The top essentials for finding ROI in your AR project

David Nedohin
David Nedohin
POSTED December 16th, 2019

Like many executives at enterprise companies, you might be evaluating how augmented reality technologies could help your bottom line. You’ve trialed AR headsets and you’ve identified a great use case for AR in your organization. Maybe you even have buy-in from your leadership and your IT department to get an AR project rolling. 

So what’s next? Start building content, importing CAD overlays, recording some of your company’s proprietary assembly guides? Maybe prep the purchase order for some additional hardware?

The most critical next step to building out AR success is to ensure you’ll be able to prove your AR project’s return on investment. If you can prove the ROI, you can not only successfully justify the investment in your AR project, but you can also find ways to replicate success; expand into other use cases; and build advocates among senior decision-makers. 

Proving ROI for AR isn’t guesswork, or a hopeful prediction. It’s math. To oversimplify: at the outset of your project, you need the ability to compare before-and-after AR metrics and outcomes. 

Here are a few steps to take as you look to capture ROI metrics. 

Find the unique measurables for your AR project

I’ve never seen a large, successful enterprise that doesn’t prioritize the collection and analysis of its own business metrics. In a complex organization, a manager would never know what moved the needle on a given outcome if she wasn’t closely measuring all the inputs that could influence it. 

The good news: your organization likely has a wealth of data on existing processes and procedures, ranging from specific operations expenses to manufacturing output. Find the existing metrics that directly correlate to your use case: what do you want to improve or strengthen?

Potential ROI metrics will not only be unique to your enterprise — these will also be unique to your project. While it’s true AR can drive widespread transformation across an entire enterprise, you need to stay focused on the subset of data that shows the impact within the contours of your project. Ensure you can quantify “productivity” or “efficiency” in measurable units: time saved, expenses avoided.

Here’s how one enterprise scoped its unique metrics for an AR deployment. Prince Castle, a supplier of commercial food preparation and kitchen equipment to leading global fast food chains, wanted to improve outcomes when their highly-specialized equipment needed routine maintenance or repair. They identified three key metrics to assess ROI success when implementing AR into this process: first-time fix rate; whether or not service trips are being reduced; and how much is being spent on technician labor. With these metrics, they can continually evaluate project outcomes and opportunities.

Quantify what “before AR” looks like

Before you do anything else — establish baselines for your specific project metrics. You want to show the math that proves out ROI after you’ve started to incorporate AR into the workflows of the teams using them — and potentially, the teams and metrics impacted downstream. 

Here’s an example: let’s say you’re considering AR to help your highly-specialized technicians assemble a product. For the team on the manufacturing floor, you’d likely want to establish baselines around:

  • Hours of training time per worker
  • Productivity per technician’s role
  • Frequency and length of support calls 

And for the downstream impact, in this scenario you might want baseline metrics that cover:

  • Overall productivity by location dependent on this project team’s output
  • Cost of unexpected downtime by hour or day 
  • Productivity or utilization of experts/troubleshooters in support scenarios

With baseline metrics in-hand, you can demonstrate the value of AR in achieving project outcomes. Did you measurably improve productivity or reduce downtime? Did you reduce the amount of training time needed to onboard a remote workforce? Can you quantify how AR helped experts troubleshoot problems more quickly?

Learn from your enterprise peers 

While the ROI-focused metrics you need will be unique to your business and even your project, you’re not flying solo. More global enterprises are using AR to achieve real value in daily processes — from manufacturing to field service to aerospace. Spend some time exploring how other companies are achieving value, and see if that inspires how you shape your AR project and define ROI.

For instance, Lockheed Martin started using AR in one use case — manufacturing spacecraft. They use AR overlays that add contextual information and instructions to what their expert technicians see, in real-time. You can see the potential value compared to the prior assembly reference system where technicians consulted paper manuals and had to do mental mapping from those instructions over to the real-world spacecraft components. The success of the project led to Lockheed Martin expanding their use of AR across their organization, and across a variety of use cases.

More ways to prove ROI in our free Quick Guide

There’s no single metric that defines success for AR implementations — your business and your project are too unique. But it is critical that you prepare to measure outcomes that show the value and know what those are ahead of time. 

Interested in additional recommendations and examples for building a successful AR project? Be sure to check out our new, free eBook, “Quick Guide to AR ROI: 4 Essentials for Proving the Value of Your Next AR Project.”