Spatial Computing: The Power to Transform CRM
On June 5, 2023, Apple introduced its new Vision Pro headset, and that date seems destined to be remembered as a milestone in personal computing. Though that sounds like hyperbole, this technology breaks new ground by merging the digital and physical worlds in ways we’ve never seen before. Indeed, Apple CEO Tim Cook has called Apple Vision Pro the “next human-machine interface” for personal computing.
Whether that prediction becomes reality, it seems clear that the introduction of this headset and ecosystem moves us a step closer to spatial computing, which combines elements of augmented reality and virtual reality. Leveraging always-on 3-D technology, spatial computing has the potential to revolutionize the way we work, play, and learn. It’s no surprise, then, that Disney, the NBA, the Unity gaming platform, and others are already fully committed to spatial computing.
The 3-D technology built into spatial computing is the game changer. The Apple headset sports an operating system called Vision OS, easy-to-use eye tracking and hand gestures, an artificial intelligence-based interface for voice commands, and 3-D cameras. While there are 12 cameras in the Apple Vision Pro, the two forward-facing cameras capture spatial 3-D photos and videos, much like a stereoscopic camera. What does this mean? Let’s say you want to experience an NBA game virtually from your living room. Simply put on your Apple Vision Pro headset and, voila, you are watching the game at center court on the sidelines up close with the players. Or you can attend a concert virtually, where you are inside the venue in a front-row seat or standing-room-only crowd, watching the concert on a 100-foot 4K cinema screen. The opportunities are limitless.
3-D spatial computing will profoundly impact CRM applications, affecting how companies sell, market, and provide customer and field service,
SPATIAL COMPUTING’S IMPACT ON SALES
- Virtual product showcases. For several years, Ikea, Warby Parker, and others have provided customers with the ability to try on their products digitally using their smartphones. Spatial computing takes the try-on experience to new heights. Sales personnel will soon provide a spatial computing headset to a customer to view virtual products in 3-D. Imagine a car salesperson showing a potential buyer a new car model that hasn’t even been physically released yet, where the buyer can virtually walk around the car, open its doors, sit inside, configure the interior and exterior of the car in 3-D, view the car in their home driveway, and then test-drive the car on their favorite driving route.
- Real-time data sharing. Sales pitches will become more dynamic. In the financial world, for example, investors will view their real-time financial data in 3-D. Wearing a headset, investors will see multiple financial screens that each contain a different financial opportunity, thereby making the sales process more personalized, interactive, and immediate.
SPATIAL COMPUTING’S IMPACT ON MARKETING
- Product demonstrations and interactive campaigns. Marketers will create AR-based product demonstrations and campaigns that consumers engage with using a spatial computing device. Imagine buying a bottle of wine that deploys “connected” packaging with an integrated QR Code, NFC, or SnapTag technology in the label, whereby the buyer looks at the label and is offered a 3-D virtual tour of the winery, gains access to a video explaining how the vineyard deploys environmental best practices, or connects the buyer directly to the vineyard’s sommelier to answer questions in real time. Marketing pioneers need to start asking this question: “If the product could speak to buyers, what would it say?”
- Personalized user experience. Marketers will tailor campaigns in real time based on user interaction. For example, if a user wearing a spatial computing headset shows interest in a particular product feature (Apple notes this by tracking eye movement), the AR experience adapts to highlight that feature more prominently. The goal is to know what is important to the buyer—AI can assist with this—and then deliver a personalized user experience in the product or overall product offering. This is particularly important to many Millennials, to most Gen Zers, and to all Gen Alphas, who will insist that companies build 3-D technology into their product and service offerings.
SPATIAL COMPUTING’S IMPACT ON CUSTOMER AND FIELD SERVICE
- Enhanced virtual support. Spatial computing also raises the bar on the well-documented AR remote assist app. The 3-D cameras built into the Apple Vision Pro headset allow a customer to display a service issue in real time to a customer service rep or field technician as if the rep or technician were standing next to the customer, leading to timely resolution of the issue.
- Training and onboarding. While VR training apps have been around for a while, the 3-D cameras built into the Apple Vision Pro headset allow companies to make this training more real and more engaging for employees. At Mayo Clinic, for example, which deploys XR/VR/AR technology extensively, trainers will onboard physicians and surgeons and teach them how to use complex surgical equipment more quickly and more effectively to drive enhanced patient outcomes.
These are six examples of how spatial computing, with Apple Vision Pro leading the way, will transform CRM as we know it today. As spatial computing technology evolves, there likely will be entirely new “killer” apps for sales, marketing, and customer and field service. As an analogy, when Apple launched the iPhone, who could have guessed Uber, Airbnb, and DoorDash would become killer apps? What we do know is that by bridging the gap between the digital and real worlds, spatial computing represents a significant leap forward in how companies will engage with customers in the future. Sales will be more dynamic, marketing more immersive, and customer service more immediate and interactive. These sure are exciting times!
Barton Goldenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of ISM. Since 1985, ISM has established itself as a premier strategic adviser leveraging leading edge technologies—CRM, digital communities, and the metaverse—to improve sales, marketing, and customer service. His thought leadership includes creating the Business Success in a Virtual World podcast, creating the award winning XR/Metaverse Resource Center, and authoring three business books, including The Definitive Guide to Social CRM. He is also in high demand as a keynote speaker (www.bartongoldenberg.com).