Throughout history, new technologies have constantly changed the way we’ve worked. They’ve been responsible for full-scale revolutions. And continued investments have come as corporate demand for worker productivity drives tech spending.

We should expect augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to eventually attract increased spending in the enterprise as they combine with new mobile network advancements to make an emerging trend called “productive mobility” a reality.

Productive mobility is about being as productive out of the office as inside, and as productive in a virtual instance as a physical one.

Consider Boeing’s use of augmented reality glasses to streamline plane assembly workflows, decreasing assembly time and reducing errors by 25 percent. This is amazing. It’s also just the beginning of this reality-transforming workplace future.

That’s where critical mobile network developments come in. Many of the most exciting AR applications require instant environmental interpretation, and rapid delivery of contextually relevant information and functionality. VR, in particular 360 stereoscopic video, greatly raises the payload overhead of rich media.

Fixed and mobile broadband network advancements like fiber and 5G, along with service provider-centric content delivery topologies, deliver higher throughput with lower latencies. New convolutional network designs find patterns among previously insurmountable massive data sets, enabling rapid, intelligent predictions about the network, the things connected to it and the users engaging with it.

This is opening new doors to productivity and information sharing in the enterprise.

Scaling enterprise IQ

Today, typical network management sees supervisors tracking field technicians using a wall of screens. Those in the field can share what they see via streaming phone video, but that leaves their most precious resource — their hands — unusable.

Experts and highly skilled contributors need no longer be physically present to solve remote issues.

A VR interface replaces a wall of screens with a massively expanded desk space, giving supervisors front-seat insight into what their techs experience. Remote feeds are shared by techs via their AR-enabled headsets, and access to tutorials, checklists, voice guidance and visual cues from supervisors collectively shortens repair times. For common issues, this information is automatically displayed as the tech works through repairs.

Experts and highly skilled contributors need no longer be physically present to solve remote issues — their precious knowledge now a scalable resource thanks to the application of AR and VR.

Work outside the screen

It’s hard to think outside the box when your work ends at a screen’s edge. Network managers must monitor large sets of data to assure performance, services and more. Current work spaces are cramped with 2D screens and computers. Keyboard and mouse-based input limit speed and interactivity. Locating and sharing the right views while collaborating with others can be cumbersome, particularly during time-sensitive crises.

VR changes this dynamic. It provides a virtually scaled collaborative canvas that lets teams work from shared data sets, spread out and arranged in a manner not possible with physical screens. Virtual hands can manipulate data, such as rotating a globe to identify the geographical source of an issue. Voice commands further streamline work flows, allowing collaborators to ask common questions, access different network views or perform complex tasks while simultaneously drilling down into other resources.

Along with hand gestures and voice commands, VR creates a team fluidity that is lacking in today’s work environments. Different team members can have different default views based on their roles, with global communication taking place in the same virtual environment.

Productive mobility real enough to touch

The power to move. The freedom to be everywhere at once. The right tools to get things done better and faster. This is what productive mobility is all about, and VR and AR are playing a central role.

The use cases and applications discussed here aren’t just cool ideas. Some were on display this year at IBC in Amsterdam, showcasing transformative approaches to common enterprise needs to operators, content owners and broadcasters.

Productive mobility isn’t a theory, it’s a practice, advanced by network innovations and interface achievements. An exciting new future of enhanced enterprise productivity is within reach — even if a VR headset is required to touch it.

Featured Image: Hans Neleman/Getty Images

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