Hey everyone — I hope this month’s blog post finds you well!
Today, we are welcoming the solstice in the U.S., and I am very much looking forward to summer in Seattle. In addition to some planned vacation time, I will also be working with our team and partners on some exciting product development efforts for mixed-reality business applications. I can’t wait to share more about that in the coming months!
But before we look too far ahead, June has already been filled with some cool mixed-reality moments.
Earlier this month my colleagues Dio Gonzalez and Katie Kelly presented at the sixth annual Augmented World Expo (AWE) in Santa Clara, California. I was encouraged but not at all surprised to hear from them about the tremendous growth of the conference, with many more incredible and varied AR solutions than ever before. This mirrors the signals we’ve long observed at Microsoft and aligns with the level of activity we continue to see in this space: Mixed-reality technology is increasingly providing demonstrable value across a wide range of workplace scenarios, which is fueling further interest from developers and businesses alike. AWE is a great conference, and I hope to be able to join again next year.
Supporting this observation, Microsoft recently partnered with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services to conduct a survey investigating the unique role and importance of mixed reality within the context of the modern workplace. This research surveyed 394 executives of companies with more than 250 employees each and spanning several industries, from manufacturing, engineering, and construction to retail, defense, and education.
The results—which you can read here—were released today, and the findings are fascinating: Among a great many observations, we learned that 87 percent of respondents are currently exploring, piloting, or deploying mixed reality in their company work flows. Similarly, 68 percent of respondents believe that mixed reality will play an important role in helping to achieve their companies’ strategic goals over the next 18 months.
The survey results identified several exciting areas of opportunity in the growing mixed-reality space.
One of the key opportunities is with Firstline Workers, who make up 80 percent of the workforce but often have limited access to relevant, contextual information due to the on-the-field nature of their jobs. These are the workers who are typically on the frontlines of any business workflow: behind the counters, in the clinics, traveling between customers for field service, or on the factory floors. Several of Microsoft’s commercial customers, for instance, are already empowering their Firstline Workers today with mixed-reality solutions that enable remote assistance, spatial planning, environmentally contextual data, and much more. Mixed reality allows these Firstline Workers to conduct their usual, day-to-day activities with the added benefit of heads-up, hands-free access to incredibly valuable, contextual information.
Lastly, a couple of days ago Alex Kipman spoke about mixed reality in the modern workplace at LiveWorx in Boston. LiveWorx brings together BDMs, engineers, and developers to learn about the tools available to help drive digital transformation in the workplace – such as IoT, mixed reality, and robotics.
Given our mission to help empower people and companies to achieve more, the conference was a great fit for our team. Alex hit on Microsoft’s strategy for mixed reality, in particular how it will serve to accelerate our ambition for an Intelligent Cloud and an Intelligent Edge. For those who have been with us on our mixed-reality journey, and for those who are just joining us, his fireside chat with Jon Fortt is a must-watch.
I am already looking forward to next month’s blog. In the meantime, as always, I’m available on Twitter (@lorrainebardeen) and eager to hear about what you’re doing with mixed reality.