Microsoft pulls out Forrester Consulting report to address recent HoloLens bad press

Microsoft appears to be doing a bit of damage control after last week's Business Insider report indicating that the company's AR headset division is in a bit of disarray.

Earlier today, Microsoft began seeding a report via email from Forrester Consulting, an independent and objective research-based consulting firm. The Forrester report that dates back to November 2021 for publishing, delivers data points, impressive percentages and quotes from partners and customers on how Microsoft's HoloLens is doing in the enterprise market.

However, before digging into the some of the numbers, quotes and stats provided, Forrester does preface the report with the following, "Microsoft commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact™ study examining the potential ROI that organizations may realize by deploying mixed reality (MR) solutions using Microsoft HoloLens 2."

Included in the 46-page report are key industry findings by Forrester that help show how Microsoft's HoloLens is helping enterprise.

  • Enhanced training efficiency for up to 1,000
    annual trainees, saving $2.1 million in labor.
    Mixed reality increased training efficiency by
    60%, saving $1,440 per trainee while improving
    knowledge acquisition and retention.
  • Increased task efficiency for 50 field workers,
    saving $1.3 million in labor. Mixed reality
    improved field task efficiency by 40% and
    reduced rework by 75%, saving $13,680 annually
    per field task worker.
  • Improved productivity for 15 leaders, saving
    $428,000 in labor. Mixed reality recaptured 30%
    of leaders’ time for training, instruction, project
    coordination, planning, and customer
    enablement, saving $15,600 annually per leader
  • Avoided travel for experts and field workers,
    saving $1.1 million in travel and incidentals
    costs. Mixed reality reduced annual travel and
    incidentals costs by $31,500 for specialized
    experts and by $2,950 for field task workers.
  • Reduced operational costs, saving
    $2.9 million in excess expenses. Mixed reality
    minimized consumables usage by 80% for
    instruction and training; materials costs by 10%
    for design, testing, and enablement; and PPE
    usage by 60% per user. MR also trimmed total
    business operating costs by 0.2% through better
    processes, quality, and maintenance

Just as they were commissioned to do, Forrester summarized Microsoft's HoloLens presence in enterprise as such, "Forrester’s risk-adjusted financial analysis
for a composite organization shows a three-year ROI of 177%, an NPV of $7.6 million, and a payback period of 13 months with $11.9 million in total
benefits versus $4.3 million in total costs. Mixed reality on HoloLens 2 also drove important qualitative benefits including benefits to talent recruitment, employee health and safety, business continuity, customer experience, and customer outcomes.

The report further buttresses Microsoft Technical Fellow for AI and Mixed Reality Alex Kipman's statement that HoloLens is "doing great."

Unfortunately, the report does little to extinguish the small fires that have arisen lately regarding Microsoft's HoloLens future. While Forrester managed to get businesses and customers to go on record to sing the praises of HoloLens, the report doesn't address the shift in specialized HoloLens developers between Meta (formerly Facebook) and Microsoft, or its troubles with retrofitting the headset for combat to meet contract obligations. In addition, the report focuses on current HoloLens technology and does not speak to development or testing of future HoloLens services or production.

While HoloLens appears to be saving partners and customers money and time, it's still unclear if there are plans to capitalize on its momentum with a third iteration of the hardware, reduction in price or a significant update to the platform that will enable it to expand its presence outside of enterprise. Microsoft has not officially addressed the report that it has killed its plan for a third HoloLens headset, nor has it confirmed a co-development AR project with Samsung.

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