Article

23.08.2016

Virtual and augmented reality spell real business opportunities

Originally, both techniques were known for the excellent potential they showed in the video games and entertainment fields. Today however they are demonstrating their ability to transform the user experience in a wide variety of industries and service sectors.

It is now clear that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are not restricted to the world of entertainment and gaming. They might have been closely associated with these ‘fun’ areas in the very beginning but now the figures show that their positive impact goes much further.

A report from Goldman Sachs forecasts that by 2025 VR and AR will be generating more revenue than the television market. Meanwhile studies estimating the value of the VR and AR markets are outdoing each other in predicting revenue in the tens of billions. Today the applications of these cutting-edge technologies have already pushed beyond the boundaries of the entertainment and gaming industries.

“From the consumer’s viewpoint, AR and VR increase and enhance the human experience. Notions of time and space become relative. As a user, I can find myself in places that I’m exploring for the first time, in eras that I’ve never lived through. This can generate a lot of applications for a wide range of industries. This is even more true when VR and AR are combined with other technologies such as artificial intelligence and eye-tracking,” explains Sivan Iram, General Manager at River Studios, a company working in VR and AR.

Moreover, the power of VR and AR is being demonstrated in sectors such as commerce and mass retail, real estate, plus also in education and in-company training. A quick overview of the most innovative virtual reality applications currently in use should suffice to convince any doubters of the extent of AR/VR potential.

Retail wants to offer a compelling Customer Experience

In the retail sector, a number of luxury and ready-to-wear apparel brands have ventured into filming their fashion shows in 3D, later relaying them to their shops, where customers can use VR headsets to get a virtual front-row seat at the show.

The promise that virtual reality holds in these examples is to generate brand engagement. Volvo in the United Kingdom  recently partnered with Microsoft HoloLens with a view to transforming the purchasing experience. Given that vehicles cannot be available for demonstration with every possible option at every car dealership, it is easy to see how augmented reality can help potential customers not only to visualise the interior and the exterior of the car, but also to test its range of functionality.

Total immersion a boon for real estate viewing

Another sector where opportunities exist to greatly enrich the buying experience is the real estate business. Matterport offers to create 3D visualisations of for-sale properties for real estate agencies, a cut above the 2D photos and modest 360° panoramas that are still the norm here. It provides a demonstration on a mobile app for the end-customer and will also provide the real estate agency with the hardware and software needed to make 3D visualisations, leaving the agency to take care of the actual shooting.

Meanwhile GeoVC, a New York-based start-up, has come up with an app that enables the user to scan a space, such as an apartment. It also allows you to measure the dimensions of a room and even modify the configuration – for example taking out one element such as a screen and replacing it with another feature. Here the immersive experience offered by VR technology is extremely useful when looking to purchase real estate. GeoVC reckons that people visiting a house or apartment with a view to purchase will tend to try and visualise themselves inhabiting the space and also project themselves forward in time – to the moment when any planned alterations have been completed.

Enhancing learning techniques at school and in-company

As the General Manager of River Studios emphasises, VR enriches the human experience. Taking this observation to heart, many start-ups have recently been getting into the education sector, which is an obvious field of application for these technologies. Plunge with London-based Alchemy VR into the midst of the primitive life forms which began to shape our world, listen to Albert Einstein explain his theory of relativity in an amphitheatre with the LectureVR created by Irish company Immersive VR Education, go on an expedition to Mars one afternoon with Google Expeditions, or simply practice your Spanish at a meet up via your headset, courtesy of Californian company AltspaceVR. Virtual reality has the power to transform the way we teach and how students of all ages acquire knowledge. zSpace technology is already in use in many educational establishments in the United States, revolutionising the way children learn about anatomy and biology.

And it is just one step from education to the world of work. Virtual reality and augmented reality are now playing an essential role in the changes taking place in the workplace environment and the tools used by Human Resources departments. ScioVR gives us a taste of what professional training might look like in future. The Swedish start-up has embarked on a research project – the ‘Virtual Operating Room’ – in partnership with Södersjukhuset, one of the main hospitals in Stockholm. Using VR headsets, the medical teams are immersed in classical situations, learn to repeat medical procedures over and over again, and also acquire best practice in terms of communication in the operating theatre.

Next steps

VR and AR technologies can thus enable all kinds of people to develop not only technical competence but also soft skills by immersing them in standard situations. Will company adoption of VR and AR encourage more widespread use of the technologies beyond the realm of video-gaming and take them to the general public? Technological progress – starting with ever-higher picture resolution – coupled with a progressive reduction in costs, could well be a driver. And guess which company is currently working on a VR headset? No less a player than Google, which is now researching a successor to its Cardboard. This is a sign of things to come that should not be ignored.

(Source: http://www.atelier.net)

Article

31.05.2021

Optimise your working capital with factoring

How can you keep your working capital healthy while incorporating the requisite financial flexibility? Factoring helps you to finance your cash requirements in a proper, timely and suitable way.

Securing liquidity is the key to financing your working capital requirements and keeping your business running smoothly at all times. That's exactly what factoring offers.It is a structural solution for optimising working capital. In the video below (in Dutch) in less than half an hour you will gain a clear picture of what factoring has to offer.

If you prefer to watch the video in French, click here.


Factoring: a tailored structural solution

In exchange for transferring your invoices to an external factoring company, you can count on fast, flexible financing, monitor the collection of your invoices, and protect yourself against potential bankruptcy among your customers. Each factoring solution is tailored to fit the needs of your business. This includes companies operating at international level. In Belgium, one in six companies currently outsource their invoices to an external factoring company. The same trend is evident in other European countries.

Do you have any questions, or would you like to discuss how factoring can help you? Contact your relationship manager or send us your details via the contact form and we will get in touch with you.
Article

27.04.2021

Will you be Entrepreneur of the Year 2021?

Will you succeed Stow and I-care as the Entrepreneur of the Year for 2021? Why shouldn't you? Apply before mid-May and your company may just win this prestigious award.

A dazzling event honoring the very best companies

This annual award ceremony is an EY initiative in collaboration with De Tijd and BNP Paribas Fortis. Last year the event had to be celebrated online. The advantage was that the general public was able to live stream the event and watch Prime Minister Alexander De Croo present the Onderneming van het Jaar® award to Stow and Entreprise de l'Année® award to I-care. Jan Jambon presented the Flemish government's Scale-up of the Year award to Robovision and David Clarinval the French version tot Proxyclick. The new winners will be announced on 6 and 7 December, 2021.

Big picture and little picture

The coronavirus pandemic is still affecting businesses this year. The new Entrepreneur of the Year and Scale-up of the Year will have undoubtedly shown excellent growth, innovation and governance as well as a sound approach to the pandemic. Bill Schley's book The Unstoppables calls this the big picture and the little picture. Successful entrepreneurs always keep a close eye on their core business and the financial side of things as well as on the little picture. This is the right emotional mechanism for properly dealing with obstacles, failure and risks.

From an entrepreneurial viewpoint

Didier Beauvois, Head of Corporate Banking at BNP Paribas Fortis, is proud that his company has been a partner of this event right from the start. “Alongside the current pandemic, two major challenges that businesses have to address in 2021 are new technologies and sustainability. Companies that want to remain relevant need to be flexible and creative and must keep reinventing themselves. Our mission is to guide them through this transformation process in the best way possible, because those entrepreneurs are the driving force behind the Belgian economy. Therefore, we like to put these innovators in the spotlight every year and is why we encourage Belgian companies to apply."

Why take part?

Winning the Entrepreneur of the Year award or Scale-up of the Year award offers your company many benefits. These awards have a strong national and international reputation that will help you to strengthen your company's brand awareness. The awards ceremony attracts a great deal of media interest in the winners and finalists, and offers excellent networking opportunities. A place in the finals is also a great way to boost employee motivation at your company.

So don't wait any longer: apply for the Onderneming van het Jaar® 2021 award, Entreprise de l’Année award or Scale-up of the Year award via the Dutch EY website or the French EY website before mid-May. All information on the criteria, selection procedure and registration process are available there. The finalists will be selected in June.

Article

27.04.2021

Our bank's experts help advance energy transition via Solar Impulse Foundation

Two specialists from our bank are among the top experts in this international foundation, which collects profitable solutions for a faster transition to sustainable energy.

Sustainability has been an important pillar for our bank for many years. For example, we have been carbon neutral since 2017, accompany companies in their energy transition and support start-ups and organisations that work with renewable energy. The Solar Impulse Foundation therefore has been benefiting from the sponsorship of the BNP Paribas Group from its inception.

Reconciling ecology and economy

The Solar Impulse Foundation was founded by the Swiss psychiatrist and pioneer, Bertrand Piccard, who makes it his life’s mission to demonstrate the opportunities of sustainable development. In 1999, he was the first to make a non-stop balloon journey around the world and, in 2016, he completed that journey again with a solar-powered aircraft. Since then, Piccard has used his popularity to publicise solutions that can protect the environment profitably. The ultimate goal? Motivate decision-makers and companies to set more ambitious environmental targets and better energy policies in order to achieve carbon neutrality.

1,000 sustainable solutions

Four years ago, Solar Impulse Foundation announced that it was looking for 1,000 sustainable solutions worldwide to accelerate the energy transition. That unique portfolio of solutions should then become an essential part of all environmental decisions, debates and political negotiations. Specifically, these are solutions that companies already have or will introduce to the market and that are economically profitable and technologically feasible, but do not yet have the visibility they deserve.

The targeted 1,000 solutions were reached on 13 April 2021. But because innovation never stops, the Foundation continues to add solutions.

Expertise from our bank

To gather as many innovative solutions as possible, the Foundation receives help from many partners and an extensive pool of more than 300 experts from companies around the world. Since any company may present its product on the Foundation’s website, these experts must assess the registered solutions objectively and in detail in three areas: profitability, environmental impact and technical feasibility. For a few years now, BNP Paribas Fortis employees have also devoted themselves to this task.

Quentin_Nerincx_2

One of them is Quentin Nerincx, Senior Advisor Cleantech at our Sustainable Business Competence Centre, who advises companies on becoming more sustainable. “I didn't hesitate to apply," says Quentin enthusiastically. “It’s an exciting project with a wonderful and ambitious goal. Every month, the Foundation sends me a file for analysis. Each solution is studied by two different experts and, if they both make a positive judgement, the solution is labelled by the Solar Impulse Foundation. This quality feature can help to accelerate the implementation of the proposed solution - for example, a new technology or a product.” 

Gunther_Brems

Gunter Brems, Sustainability Expert Housing & Sourcing Services, also lends his expertise: “It is an honour to be part of this prestigious project. I have assessed several files in 2020, which was an enriching experience not only to share knowledge but also to acquire new knowledge. It is great to see how innovative some companies are dealing with a changing world, just as our bank does, and how to look for sustainable alternatives together.”

 

Helping our corporate customers with their energy transition

“This project is also interesting for my job as a sustainability advisor at the bank, because I keep up to speed on new solutions that are being developed worldwide. This allows me to expand my expertise continuously and to contribute broadly to corporate clients looking for solutions for their energy transition", adds Quentin.

At the end of last year, Quentin was informed that he is one of the top 20 experts providing expertise to the Solar Impulse Foundation. Gunter even made it to the top 10. These rankings are mainly based on the number of solutions analysed and the quality of the reports. “We are delighted that our input is appreciated”, the two experts say.

Government guides

The collection of more than 1,000 approved solutions can be found on the Solar Impulse Foundation website. This summer, the Foundation is also publishing a Solutions Guide that will enable governments, companies and individuals to find and implement concrete solutions on a large scale. With this tool, everyone can find solutions to problems in specific geographical, industrial or financial environments in just three clicks.

The Foundation will also provide various public authorities with a Cleanprint, a kind of report and plan for governments and companies to achieve their climate goals using the solutions collected, in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement. The report will also indicate where public authorities can modernise their legal frameworks for the ambitious implementation of these solutions. The first Cleanprint will be presented by Bertrand Piccard at COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow in November 2021.

Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, CEO of BNP Paribas: “There will be no future for society without a successful, long-term energy transition. This transformation can only be undertaken collectively and requires technical and technological service solutions. In taking up the challenge to select 1,000 solutions which encourage environmental protection while also being profitable, the Solar Impulse Foundation is helping us to reach this goal in a very practical way and in line with the aims of the Paris Agreement.”

Seeing that the solutions collected are actually followed up by government leaders and other decision-makers will be the crowning glory of our work", conclude Quentin and Gunter.

Need advice on how to make your business more sustainable?
Contact our experts at the Sustainable Business Competence Centre
Article

25.02.2021

How can the blue economy make a difference?

What if the future of sustainable business is at the bottom of the ocean for once? Marine biodiversity contains resources that can meet the environmental challenges of many sectors. Perhaps yours, too. Find out more during an online event about the promising blue economy on 11 March 2021.

Blue is the new green

71% of our planet consists of water. Seas and oceans play a crucial role in our climate, and coastal areas can capture up to five times more CO2 than tropical forests. The blue economy wants to benefit from all these advantages to improve both the environment and our well-being,

With local being the keyword. And that's where the difference lies with the green economy, which also focuses on the environment and health, but not always in such a sustainable and smart way. Eating organically grown quinoa from Ecuador, for example, is healthy and eco-friendly, but transporting it here is expensive and creates high amounts of pollution.

Offshore sustainability

What does the underwater world have to offer that can be reused, recycled or converted into new sustainable products? A lot, it turns out, as the unique properties of organisms such as algae, starfish, jellyfish or sea cucumbers can be transformed into sustainable products with high added value. This is a process that requires creativity and innovation, and is already with us today.

For your sector, too

The blue economy is expanding rapidly and could bring about a revolution in a wide range of sectors such as healthcare, food, the plastics industry, cosmetics, energy and even aerospace. It is fully capable of helping companies transform their traditional activities into a sustainable model. And in Belgium's ports, the country already has a huge advantage and excellent access to coastal and offshore areas.

Another scoop of microalgae?

Microalgae, for example, offer a lot of promise, as they can renew themselves and thrive both in the desert and in the ocean. They contain many healthy components, such as proteins, that can be used to develop food products.

Sustainable plastics

When discussing the oceans, the plastic problem is never far away. Human beings are producing more and more plastic as the world's population grows, yet the problem with the existing plastic is that it's nigh on impossible to recycle as its components are hard to separate. By making a completely different type of plastic from biomass, its recycling is already considered at the design stage. A large amount of biomass remains unused in the oceans, and using smart, natural polymers could revolutionise plastic production, for example. These polymers are capable of self-renewal and can adapt to their environment.

Who will pay for it?

Great ideas, you think, but who will pay for them? The financial sector certainly wants to play a role in this revolution and is prepared to take risks and invest in new technologies, production systems and R&D.

This commitment was formalised in various ways during the climate week in New York at the end of September 2020. BNP Paribas signed the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) and joined the UNEP FI's Collective Commitment to Climate Action, a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme and the financial sector. In terms of the maritime sector, the Bank committed to working with customers to preserve and sustain the oceans. Read more about this commitment here (only available in French).

Would you like to find out whether the blue economy could make a difference to your sector?
Sign up here for a free online event on this subject on 11 March 2021 (in English only), organised by BNP Paribas Fortis Transport, Logistics and Ports Chair.

Several experts will share their insights, while our experts from the Sustainable Business Competence Centre will also take part. They can advise you on innovations and guide you through your sustainable transition. Feel free to get in touch.

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