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  • Writer's pictureSophie M

The Role of AR & VR for Membership Associations

2020 Vision: The Role of Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality for Membership Organisations

Thanks mainly to the world of gaming, augmented and virtual reality (AR & VR) are emerging as two of the most exciting innovations in technology and Associations have an opportunity stake a claim in this market.

VR isn’t a new phenomenon in the industry and progress has not been limited to gaming. Even in the early 90’s VR was already being deployed across the Architecture, Defence, Aviation and the Porn industries.

Goldman Sachs predicts that the AR, VR Mixed and Extended Reality industry is expected to grow into a $100 billion market by 2025. Not limited to entertainment the business and education component of the investment banks’ projection is said to be worth at least 10% of this growing market.

According to TechJury the fastest growing sectors seeing large scale investment outside of entertainment are; health care, real estate and learning with a surge of growth expected in marketing, advertising, retail, manufacturing and automotive.

McKinsey & Co are telling us that we are on the verge of a major revolution from mobile to immersive computing and that 2018 was the real dawn of a third wave of devices: AR and VR, and that immersive technology could replace mobile computing eventually, altogether.

A range of accessible software and headset products came onto market in 2016 from companies including Oculus VR, Sony and Google. Facebook bought Oculus for $2.1 billion and has since then acquired a further 11 AR and VR companies demonstrating not just a commitment to the technology but a statement that AR and VR will form the next frontier of communication.

However, closer to home and perhaps much easier for us to digest, is information on the UK’s Contracts Finder which tells us that in the last 5 years, there have been just 17 public-sector tenders for virtual reality projects or products.

Six of these were in the first half of this year!

This includes projects that you’ll be able to relate to as many of these projects are already happening in your sectors:

A £700k project from Highways England to deliver a virtual training environment.A 3-year framework launched by housing association London and Quadrant, which will use the technology in the planning of new buildings.Universities are investing in VR or AR environments to support the teaching of engineering and other subjects.The MoD recently spent money on a “VR demonstrator” to showcase the technologies of the future that will play a key role in the defence sector.

...Not to mention a £72m investment into VR by the UK Government to revolutionise the construction sector.

There has been a lot of attention paid by Associations to the impact of AI on jobs and what the future of work in many industries look like for your members. Whilst work in the world of VR, AR and MR information exchange and interactivity has advanced on the side-lines of this very public debate, without much notice.

So How Does This Impact Your Membership?

We have been working with different sectors and professions to explore;

The world of VR, AR and MR business application and the delivery, opportunity and benefits to AssociationsHow business is using mixed reality solutions across different industries and which sectors are leading the way (and how to catch up)How to develop VR/AR as a marketing and engagement tool at your events, conferences to showcase; content, products, benefits, research, membership value and impactScalable VR/AR workforce solutions and the impact and opportunity for your profession’s workforce and workplace in the futureAR/VR in training and how to transform your Associations learning and CPD via the delivery of scalable, cost effective training for professions, including soft skills delivery in AR/VRWhich VR/AR providers are successfully and cost effectively making a difference in business, marketing and training applications?Ethics, governance and impact of using emerging technologies in your AssociationHow to close the planning and innovation skills gap in AR/VR in AssociationsHow to coordinate and deliver programmes of activity and campaigns for Associations that incorporate VR and AR as part of the mixHow to successfully facilitate third party tech and commercial partnerships with Associations to deliver affordable VR and AR product options

What are the VR and AR opportunities for Associations?

There is no doubt that Immersive technologies, namely VR and AR, will fundamentally alter how you, your sector, profession and your members will ultimately receive and interact with content in the future. Your content, marketing, learning and overall engagement strategies will be impacted in a similar way that social and digital media have opened up more and more new possibilities over the last decade.

We are developing the answers, but to get there we are first asking our Association clients a few critical questions;

Are you seeing AR/VR playing an increasing role your sector?How is the profession or industry your membership represents adopting and implementing AR/VR technologies into their organisations and for their people?Are you up to speed with your understanding of this innovation in your own membership message and proposition?Have you considered how AR and VR can be used to communicate content, research, training and subject matter experts?Have you considered how AR and VR can positively increase attendance and engagement at your next conference, event or trade show?Have you considered how AR and VR can be used as part of your overall marketing, communications and business development strategies?Is the provision of new technologies in training, qualifications and professional development being offered to your sector by other learning providers and is this eating into your own offer and potential revenues?

Based on our understanding of the VR/AR market and experience of working with Associations for the last 20 years – and a bit of 2020 vision thrown in, we see the main VR and AR opportunities for Membership Associations heading into the next decade is to;

Grow market share: Drive recruitment, retention, increased member benefit, new income generation and sustainable business developmentProvide Learning/CPD: Use of Immersive Learning to add a new dimension to your qualifications, CPD, Careers and Professional Development programmesPromote: Boost marketing, drive message, increase voice and showcase your value, products, services and aspects of your profession including careers in your industryCompetitive Position: To Innovate and demonstrate your Associations understanding of the adoption and use of technological innovation in your industry/sector to showcase industry leading engagement strategies


This increase in application can only mean one thing for you and your industry; it’s time to consider how to harness the opportunity and incorporate AR and VR into your plans.  

The matrix of the immersive landscape is that the technology is there, and the hardware exists but there is a shortage of content.

We understand the value of Associations and that they are often at the forefront of leading, original and independent content, insights and subject matter expertise. Associations typically own and control independent channels into their market and have access to valuable business audiences as well as business and market intelligence.

We know that this is valuable to VR AR MR content creators, platform providers and distribution partners and via our b2b partnerships model we are converging all the necessary elements together.

It is daunting and the AR/VR world is rapidly evolving, and even the specialist digital agencies are still feeling their way in the marketplace for instance start-up valuations in the VR/AR space hit $45bn this month.

In terms of credible suppliers, we’ve done a lot of the leg work already and scoped and sourced the leading VR,AR & MR providers in the marketplace and are already collaborating with some of the world’s leading digital specialists in AI, virtual, augmented, mixed and extended reality to deliver products for Associations.

b2b are preparing strategies to support the inclusion and application of these new technologies into our Association clients.

Because of our mix of our consultancy, partnerships and training services. We have a unique understanding of Association channels, content strategies and commercial opportunities. Our focus is to empower all Associations to stake a claim in this market

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