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Exploring the Future of Technology: AR, VR, and IoT, with Ricardo Olivo [Episode 1156]

This week’s podcast session features host Alastair Woolcock and Ricardo Olivo, VP of Technology at VML, for an insightful discussion on the global impact and adoption of AR, VR, and IoT technologies. Ricardo highlights the optimistic projections for these technologies but also points out the intricate balance between innovation and market readiness. The conversation also explores how big brands are strategically utilizing these technologies to create immersive experiences and enhance consumer engagement, while highlighting the necessity for balanced investment and realistic market strategies.


Podcast Transcript:



Welcome back everybody to this week’s Sales Strategy and Enablement Podcast, I’m Alastair Woolcock. I’m happy to have back with me, Ricardo Olivo, the Vice President of Technology from VML. Ricardo, how are you doing today? I’m doing well. Thank you very much. Thank you for inviting me again. I look forward to this episode.



Ricardo, we had a great conversation last time around emerging technologies and a lot on artificial intelligence. And you’re at the forefront working at VML. And just to explain to the audience, VML recently acquired Wunderman Thompson creating now the world’s biggest creative commerce and customer experience agency.

I think there’s about 30,000 of you now, something like that, 64 countries. Like it’s a behemoth. You’re working with Coca Cola, Turner, Porsche, U. S. Marine Corps, like the list goes on and on. You touch most consumer brands in the world today. You have a really unique perspective of that. But the thing I want to dive into with you is we did some fun trivia at the end of our last episode on AR/VR.

And there’s a number out there from consumer global AR report that’s suggesting three quarters of the population is going to be, emerging, at least experiencing it in some way, shape, or form by 2025. In many ways I go, that’s really exciting. And VR, AR, maybe Meta’s finally got it right, and it’s really coming to us, right?

Scott Galloway, Professor G, say hi to Professor G, everybody. He shared something recently, and I’m actually In this direct experience with him. Christmas this year, bought my kids the latest, newest VR headset. I will not use the brand name. And in that, it’s amazing.

It really is. It’s something. One of the apps I would say that was most interesting to me is I’m trying to learn the piano. I’m not bad with my right hand, but my left hand is awful. But this now has an AR VR experience where I can actually see my piano and it lays over the notes for me as I’m playing the piano.

It’s a great way to learn. But as Professor G. Scott Galloway stated, and this is my personal experience, 40 percent of consumers are using those technologies. Get motion sickness within 20 minutes and I gotta tell you I feel nauseous after 20 minutes. My kids apparently aren’t the same, they can sit there for two hours on the thing but I’m one of that 40 percent so how on earth is this technology gonna be that prolific this quickly? Is it? What are you seeing on the front end of all of these big brands? What are they thinking about IoT? What are they thinking about VR, AR? Are Scott and I just too negative on it? What’s the deal?



Actually, yeah, full disclosure here is it’s just my opinion, but it’s my opinion from the foundation of understanding global markets beyond what we have in our backyard, right? One of the things that I question all the time about this. predictions are that they are first very hopeful and second, I don’t know the true context behind the research, right? Because if you look at the population today, economics, you look at access to the internet, access to technology, we have not solved the main foundational problems of humans on how to access this type of front end hardware pieces, right?

I’m fully agnostic when it comes to VR and AR. I believe in the open source communities. I believe in the collaboration to make platforms better. So I do, while I am a consumer of these technology gadgets I tend to look at more on the human experience. And that’s the part of being in a global company like this one.

That you have to be a little bit agnostic and also have a point of view from a global standpoint. And in a global standpoint, we’re suffering a lot on just access to information. And when somebody says 75 percent of the population, the world in terms of human numbers is huge. And the world is also limited.

I want to compare these statistics again. The access to internet globally, I want to, I want you to just put those things and really ask the question, does that make sense? Because how can I have access to a VR device when it’s dependent on my access to technology? We went through the pandemic and I’ve looked at statistics on third world countries, for example, access to internet for education it’s horrendous, the numbers, how they come out and how much we’ve lost in all these years because of that, because of access to technology, internet. And I’m a skeptic, fully a skeptic about the abilities of technologies to just overcome that overnight.

My own point of view about these things and how we look at it. So when I advise companies around the proliferation of emerging technologies and make it like, I want to make it sound like a big statistic. I don’t go for that, those lines of, how you sell this technology, you gotta be more realistic. What markets are better to sell it? If you’re talking about North America, it’s a great consumer of VR and AR technologies, right? Because of the enablement through their devices. And they’re fast speeds and 5G and all that. So I can say, yeah, that’s a bit, a great market. But when you go to, I don’t know, to some area, some parts in Asia or the Middle East, or you go into South America, that might not be that effective.

You have to go to the traditional ways of communication. So basically that’s in a gist, that’s my answer. Why I challenged those outputs. It has nothing to do with investment. It has nothing to do with the approach that companies are taking on this like Meta or Apple with the new Vision Pro, none about that.

It’s about the humans and their ability to consume those things and the access to more basic things that enable you to get an appreciation of what a VR headset is, right? If I don’t really, I don’t have access to a simple tablet for me to go to school, how am I going to get access to a VR headset? 



And a fast speed internet, yeah and I think you’re bang on, I would agree. I think we’re both going to say we disagree in the prediction. But I do think that the AR/VR side is wildly on the rise, and to your point, yeah, I just happen to fact check this look at the World Bank data. And there’s only a few countries in the world with even Close to a hundred percent. And it’s countries like Qatar, Iceland, things like that. America is at 92, Canada is at 93, Australia is at 96 percent internet penetration. And then, you have a lot of places. Samoa is at I think 78 or something like that. The drop off is big. Rwanda, they’re 30%.

So you’re, so you go, there’s population density in some areas without the access. It’s hard to see where three quarters of the world population will be using it next year, or at least be exposed to it. And that’s just one of the variables. 



100%. Now with that said, boy, is it in the news all the time? And I certainly see a lot of brands going, how do I build a sales experience? How do I build an events experience? How do I build, how do I make these things better? How do I make them unique? And, when we take that lens of. IoT, AR, VR, Ricardo, what are you seeing from these big brands?

How are they exploring these technologies and saying, Hey, I want to create a better experience. I want to create a virtual selling and marketing experience because I get the consumer necessarily in the store in the same way I used to. What, what’s happening there with these brands?



The way I see it right now. In the world of, let’s say, interactive technologies for events and experiences I can tell you that those are driven by companies that are effective for the use of those technologies are driven by large budgets, right? We’re talking about the telephone companies or the network companies.

Those are the ones that have the means to create this compelling environments and compelling content to put within those environments to make it effective. In the general sense of things. I don’t believe we have maximized effective messaging through AR and VR yet. Not because the technologies don’t allow us to do it. It’s more about market investment into the bottom line of the content, right? It’s more about that. A few years ago when I was running this R& D lab, we used to say, redefine reality, right? AR, XR, VR, they redefine reality.

But then you have to look at the intricacies of what reality means for a company, right? How is your budget? What is your reality about this, right? You want to get into this, but you want to redefine the human experience through this means. But you don’t have big investments. So yes, I want to have this way of, new way of selling my products and services, bringing awareness, but I don’t have budgets to back up the investment to get there.

No, we flip the coin because that’s our, that’s what we’re here for. Flip the coin and look at the bright side and come up with an idea that goes around what they have, looking at their realities. That’s when, for example, IoT comes into place. Sometimes less is more. We can do small things. To bring brand awareness in a more effective way than traditional media, for example, Amazon came up with a good idea about the rebuy button that you have these little buttons in your house, you push the button and it rebuys what you need, right?

And that was very effective. I’m not sure where that is right now, but in terms of market research and why those, that was effective is we, we just want to simplify the journey to get you faster to the product. And it had no size. It was the most transparent way into IoT, and it was extremely effective.

It’s effective in what? The ultimate KPI, which is sales. And that is where one can be effective. Nevertheless, when you think about a holistic approach into emerging technologies, VR AR, and IoT, XR, you call it all the Rs. If you want to go integral into it and create an entire experience, we’re talking about a complete different scope, complete different investment and being more in the marketing side, I just have had a, just a handful of instances where I have had the amount of investment to go there. It has been effective, but the most effective case studies that I have are just that minimum viable that gets you, gets the consumer. Into the pro, into the product, the quickest and that’s where I see the benefits. 



I think it’s great advice. Although I’m now going to throw an idea. You can tell me if you think this is where some of this will go as well. The CES show just wrapped up Las Vegas this year, the Consumer Electronics Show. And these AR enabled fridges continue to improve, right? It’s been around for a few years now, but the idea that they actually can look at what’s in the fridge and then make the right recipe recommendations and stuff like that to you.

And, even my wife was like, Hey, why don’t we get one of those? I’d love something that actually just told me like, here’s what we can make for dinner each night and the kids and everything else. The issue is right now, they’re still fairly limited in terms of the data they have. And they can’t easily recognize all the variety of products they’re going out of the fridge. And they’ve gotten a lot better. Like the latest ones now are looking at what’s coming in and going out. Is the first question we ask how’s it knowing what’s at the back of the fridge? It knows it’s all went in and what comes out. So they’re getting pretty good at that. It’s just the data isn’t quite rich enough for the contents.

But, I think I’ll. And let’s just pick on Coca Cola or Dole, the big banana people, right? So a lot of bananas, everybody buys bananas. If I now can invest and help a manufacturing company like Samsung have a richer food database. And I’m getting to that faster. And I’m now paying potentially slotting fees, advertising fees into IoT devices like a refrigerator to recommend my product more for certain recipes than others.

It’s a great way of engaging this consumer all the time. So like, how have you ever considered Coke with make up make up what it is, or, Hey, how about you use bananas with this salad when you were just thinking of them for muffins, and drive the consumer behavior by actually these brands eventually paying, to be the influencers of the underlying data and recipe recommendations in the case of my fridge example. Using these new IoT technologies, are they thinking that way? Are they thinking like the data strategies and how to tie into that ecosystem? Are you guys hearing stuff like that? 



I don’t know. I’m skeptical about the amount of true analysis done to make those kinds of shifts in innovation, right? I’m putting it between quotes because talking about the fridge example. It’s just people try to innovate, but there is an evolution of human behaviors that need to happen and you need to understand in order to release something like that.

And it’ll make it part of a large investment with great risk. It’s about that. So to me, I would say that it’s more of the opportunity of a peer to be part of an innovation metric than an actual analysis of effectiveness, if you are improving the human experience, what I’m saying, right? If you are going into somebody’s fridge and you’re looking at what they have and suggesting recipes, what is the enabler within your KPIs? What is the true enabler? Is it so you appear to be in an innovation space? Or is it that you actually want to improve the human living, like the humans and the way they live, right?

I’m in the middle ground here about products like that, when they utilize IoT and they apply AI into it, because I don’t know the intricacies of the business metrics that a company follows to make those decisions. When it comes to marketing, it’s a different thing, right? You come to me and you say, I want to market my company as an innovation company. And then you come up with those, because one of the. Your enablers is your motivation and your foundational motivation of being part of it in innovation. And that’s when you bring these types of technologies into the funnel.

You say, okay, innovation means this. A, B, C, D, and not only technology, it means in anything. Creative thinking where you do even supply chain, how you actually innovate. And then you suggest the steps towards better marketing. In that space as you want to be. But on that end, I can tell you benefits for humans. There’s many ways that you can actually improve the systems of fridge that not necessarily go into that far to also be innovative. Just again, just my point of view.



I think that’s a really prudent piece of advice, Ricardo. And as somebody that’s been in tech for over a couple of decades now, especially at Gartner, you tend to see this play out in tech companies a lot where you often can see a really good technology, like it’s actually going to make a difference to the end behavior of the recipient of the technology, but they aren’t always the companies that win it’s the age old. I just, because you build something good, doesn’t mean it makes you a great company. And what you often will see is those that know how to then separate out the technology building from the marketing of a technology.

Actually do a lot better. That is very hard I think for a lot of those of us that build technologies like that, by that you’re saying something that it’s not quite there, it’s not quite capable yet, but you, but people love to buy for tomorrow, they love being age for tomorrow. Even in our world, like we, as at Revenue.Io, we’re very big on behavior. We’re very big on, how do I adjust the behavior of a rep? How would I adjust the behavior? How do I adjust the behavior of a customer success agent to create the most optimum experience between two parties in a live scenario? But if we don’t actually have the message and the story that is exciting to go with that, it’s good technology that nobody engages with.

And a lot of technology right now, a lot in AI, especially in the IoT space. I believe there’s a lot, there’s a lot of momentum. There’s a lot of growth, but people actually haven’t done what you very astutely stated is separating out. They need both pieces to go with there. You need a strong marketing story that will engage while you still need to be able to deliver on something that is actually going to change consumer behavior and is going to enable better behavior. I always used to quip, what makes great technology? It allows humans to be lazier. 



When you create a solution that becomes a need, that’s where technologies become successful, right? When you remove that and all of a sudden people are complaining that they don’t have the solution, like that’s how you actually measure success there, right? Whatever you create, it’s effective, but if it becomes a need. Your hitting the jackpot right there. Ricardo. 

This has been fascinating to discuss some of the IoT pieces with you. And I thank you for the pragmatism. And I would just say the reality check on virtual reality and augmented reality. No, it’s really powerful to hear that in the sense of, again, BML, where you guys are now biggest in the world of customer experience. And what you’re doing in the marketing engine it’s finessing to get those views. We’d love to wrap up as always with a quick pop quiz on this one. And are you ready? You want to do one more? Give it a go? 



Let’s do it. I’m ready. We’re going to keep on the IoT theme. And this one is actually a prediction from Dell technologies here. So they’ve stated what’s the projected number of IoT devices worldwide by end of 2025. And first is A) 21 billion, is it B) 30 billion, C) 41 billion, D) 55 billion. 



Interesting with all the investment that is happening there, all the stuff that goes around robotics, the proliferation of AI systems to enhance IoT, I would just go for the biggest one. You’re 41 billion, but nonetheless, it was a lot. It’s a lot. And absolutely, I think there is context to the audience, there is. IoT is so much more than the refrigerator I was talking through. It is there on your power meters, there throughout your cars, it is prolifically everywhere.

And again, how those technologies are now merging with some of the AI pieces we discussed last episode and your prudent advice of how to think of the marketing of it, coupled with the behavior it’s actually going to change. We’re going to see a lot more of that in our lives to come. Ricardo. Vice president technology at VML. Thank you so much for joining us. It’s been a pleasure. 



Thank you for inviting me. For everybody else listening in, please remember to like, and subscribe, join us on a future episode and we will see you all soon.