Augmented Enterprise Summit 2022 Hints at Enterprise XR Maturity, with Some Caveats

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By Eric Abbruzzese | 4Q 2022 | IN-6727

Augmented Enterprise Summit (previously known as Enterprise Wearables Technology Summit (EWTS)) finished up in October, with a focused showcase of pure enterprise Extended Reality (XR) activity. Some major players in hardware, software, and services were in attendance, with a significant number of companies discussing plans for XR scale.

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A Welcome, Enterprise-Specific Show


Augmented Enterprise Summit 2022 (previously Enterprise Wearables Technology Summit (EWTS)) concluded in October. A focused selection of important and impactful vendors across hardware, software, and services, with an expected enterprise focus, was in attendance. Rather than wax philosophical about long-term visions, the show and its exhibitors and speakers homed in on present day and short-term needs and trends, one of which being successfully scaling Extended Reality (XR). This indicates the enterprise XR market has officially moved past education and small-scale experimentation, and into enterprise-scale interest and, ultimately, deployment.

Moving from Adoption to Scale


There was one pervasive trend and area of agreement among those present: enterprise XR is mature enough to scale, and any headwinds slowing that scale are mostly external (e.g., macroeconomic), rather than specific to XR. We’ve heard this before, but it does seem more viable today than in the past. There was a significant number of speakers at the show that detailed XR at scale—thousands of units/users—which wasn’t the case even a year ago. Some COVID-19 acceleration is responsible for that, with interest peaking in 2020, but actual spending not happening until this year.

The expo floor was not gigantic, but there was a good selection of impactful vendors. Some of the enterprise staples were present—Lenovo, PTC, TeamViewer, Microsoft, Qualcomm, etc. Some known entities that are pushing into enterprise XR, such as Magic Leap and VMware, were also exhibiting. Magic Leap had the most popular booth, with people mostly interested in a hardware demo of the new Magic Leap 2. Microsoft had its own booth, with less traffic. RealWear was noticeably absent as an enterprise hardware leader, with its competitors present—namely Vuzix and Iristick. This was an enterprise-focused show, so there was little to no discussion of upcoming consumer Augmented Reality (AR) hardware. Meta was also not in attendance, which after its recent Quest Pro release, could be seen as surprising, as its closest enterprise competitors (at least in terms of use cases)—Microsoft and Magic Leap—were in present.

While the exhibition floor was not exhaustive, companies’ attendance through speakers and panelists was far more robust. Fortune 500 and larger companies walked through implementations at scale: Ford, Dow, Coca-Cola, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Walmart, Toyota, General Motors (GM), Chevron, Honda, Porsche, Airbus, Boeing, etc. These are companies that have been operating XR in pilot phases and small scale thus far, but are moving into hundreds and thousands of users. These are also companies that have significant barriers to successful deployments—security, integration, and cultural hesitance—so presenting XR operations at scale is a promising representation of the broader market.

Looking Outward and Forward


Speaking of headwinds, two main areas surfaced most commonly: economic and cultural. Cultural hesitation around XR remains, but is incredibly variable. Market, company type/size, maturity of existing Information Technology (IT), average user age, and more all contribute to this hesitation, so generalizations are nearly impossible. That being said, the hesitation does still exist, despite maturity among offerings. This simply takes time to flip, with more people getting hands on and convinced, and more opportunities for decision makers to enter the market both accelerating that transition.

For economic headwinds, things are more straightforward and potentially more difficult. Global fears around inflation, recession, war, and more can delay investment for good reason. Even though XR can help facilitate these difficulties through high-value use cases, uncertainty will always hamper new investment. Enterprise smart glasses, especially, could struggle, as upfront hardware cost is high—mobile device AR and lower cost Virtual Reality (VR) devices are more approachable.

Two topics that did not see much attention were the metaverse and sustainability. As for sustainability, this is likely due to the North American location and strong company presence—European companies were more adamant around sustainability’s importance. Expect sustainability to come to the forefront globally, rather than based on government/regional regulation and needs, over the next 2 years. Conversations still tend to chase Return on Investment (ROI) first and sustainability second, but they are inseparably linked.

As for the metaverse, its lack of buzz is due more to the short-term business success focus of the event. At an event like Augmented World Expo, which is more total market and consumer friendly, the metaverse will absolutely be a top-three talking point. For businesses today, however, the metaverse is more present in already-named products like digital twins, simulation, and collaboration. Naming conventions and go-to-market strategies may shift to more commonly lean on the metaverse over the next couple of years, but actual product and service impact in that shift will be negligible during the same time frame.