Businesses have to avoid viewing virtual reality as a “shiny new toy”, according to a digital marketing expert.

There has been a great deal of excitement about VR in recent months, with the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear and HTC Vive making headlines.

The industry could be worth $150 billion by 2020, according to some estimates.

There are real opportunities for business: office and retail space provider Bruntwood is driving up viewings by using VR to show off its properties.

But VR won’t be right for every firm, according to Ben Stoney, digital development director at creative marketing agency Savvy.

Ben Stoney, Savvy

The response to VR has been generally overwhelmingly positive because it’s the new shiny toy,” he told BusinessCloud.

“Lots of the time our job is persuading people not to just see it like that, because although it got you interested, it’s not what’s going to be what your finance director and commercial partners are interested in.

“You have to do it for a reason."

So, how can a business keen to find out whether VR is right for them get started?

“Start small and do it quickly. Don’t spend nine months going through a huge project because someone else will have started nine months ago and will have already done it,” says Stoney.

“You can find straightforward ways to make VR come off and often it’s telling one thing really well.

“Lots of people try and include eight different things in the VR experience.

“They say, ‘we’re sponsored by this guy and we want to feature this product and this other guy likes purple so make sure it’s purple!’

“If you’ve got a good, simple story though, VR is a great way to tell it.”

Virtalis technical director Andy Connell told BusinessCloud that the power of VR can convert even the biggest sceptic into a believer as they realise how the technology can improve their bottom line.

And Flipbook Studio creative director Ben Haworth said VR offers a fun way for businesses to hook people in.

However others see augmented reality as being of more potential benefit for businesses. 

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