Could VR Make It This Time Around?

On June 5, 2015, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Virtual Reality is the perpetual motion machine of tech: every time you look around, there’s some wild-eyed inventor with a weird contraption and the same claim: ‘this time, it works!’

So we’ve gotten used to pointing VR over to the corner with the deathrays and cold fusion guys. But we could be wrong this time.

From a business viewpoint VR was less than a novelty in the 1990s, but VR or AR (Augmented Reality) apps could explode the way mobile apps did, and modern enterprises that aren’t involved in vending VR devices and services could still provide value to their customers via VR. Imagine what real estate will do with it, for instance!

So VR could work. But why should we dust it off now?

Why it’s (maybe) time to rethink VR

1: The tech is there.

The difference between VR nbow and VR in the way-back-when is the difference between 1982’s Tron and 2010’s Tron: Legacy. In ‘82, the ideas were there – but the tech? Watch the movie and you tell me. VR’s the same.While it meant yards of trailing wires and pixelated landscapes it was never going to go far with consumers – let alone businesses. But now that it means Google Glass, or even Oculus Rift, VR might have a fighting chance.

2: The price is right.
Early attempts at VR were truly wallet-busting, as early computing tended to be. The trade-off between price and performance meant VR was stuck in the same situation as very early mobile devices, where they didn’t really deliver and they cost far more than their performance merited. In some cases, like the presciently-named but ill-fated EyePhone, that could be half a million dollars. Now we’re talking about a price tag between $200 and a little over $1000, there’s a chance for a consumer market to develop.

3: Industry heavyweights want it to succeed

In its first iterations, VR was powered by individuals with dreams, and companies like Sega that were dipping their toes in the water. For the bigger players, it wound up as just another page on ‘10 Tech Flops You’ll Remember if You Lived Through The 90s.’ But this time around, Google is seriously committed to its ‘augmented reality’ Glass project, and has Maps, Hangouts, Drive, Youtube and search all ready to tie into it. Facebook, Sony, and Samsung join the list of those with deep pockets who want to see VR succeed.

4: The hacker’s paradox

As VR has professionalised, it’s also become open to hobbyists and hackers in a way that just wasn’t possible in the 90s. That means tens of thousands of people working on solving VR’s problems, coming up with sometimes-diverse solutions: the Ubuntu, Fedora and Korora of VR.


3 of The Best: Marketing Automation Software

On June 3, 2015, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Marketing automation software sets marketing departments free to concentrate on more valuable tasks, by taking over the more repetitive aspects of the job. It can also help by providing clear goals, checklists and processes that everyone from consultants to part-time marketing staff can follow, so marketing is less error-prone as well as more streamlined. From its origins as a method for automating marketing emails, marketing automation has expanded radically and although only 5% of business use it (VentureBeat Insights, 2015), many more should: 80% of companies that use marketing automation saw an increase in leads in 2014 and 77% saw an increase in conversions (VentureBeat 2015).

It’s not always plain sailing with marketing automation though. Many businesses are dissatisfied with their marketing automation software and as many as 20% of marketers in a recent survey were in the process of switching to a new marketing automation tool (Third Door Media, 2015). While the problem is sometimes that implementation is flawed, there is a big difference in the range of tools available. While no brief introduction can cover the variables or the huge range of options, it can offer a list of the best places to start.

1: Eloqua

Eloqua is for the truly committed. It’s features-packed, comprehensive and expensive. One of its major benefits is that the company offers incredible support, basically tutoring individual customers in how to get the best out of the tool on their terms. Offering seriously tight CRM integration and a great marketplace, Eloqua is priced at $2, 000 per month.

2: Constant Contact

On the other end of the scale from Eloqua, Constant Contact is a light, small business-friendly and fast out of the blocks. If you want email marketing automation, and nothing else, right now, this could be the tool for you. It’s very user friendly and simple to use, and compared to some other options on the market it’s very affordable. If you’re planning a more comprehensive automation drive down the line though, Constant Contact won’t be able to follow you there. It’s email-only. Constant Contact is priced at $15 per month.

3: HubSpot

HubSpot is the ‘Jack-of-all-trades’ of marketing automation. It does everything, while specialising in nothing. In some ways that’s a big advantage and HubSpot doesn’t even concentrate on marketing automation, seeking to offer ‘inbound automation’ instead, with its marketing automation just a component of that. For businesses looking for software that functions like a marketing department in a box, this is the nearest you’re going to get, with a proven track record and a reasonable price tag of $200 per month.