Oculus Rift – Game-Changer or Pure Hype?

Oculus has the potential to be the most social platform ever…Imagine not just sharing moments with your friends online but entire experiences.” – Mark Zuckerberg

The JNR Incorporated headquarters are based in Irvine, California in a visually stunning office complex called Newport Gateway. Two identical 14-story towers comprised of black granite and glass face each other to form the 12-acre campus. While JNR calls Tower II home, Tower I is occupied by a company that has been making waves over the past few years: Oculus VR.

Oculus VR’s initial project, Oculus Rift, gained a great deal of attention in 2012 when it raised over $2 million on its way to becoming the most successful Kickstarter project of all time. Since Mr. Zuckerberg and Facebook acquired Oculus VR on March 25, 2014 for an astounding $2 billion, it has quickly become a household name.

While most are familiar with the name, the jury is still out there as to whether Zuckerberg is correct in his belief that Oculus Rift will change the technology industry forever and become the “most social platform ever.”

We will bring you up to speed on the company briefly before we delve into the debate.

For starters, Oculus VR was founded by Palmer Luckey and driven by his love for virtual reality and hardware. Their first project, the Oculus Rift, is a virtual reality headset that allows users to participate in immersive gaming and alternate realities. In addition to the Kickstarter funding, top video game companies such as Valve, Epic Games and Unity are backing the project.

When Oculus Rift hits the market in the near future, it will not be the first virtually reality headset on the market. It will however be the most accessible product of its type due to a competitive price point, unlike many competitors. Its relationship with Facebook is also sure to set it apart and possibly even revolutionize the social media world.

It is not known how Facebook will use the headset to complement their social media site, but plans to integrate the two appear to be in place. Zuckerberg described the interest in Oculus VR being “a long-term bet on the future of computing.” The technology has the possibility to revolutionize the way people interact online, creating obvious interest for the Facebook founder. Sharing experiences with your friends on social media may soon take on a whole new element.

Antonio Rodriguez, an early investor in Oculus Rift, said: “I would not be surprised if, in five years from now, instead of a monitor on that desk, you have a pair of Oculus Facebook googles.”

The possibilities are quite endless as to how Oculus Rift will affect the ways we communicate as a society, but it is clear that immediate changes may be on the horizon.

As a Marketing Manager at JNR Incorporated tasked with helping in efforts to sell incentive travel programs, I dream of the day where we can simulate the unique experiences delivered on our trips with an immersive 3-D presentation that video and words would never be able to replicate.

The consensus opinion appears to be that Oculus VR will be a successful and profitable project, but plenty of cynics are expressing their skepticism about the purchase by Facebook and the notion that the product will change the world outside of gaming.

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy said:

“Oculus does virtual reality headgear for PC games and that’s a far cry from Facebook and what they are doing today,” said Moorhead. “I do think Oculus is worth $2 billion, but just not to Facebook. Farmville on Facebook and Call of Duty on Oculus is night and day difference.”

What do you think about Oculus?

Will it be a revolutionary breakthrough that will change the entire world as we know it? Will it be a profitable service, but only relevant to the most serious gamers?

Please share your comments below or send me an email at khewkin@jnrcorp.com to continue the conversation.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kristopher Hewkin

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Anna Bashmakova and Oculus Rift” by Sergey Galyonkin is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The 7 Best Tech Companies to Work For in 2014…And Why

Early this year, Lisa Bernier, a freelance writer who has written for a number of respected publications, compiled a list of The 7 Best Tech Companies to Work for in a Mashable article that was shared over eleven thousand times.

We want to take a look into what make these companies amazing places to work for and what other companies (maybe even yours) can learn from their employee engagement policies.

So, who made the list?

  1. Elite SEM – Search engine marketing
  2. Interactive Intelligence – Global provider of call center technologies and software solutions
  3. Twitter – An introduction is probably not necessary for this online social networking and microblogging giant
  4. 360i – Digital agency specializing in search engine marketing, social media, mobile marketing, and web design and development
  5. Text100 – Digital marketing agency that creates communications campaigns
  6. Crowdtap – Social Influence Marketing platform
  7. Google – One of most admired companies in the entire world

Unless you’re in the market for a new tech job and searching for places to submit a resume, the more important takeaway here is to learn something about what it takes to create a great company.

What makes these companies great places to work?

These companies all do a remarkable job of showing their employees how much they are appreciated. By creating an environment that fosters the advancement of their employee’s careers, leading companies yield an engaged, loyal, and productive workforce. This has worked so well for Elite SEM that they have had no turnover since their inception in 2004.

The ability to maintain an engaged workforce through employees who genuinely feel appreciated and inspired can result in higher profit margins for companies.  This is due to the strong relationship that exists between the financial performance of a company and employee engagement. Higher levels of commitment from employees who feel like their work is valued tends to increase office efficiency. In addition, it creates a culture of hardworking employees who feel connected to one another.

Engaged employees have 18% higher productivity and 60% higher quality work than under-engaged employees (Insync Survey).

While excellent salaries and benefits, effective leadership, and an emphasis on work-life balance are major factors making these companies pleasant to work for, unconventional, but highly effective, incentives are also utilized heavily by these innovative companies.

Elite SEM takes its staff on an annual “Fun Week” – during which employees are treated to a seven-day vacation with recreational activities. This use of incentive travel creates memorable experiences as a reward to valued employees and is proven to be more effective at motivating employees, increasing sales and strengthening employee loyalty than cash rewards. The emotional and psychological importance employees place on non-cash rewards can be far greater and remembered much longer than cash bonuses. Merchandise awards can produce a similar effect when the budget for travel is not present.

Other notable ways these companies create happy employees include: book clubs, telecommuting options, profit sharing, flexibility in schedules, and impromptu days off when necessary. Google has become very well known for having amazing on-site facilities including sports complexes, 24/7 gyms, free food, and free laundry/dry cleaning services. Possibly the most fascinating benefit that Google extends relates to the death of employees. If an employee passes away during their employment, the company will pay 50% of the salary of that employee to their spouse or domestic partner for a full decade!

Employees that feel valued and appreciated exert greater effort, stay with companies longer and are strong brand advocates. The businesses on this list understand and leverage this power to their advantage.

For more on employee engagement, check out this fascinating study of The 10 US Cities with The Highest Levels of Employee Engagement.

By JNR Corp

Written by Stephanie Thomas