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Deloitte Digital Vice Chairman Jay Samit

VR/AR Gets Down to Business As Deloitte Digital Taps Entertainment Vet Samit

Want to know where virtual reality and augmented reality are heading? The giant consulting firm Deloitte thinks it knows: straight into the business world.

The company just named Jay Samit, a long-time executive in entertainment and technology, as vice chair of its Deloitte Digital unit, charged with helping lead the company in deals that knit VR and AR technologies into the prosaic, boring and hugely valuable processes that industries use every day.

“They believe this is going to be a huge piece of business,” said Samit, whose previous jobs include as CEO of cable middleware company Seachange International and of messaging app Oovoo. “Augmented reality can save clients $1 billion a year. To me, what’s really exciting is this is about workplace transformation. At its most basic, it’s about how do you transmit knowledge within an organization?”

I’ve known Samit a long time, going back to his days as the top digital guy at  major record label EMI, advising it in the early days of music’s digital transformation. More recently, Samit authored the best-selling business book, “Disrupt You: Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity, and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation.

His background in entertainment goes back to his college days at UCLA and just after, as he worked in computer graphics then segued to the interactive CD business. Samit said that through his various career shifts, though, little is as promising as VR and AR, and in areas far from the high-profile entertainment sector that gets so much attention.

“This revolution will not be led by three kids in a garage,” Samit said. “It’ll be a complete workplace transformation. We’ll need people who know how to do that.”

Samit told me a story earlier this year as he first began consulting with Deloitte about AR and VR’s potential in the business world. For a company such as Federal Express, he said, AR tools can transform even a seemingly simple job such as efficiently packing a roll-on air-cargo container.

Using AR glasses, that packing process can be turned into a sort of Tetris game using real-world parcels. A new employee suddenly can be as efficient at the “game” as a 10-year veteran, improving by 30 percent and essentially ensuring that about one-third of the company’s planes aren’t flying empty.

That sort of tool integration into corporate software packages from companies such as Salesforce can have a huge impact on clients’ bottom lines, Samit said then.

Expect to hear lots more of these kinds of deals in coming months, even as the entertainment side of the business tries to make its way through a slowing period of expansion.