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Exploring virtual reality in the enterprise.

Chatbots, bots, mobile devices--think of how dramatically these new forms of media are transforming the way we conduct business, and disrupting entire industries. Currently we're at the brink of a new frontier: Virtual Reality (VR).

You may think of virtual reality as a platform for play or games, but there's an entire realm of possibilities for businesses. Imagine virtual reality conferences, design collaborations, or remote office visits. There's already investigations into how surgeons could use virtual reality for patient anatomy or how teams could design products virtually.

As part of our ongoing research, Concur Labs spent the past few months understanding what virtual reality could do for business travelers. Concur Labs, a new effort for Concur, is about exploring ideas and building prototypes based on Concur Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Our charter is to surface innovations and look at problems differently, of ten combining technologies in novel ways to enhance the life of a business traveler.

We take a lean, iterative approach to development, often creating a first prototype in less than 24 hours. We're always looking for interesting integrations with other applications, services and products and have worked with Microsoft, Slack, Amazon, Ford, Uber, SITA and other Concur partners. Internally, we collaborate with engineers, product managers and designers across the company to build new concepts.

The Labs team's investigation into VR started with a design sprint and a series of brainstorms. Ultimately, we built a demo showing how Global Security Managers could use virtual reality to help business travelers in a crisis, in this case, an earthquake.

VIRTUAL REALITY DEMO:

How Global Security Managers Help Business Travelers in a Crisis

How does the demo work? It starts with Global Security Managers who focus on providing "Duty of Care" for employees who travel. Duty of Care, as you might guess, is industry standard for ensuring the security and safety of employees on the road.

The demo immerses you in a life-like, Duty of Care situation: You're a Global Security Manager responsible for the safety of thousands of employees. Now you're confronted with an earthquake and need to determine which business travelers are impacted and how to get them back to safety.

The 3D simulation, inspired by the Concur Risk Messaging service, enables you to:

* Access up-to-the-minute news and social media about what's happening with the earthquake that's now triggered a tsunami. See the latest information, like the projected tsunami path, to help determine who to notify.

* Get an instant view of which travelers are on-site or traveling to the affected region, and find detailed contact information on each employee.

* Communicate immediately by sending one- or two-way messages and updates to travelers, and enable them to request help in real-time.

Concur customers recently had the chance to explore the demo firsthand at Fusion, Concurs annual customer event. At first, customers didn't know what to expect. But, once they put on the VR glasses and were immersed in the 3D setting, the responses were near exuberant. We heard comments like, "this is the coolest experience I've ever had," or "I've never seen anything like this before" to just plain "wow."

WAIT A SEC:

Exactly How Does Virtual Reality Work?

Virtual reality combines software and hardware to give you the experience of entering a new environment or setting. By using sensors, sound, imagery, and 3D environments, virtual reality immerses you in a lifelike situation you control with the movement of your body.

It also offers a 360-degree experience, with a vast amount of screen space, so a large volume of visual information can be quickly communicated. This opens up a host of possibilities for businesses or enterprises relying on collaboration or sharing of visual information.

With new gear coming out from HTC, Microsoft, and Oculus (Facebook) we believe resolutions will likely improve and the overall experience is bound to mature rapidly over the coming years. It's a new frontier.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR THIS PROJECT?

The VR demo is not an upcoming service or planned for beta at this time. Concur Labs created the VR experience to demonstrate how nascent technologies could benefit customers and encourage future thinking. The early positive customer response is a signal that VR has real potential in the enterprise sector. However, at this point, VR's unique combination of software and hardware is not commonly used in workplaces--not yet, at least. The technology also needs to mature at least one or two generations before we can bring anything to market. But, Concur will keep building our knowledge and expertise for future possibilities, and continue exploring and investigating new ways to tap into this growing trend.

To find out more about work being done at Concur Labs, visit us online at concurlabs.com.

By Concur Labs Photos courtesy Concur
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Publication:Defense Transportation Journal
Date:Apr 1, 2017
Words:788
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