If you’ve ever encountered virtual or augmented reality in the business world it was likely at an event or tradeshow where a company had an AR/VR demo at their booth to draw in “traffic.” While this is certainly a valid marketing use case, it’s not all this technology has to offer B2B marketers.

Although related, VR and AR differ in one important respect:

· Virtual reality (VR) replaces the physical world, creating an immersive digital world. Think of any of the games you have played on an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

· Augmented reality (AR) adds to the physical world by placing digital objects or features into a users’ physical environment. A familiar example is Pokémon Go.

In many ways, VR and AR are a logical extension of 3D modeling capabilities to serve marketing use cases. Before 3D modeling revolutionized the way products are designed and manufactured, engineers used 2D drawings and physical models for prototyping, but to truly understand the scope and impact of a product — you had to build it. VR and AR are now enabling marketers to gain similar efficiencies by enabling buyers to “experience” products that are expensive to ship, complex to visualize, or just too dangerous to test.

It’s not often that B2B marketers get ahead of our B2C peers in technology innovation and adoption, but that’s clearly the case with VR and AR. While the use of these technologies in B2C is held back by the lack of mass adoption, B2B marketers in a small but growing number of industries have already realized the relatively small incremental expense in VR/AR solutions and headsets is easily offset by a few more closed/won deals.

To learn more about how virtual and augmented reality technologies are solving real problems for B2B marketers, Forrester clients can read my report “Virtual And Augmented Reality For B2B Marketers,” where we profile three vendors who are leading the way in this emerging market with solutions that span a wide range of applications and use cases.