Men Wearing Virtual Reality Goggles

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Far beyond gaming, augmented and virtual reality can create value in health care, retail, manufacturing, and other industries. BCG’s AR and VR consultants help identify—and integrate—the right strategy, technology, data, and operating model.

AR and VR technology transforms how you visualize and use data, sparking innovation, efficiency, and competitive advantage across any industry. Using AR and VR, surgeons can perform operations more precisely. Retailers can fulfill orders faster and more accurately. Models for remote work and assistance become more effective. The benefits of AR and VR—and the combination of the two through mixed reality—are evolving, growing, and ready to be seized.

However, augmented and virtual reality technology is not plug-and-play. Companies that realize the full value of augmented and virtual reality get a lot right. They identify how AR and VR can be applied to their challenges and goals. They understand how to integrate AR and VR with their data, business models, and people and organization. They move quickly—but effectively—from concept to pilot to scale.

BCG’s Approach to AR and VR

There are a lot of misconceptions about augmented and virtual reality: It’s just for gamers. It puts you in a virtual world. It requires cumbersome headsets. But today’s AR and VR technology is multifaceted—and tailor-made for the business world.

Winning with AR and VR means linking strategy, technology, and execution. We help companies identify where—and how—AR and VR can support a business process, model, or goal, and then move quickly into prototyping and implementation.

It’s an agile, launch-and-learn process that plays out in several phases:

  • Identify where AR and VR fit. We help companies understand the pain points they can alleviate—or the opportunities they can accelerate—with AR and VR technology.
  • Build a pilot. Our AR and VR consultants develop applications in an iterative, test-and-learn way. By experimenting in small-scale pilots, we create value fast while minimizing risk.
  • Scale up. Once the application is proven, we help companies expand it across their organizations, markets, processes—wherever they can realize the benefits of AR and VR.

At the same time, we work with companies to make the changes to roles, organization, and platforms that let them master the use of AR and VR in business.

What Is an Immersive Experience?

There are many types of immersive experiences, but they all share one thing in common: users of immersive technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) headsets that completely block out the external world, are meant to feel as though they are experiencing an alternate reality. An immersive experience can be rooted in fact (such as a simulated training session) or based in fiction (such as a multiplayer video game).

What Are the Benefits of Immersive Technologies?

For businesses that deploy them wisely, immersive technologies are a game changer. Here are just some of the ways immersive technologies can be used in specific industries:

  • Health Care. Surgeons can practice complex procedures—from removing tumors to separating conjoined twins—in a realistic and safe environment using immersive digital environments.
  • Automotive. Automotive engineers can use immersive reality to virtually prototype new designs, more easily detecting flaws and visualizing changes. Customers can view, configure, and virtually “kick the tires” of multiple car models in a virtual showroom.
  • Aerospace and Defense. Immersive VR can be used to train soldiers in safe environments, while virtual jump simulators let paratroopers practice techniques with no risk of injury.
Business benefits of immersive reality include the following:
  • Those who train using immersive reality retain those skills at a significantly higher rate, learn four times faster, and make 50% fewer errors than those trained using traditional methods.
  • When immersive reality is used for product innovation and engineering, prototypes are designed and constructed 10% faster, flaws are detected earlier, and rework is decreased by more than 30%.
  • Immersive reality that allows travellers to preview hotel and airline amenities is boosting customer engagement, conversion, and loyalty.

AR, VR, and the Internet of Things

Through sensors in everyday—and not-so-everyday—devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) generates an enormous volume of data. Augmented reality and virtual reality put data into view, context, and use in real time. That makes for a strong link between IoT and AR and VR. It also generates virtually unlimited business applications, such as order picking, AR-enhanced surgery, and digital twins, enabling a next-generation approach to modeling and monitoring plant operations, supply chains, and other complex systems.

Our AR and VR consulting team leverages BCG’s expertise in IoT as well as data and digital platforms to help companies develop solutions that unlock the full potential of their data. But because technology is only part of the equation, we also work with companies on the factors that are critical to winning with IoT and AR and VR, including data governance, people and organization changes, agile at scale, artificial intelligence, and digital transformation.


Our Insights on AR and VR


Thriving in the Augmented Age

Telefónica’s Maurice Conti roams widely through fields as diverse as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, synthetic biology, and the future of work.

Meet Our AR and VR Consulting Experts

Our augmented and virtual reality consultants help clients unlock the value of incorporating AR and VR technology into their business process. Here are some of our experts on the topic.

Tech + Us: Monthly insights for harnessing the full potential of AI and tech.