Updated: Dec 4, 2022
This article was originally posted in CIO Advisor magazine, July 2019 [link].
Do you still remember that first VR rollercoaster or “walk in the park” experience with massive pixels shining into your eyes and cables all around you leaving you feeling like a plugged-in humanoid in the sci-fi movie? Did AR looked clumsy and off when you tested it?
If you work with AR/VR, you would definitely say the technology advanced further and now we have new high definition, wireless and very capable solutions. However, this is sadly not the case when we speak about the wider audience. Some people are not so tech-oriented and some of them did not see the movie Matrix to this day! But they are the ones keen to try AR/VR and invest in this technology for medical, entertainment, engineering, military and other use.
It is extremely hard for these parties to discuss sensible solutions even though the interest is there. One party might be too conservative, whilst the other is raising expectations and might even pitch some unrealistic solutions.
Both of that combined will result in broken promises, penalties and sometimes - loss of control and even business.
In this piece, my aim is to shed more light on some key areas and processes between the buyer and the AR/VR solutions seller in order to avoid making mistakes that will cost time, nerves and money.
There are some preconceptions that has to be cleared:
-It is simple!
- AR/VR is merely a technology to broadcast the content.
An of the shelf content might be straight forward in some cases. However, if a 3D character or an object creation is involved then you have artists, developers and project managers all working with you.
-AR/VR is cheap.
-Not if you are aiming to have a unique platform, character or a unique solution. For all new things and creatures to come to reality, somebody has to create and animate them. The end result would simply depend on the creativity, computing power, time and investment.
-Everybody knows about AR/VR.
-Wrong! Mainly people who boil in the industry have tangible awareness, the rest may have been exposed to some random IKEA or Amazon AR apps or VR experiences. If an AR sofa projection didn’t quite catch the buyer, the seller will need to work harder.
-Everyone speaks in IT terms.
-Wrong again! The buyer needs to be patiently educated and acquainted with the terms and technology that will be used to avoid miscommunication.
The seller is normally willing to impress the buyer and might be offering some solutions beyond the actual capabilities. This always results in broken promises, breached contract conditions and cancellations... The seller has to be open with the buyer if the project has never been attempted before.
If a similar concept has already been created, the seller may approach the buyer with that idea (or a YouTube video) and most likely will try to recreate and adapt it to the buyer’s needs.
In those cases when the seller managed to create something worth scaling, they may approach other buyers with the same concept to multiply their profits. The buyer will end up paying for developing and the seller may use the same product to multiply their returns.
The buyer and the seller need to agree on whether the created intellectual property belongs to the seller or not. The buyer may insist to limit the use of the product whilst the seller may request a higher premium for creating the product on exclusive terms.
There are cases when the seller lacks the experience and sells the solution for lower than a realistic development price. In this case, communication with the buyer must be very open to correct the mistake and ensure the project won’t get stuck.
A clear deadline policy has to be exercised from both sides not to fail to deliver on the day when the fireworks are ready and guests are arriving.
I would strongly recommend ensuring all the required material is available from the buyer in good time before the development starts.
Serious AR/VR projects require creativity and brainpower, therefore very specific skillset people are required. Apart from software developers, there may be a requirement for multiple animators for character creation, environments or animation. Good artists are hard to come by and they are far from cheap. Therefore, the seller may encounter vast expenses if unexpected changes occur. I would not recommend working without a clearly written concept plan.
This is where the younger companies tend to get it all wrong. They allow too many changes, miss their own deadlines, exhaust their financing muscle and eventually end up in stress and jeopardy whilst the clock is ticking. If the project manager doesn’t have a strong grip on a project, it may all be finished before it starts.
The moment of truth! When the project gets ready for demonstration it is essential to log all buyer’s comments and group them in three categories: highly important, important and nice to have.
The parties have to be absolutely certain they communicate effectively and focus only on essential parts first before the final version is delivered.
Even though the last version worked fine, there may be some errors that were not discovered during the testing. The pilot projects tend to have way more failures in the duration of the first months of operation.
The seller has to ensure they will be available to assist in the next few days after the project is launched.
Make sure there is a support available after the delivery not to be left alone with a crippled product.
AR/VR projects tend to be highly exciting and adventurous. Some of them will have a higher impact on businesses by becoming an essential part of medical frontier or engineering, the others may become a perfect tool for education and increasing competitiveness or entertainment.
I am certain we will see more continuous applications in the years to come. To make it all happen we as people need simply to communicate efficiently.