ABOUT: Ilya Gandzeychuk is a CTO at Program-Ace, an R&D software development company with a specific focus on emerging technologies, featuring AR, VR, mixed reality, and IoT. He is a recent joiner; however, with his passion for emerging technologies and a solid experience in enterprise solutions and microelectronics, he is one of the company’s most valuable assets. He holds a degree in applied mathematics and MBA. In the morning, you better approach him carrying a cup (or two) of good coffee.
How did you guys get into VR?
– Initially, Program-Ace began working with emerging technologies back in 2013 when the team first purchased Oculus Rift DK1. It was then sharp and lacked realism, but the market potential was obvious, so we started looking into this technology. With the introduction of DK2 in July 2014, we got one for ourselves and developed a few of our first VR experiences, including a VR mini-game for marketing purposes of Mirinda. The company experienced a huge rise in 2016 when starting developing for Vive and getting familiar with other Industry 4.0 technologies – AR and mixed reality. The team and I personally are completely in love with the thought to bring in this future, that’s why we are here. That’s why we develop. That’s why we educate others.
What is it like working with you guys? What can I as a customer expect in terms of communication and collaboration? Take me through the process!
– We have been in a software development industry for 26 years now. Our core strength is that we offer a broad range of full-cycle services, not just low-end development. Moreover, we are not just those guys who come, develop an application or two for you, and then leave in the sunset. Our mission is to help businesses take advantage of virtual reality and use it most beneficially to penetrate new technological markets, attract a younger audience which comes from Millennials and Generation Z. With us, you could never lose. We spend a hella lot of time discussing our clients’ pains and gains in order to understand the market where they operate. We pay specific attention to the problem they are trying to solve and the value they are willing to bring and talk through all possibilities and limitations. Only then, we can provide a highly customized solution that will be successful on the market.
How would you describe your company culture?
– My colleagues and your humble servant are Program-Ace’s greatest asset. Some clients say that we have the most close-knit, professional team they have ever seen. I’d say that the creativity and desire to make the world a better place lead us forward, while humor and shared values keep us together.
What is your company’s core expertise?
– Program-Ace’s core expertise lies in helping companies take advantage of emerging, trending technologies such as VR, AR, mixed reality, IoT, blockchain, and big data in order to improve their business performance and achieve market supremacy. Technological proficiency plays a huge part in what we do, but our team also has a unique blend of experience in game development, enterprise solutions, trainings, and simulations. Why are we in the VR business? Because we have a keen eye for what’s coming next and what could bring us the future we’ve seen in the fantasy movies.
I’ve been living in a cave the last few years and just got back to work in the marketing department, can you explain to me why I should invest in a VR marketing campaign?
– Virtual reality has come to change how we interact with each other and the world (as the Internet a few decades ago) and is here to stay for a very long time. Maybe the VR has not yet taken over the marketing industry, but it certainly will. For marketers, it’s all about telling a story to motivate potential customers/buyers to take an interest in a specific product, service, or brand. Virtual reality allows for building your marketing campaign around immersive storytelling which will help you increase the brand recognition, significantly increase ROI, and attract the new target audience. Marriott hotel, for example, offered VR room service with VR postcards that helped them achieve 51% growth in customer satisfaction.
If you were to speculate freely; What sort of VR experiences do you think we will see in the future, in terms of marketing?
– Compared to other industry, VR is still in its infancy in marketing; however, it has already proven its sustainability to drive new brand experiences and deliver immersive content. First of all, I assume that the entire concept of “content” will be reshaped. Now, many people read articles, they really do, but that’s just a static form of consumption. With VR, people will actually experience the story you want to tell. Since VR delivers strong emotional engagement, brand recognition and sales will increase in geometric progression. Also, 360-degree videos will continue winning the market until immersive VR will come. It’s just something that looks pretty real for the near future. If we are trying to foreseen that will come after, I would say that in a few years we could see a mind-machine interface (or brain-computer interface, as they call it) in action. Then, the game rules for VR marketing will probably change.
VR is a no doubt powerful tool and the industry is young. What are the risks and pitfalls with VR marketing? Describe what you would advise against doing.
– It is important to remember that virtual reality is just another marketing tool, not a panacea that could save a failed campaign. In today’s realm, VR can only be powerful when it is a part of your strategy, not a base for it. Don’t be fooled by its capacities, if you put bad content in virtual reality, it will still be bad. Before starting planning a budget for VR implementation, ask yourself and your marketing team:
1. How can you take advantage of VR in your industry to increase brand awareness and boost sales?
2. Is your audience ready to experience virtual reality (mentally and financially)?
3. Are there any other examples of VR marketing in your business sector? If yes, how successful was the campaign (pay attention to actual numbers if you could find them)?
Perceive the hype around Industry 4.0 technologies calmly, first, analyze the needs and demands of your industry and its attitude towards virtual reality.
How would you define a successful VR marketing experience?
– Most companies assume that media coverages or awards define the future of your VR experience, but I, personally, think that viva voce (word of mouth) is marketing’s best friend and most powerful channel. The most recent example of how it affects audience’s minds is Pokemon Go. People went crazy for a game for no obvious reason, but because of friends or acquaintances who told them the game is cool. It was born, grew big, and died within just a few months. But that was an extremely profitable “life.”
What is it about VR that gets you excited?
– It is just a beginning of what VR can really do to the world. And with cheap, standalone headsets hitting the market, we are going towards our future in seven-league steps.
What VR experience do you fantasize about experiencing in your lifetime?
– As I told you before, the industry could bring us a brain-computer interface where you can manage virtual reality just by using your brain activity. I look forward to trying it.