As augmented reality (AR) technology gains mainstream traction – Snapchat, General Electric, Amazon and Pokémon Go already employ the technology and it’s estimated to reach $60 billion in spending by 2020 – companies will have to tap its immense potential to keep their value chains competitive.

In the November-December issue of Harvard Business Review, award-winning author and Harvard business professor, Michael E. Porter, and PTC Chief Executive, James E. Heppelmann, pen the business case for AR – showing what it is, how every link in the chain, from manufacturing through sales, will reap the rewards of its application, and how converging the digital and physical worlds will enhance human capabilities, changing the business landscape forever.

“There is a fundamental disconnect between the wealth of digital data available to us and the physical world in which we apply it,” write Porter and Heppelmann in “A Manager’s Guide to Augmented Reality.” “Augmented reality, a set of technologies that superimposes digital data and images on the physical world, promises to close this gap and release untapped and uniquely human capabilities.” AR allows people to interact with images while performing activities, such as driving or repairing machines, improving their ability to “rapidly and accurately absorb information, make decisions, and execute required tasks quickly and efficiently.”

How will AR add value to businesses? To start, companies can elevate their users’ experience by integrating AR with their products, unleash worker productivity with interactive training programs, and significantly cut costs across departments. The opportunities for innovation are endless.

Where and how AR should be deployed within an organization will be determined by its unique positioning. To guide this process, Porter and Heppelmann pinpoint five strategic questions leaders should ask as they consider AR’s role within their organization.

For more insight into the possibilities through AR, read Porter and Heppelmann’s full article and experience the HBR Augmented Reality app.

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