(Header image courtesy of RefreshVR)
Virtual Reality is, relatively speaking, a new technology. And like with the introduction of any new tech, there’s the question of which department should take ownership of it when adopted. The answer at your company will have important ramifications — what budget VR comes from, what personnel gets put together for VR projects, what constitutes acceptable ROI, etc?
Generally, the introduction of VR at a company starts with a few employees passionate about the technology. These enthusiasts are often not in the C-Suite, and thus have to do some convincing of others to get buy-in. Who the VR enthusiasts need to convince depends on the company and the departments that will be using it. Each department will have its own desired outcome from using VR.
For example, if VR is to be housed in the marketing/sales department, it can be seen as a revenue generator. The ROI expectations might then be lower, perhaps on a 1:1 to basis per dollar spent, or even negative at the outset. The key is it needs to drive increased revenue long-term.
If VR is adopted within HR or Training, it’s likely to be a cost center. This can be a good thing, as there’s no immediate need to generate revenue from it, just improve employee performance or decrease costs.
Regardless if it’s being used by sales, marketing, HR or training, a group still needs to take “ownership” of VR creation and distribution.
We’ve seen ownership of VR within large organizations fall on the shoulders of three primary categories of employees: 1. Specific departments building VR themselves 2. The media/production/creative departments 3. IT
We’ll go through each group below and list the advantages + disadvantages of placing VR within the purview of these specific org groups. Ultimately, you’ll want to make a definitive decision rather than spreading responsibilities too thin. So definitely think about your desired outcomes and which project ownership group can get you closest to reaching them.
SPECIFIC DEPARTMENTS (ie Human Resources or Learning & Development)
As we’ve stated previously, filming in 360 3D is often simpler than creating even standard 2D video. With InstaVR, literally anyone at a company with access to the right equipment can build and distribute VR applications. We’re completely drag-and-drop with no coding, allowing you to create VR in a matter of hours.
That’s why for many companies, the first instinct is just to house VR creation within the specific department that will be using the apps. This could be Human Resources, Learning & Development, Marketing, Sales, Operations, anything. For many companies, this approach ultimately ends up working.
But let’s go through the advantages & disadvantages of this approach…
– No one knows the needs of the department better than the department itself. They know the results desired, so can plan the filming and authoring of VR apps with those results in mind.
– Can move quickly and create ad-hoc apps, as needed. Doesn’t have to rely on the work of others like a media team or IT.
– Best way to grow VR use to company-wide… prove the model within one department, then expand it to others.
– Visual quality might not be as good compared with media/production team taking the lead. Using a 360-degree camera like the Insta360 One X is very easy, but media teams can add additional audio, customized icons, etc.
– Requires 1-2 champions within the department to really spearhead projects. If just assigned to a department generally, but with no pro-VR champion, likely will lose momentum and die out.
Media teams are likely to be familiar with Virtual Reality. They’ll also have experience with cameras, microphones, and media authoring platforms like InstaVR.
They’re also more likely to be distracted or put VR on the back-burner. A specific department might request VR apps from them, but the media/production team could be in the middle of other projects. So while they may be the most qualified to create VR at a company, they might not always be the best option.
Let’s take a look at all of the advantages & disadvantage of using an in-house media/production/creative services team…
– Familiarity with VR making equipment. There is an art to creating virtual reality apps, so it’s not surprising that in-house media and production teams usually create the best images and videos.
– Ability to add value through custom post-production work and graphic design. Creates the most “professional” looking VR app.
– Possibly distracted by other projects and technology. Most media/production teams, even at very large companies, run pretty thin. So the turnaround time might be very slow. This isn’t great if you need to quickly create say a training app for a common issue that has arisen on an assembly line.
– Doesn’t really know the departments’ needs very well. Back to the L&D example… media/production is great at setting up and filming. But the knowledge within the app that’s trying to be imparted on employees — via the script, the hotspot information, the quiz questions — those all still need to come from the department using the app.
There’s a presumption that VR should fall under the IT umbrella because it is an emerging technology. And we do see a lot of IT departments get involved when complicated 360 3D renderings and videos are used. However, tools like InstaVR make the IT team often unnecessary in the VR creation process, since there’s no coding to be done.
Let’s take a look at all of the advantages & disadvantages of housing VR within the IT ddepartment…
– They can often create amazing 3d renders to be incorporated into VR scenes. Great for doing virtual simulations, versus using standard 360-degree camera images and videos.
– This department often has the largest budgets. They also tend to be early adopters, so finance rarely questions if IT adds something like virtual reality to their budgets.
– Not explicitly necessary to use them, so they may not be that invested in projects. Because VR with InstaVR can be done with no IT involvement, they may lose interest very quickly in spearheading projects.
– Like with the media/production teams, almost all scenes of the virtual reality still have to be dictated by the departments themselves. So feels a little redundant, especially since IT can act as a bottleneck in VR creation.
There’s no uniform right answer as to which department should be responsible for VR. Every company is different. Regardless of your choice, it’s important the department have: 1. A champion (or champions) who wants to see VR succeed at the company 2. Budget to make it happen 3. Success metrics for the VR (be it time saved, leads generated, accidents reduced, etc)
Which department takes the lead can have a huge impact on the success of VR at your company though. If specific departments want great looking apps, but they have no design skills or ability to outsource that part of production, the results may be disappointing. Likewise, a media/production team that can’t deliver an app for six months because they’re busy with other projects might not fit your company’s VR goals.
So do a bit of soul searching on what are the capabilities you have, the outcomes desired, and the timelines — and that will hopefully guide you on who should take ownership of VR projects at your company.