How to Avoid Pilot Purgatory When Deploying Enterprise AR/VR

Every day we see compelling examples of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (AR), and how it can change our lives. Many of us have dipped our toe into the consumer side of AR by playing Pokemon Go or VR with Oculus Go, but most of us have not yet realized its full potential in the enterprise.

Enterprise teams, especially in the world of manufacturing and telecommunications, are enamored with the benefits that mixed reality glasses and AR/VR technology promises to deliver. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence and a multitude of use cases across industries to know that AR/VR, when properly deployed in the enterprise, will produce significant ROI. This over excitement leads to ambitious pilots with expectations of significant results. However, often times these pilots don’t produce the results anticipated and the projects never move forward into a practical deployment. This is pilot purgatory.

At Augmate, we witness this phenomena all the time. We have found that if a project is less successful than anticipated, it is not due to technology failure but rather from human error, such as failing to set the right scope.

To get the most ROI and avoid pilot purgatory, we suggest the following roadmap for success:

Define the end goal.

What is the process you would like to transform or the business benefit you want to accomplish? Think about what is currently happening within your organization and how would you like that to change. This is your use case.

Focus on identifying the proper selection of use cases, and where AR/VR can prove most valuable. More than likely this is a combination of decreasing error, increasing speed and decreasing costs. The use case is, of course, industry oriented. For example, while decreasing lead times is important for Warehouse Management, an organization in aerospace may rather focus on eliminating error.

If you are just beginning your AR/VR journey, we advise not to choose the most consequential topic. Rather, start with a smaller problem which still carries a punch but that will be easy for your organization to agree on metrics, design measurement protocols and how to carry out the pilot. While it may not be the biggest or most exciting challenge, it will buy you the license to start experimentation and that’s where the real value from this new technology will be discovered.

Define what success looks like and the metrics its based on.

Success through the lens of an AR/VR pilot is an outcome that justifies full scale deployment. If you don’t define what success looks like and how it will be measured, how will you know if or when the pilot has succeeded? This decision should never be made on the go, otherwise your goal post will keep moving and you’ll end up with a pilot running much longer than necessary.

We find that when an organization is not sure how to measure success, they will ask the dreaded question: What is the ROI? As external consultants, we are not privy to financial details so, while we can help to improve process metrics, we cannot determine or deliver on ROI – only the organization can.

While use cases will vary, the ingredients to measurement remain the same:

  1. Analyze and measure the process of how things are done today
  2. Introduce new technology, in this case mixed reality glasses
  3. Multiply by the scale of this process to calculate your savings

This is a simplified example and only takes into account efficiency, rather than efficacy.

Identify key stakeholders.

The real challenge of institutionalizing new technology is change management. Therefore, it is important to understand how your organization handles and rewards process changes. There will always be one part of the organization that is ecstatic about new technology, one part that will be averse to the changes it entails, and a silent majority (your swing factor) which sits on the fence. We frequently work with project owners who fall within the first category. The challenge is that they tend to see farther than the rest, so much so that they lose the rest of the audience in the process. As this organizational reaction will only come at a later stage, it is important to get executive buy-in early to help mitigate dissonance.

Secondly, while the ownership of AR/VR will be with a particular department, the technology ultimately sits with the IT department. It is critical to create a relationship with IT from the beginning. We recommend bringing in the Head of IT from day one because, while they can’t say yes, they can demonstrate reasons why the project won’t work (e.g. WIFI, infrastructure, device management capabilities, etc.). The last thing you want is a completed pilot with thousands of devices and the IT department to be scrambling to manage the devices at scale.

Create a road map.

Now that you have identified your list of use cases, the metrics they will be assessed by and the correct stakeholders are on board, proper prioritization and sequencing of these use cases will be crucial to your success. For example, if you are focusing on managing data for preventive maintenance, ensure you have first been able to extract the date from the machines.

Build in specific points of evaluation and a time limit to ensure laser focus. If the pilot stalls, stop and take stock of where you are. More often than not you will find what’s missing is the value the project brings to the organization.

If the conclusion is that the pilot addressed the problem with a clear business benefit and measured improvement of performance, it is far more likely to increase this deployment to a wider scope.We are only at the tip of the iceberg of AR/VR’s true potential and we look forward to seeing how far this technology can take us. Let us know what AR/VR project you’re currently working on! Email me at or visit us at