For a very long time, virtual reality was the pipe dream of science fiction literature, movies and television shows. Here’s looking at you, Star Trek’s Holodeck. While we haven’t even come close to the 5-senses verisimilitude of that device, VR is becoming a reality. Google is in the game, and so is Microsoft. Sony has dumped piles of money into getting VR ready for its Playstation 4 platform. Facebook famously bought up the crowdfunded Oculus Rift. Rumor even has it that Apple is secretly building something VR, but such rumors always surround Apple. So, what does all this virtual investment mean for analytics?
It means that things are changing. If you’ve been paying attention to the social sentiment around VR, you know that customers are extremely excited about VR, whether it’s the Rift, Vive or Sony devices. VR headsets are going to create environments where your customers interact with virtual products. While you can plan on the big companies keeping most of the data they collect to themselves, customers will talk about their experiences on social media channels. You should be listening. What you may discover is that your business makes, or could easily could make, a real world analog to some imaginary product in a VR environment.
You also better believe that once these VR platforms get established, there will be opportunities to place ads, develop content, and engineer apps that work directly with those virtual environments. After all, Facebook doesn’t develop all those games people play on the website. Modding has become so ingrained in gaming communities it’s practically a rite of passage. However proprietary the technology is at first, advancements always become a collective effort of the companies, third-party content providers and the user base. As that happens with VR, you’ll be in a position to gather information from inside the environments, much as you currently get data via APIs from big companies.
However, just as the explosion of social media sites (and who wants to bet someone is already working on a VR-only social media site) created an explosion in data available to businesses, VR will do the same. Each unique device, and the games/experiences built around them, will generate data sets that you’ll have to be able to translate into actionable information. You need to be prepared with a scalable analytics program that will help you to streamline that process, but also one that will stay on top of integrating these new data sources as they become available.