I will postpone the name of my 2012 winner for a bit. I first want to thank the great AR professionals with whom I have the pleasure of working! For those outside the technology vendor world, analyst relations is a function vendors use as the liaison between their people and analysts like me. We influence the market and therefore they know they need us to understand their offerings so we can accurately advise our clients.
Not all AR people are good, so the great ones always stand out. Some view the analysts merely as extensions of their marketing initiatives and see their job revolving around trying to “brainwash” the analysts. This is a narrow-minded view of the relationship that never works with self-respecting, intelligent analysts. Take note, vendors: we analysts hate that approach!
Great AR professionals engage us in a more intimate two-way dialog. We need more than just the occasional briefing. We need access to executives and developers. We need to know the roadmap and where executives see the company going. My favorite part of the relationship is to be integral to strategic directions, participating in the development rather than just being informed after the fact. The great ones make this process seamless and enjoyable. We all like to pick on vendors, but we need to engage them as partners. The reason we like to pick on them is because poor AR and other stereotypical behaviors fuel distrust and sometimes downright hostility. Bad vendors give the good ones a bad rap.
I am fortunate to work with some fantastic AR professionals! They make my life easier and I appreciate that! They all share some important attributes:
They are genuinely warm people. They may be aggressive inside their organizations and possibly even disliked for their ambitious approach, but to us, they clearly want to help us. That benefits their employers more than most people know.
It's me. I was in Macy's last Saturday morning checking out the augmented reality (AR) app, "Believe Magic." I got a lot of stares. At one point, I had a small audience as I danced about and took photos with Macy holiday characters ("Yes, Virginia" characters) that only I could see on my phone. What I liked about this app is that Macy's and Metaio didn't push the technology too far - they created an experience well within the bounds of the technology. It worked without long delays or instructions.
There were TWO red mailboxes in the Macy's in downtown SF. When I asked for help ("Where's the red mailbox with the AR app?") from the nice Macy's executive in a black suit, her jaw dropped a bit with the realization she had no idea what I had just said or wanted. Another sales associate helped me out and took me over to a full-blown display that allows people to interact with the characters even if they don't have a phone. The app allows you to take pictures with the characters, share them with friends (usual FB and Twitter plus email), make cards, etc. It's fun. The small crowd of people pointing and staring . . . also fun. :)
This app is more about marketing, but it will give you a sense of the potential of AR for commerce purposes. We've just finished up research due out this week that speaks to the uses of AR in the purchase funnel or commerce track. AR will allow consumers to experience products pre-purchase. AR will simplify the discovery and consumption of content (e.g., pricing). AR will improve the owners' experience with "how to" guides.