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How augmented reality is going to excite your business senses.

For most of us the notion of “augmented reality” (AR) is the stuff of science fiction, but it is coming and it is coming fast. Simply, AR superimposes a computer-generated image (created from data) on a user's view of the real world. We have seen basic examples of AR in successful games such as Pokemon Go, but now we are beginning to see AR being incorporated in more significant settings in the business world.

Given AR promises to materially enhanced the way we deliver and consume information, it will also influence the way we curate, structure and manage our data. Currently we collect, store and retrieve data and information on screens (in 2D) which then requires the user to translate that into our 3D real world. There is a mental gap to bridge and sometimes it is complex, particularly if it involves stakeholders inside and outside the organization. A good example of where these challenges manifest themselves are in procurement teams who support their operations in the race to design and supply ever newer and improved products to their demanding customers.

However, if this extended stakeholder group were to be able to superimpose the available information onto real objects, decision makers will be in a position to consume both physical and digital information together, without having to hope their assumptions are all correct. Procurement, Finance and Operations talking the same language could be a reality!

According to HBR the market for AR is going to grow to some $60bn by 2020 and will extend into most industries and become instrumental in how we collaborate, make decisions and exchange ideas at speed. In the case of procurement, I see it playing an incredibly valuable role in serving critical suppliers, designing new products with their operations, favorably impacting financial metrics and how these products are ultimately taken to market and used by customers.

The following great video is a must see. It was made by Acquire Procure and is an invaluable insight into how procurement will use AR in the future. As you watch this video I am sure you will quickly see infinite use cases for AR in your own business environments.

I recently wrote an article about the history of spend analytics and the exciting future that lies ahead for it, and AR is just another technology that when effectively adopted will revolutionize how the enterprize innovates and sells its products. BUT having seen the video you will notice how vital the quality of the underlying spend data needs to be to achieve these results. Indeed, not just spend data BUT any data that is going to support AR in the B2B world. View your data as a strategic asset that provides a foundation of enormous value to not just the present but well into the future. I love what Patek Philippe says in its adverts about its watches "You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation." I believe we should treat and look after our data in exactly the same way.

A long term view improves our view of the short term. Work hard at how you could be better collecting, preparing and managing your data as it will be transformational. Your analytical environments and platforms are where innovations such as AR should be allowed to be born and grow.

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