Augmenting Your Future Job Title - and Monetization - with Augmented Reality

The monetization possibilities for taking augmented reality from abstract possibility to commercial reality are huge. Everywhere that humans move through space and time -- an "AR journey" presents an opportunity to change customer interaction.

The Center for the Future of Work just published a widened aperture of the long game on augmented reality. Organizations across industries need to begin weaving immersive technologies into customer, employee, supplier and partner interactions – or risk irrelevance in the years to come.

What does all this mean for the jobs needed to build this out tomorrow? In a world of immersive AR technologies, activities that humans do well will be even more important. Recombination of skills will create new jobs.

We see new creative roles emerging. Imagine “AR journey builders” collaborating with engineering leads and technical artists to craft or otherwise harness an explosion of new, in-the-moment content by leveraging AI and algorithms to map tens of thousands of permutations and possibilities calibrated to individualized tastes.

It’s not difficult to imagine myriad teams needed to design, write, create, calibrate, gamify, sceneset and – most importantly – personalize the next generation of stories and AR journeys. These continually forming, swarming agglomerating teams will craft interactive “virtual vignettes,” leveraging prior-art from any filmic genre or vernacular imaginable.

If customers like their work, AR journey builders and their teams will be paid handsome bonuses. And the collective genius of their vignettes could be replicated by platform, ready for use, redeployment and recombination into additional situations and parameters, with royalties attached in perpetuity.

Much as composers, bricklayers and playwrights were in demand a century ago, AR journey builders might be thought of as their 21st century successors, transposed to the medium of augmented reality – equal parts “experience conductors,” “data overlayers” and “CX/UXwrights.”

The following categories provide just a few of the many examples possible.

Connecting people:

  • Remote writing of journey plots.
  • Telepresence for journey builder squads.
  • Ecosystems of field service technicians.
  • “Be there” livestreaming of events and tourism experiences.

Coaching people:

  • Remotely helping people get better at things (fitness, health finances, etc.).
  • Teaching/credentialing.
  • Interior design.
  • Work task training, workplace safety.

Caring for people:

  • Remote caregiving and interactions (for seniors, disabled, etc.).
  • Storytelling.
  • “See what I see” in–the-moment troubleshooting.
  • Remote “wing men/wing women,” meditation guides, biofeedback coaches, and mental health and wellness professionals.

All the World's a Stage in AR: Make Way for the Experience Economy

The potential for AR technologies to change our experiences as we move through time and space in our personal and business lives may also usher in the next chapter of what some are calling “The Experience Economy.”

Augmented reality will be a catalyst, and journeys everywhere will be an open door for creativity, self-actualization and experiences. Thinking about the future possibilities from a B2C perspective might look something like this:

  • Want to know what it’s like to be on-stage with the E Street Band? Facebook/Rift will put you next to the Boss at the venue of your choice.
  • Want to experience what it’s like to run a French vineyard? Airbnb will arrange it for you.
  • Want to chat with Captain Scott in his hut in Antarctica? Khan Academy and HoloLens, working in partnership, have it all set up.

Say you’re a huge fan of George R. R. Martin and are on a five-hour plane ride from JFK to SFO. What if you could plug into your AR Game of Thrones immersive channel and dynamically interact with different characters, settings or kingdoms? When you get bored, how about switching to the Indiana Jones channel, or venturing into the world of Stranger Things, Harry Potter or the dancers of La La Land? And so on?

The rise of the experience economy means that even stalwarts among the traditional media and entertainment companies may – quickly – encounter Silicon Valley juggernauts as their biggest competitors.

Consider strategic initiatives like Airbnb’s Experiences (overseen by none other than Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky himself), which includes everything from exploring Havana’s music scene to visiting street markets in London. Though happening in “real reality” today, the sky’s the limit for initiatives like these in the augmented reality tomorrow.

Beyond the world of entertainment, we also believe AR will be used to resolve entrenched issues faced by people and societies today. Sample headlines aligned with improving work, health and policy decisions might look something like this:

  • Want to know what climate change could look like? Using NOAA Data, Google Earth Has Modeled Any Timeframe within the Next 500 Years
  • Want to see the future of your work? ZipRecruiter, in Partnership with LinkedIn, Can Show You Potential Career Pathways Over the Next 10 Years
  • Want to see what your body looks like if you fail to stay healthy? Fitbit and Oculus Show You the Damage of a Sedentary Lifestyle, and the Value of Staving Off Preventable Diseases.

Plenty more examples will emerge of old processes, tasks and work being consumed by the new technologies of AR, in combination with algorithms, automation and AI. Today’s car companies could be tomorrow’s leading game companies. Moribund retailers could reboot as immersive space businesses. Hospitality organizations could supplant movies, TV and social media by delivering consumers’ wants and needs of augmented immersion.

Augmented reality will improve ways of working, relating with customers and generating value. The coming Experience Economy will couple imagination and creativity together, yielding large-scale abundance and discovery of new business processes, showing us a world augmented far beyond what’s been imaginable so far.

The new whitepaper from the Center for the Future of Work is entitled: “Augmenting the Reality of Everything”. It can be downloaded at: https://www.cognizant.com/whitepapers/augmenting-the-reality-of-everything-codex3050.pdf


Reconfiguring Work, Business Processes – and Life – as Augmented Reality “Journeys”

Think about all the myriad things you do in any given day, either in your work life or your personal life.

Nearly every interaction we have involves a journey -- either a trip through physical space or cyberspace. Shopping. Perusing the Sunday real estate open houses. Going to the doctor. Traveling for business or pleasure. Enduring the rush hour commute. Even simply killing time, waiting at your kid’s dentist appointment.

Journeys also abound at work. Pick, pack and ship. Field service fixes. Deliveries of all kinds. Each of these activities involves information exchanged while we’re on the move (or “on the wait”).

The Center for the Future of Work just published a widened aperture of the long game on augmented reality. Organizations across industries need to begin weaving immersive technologies into customer, employee, supplier and partner interactions – or risk irrelevance in the years to come.

So, what exactly is an augmented journey, and why is it important to you and your organization? Rather than being synonymous with “processes,” journeys are a new way of thinking about steps within processes, and changing those processes as a result.

The time spent getting from Point A (the start, or beginning) to Point B (the destination, or conclusion) is the setting for enhancing the interactions among people, places, things, content, scenarios and next-best-actions, using AR during linear progressions and processes. The field service worker, for example, could overlay a repair diagnostic on a piece of equipment. The home-buyer could view the finished house (plus interior) from the sidewalk of the empty lot. The traveler could navigate the airport as Sherlock. Said differently, time and physical space are the canvas, and AR content is the paint (or, as Shakespeare might have said, “All the world’s a journey, and we are merely viewers”).

These reimagined experiences, in the form of AR journeys, will propel outsized revenue uplift, nextgen levels of customer engagement and full captivation of customers’ and employees’ attention. This last outcome is what is often called “being in the zone,” a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”

Don’t Lose the Plot: Six Elements of an Augmented Journey

To harness AR, businesses need to understand the critical elements of the AR journey. Every business process within a journey has a main character that moves through a “plot,” often involving time and space.26 Plots are the central “actions” that manifest any business process.

  • For an airline, it might be what happens from gate-to-gate.
  • For a travel company, it could be what happens from the customer’s home to his or her destination (and back).
  • For an auto manufacturer, it could be the customer’s experience in the car.
  • For educators, it’s the learning that students do to improve their performance.
  • For a P&C insurer, it could be the claim, and the variables that impact it.
  • For a trader, it might be the rationale for a trade order.
  • And so on ...

Further, every business process has a defined start and stop – a beginning, middle and end. Think about how an app of convenience like TripIt basically maps time, place and forward movement – and is able to switch modalities, from transportation (plane, car, train) to lodging (hotel, Airbnb, etc.) – depending on the flow of time.

Say you’re a huge fan of George R. R. Martin and are on a five-hour plane ride from JFK to SFO. What if you could plug into your AR Game of Thrones immersive channel and dynamically interact with different characters, settings or kingdoms? When you get bored, how about switching to the Indiana Jones channel, or venturing into the world of Stranger Things, Harry Potter or the dancers of La La Land? And so on?

We believe every process that can be transposed into an augmented journey needs to focus on getting the following six elements right.

  1. “Flow:” Overlaying the entire AR journey is the flow. For any journey in any industry, flows are the actions required to get from “here to there.” A flow could incorporate any combination of places, tasks, enhanced situations, customer expectations and the physical spaces or environments in an augmented world for new creative experiences and business models.
  2. Intro: This is where the flow begins. Any great story consists of three stages – the beginning, middle and end – and the same is true for AR journeys. In the world of augmented journeys, the intro serves as the transition into the augmented experience from the non-augmented, analog “real world.” Seamlessness is key; the shift can’t be jarring or stilted. The world of video games offers something of a template or guide to best practices here: You want to create an engaging first impression that fuels curiosity and a desire to dive deeper.
  3. Genre: This is what sets the context for the journey. Genres differ greatly by industry and process type. To establish the genre, businesses should ask several critical questions: Is this part of a personal or work journey? What is the process, and is it geared toward education, entertainment, creativity or something else? Is the main character moving or fixed? Some genres – especially in a medical context – will require heightened emotional intelligence or involve painful situations.
  4. Plot: This is the central action of the flow – who, what and how it all happens (and – for commercial journeys – how to buy). As participants move through the process journey through space and time, the plot unfolds. It will include information like characters and the narrative of the story or process. To stay highly situational and responsive in real-time to unfolding or dynamic events, it will require an algorithm to accommodate changes of events, propose A/B choices or support next-best actions. It will also need to foster exchanges and interactions with other real or virtual participants in the flow. Lastly, the plot needs to support transactions, such as instant identification of people, places, objects and information (e.g., a Pokémon, “Easter Eggs”, etc.), and enable ways to instantly obtain goods or services (including, potentially, support of instantaneous retinal purchases).
  5. Vignette (or “skin”): This is the visual vernacular style applied to the flow – and is where the real creativity begins. If you were to create a “Pandora” or “Spotify” for journeys, the vignette is the channel you’d plug into, as it establishes the set, mood, historical time, etc. of the journey. Another consideration is the “active” or “passive” character interactions within the process flow and genre. To establish the vignette, developers can leverage metaverses of content, such as Google images, asset stores from Unity 3D, Wikis, etc., to decorate and adorn the flow and genre.
  6. Outro: And back out to the real world again. Like the intro, the shift away from AR can’t be jarring – it needs to gently mix augmented and “real” reality in a way that buffers the experience. It also needs to preserve continuity, which is needed for stops and re-starts, should the flow be interrupted for any reason.

Managing Journeys – not Processes – Will Be a Key Business Competency

AR can be a personal step-by-step process guide or “Sherpa,” delivering just-in-time precision information, fusing things like training videos, sales spiels and guidebooks into an intuitive, engaging, measurable and actionable real-time immersive experience. Workers can couple thorny in-process error and safety alerts, schematics, imminent threats and other crucial information with virtual coaching from senior managers, resulting in massively improved process outcomes. Benefits include increased first-pass accuracy, better customer satisfaction, lower costs and more effective collaboration.

Journeys may completely revamp processes, or just tweak them to make their features and parameters more usable. The primary benefit to workers is access to in-the-moment data so they can work heads up, not down, with real-time overlaid immersive experiences supporting their work.

The new whitepaper from the Center for the Future of Work is entitled: “Augmenting the Reality of Everything”. It can be downloaded at: https://www.cognizant.com/whitepapers/augmenting-the-reality-of-everything-codex3050.pdf

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Five Considerations to Win at Cyber Security

As organizations proceed with the “great digital build-out” -- reimagining their future through a digital lens -- the need to adopt new technology, at greater scale and with greater speed becomes critical. Technologies such as the IoT, intelligent automation, big data and cloud computing are combining to create the “new machine” with the potential to supercharge revenues and significantly reduce costs.

In the race against, and with, the machine (a phrase made famous by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee’s seminal book) one critical factor that is all too frequently being overlooked, in some cases due to outright laziness or an unappreciation of the risk, is – security.

It is clear that the information technology we are using today is not nearly as secure as it needs to be given the scale of organizations’ digital build-outs. A casual glance at the news bears that out. The 2016 U.S. election was potentially hacked, North Korea’s missile launch program was hacked, film studios, Pentagon satellites, Pacemakers and most recently Equifax.

So the threat is very real, for governments as well as organizations, and the onus rests on these respective leaders to secure devices, people and data. But what processes, culture and practices do these leaders need to introduce and embody to assist in securing their respective entities? In an upcoming report from the Center for the Future of Work (CFoW), Securing the Digital Future, we examine these issues and propose five key areas for leaders to examine and address in their organization today.

Firstly, security needs to move out of the back-office and into the C-suite. In our study, only 9% of respondents said their organization is making Cybersecurity a board-level priority. Leadership needs to embrace Cybersecurity as a board-level initiative and not just relegate it to IT.

Secondly, cybersecurity threats are more heavily weighted towards cloud migration initiatives. Our research identified the migration process involved in a cloud initiative (cloud migration) as the most vulnerable digital activity for organizations. Prioritizing security measures around this migration is fundamental to achieving digital success.

Thirdly, talent will remain key to security initiatives, but AI will close the gap. Sourcing adequately trained Cybersecurity talent is a major concern today, and artificial intelligence is set to mitigate this to a certain extent.

Fourthly, the pursuit of Cybersecurity is a continuous evolution. Threats are never constant in the Cyber realm; thus, neither is Cybersecurity. Organizations will need to update, evolve and reimagine strategies and execution in order to remain secure.

And lastly adapting to the next generation of security-related technology. The massive leap in processing power and the potential security benefits that Blockchain provides are core considerations for organizations today. The need to quickly adapt and evolve security practices will be vital for organizations moving forward.

Global business and technology decision makers can use the findings of our study, detailed in this upcoming report, as a practical guide to protecting and maximizing the strategic value of their digital investments. The researchers intend this report to be a call to action that will bring home how business should view and enhance their Cybersecurity practices to better manage the transformative impact of the new machine age. Stay tuned to the CFoW website for updates on this report.