Chasing Data in Enterprise XR and Beyond

Feel-good stories (like customer engagement and titillating use cases) for immersive XR applications are what we always seem to hear about these days. In a previous article, Chasing Stories in Enterprise XR and Beyond, we asked a crucial question about selling or promoting XR: “Which is better—showing the data or telling powerful stories?”

Reporting on a recent webinar entitled “XR for Enterprise: How to gain buy in and prove its value”, a digital offering from (XR) Intelligence by Reuters Events, we highlighted the thinking of a small panel of experienced speakers, which included:

  • Stephen Paul (AECOM)
  • Earl Sison (Thermo Fisher Scientific)
  • Shelly Peterson (Lockheed)

Our previous article focused on the use of stories, use cases and anecdotal evidence to promote enterprise XR. In this next article in our three-part series, we focus on the third speaker, Shelly Peterson of Lockheed. Shelly operates in a much different world—a world of data and quantifiable results—and her explanation of the value of XR in the enterprise rises to an entirely new level of importance, given her powerful data-driven perspective. Her position stands as a stark counterpoint to the previous article in this series.

At Lockheed, Shelly Peterson has labored (mostly using AR and MR) for over six years to build spacecraft and aircraft with a mind towards “lowering costs, mitigating errors, speeding up timelines, and lessening schedule risks.” Since errors translate into million-dollar losses and production delays reverberate with a stiff financial toll, Peterson remains pinpoint focused on converting XR technology use into a fierce advantage. Cutting to the chase, Lockheed has seen their XR use demonstrably result in 90% savings in touch labor. According to Peterson, they evidenced “90-ish% in every case we’ve run”. In addition, 8 hours of work has been completed in 45 minutes, tasks that previously required 8 shifts have been resolved in 6 hours, and in other cases, their production/design team has completed 3 weeks of work in 2 weeks.

The math for Peterson adds up quickly. “It costs $38 for every object we place. And for just one item—we buy 2 million of them—the dollars saving for placing 57,000 objects on just one spacecraft” [are meaningful]. All this translates into money, which also translates into executive support. “I get the funding pretty quickly”, she remarked. Of course, Peterson suggests that Lockheed did not see the gains “all at once”. “We initially saw a 30-50% reduction of touch labor on drilling and other sequences”, she admitted. Peterson went on to explain that it requires time and effort to “pay attention to ROI” and aim this new technology “squarely at pain points within the organization”.

At the end of the XR for Enterprise webinar, the facilitator (Mark Sage from “The AREA”, an alliance for promoting enterprise XR) fittingly referenced The AREA’s ROI calculator as a good place to start for folks interesting in pursuing the ROI of XR. But from what I can see, the jagged journey towards real results with XR involves meandering past the crooked and thorny path of vanity metrics, low-lying fruit, intermediate outcomes or surrogate endpoints, and moving passionately onwards towards more desirable and sharply evident benefits. Shelly Peterson at Lockheed demonstrated that well. –Len Scrogan