essentially a live 3D image or piece of real-time footage that has a second layer of information laid over the top of it. 

The most high-profile example of this concept being put into practice is Google Glass, which is starting to grow in popularity. 

According to Gartner, AR is set to come of age in the coming years and will soon become a valuable workplace tool. 

Tuong Huy Nguyen, principal research analyst at the organisation, said: "AR leverages and optimises the use of other technologies such as mobility, location, 3D content management and imaging and recognition. 

"It is especially useful in the mobile environment because it enhances the user's senses via digital instruments to allow faster responses or decision-making."

How can IT professionals use AR to benefit their company?

Gartner stated that improvements in location services and image recognition in particular have increased the business potential of this cutting-edge technology. 

The company suggested that AR can be used by workers who need to visually identify objects. As an example, Gartner said firefighters could use AR-enabled devices to find out where emergency exits are located in a building. 

Up until now, AR has generally been used for niche purposes and only a limited number of tasks could be completed using the technology. However, Gartner believes this will change in the next five years, with businesses using AR as an everyday office tool. 

In its latest report, the company said: "AR provides the highest benefit to efficiency. 

"It has the potential to improve productivity, provide hands-on experience, simplify current processes, increase available information, provide real-time access to data, offer new ways to visualise problems and solutions and enhance collaboration."

As with any new and relatively unproven technology, there are likely to be teething problems as more businesses embrace AR. This is something that IT professionals need to be able to manage in the coming years.

Gartner added that the risks associated with AR will decrease over time and it is important that firms do not use the technology for the sake of it. 

Analysts advised companies to identify clear ways that AR will benefit their enterprise - which could include providing better access to information or improving staff training processes - before they implement any internal solutions. 

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