Why Business Should Leverage Augmented Reality

By Rob Clyde

While Pokémon Go emphatically introduced augmented reality to many individuals in 2016, the business community would be well-served to recognize that AR has staying power that will easily outlast the popularity of Pokémon.

In ISACA’s annual IT Risk/Reward Barometer—a two-pronged survey that examines both consumer and IT/business perspectives—the majority of consumers see clear benefits of AR-enhanced devices in everyday life and work. However, only 21 percent of global business and technology professionals are convinced that the benefits of AR outweigh the risks, signaling a disconnect that must be addressed.

AR technology superimposes a computer-generated overlay on a user’s view of the real world. As is the case with the emergence of all new technologies, AR increases the attack surface. Factor in an already challenging security landscape for internet of things (IoT) devices, and the reluctance of some IT executives to embrace the early stages of AR is understandable. Security and privacy risks are real—a point of consensus among IT professionals and consumers.

Nonetheless, we expect enterprises to adopt a more welcoming posture toward AR in 2017, as growing consumer demand prompts a swift response from the marketplace.

AR may be a relatively new technology for many, but one in four enterprises has a way to detect pictures, posts and videos tagged or geotagged to their business locations and advertisements. That means there are best practices to build on as enterprises look to incorporate components of AR.  

There are plenty of intriguing options to explore because the potential applications of AR in the workplace are numerous. This holds particularly true for marketing teams, given the potential to leverage AR for signage and social media outreach. However, there are also a variety of opportunities in industries such as health care, the automotive industry and the military, to name a few. Training guides and retail geolocation are among the use cases that are already helping AR gain traction.

Realizing AR Benefits and Overcoming Barriers

Enterprises can realize the benefits of AR and overcome potential barriers through some of the following steps:

· Extend social media monitoring to AR platforms. Leverage and extend current social media policies and monitoring to augmented reality platforms. Social media is a key source of information for many augmented viewing apps.

· Consider how AR can improve your business. Training, diagnostics and marketing are three areas with particularly strong potential.

· Review your governance framework and update your policies. Incorporate use of AR as part of the business into organizational policies and procedures—including bring your own device (BYOD) and privacy policies. Sixty-three percent of organizations do not have a policy to address AR in the workplace.

· Build security into every part of the process. Security is a crucial component of AR initiatives because it helps ensure confidence in the data.

Before business and technology professionals can effectively incorporate AR into their organizations, they must become more comfortable with AR themselves. The IT Risk/Reward Barometer shows that only 3 percent of professionals have used AR applications for business within the past year, and only 16 percent have done so in their personal lives. This needs to change—and it will.

Organizations ought to take action now to devise appropriate policies, while determining how to capitalize on augmented reality before the competitive landscape passes them by. With due diligence and a forward-looking approach, the business community can make this promising technology a win-win proposition for enterprises and consumers alike.

Rob Clyde, CISM, is a board director for ISACA, an independent, nonprofit, global association, and an executive advisor at BullGuard Software.