It’s no secret that right now there’s a huge amount of buzz around Augmented Reality (AR) and it’s likely impact across multiple industry sectors. But cutting through the hype can be tricky in terms of understanding where the real value in AR lies for your business. Recent research from The Digital Catapult suggests that the AR software market in the UK will be worth £1.2 billion by the year 2020. Some analysts are even suggesting that AR has the potential to spawn a multi-billion pound industry and that the technology could be as impactful as the advent of the desktop PC and the smartphone. So in order to help you navigate the crucial facts, today we’re focusing on the Top 10 Augmented Reality Facts your business needs to know.
1.) The AR sector is growing at an astonishing pace
On a global scale, the Augmented Reality industry is growing at an incredible pace, as businesses and brands assess the commercial opportunities and cross-sector ramifications of the technology. It’s estimated that between 2015 and 2016 the investment growth rate in AR technologies was over 300% (Realities Centre Immersive Sector Investment Trends Analysis). It’s also estimated that the AR sector will continue to expand by over 100% annually, every year between now and 2022 (Growth Enablers 2016 Market Pulse Report). If you’re a marketing manager or involved with technology development, this is likely to impact your software offering in some way and could even have profound ramifications for year business. Working out how to get started in AR can be challenging so it’s good to start thinking about these ramifications well ahead of the curve.
2.) The key players in AR have attracted significant funding
If you’re a business manager new to the rapidly expanding and highly lucrative AR sector, it’s worth understanding the state of play in terms of familiarising yourself with the best Augmented Reality development companies. In the UK, some of the most notable companies include the likes of nDreams, Blippar and Improbable. These companies have all managed to attract and secure significant levels of funding. Blippar in particular are a key company to keep an eye on in the AR space having secured an impressive £71.5 million in private funding. Another company to watch out for is Edinburgh based Cloudgine, headed up by Lemmings and GTA creator and industry veteran Dave Jones. These companies are all focused on bringing AR to the mainstream, with considerable focus on games and entertainment as opposed to process efficiency and enterprise use cases. If your business involves games or entertainment, it’s worth keeping tabs on these companies and understanding how their software fits into your own plans.
3.) 2017 is set to be a landmark year for Augmented Reality
Despite the success of Blippar, nDreams and Improbable, some analysts are suggesting that private sector funding in AR companies remains patchy, although there are signs that things are starting to heat up and accelerate. Whilst these deals have garnered considerable attention in the mainstream technology press, Shaun Beeney (manager of the Corporate Finance Faculty at ICAEW suggests that despite some trepidation in the market in terms of new investments, that 2017 is likely to be a landmark year for AR in terms of funding new start-ups and raising mainstream awareness and adoption of the technology, especially with the recent launch of the Apple ARKit (if you’re interested in learning more about Apple ARKit and what it means for brands and businesses check out our recent blog post here).
4.) AR has huge potential from an investment perspective
In the UK there is a strong sense that the AR industry is still relatively fragmented and immature. Dave Haynes is the investment manager for Seedcamp and suggested the need for industry based AR mentoring programs and early stage micro-seed investment funding across the sector. This could be a huge opportunity for angel investors and syndicates who possess prior knowledge of the AR market in terms of nurturing new companies and talent. The creation of these types of AR based initiatives presents great commercial potential and will help to ensure that the AR industry can reach maturity and enable the UK to compete effectively on a global scale.
5.) Augmented Reality will impact your current software offering
Due to the nature and relatively small size of the investment pool, AR companies need to think quickly and strategically in terms of how the technology is liable to impact different industry sectors. From construction and financial services to retail (see Ikea’s latest commercial tie-in with Apple), healthcare and much more, it’s likely that AR will have a profound impact across a broad and diverse range of industry sectors. If your business involves software, it’s worth taking some time to consider what AR means for your industry and how your existing mobile or desktop software offering can potentially be extended into AR. It’s quite possible that as AR technology becomes increasingly widespread and ubiquitous, that the technology has the capability to significantly disrupt existing markets and industries. There will be highly lucrative rewards for innovative and forward thinking companies who invest in SAR early to get ahead of the competition.
6.) London is home to some of the best Augmented Reality companies
Right now in the UK, it’s fair to suggest that the AR industry is incredibly focused on London based start-ups and companies. PWC recently conducted a survey to assess the UK based geographical makeup of the industry and discovered that the vast majority of small to medium sized AR companies (168 in total) are located in London. If you’re a business looking for the best Augmented Reality companies in the UK, London is probably a great place to start. Having said that, Manchester and Bristol were both identified as being AR hotspots and came joint second in the PWC list with 15 companies each.
7.) AR can generate significant ROI
Whilst venture capital money might be tricky to come by for fledgling AR start-ups, there are many other paths to success. From a realistic commercial perspective, it’s pertinent to note that IT spending in AR is still in its infancy. Similar to the rapid growth of the mobile app development sector nearly a decade ago, it takes time for large companies to understand the associated ROI when it comes to investing in AR and using it as a potential lever to extend the functionality of an existing piece of software, be it a mobile or web based desktop app. However, similar to the mobile development ecosystem this will change with time. Critics suggest that AR is impressive technology that’s looking for a problem to solve. Whilst there may be some truth in this viewpoint, it’s fair to say (especially if industry analyst reports are to be believed) that AR has the same disruptive potential and capabilities as mobile. With new and interesting AR companies cropping up all the time, it’s only a matter of months rather than years before AR starts to solve some of the big commercial challenges and this has nothing to do with games or entertainment. Here at Mozenix, we believe in the transformative impact of AR and the disruptive impact it’s liable to possess across multiple industry sectors. This transformative change will be driven on the basis that AR drives significant commercial benefits for SNE’s and enterprise alike. As the technology starts to mature and these benefits become more visible to business managers, it’s likely that IT spending on AR will start to increase significantly.
8.) Innovation workshops can be a great way to kick-start an AR initiative
Whilst investor education is key in terms of developing the AR sector as a whole, what’s equally important is educating businesses in terms of how AR is likely to disrupt their respective industries. It’s also critical to start thinking about how AR can be used to create a compelling USP that puts your business light years ahead of its competition. There are many ways in which this exploratory process can take place and running an Augmented Reality innovation workshop can be a great place to start. AR innovation workshops offer a low cost, non-committal way of exploring the enormous potential of AR in relation to your company’s own software offering. Through a process of use case discovery, exploration, refinement and elaboration it’s easy to develop a compelling business case for AR in the shortest possible timescale. An Augmented Reality innovation workshop offers a great way to help refine your thinking around AR and what it means for your software offering in a low cost, zero-risk and non-committal way. AR innovation workshops enable you to diffuse AR based thinking directly into the heart of your company’s IT operation.
9.) Success in AR means you have to start with the end in mind
If you’re a UK based company looking to discover the best Augmented Reality companies, there are a few things you must consider before engaging a prototype developer. Before you invest in a prototype or AR project, you must always start with the end in mind. This means you need to think about your high level KPI’s and how to measure the success of your project once it’s live, either in beta testing or a fully fledged commercial environment. Are you trying to generate new revenue streams by developing an AR app? Are you thinking about how AR can assist your business in cutting costs? Are you exploring the capabilities of AR from a process efficiency angle in terms of how it can help you to do the same job quicker or in a more effective way? These are all questions you need to consider before finding the best Augmented Reality developer for your project.
10.) It’s not all about London when it comes to the best AR agencies
There are significant commercial opportunities for non London based AR companies and businesses interested in getting ahead of the curve by developing an AR prototype or app. Take Dundee for instance. Thanks to the Computer Games Technology related courses at The University of Abertay, Dundee is already punching well above its weight when it comes to developing AR based development talent and expertise. Due to the low cost of living and proximity to the UK’s major cities, Dundee is already positioning itself as a hotbed of AR development talent. Dundee in particular has a rich cultural history of computer games development with many of the university graduates becoming proficient in 3D based technology engines such as Unity and Unreal. Whilst many of Dundee’s graduates currently focus on working in the games sector, as AR starts to come to prominence and the technology matures, the city will find itself perfectly positioned for the next waves of technological change.
So there you have it, everything your company needs to know about the Augmented Reality industry. We’ve explored the fact that the AR industry is growing at an astonishing pace and looked at some of the key players in the market in terms of funding. We know that 2017 is set to be a huge year for AR and that investors are already jumping on the bandwagon. So if you’re a marketing or software development manager and your business involves software, it’s time to start thinking about how AR is likely to impact what you do from an ROI perspective. We know that London is a hot-bed for AR based innovation (we also know that Manchester, Dundee and Bristol are also home to some of the best Augmented reality companies) and that developing an AR initiative means starting with the end in mind and developing key success measures for your project. Now that you’ve had time to digest some of the basics, if you’re interested in refining your thinking around AR, you can take our suitability test here. If you’re a business considering an AR based innovation workshop or thinking about developing an app or prototype, you can contact us here today to start the conversation.