Jan Pflueger - Getting ahead, and staying there

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Editorial board member Jan Pflueger, of advisXR, gives his take on innovation within immersive tech for enterprise, and how developers can get in front of the right customers

VRWT: Where is the most innovative and interesting work being done in immersive technology for enterprise right now?

Jan Pflueger: We all are aware of the success stories of companies using extended reality (XR) for training, maintenance and simulation. Healthcare use cases are increasing rapidly, as well.

I think we are still in a phase in which businesses are beginning to talk about solutions. This happens partially, and, in most cases, there is still yet to be a full integration into product development workflows or complete lifecycle integration. I am convinced that when enterprises are ready to take full advantage of XR technologies, they are going to change a lot in their processes.

As an outcome, we will see many innovative approaches for the integration of XR as a regular tool in the workflows and infrastructure of the future.

Technically, we talk about the maturity of basic ingredients such as computer vision, tracking and mapping, sensor and display technology, machine learning, streaming and content pipelines, to name just a few. There is a broad range of identified use cases for machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision, and these are still ahead in terms of activities and deliver the needed power to drive XR.

The manifold pieces of technology required for an ecosystem are also represented geographically. I am following the activities of companies in the different US technology hotspots, but we also see a lot of innovative companies with a focused enterprise approach in Germany. The Austrian area was a melting pot for virtual reality (VR) technologies in the past and still brings some great solutions, especially in the field of tracking and recognition. The UK is growing fast and adds more and more to 3D scanning, reconstruction, and even storytelling. The gaming hotspots spread over the world are not only famous for creating content but influencing the UX of enterprise applications and delivering streaming and distribution technology.

Israel is well known for computer vision and AI, but also for security solutions—all that is needed for an XR ecosystem. I also see a lot of potential in the eastern areas and with the EERIC initiative, we try to build a bridge between the different regions.

Like the AR cloud will shape the ecosystem, there will be no single region not contributing to the growth of XR and you will see innovative startups and solution providers all over the world. There are no borders to be innovative and every spot has its own flavour.

VRWT: What advice do you have for immersive tech developers seeking enterprise customers, but don’t know how best to go about it?

Jan Pflueger: First, try to understand your customer. Identify clearly where the pain points are and in which scenarios your solution could bring improvement. You must talk a lot to figure out the potential for integration and must be flexible enough to adapt your solution to the specific needs of a company.

As a solution provider and consultant, you need an internal connector who becomes your mentor inside of the company.

Be aware of the fact that you could find an environment that is very restricted, and not everything works the same way as it might out in the world. Be especially prepared for data security and IT architecture requirements in case your approach is based on IT components. Change your perspective and identify the (in most cases) invisible hurdles.

Most enterprises are divided into several business areas and own specific processes to fulfill their daily business.

Introducing new technologies or systems does not mean dealing with technical aspects only, but also to convince how it will integrate into the existing infrastructure and organisational structure (or even change it).

Talking about immersive tech is the most essential part of giving the customer a chance to experience what benefits you will bring into the company. It is quite difficult to demonstrate an immersive experience using 2D technology and PowerPoint slides. Create an experience and a package that fits perfectly to it.

This should focus on the main story and enables you to present without any fear of a bad user experience.

VRWT: How should they get in touch with enterprises?

Jan Pflueger: Create awareness! If you do not have a big marketing budget and everybody is just waiting to get access to your solution, you need to be present at events where relevant customers are visiting, and of course, care about your professional network.

The first and most helpful step is to be part of a community to obtain access to a platform for exchange and connections with the right people, but also to collect feedback from different perspectives.

It’s not only about how to approach a partnership with the industry, but also getting support in your field.

VRWT: Immersive tech developers need support through partnerships. How useful are groups such as XR Bavaria to developing ‘local’ ecosystems? Should developers seek them out?

Jan Pflueger: Communities, in general, are an important factor to let their areas of interest grow. There are different kinds of setups. Above all, you need an open-minded group. It is about the mixture you usually find in communities and with all the different aspects, you will get a great insight into the current state of tech and future development. Much more beneficial is to get in touch with like-minded experts to get feedback about your own work and to be open to new ideas growing out of the mixture of different scopes and solutions.

XR Bavaria is a great example of the professional setup of a group with identified core topics and leads. This makes it easy to find the right expertise and connection between areas. I asked Martin Rieger, founder and co-chairman of XR Bavaria, about why a developer should engage in and with such groups, and I totally agree with and can confirm his statement.

He said: “You can easily get stuck when doing pioneer work, that’s why exchange with like-minded developers is so important to access different approaches. In such a small field of XR experts, it not only helps to network but to encourage each other to find new paths and help XR grow.”

“While discussions on the internet are good, it’s a common base that connects local drivers since the whole medium is not run by random people online, but heads that are tangible to a person. In the end, those believers can be geniuses in their fields and still have a hard time being successful when not seeing the whole picture and knowing the right people from consumers, businesses to politics.”

So, let’s connect and grow!

Image credit: Jan Pflueger

This article originally appeared in Issue 1 of VRWorldTech Magazine