Taking CX to the next level with immersive experiences

Humans are social creatures. We suffer from being lonely. We love to share our ideas, feelings and emotions with others. Over the centuries, we have developed new ways of connecting to one another – from conversation to images, writing, photography, and sound and motion pictures as forms of expression. Technology advancements in the last centuries have enabled humans to create experiences for others to plunge into, making it easier to step beyond the dialogue, and into broadcasting as well as multi-party real-time conversation.

Now we witness the new medium of immersive experience on the rise. As with most visionary innovations, the journey for the Extended Reality enabling these immersive experiences is longer than most of us realise as the early explorations date back to the 1950s. It’s been hyped in recent years, and 2014 is considered the year that gave virtual reality a real boost with Facebook buying Oculus VR. But even today there is a lot of uncertainty about the technology, its use cases, challenges to be solved and even vocabulary to describe the spectrum of immersive computing.

Let’s establish the common understanding with these simple definitions:

  • Augmented reality (AR) overlays virtual objects on the real-world environment.
  • Mixed reality (MR) overlays and anchors virtual objects to the real world.
  • Virtual reality (VR) immerses users in a fully artificial digital environment.

Virtual, Augmented and Mixed reality together – and everything in between that is still be be uncovered – is referred to as Extended Reality, or XR for short.XR as a term covered the full range of immersive computing. Immersive experiences are build on either one of the above mentioned techniques, or a combination of all of them.

But why should you care? In the last few years of running Tieto XR Lab, I’ve seen how this transformed from a difficult question to a very easy question to answer. The change is inevitable and it is coming fast. Major analytics companies, including Gartner and Forrester, are betting on XR to become the next revolutionary computing platform, impacting everything from entertainment to industrial cases and consumer business. The greatest impact is predicted to be seen in medicine, education and retail.

The level of investment in AR/VR reached record high of 3B USD in 2017, with roughly half of the volume hit in the last quarter. But this is only the beginning: the estimated value of the VR/AR market is expected to reach 108B USD* in revenue in 2021. (* Digi-Capital)

There is still a long way to go for mainstream adoption, no doubt of that. Yet, that shouldn’t stop us from investigating the possibilities. And how can XR help to improve the customer journey? Immersive technologies can engage customers like never before by offering authentic, highly-personalised and contextual experience for the users. Bundled with the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning, big data, 5G connectivity and blockchain, it creates the ultimate playground for revolutionising current CX and bringing it to the next level. From the business strategy perspective – XR should not to be seen as a separate track running alongside your business operations, but rather as an integral part of your omnichannel experience with a possibility to shift easily between the channels.

Tieto Enhanced Reality Lab is looking into immersive technology from both perspectives, as well as experimenting with the solutions via our extensive partner ecosystem. In search of better customer experiences, we have created immersive service concepts in areas such as HR – bridging the gap of expectations and reality for job candidates. In retail, we have been revisioning the whole essence of buying and selling via vCommerce.

Done in collaboration with Metsä and design partners, one of our top use cases is Virtual Forest. It brings loads of data, that constitutes a digital forest twin, into a virtual environment. This allows forest owners to simulate forest maintenance before making decisions regarding their real assets. We are currently working on bringing more intelligence into the experience to not only support simply decision making, but making the right decision.

Once user seizes to be just a consumer of immersive experience, and becomes an active actor in it, numerous issues arise. Some of the obvious challenges are ethics, privacy and security, ownership of assets and co-created experiences, and new business models to complement the existing ones. Still, right now is the time to answer the question – how ready are you for the rise of the immersive experience, from both business and personal perspective? While XR might not immediately change everything, it surely is on the trajectory to significantly change the world as we know it, so better prepare yourself now!


Ksenia Avetisova works at Tieto as Head of Enhanced Reality Lab. She was one of the speakers at the recent CXPA Finland summer party.