CIOs are looking to develop new technologies which can help to transform their business strategies. 

A key digital trend in 2016 has seen virtual reality (VR) become a business tool which can be adaptable for several industries to experiment with.  2017 CIO 100 organisations Essex County Council, Arsenal FC and Sun Branding Solutions are experimenting with the use of VR over the next year to help enhance the user’s experience.

CIO UK looks at how CIOs can get ahead of their competitors by using virtual reality and which industries are benefitting from this digital technology. See also: (How to find and implement emerging technology as a new CIO)

Healthcare

Clinical CIOs have seen the biggest impact from virtual reality.

CIOs today are currently finding a difficulty in experimenting with technology in healthcare, with strict IT budgets. A CIO should communicate with fellow executives on how VR can benefit the organisation and the patient’s overall experience.

Clinical CIOs are currently using VR through the use of headsets and sensors in order to develop and train medical staff to improve the healthcare for their patients. In some organisations, CIOs have implemented VR in medical schools with significant improvements in the use of robotic surgery to diagnosing a patient and also in the fields of surgery.   

Most recently, St Barts Health NHS Trust recorded the first 360-degree VR brain surgery. It was recorded to help educate students while also raising awareness of neurosurgery.  The video captures the patient’s procedure allowing viewers to look around the entire theatre in a 360-degree view. 

VR in healthcare can challenge the skills shortages with 65% of CIOs reporting talent retention is holding them back in digital, according to Harvey Nash.

The digital technology has given the Clinical CIOs a more realistic experience of the future in healthcare by aligning technology with the business strategy.

Travel

Travel businesses are creating new and innovative ways to help aid business growth and increase revenues.

Thomas Cook has invested in virtual reality by offering a VR helicopter tour of Manhattan while Marriott Hotels have created a “teleporter” which allows users to step into a booth while also wearing a headset to experience different locations.

British Columbia is using VR to help boost tourism and promote what the country has to offer. The Wild Within is a VR project launched by its tourism board which allows users to experience the destination through either a virtual boat ride or a hike in the mountains.

The use of virtual reality can impact all aspects of the travel industry with CIO 100 organisation London City Airport currently exploring VR to help experience the whole passenger journey from check-in, security to boarding.

Rail

CIOs can use VR as a platform for development within the rail industry using the technology as a chance to get ahead of their competitors.

The trend for VR has been cited by a number of CIOs with continual growth in the digital technology, and 2016 CIO member and HS2 CIO James Findley has seen the use of VR as a “key enabler” for HS2’s business strategy.

 “I see visualisation of the data having a big part to play in the rail industry as virtual reality matures and becomes consumed by the public.”

HS2 has undertaken a strategic route to its business model, led by Findley, which can educate the next generation of engineers and apprentices.

“We’ve used a combination of 3D modelling, virtual reality headsets and touch screen technology to deliver a real-life hands-on learning experience", he said. “VR will upskill people from within the industry as well as those entering from other sectors in helping to solve the burgeoning skills crisis in rail.”

Findley is continuing to develop on virtual reality within the business strategy; exploring opportunities around VR, AR and holographic technologies with the CIO admitting they are still yet at an “early stage” of the process at HS2.

“We are still looking at what is the best way to visualise the assets (bridges, tunnels, etc.) in enabling to get a 5D view of them, which can help HS2 to save money not just during construction but also through the full lifecycle of the railway," he said.

Retail

Retail CIOs have benefited from the use of VR changing the in-store experience and the way they interact with customers.

VR in retail has a developed a wealth of opportunities from building a brand image to creating visual experiences for its customers to help influence their overall purchasing decisions.

Virtual reality has made an impact from an e-commerce perspective allowing sellers to deliver products and services directly to the consumers’ homes.

IKEA is the latest retailer to adopt this approach by implementing virtual showrooms. The VR headset allows customers to browse online while also giving shoppers the full in-store experience. What’s more, customers can change the colour or design of the product to suit the needs of the consumer and visualising the furniture in their own homes.

Education

A main priority for a higher education CIO is to deliver technology which can not only help to innovate the sector but also improve the learning of their students.   

CIOs implementing VR has revolutionised the way students are educated in processing a new way of learning.

In some schools, CIOs have implemented a virtual environment where students can manipulate objects in order to get a better understanding of its data sets, formulae and abstract concepts.

A CIO in higher education is working towards catering for a wide audience of students. The use of VR can deliver a digital tool which can meet the needs of a student’s learning style; while keeping students engaged.

CIOs are taking the approach of combining the traditional forms of learning through computers in meeting the needs of a digitally literate generation through the use of virtual reality.  In some institutes, students can touch and manipulate objects within a virtual environment in order to generate a greater understanding of their learning.

The education sector has seen VR play a vital role in recent digital strategies. CIOs today are currently using the technology to train, educate and develop the skill sets for future employment in several industries. Virtual Reality will see CIOs working towards their business goal of implementing new technology while also creating a better engagement with its users in improving the overall customer experience.