Finding the Tangible Value of XR in Business, with Nestlé’s Richard Hess

You may not immediately think of XR technologies when you think of Nestlé, who are more likely to conjure the idea of milk chocolate and bottled water. But their immersive technology lead Richard Hess drops by to explain how even a food company like Nestlé can benefit from embracing emerging tech, on the 100th episode of the XR for Business podcast.

Alan: Hey, everyone. Alan Smithson here with the XR for Business Podcast. Today, we’re speaking with Richard Hess, the immersive experience lead at the massive multi-national Nestlé, making a billion products a year. A day, he said, but I don’t know, a lot of products. You have them on your shelf, you have them in your fridge. We’re gonna be speaking with Rich about Nestlé’s VR and AR efforts in marketing, sales, enterprise solutions, and training. All that and more on the XR for Business Podcast. Rich, welcome to the show, my friend.

Richard: Hey, Alan. Thanks for having me.

Alan: It’s my absolute pleasure. You and I have spent a lot of time kind of talking over the phone, but also spending some time on a panel at AWB.

Richard: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, we’ve crossed paths a few times. I’m just happy to be here, to talk a little bit about what we’re doing at Nestlé.

Alan: We’re super excited. Why don’t you make an introduction to you, and what you’re doing in XR with Nestlé?

Richard: Sure. So for myself, I’ve been with Nestlé for about 10 years now. First based out of the US, working for our waters division there. Mostly supporting digital marketing on the technology side. If you go back 10 years ago, the mobile phone was becoming big, people were starting looking at social media as a way to communicate. Through that journey around three years ago, spent about a year in San Francisco, starting with our innovation outpost that we have out there, looking at emerging technologies. And that’s kind of where I gained a passion for augmented/virtual reality, mixed reality, extended reality, whatever kind of acronym comes in the space there.

Alan: Realities? All the Rs?

Richard: All the realities. Yeah. [laughs]

Alan: I actually wrote an article — you can find it on LinkedIn — it’s called “The ABCs of R”.

Richard: Oh yeah, there we go. That’s good, I got to take a look at that. But yeah, that’s when I started getting a bit more hands on from my under the organization of getting “Okay, I’ve seen a lot of tangible use cases.” And around a little more than two years ago I came over here to Barcelona, where Nestlé has set up this global digital hub, that was mostly — at the time — looking more marketing and sales focused on how do we build centralized global platforms, and products, and services that can serve all of our markets and brands across the world, but now is more holistic across all different use cases, whether it’s in the factories, supply chain, HR etc. It’s kind of looking across the whole spectrum. So the past two to three years or so, I’ve been looking at augmented/virtual reality in that way of how do we take all these little different one-off experiences that we’ve done. And when we see a lot of tangible value in leveraging these technologies, we try to bring them to scale in something that is a full industrialized product, that the rest of the organization can take advantage of.

Alan: Let’s give an example of one that you did a pilot, you realized the success of it and now you’re going–

Richard: Well, I think a really good example — and when you think about, it’s a very simple one — but what we used for augmented reality within a sales organization was using AR as a tool in the sales person’s toolbox. So we have a brand called Nestlé Professional and they mostly sell to people like hotels, restaurants, big convention centers, cafeterias. And they’re selling often these big industrial coffee machines, these big Nescafe machines. You need two people to carry, they’re very heavy. And often when they were trying to make a sale, in order to do this, they had a paper cut-out, 2D of the machine. They put it down on a table and they say, “OK, imagine there’s a coffee machine here,” or they would take out a tape measure and start showing them the dimensions, giving them a flyer, things like this. Or usually what would have to happen is we would have to actually ship a machine out before a sale. And more often than not, you have to then ship that machine back without closing the sale. It costs time, it costs money, it’s ineffective. So just a simple use case of say, hey, why don’t we digitize this and use augmented reality to display what the machine would look like, surround it with, say, certain hotspots of different sales material, promotions, switch in different colors or different models, go through the entire catalog of different machines. That was something that is not the, say, sexiest use case of AR. To your peers, it seems very simple, something that’s been around a while, but being able to do that at scale and say hey, we’re gonna take all of our sales reps in the US, test and learn this out, get some feedback. The feedback right away was this is actually providing value. My competitor doesn’t have this or if they do, it’s not at this scale. It’s going to provide a lot of value back to us. And even reducing the number of visits, going to a customer from 3 to 2 in order to make a sale. And each one of those costs couple hundred dollars. You start to look at bringing that to the entire sales organization in that region. You start to see tangible dollars back. You get to a point where you can go to a senior leadership or at a executive level, and say augmented reality is not something that’s just a cool thing that’s going to get ourselves people excited. We can show it’s actually affecting bottom line or it’s reducing costs to sales people that are trying to do their jobs. So that was just kind of one example where we started really small, maybe half a dozen sales reps in the US. And as we built it along, as the technology moves along, we move with it. Starting from, say, you had to have marketed your kit around with you to display that machine, to then world tracking, to then now the advancements of more WebAR that’s coming, and quick look functions in the phone. We’ve been able to take that and then scale it to all the what we call Zone Americas, which would be both North and South America. Looking to next year, we’re going to try to take that more globally into different markets in Europe and places in Asia, Africa. That’s the type of scale that I think we’re looking for, for augmented reality, where it’s providing a lot of utility and a lot of value added back is something that can– it’s easy to prove or there’s tangible ROI there.

Alan: So how are you measuring ROI in that? If you have a measurement like decreasing sales visits from 3 to 2, that’s demonstrable value immediately. But how else were you measuring KPIs and ROI, in order to go and prove that business case to your senior execs?

Richard: Well, definitely the one around cost avoidance is a big one. And that helps speed things along. But also when you’re getting, say, feedback directly from the customers themselves or their surveys, whether it’s repeated purchases, people that want to get more from that. So, for example, last year we revealed a purchase for the Starbucks out-of-home business and saying now instead of just the machine’s pairing that with different products that could be on the Starbucks line, whether it’s different coffee corners, and the coffee corner would be this big cabinet that has a coffee machine there that people go self-serve. You would see it probably in places like the US and Canada, like in a gas station or something like this. Or even just a different point sales material to help sell different packets and stuff like that. Adding these tangible things over time to make it as much of a sales tool for the Nestlé sales rep, but also as a tool for the boutique owner or somebody that’s looking to sell this to customers. Being able to see a swing in an uptick in net sales, certainly that’s the golden goose, if you will, that that’s the one that everyone’s chasing. And we’re starting now to see that over time a little bit more. But for sure, what gets the lightning rod started is to say we can reduce costs right away and provide a more enriched tool. Let’s get that to get the ball rolling and then we’ll see the sales you brought over time. And we’ve been able to measure also metrics not related to finance or numbers. But if we’re able to say this many people are scanning different environments or scanning that leaflet or using world tracking, this is the amount of unique people are doing it versus the number of times they’re scanning. You can measure how many times people are going into stores, how many times they have to scan these things, how many people are doing it versus how many times they are doing it. You could draw those numbers back to “OK. Did this lead to a sale or not?” And so that’s the kind of metrics that we’re starting to collect across the board.

Alan: How are you tracking that? Are you doing it through your sales force or whatever your CRM is?

Richard: Not so much CRM. So I think CRM integration is more of a long term play for us. And it was kind of important to, I guess, have it in a siloed approach, at least initially, just because we wanted to be fast moving and get the ball rolling and helping develop the overall business case. So when we look at, say, a big CRM integration, especially with a company like ours, where you have a CRM tool that supporting tens of thousands of employees, pushing AR integration from the get-go to that, that’s probably going to be a project that’s going to be 18 months long. So where we were more starting first is, let’s prove the concept around augmented reality first and see if that provides value. We can probably do that project or that first test and learn in around eight to ten weeks and then build upon that. And then we’ll have this kind of convergence down the road to say, “OK, everyone’s agreeing that this provides a lot of tangible value. Now it’s time to integrate this as just a function or feature of the CRM tool.” I would more say looking at augmented reality that way, is not the AR tool that we’re adding the CRM functionality to. It would be more long term. How do we add the AR feature to our CRM tool? I think that’s the more long term play. But in terms of adding value now, it’s certainly the AR providing that as a standalone.

Alan: Yeah, I think that– this has come up a few times, where making AR for the sake of AR is interesting, but when you make it as a subset of the bigger sales tool and say, “OK, well, it’s just a feature within the sales tool.” You’re still gonna have printed materials, you’re still gonna have all these other things. It’s just another amazing tool in a sales person’s arsenal.

Richard: Exactly. It will never, I don’t think — at least for the foreseeable future — it’s never going to be the end all, be all and replace everything. It will certainly always be — at least initially — one enhancer to everything else we have going on, and more competitive advantage where other companies are not using and you are, you will have the ability to differentiate yourself against your competitors, for sure.

Alan: So I have a couple of technical questions. How many products did you– did you do the whole catalogue of these devices, or was it something that you rolled out with the five models and then slowly kind of iterated on? And so that’s question one. Question two is, where did you get the models from? Was this from your manufacturing partners? And then the last question I have is, what was the platform you used to make this happen?

Richard: Yeah. So for the first one, we started off small, of course. So we did two models to start saying, “OK, let’s do a coffee machine and a juice machine.” So that was what we started off first. And with that initial tests, with those half a dozen sales reps, as I said, it was just around these two models. Let’s get it out there. Let’s see if there’s tangible value added back. Let’s get that feedback and see if we should go from there. Because we were also in a place like, “OK, we’re assuming this is going to work, but we need to actually put it out there before we make a large investment to justify us making a bigger investment.” When we did see it was adding value, we said, “OK, let’s start to roll this out to different regions.” So starting in the US, we started then to roll it out into Latin America, countries such as Chile, Brazil, Peru. And we’re looking at saying, “OK, let’s add a couple more models, see how this goes. Maybe there’s different makes from market that we had to take a look at.” And actually, one of the challenges that we did find at the time was when you look at the maturity of smartphones around the world, it is getting up there, where a lot of phones will have ARKit, of course the new iPhones, ARCore for a lot of newer Android models. When you go to certain markets, like Brazil, we’re discovering a lot of sales reps are being issued phones that are 5, 6 years old. Sometimes we didn’t even have gyroscopes in them. So we had to kind of take a step back and say, “Well, OK, we’re making maybe some assumptions that this is going to work out the box. We’re going have the best experience. Throw in some world tracking through ARCore on Android.” And we quickly had to be like, “Whoa, OK. We have to maybe take a step back and think about what’s the right way to do this.”

Alan: Hold your horses, man. There’s still people on texting phones.

Richard: Of course, of course. It was quite a lesson learned for us to say, OK, let’s make sure that we’re identifying this up front. We’re building a solution that’s holistic for everyone. So now we have a bit of a mix of different, say, tracking mechanisms or triggers that would enable the experience. But from there, after we did have that fallback option for Latin America, that’s when the brand was more convinced to say, “All right, let’s start to do this for this entire region with all the different machines and coffee corners.” And you look at a total volume for that, you’re looking at around two dozen different models as well. For different use cases outside of, say, this Nestlé professional who sells things. If I take a look at Nespresso, for example, this is something when we look to say, OK, how do we enable quick look or WebAR functions on our e-commerce sites, we are looking at doing the entire range of espresso models and that’s up to around high 80s, 90s, different models that we have with different accessories, different colors, things like this. So we’re starting to kind of get to a point where a lot of people are seeing the value for it and they’re kind of going all in and saying, let’s throw it on our website. Let’s try it out. Let’s get a lot of different feedback and change it as needed. When it comes to the models themselves, it’s a very interesting question and another lessons learned that we had internally for that, because, as you know, there’s almost hundreds of ways to create the more raw CAD file for complex machines, say like coffee machines like Nespresso or things like this, but even point of sales all on this line. So we were dealing with a scenario, where we were getting them in any different type of format in 3D quality that you can imagine, often something as big as multiple gigabytes, something you can’t say put into an AR experience that you expect the consumer is going to deleverage. It wouldn’t work that way. So we had to do a lot of what we called 3D model curation. So we would have to either take the existing model or know what the model that they were trying to bring to life in AR have a lot of the 2D high-res photos of them. Because often you’re selling something like a coffee machine, you have an e-commerce site that’s also selling this. And there’s a lot of photos that have from different sides of the machine. Those have been dumbed down for more high quality ones that have been taken in a product shoot somewhere. So we would have to take either that existing 3D model or 2D photos of those machines, the different dimensions of them and then go through a process of recreating that model that’s kind of AR ready, good to go, something that’s 2 to 3 megabytes, tops that is in kind of glTF, GLB format, something that we can plug and play really easily into an AR or VR experience. So I think for us I think the industry will eventually move towards something where there’ll be some type of automation for that, and an ingestion engine, probably, for taking certain models from different formats and then spitting them out into something that’s AR/VR friendly. And you look at companies like Autodesk have platforms that they’re developing, that say that the goal is to do that. For us, we were more partnering with different providers that had capabilities in that space, to be able to help us bring that to life. People that we’re building their startups or business models around that specific use case, that there’s going to be a content– well, there is; there is a content problem of trying to develop a lot of these things at scale. And they’re gonna help for the first start of that, providing different resources that can create these from scratch, with a more of a long term goal to how do we automate that in the future.

Alan: That’s everybody’s goal. I actually just saw an article yesterday that Nvidia is working on creating 3D models from 2D photographs.

Richard: Yeah. So something like that. When we see stuff like that, it definitely gets us excited of looking at scale, because you said in the beginning Nestlé, this huge conglomerate, we have 2,000 brands, we operate around 100, 80 countries around the world. In order to do this at a massive scale, you’re looking for all the tools that you can get in order to reduce the burden of creating a lot of this stuff. So being able to do what you said with Nvidia, and create a new model from a 2D image, that’s something that would definitely help along those lines.

Alan: Yeah, that’s like the penultimate if we can get to that. *When* we get to that. It’s not even an if anymore. It’s like there’s so much research being done in this. I have a whole folder on 3D from 2D images, so there’s lots of people working on it. You talked about kind of working with startups to help get you where you need to be. What is the platform you’re using to distribute this? Because you talked about quick look in AR. Are you just using kind of Apple’s framework for that? And then what about people on Android? What is the actual nuts and bolts of it?

Richard: We do look at partnering on it with different startups or platforms that are either emerging or established in the space. Every company has to be a digital technology company today. But again, at our core, we’re a food company. We don’t have, say, teams of developers that are doing this space. We’re not developing our own proprietary AR tracking technology or things like that. So we are leveraging what’s out there. So whether we’re working with, say, I would call them like AR content platforms. For example, we do some work with Zappar as one of them. There are some more emerging platforms they’re looking at from an e-commerce perspective, which is great from our end, because obviously there’s a lot that needs to go into educating different marketers and people in Nestlé. People get excited about this. But again, you have to bring it back to that tangible use case, of where it’s going to provide value.

Alan: So easy for us to chase the shiny object.

Richard: It really is. It really is.

Alan: And it’s interesting. Five years ago we were doing 360 videos and then we said, “OK, well, this is easy. Move on to something more difficult.” We then did videogrammetry and volumetric capture, and then we did incredibly complex 3D models. And then VR where you get right in. And it turns out the 360 video stuff we were doing years ago is what people want.

Richard: [laughs]

Alan: They’re like, “Oh, that’s perfect for what I need!” And I’m like “Oh man…”

Richard: Yeah. There’s still a lot of tangible value in doing that.

Alan: Yeah. One of the things that I think is valid for Nestlé — and for every company — is a simple 360 tour of the facility for new employees. Just simple, here’s what our facility is, here’s where the kitchen is. You can kind of navigate around. Even just a Matterport tour of the facility before you even get on on site, because a lot of the first few days of new employees roll is wandering around, trying to find out where to go. So if you could shorten that, put in VR and let them do that at home, then you’ve just saved a couple of days of running around.

Richard: Exactly. And that’s actually something we’ve done a bit with Purina in the US– that’s Purina, the pet food company. They’ve done some– a lot of work around. They’re called VR factory tours. So putting employees or customers into their different factories, having them navigate through it, interact with some things, learn a lot about them. From an employees side, sometimes it’s people that support these guys, maybe from the IT perspective or HR perspective day-to-day. The factory employees that you have to have access to the different tools and things like this. They never actually been to the factory sometimes. It sounds kind of crazy, but when you’re working company as big as ours, that does happen. So just being able to put them in a VR experience — and for this they use the Quest in order to do that, something that they can buy a couple of, carry around, bring them around the office, things like this — and put them to that tour, it gets a lot of tangible feedback. But at the end of the day, it’s a high quality 360 video that has some interactivity that’s been laced throughout it. But it is really effective content, it’s really good and it incites emotion and it gets the point across. So–

Alan: We don’t need to overcomplicate things. Actually, you’ve said that twice now. The 360 video stuff works, and it’s simple, and it doesn’t need to be crazy complex. And then also with the stuff in the AR quick look stuff, it doesn’t need to be super complicated. You don’t need to have a multi exploded view of the product. You just need to see it on the shelf in the right size and say, “OK, that doesn’t fit.”

Richard: Exactly. I mean, there’s always a time and a place for the more enriched complex experiences for sure. But yeah, often what consumers want to see, they want to see, “Hey, buying a new coffee machine. Is it going to fit in my counter? Am I going to like how it looks?” Things like this. It’s a very quick five to six second decision, whether or not they’re going to move forward.

Alan: How are you guys using this kind of on the enterprise side and in your factories? Are you using AR at all on the factory floor?

Richard: Absolutely. And where we look at it a bit differently from what I was discussing before is– so, if we take a step back, look at Nestlé factories, we have, I think, around 400 — don’t hold me to this number — I think it’s 418 factories around the world, 300,000 employees. Whether or not my team exists here in Barcelona, somebody has used augmented/virtual reality in this organization before. So a lot of what we’re doing when it was coming to the enterprise side initially was trying to understand who’s been doing what, what ongoing experiences have been happening, who’re the evangelists in this company that have actually tangible hands-on experience of having it at the factory level. And when we did this kind of analysis, we did see over the past half a decade or so, we’ve had over 30 different experiments with different form factors like headsets, whether they’re mixed reality or smartglasses, different vendors out there. I sometimes laugh. If I go to AWE and I meet all the different enterprise vendors there, everyone’s going to tell me they’ve worked with us before, even though it’s the first time I’ve met them. And I say, “I’m sure you have.” Because there’s a lot of people out there that are interested in this, whether they’re testing it on a small scale or they want to expand. So we had to get a good look at that first and what we–

Alan: How did you collect that?

Richard: So the way Nestlé works, as well as we have people on the factory floor, that are a part of what we call our technical production organization. They have some kind of co-pilots in these factory areas, part of our R&D organization, specifically an organization called PTC, which is Product Technology Center. So they often try out new digital technologies in these spaces to see if they’re viable for factory floors. So what we’re finding is often, yeah, they were testing a lot of this stuff out. We had to do a lot of internal networking. And we actually also implemented across the organization, not just augmented/virtual reality, it could be AI, digital twin, robotics, things like this. We’ve kind of implemented the internal what we call an innovation repository, a space where people can submit the experiments they’re working on, what they’re trying to get out of it, where they are in their experiment. Just to give exposure to other parts of the organization. Because often where you’re seeing, say, you take remote assistance in a factory, we’re probably repeating the same experiment 15 different times in 15 different locations around the world. But these teams weren’t talking to each other. So just getting an exposure to different teams to say, hey, you want to do this? These five teams also did this. This is their success. This is their failures. At least build off of that.

Alan: Yeah, of course, that makes way more sense than being stuck in pilot and POC purgatory forever in every division. I actually have a question about the innovation repository. How do you standardize it, so that it’s easy for somebody to look at the results? Like do you have a standard form or–?

Richard: Yeah. So we use a platform called Startup Flow for that, that allows us to kind of have a good view–

Alan: What’s it called?

Richard: Startup Flow. One we started using last year. But it gives us a good kind of holistic view over a lot of different things that are going on. And there was a campaign to say, “Hey guys, put your stuff in here. Let’s not reinvent the wheel.” Sometimes it’s a difficult conversation because like I said before, this is an inherently cool technology. And sometimes you don’t want to be told you can’t do it because somebody else has done it before. We did get a lot of people to understand the inherent value of that, and it’s not to say that “We’ve done your use because before we’re not going to do it again.” More often, I think the conversation going into this year and next year is once you start to scale this across all the organization of people that raise their hands, where again, you can find a lot of tangible value added back. This just proves the use cases there and that it’s going to provide us a lot of different value.

Alan: I was just looking at the Startup Flow webpage. What a great tool. Wow, super cool. Measuring the ecosystem of startups and new technologies and then measuring the KPI as metrics on one single dashboard. That’s awesome! That’s value. Anybody who’s listening, startupflow.io. I mean, that’s worth the value of listening to this podcast in itself.

Richard: Yeah, it’s a good tool or something. Yeah. We’re using a lot in our organization.

Alan: What other ways are you using this technology? Are you using it for training?

Richard: Absolutely for training. So one example being a couple of weeks ago in a factory here in Spain, in Girona, and they’re kind of mended them in a lot of different factories around the world to follow what is kind of TPM certification, which– it’s not my forte, this area, but I believe it’s for Total Production Maintenance. Or Management. It’s essentially certification for being kind of a best in practice factory. We have zero defects across the board. And one of the areas, one of the steps into getting to there is that they have to have an on-site, say, training center where employees can go and self-train themselves in different areas, whether it’s safety areas for the here’s what you do in a confined quarters. Here’s what you do when there is a explosive situation like a gas leak. If you’re in a height situation, where you’re up somewhere high, it’s not secure. They had to have this kind of facility onsite, that people can go to and learn as much about that use case as they can, and train themselves up. Now, the factory that we’re talking about is one of the more advanced ones in the world, it’s coffee factory. It produces a lot of the same Nescafe, Nescafe Dolce Gusto for good parts of the world. But going back to we have a ton of factories, right over 400. Not every factory has the ability to build a huge training center on-site. They need to find creative ways to essentially get this type of material out there. So using something like virtual reality for that, where to put them in these scenarios now where the form factors are. We look at, say, stuff like the Oculus Quest, where you can just have the headset, controllers, the certain amount of space around you. You can pop into a training session and it’s something that you can have a lot of. You don’t have to set up a lot of different gaming PCs in order to enable that. That’s something that brings a lot of value. You don’t need as much space in order to do that, and to have that type of trainings on-site. That and going through a height training or explosive training in VR, probably it looks much more of a emotional and personal impact to you, like a heightened sense of receiving that content than watching a video or reading a PowerPoint or something like this. It’s certainly something that you could take a look and say it’s a much more effective way of learning that content or material, retaining that information over time.

Alan: Are you guys measuring that? Do you have– is it anecdotal? Are you measuring KPIs against that?

Richard: Right now, we’re still starting out that use case as well. It’s gonna be something that we’re building Q1, Q2 next year. We have done some other safety training in the US with their waters division. That’s also looking at it from that scenario, like pointing out– different scenarios where on the factory floor you have to point out different safety violations, things like this. I believe they are making the KPIs more on how much has it reduced the number of safety infractions or reported infractions in the factory over time, of the amount of people they have through the training versus the amount of reports that they get. So it’s something that it’s still emerging for us a bit, but we see a lot of big potential. And I think 2020 is where we’re going to be looking at it a lot from scale.

Alan: And now, is this something that– again, are you working with vendors there or are you trying to do it in-house?

Richard: Mostly, again, with vendors. And for us, we’re testing and learning with a few different ones, but certainly it’s something that we’re keeping an eye on going into next year. And I think just from the point of vendors, too, I should make a note. As for a lot of these scenarios, we do– let’s say we have global vendors that we love to work with, but we’re always constantly working with different startups in the different communities, because for technologies like this, everything is changing every three to six months. Companies are rising, falling, pivoting, being bought, picked up. So we–

Alan: Yep.

Richard: Yeah. Certainly, we’re in a scenario where we try to work with as many people as possible. The procurement team probably won’t like me saying that. But we do try to. [chuckles]

Alan: One of the problems we’ve been trying to solve is, how do you disrupt an industry constantly and consistently disrupting itself? And so what we’ve come up with is we’re working on a platform marketplace for training and learning technologies. Because — like you realized — companies are coming and going. Technologies are being invented and displaced all the time. So rather than try to invent all of the different technologies and try to keep on top of it, we’re building the platform that synchronizes with the CMS, it synchronizes with the elements that walks the customers through that, and keeps them always on the most cutting edge platform across whatever device happens to be the hottest thing of the year. And so that’s what we’re doing on a per user basis. Then you can just say, OK, we’re gonna use VR and AR across our whole enterprise. And we now have x number of employees doing it, x number of headsets. And then it’s an ongoing thing and you have access to all of the startups that have been pre-vetted, rather than try to go through this selection period. As you know, it’s challenging, right?

Richard: Absolutely, no. That’s something I would love to take a look at that. [laughs] Later, after when it comes out. It’s certainly–

Alan: We’ll talk offline.

Richard: There you go. There you go.

Alan: I didn’t want to highjack this podcast. Like, man, this is exactly the problem we’ve been trying to solve is, how do you how do you overcome the point of–technology is changing, and companies are being bought and sold, and everything. And look, from our standpoint, we’ve started our own accelerator. You know, you’re part of it.

Richard: Mm-hm.

Alan: And having this accelerator to find and identify this talent, make sure that they are able to deliver at the level of the customer’s requirements. Like, you guys have 400 factories. That is a different conversation than one company that has one factory.

Richard: Exactly.

Alan: And maybe wants one training exposure. And then the other side of it is being a managed marketplace. What are the things that you guys are creating in safety? Let’s say, for example, a factory or warehouse for fire safety, or height safety, or driving. What can then be reused and resold to other companies? Nestlé is different because you have 400 factories. What can be then packaged and sold to all the factories? But also what can be generisized and resold, so that everybody can be safer at work?

Richard: I think, yeah, for at least my perspective coming up with a lot of this content, it should be something that at the end of the day, looking at proprietary I don’t think is the right way to do it. If it’s for something that’s safety, that’s going to address scenarios that you’ll find in a lot of different factors — majority of factories — it’s something that if we could help build the ecosystem of understanding on that and it’s something that other, CPGs or fast moving consumer good companies can leverage as well, I think we’re OK helping pave the way for that. I am passionate about this area, and I think all boats need to rise.

Alan: I couldn’t agree with you more. And the interesting thing about this industry right now — and it may change, because as the industry goes from nascent to prolific, the gloves come off, so to speak — but so far, every single person in this industry has been exactly that mindset. How do we all work together? Because this is not a net sum game. More wealth will be created in the world in the next 10 years than all of previous human history. So we’re not scrambling to try to– “I get 10 bucks and you have to lose 10 bucks.” This is not the world we live in anymore.

Richard: Yeah, agreed.

Alan: You have a unique view that most people will never have. You are kind of running VR and AR for one of the largest companies in the planet, across all sorts of different ways, from marketing and sales, to enterprise and training. You really are the poster board for VR and AR in an enterprise, in a company. So what problem in the world do you want to see solved using XR technologies?

Richard: Thank you, no pressure. [chuckles] There’s two that come to mind. So one that may be more unique to us is when it comes to the food industry or the TP industry as well. Nestlé has made a 2025 commitment to make all their packaging sustainable, 100 per cent recyclable and things like this. If XR — through augmented reality or virtual reality to help sell a story, things like this — can help around helping people recycle. Scanning more about, say, a plastic bottle. Getting more information about it, directing into the nearest recycling center, gamifying it somehow to reward people for doing that. I think that’s something as powerful. And using the reach that we have, we have a billion individual packages that we generate every day, to get the communication out on that and tackle a problem that, frankly, we help generate.

Alan: The Nestlé blockchain gamification recycling game. Ooh!

Richard: There you go. Yes. This is something along those lines. Of course, yes. So I think having XR tackle that or be a piece in the puzzle for doing that, I think would be something that may be more uniquely to us and more powerful more across the industry, I think. Helping with the massive upskilling of the workforce, whether it’s robotics, removing repeatable tasks. That example of the factory that we’re there in Girona. They’re using cobots, they’re using different automotive forklifts, things like this. And often the feedback is what happens to the work versus this. And you get mixed tags sometimes, but they’re like, this frees them up for doing other tasks that we need done or we freed themselves up to doing more advanced things that we want to do. I think using AR/VR/XR across the board to help skill current workers or train new workers on next level skills that they need to do, I think, is also something that’s going to be unique to this medium, this industry, where this will provide a lot of tangible value as a kind of learning, training or computing platform of the future.

Alan: Well, I’d have to say that hats off to you for those amazing opportunities, because telling people– well, first of all, Nestlé– hats off to Nestlé for recognizing that they’re causing the problem — or part of it — and saying by 2025, we’re going to solve the problem, and at least fix it. Because this is a global problem, we need to fix it. And we all need to come together. And it starts with big companies who can do it. And Nestlé’s in a position to do that as well. So hats off to you guys for for taking those initiatives, and really excited to see where that goes. And if anything, if we can help in any way, I’m happy to do so.

Richard: Absolutely.

Alan: Thank you so much for joining me, man. This has been amazing.

Looking for more insights on XR and the future of business? Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify. You can also follow us on Twitter @XRforBusiness and connect with Alan on LinkedIn.

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