Fortune VR 20: Why Silicon Valley Is Betting on Virtual Reality

This year’s Fortune VR 20 list highlights the businesses that are positioned to benefit most from the ever-expanding world of virtual reality (VR).

With the market share of mobile VR soaring from less than 1% to over 20% in under a year, the focus has turned from hardware to software. The winners on this year’s list represent a diverse range of industries, including enterprise software, infrastructure management, healthcare, and more.

Enterprise Software

Nestled deep within the heart of Mountain View, California, on the 18th hole of the legendary Googleplex, is Google’s headquarters campus. This year, the technology giant’s suburban backyard became the stage for a revolution: inside the Googleplex, the company held a massive VR launch event. The occasion marked the beginning of a new era in computing, with dozens of startups showcasing the fantastic potential of VR.

The event featured dozens of VR and augmented reality (AR) startups, showcasing the cutting edge of tech and the incredible opportunities available in this nascent industry. Attendees had the chance to experience a variety of VR and AR apps, ranging from concerts and sports events to job interviews and educational tours.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of this boom is enterprise software. Like most industries, it’s been slow to embrace the transformative power of VR, but the technology’s popularity and integration into smartphones has led to a massive wave of change. Today, over 150 enterprises provide enterprise mobility software that enables employees to easily access important data on the go – even while on a lunch break or in the middle of a sales call.

The rise of mobile VR is leading to fundamental shifts in the software industry. Thanks in part to companies such as SAP, Salesforce, and Red Ventures, enterprise software is now positioned to benefit from the growing VR market. This year’s list of large enterprises taking a keen interest in VR is stuffed with familiar brands, including Accenture, AT&T, BHP, HP, IBM, and more.

Infrastructure Management

If you run a business that depends on technology to function, you must be positioned to benefit from the growing importance of data security and management.

VR and AR have amazing potential to enhance business efficiency. Forrester Research forecasts that by 2022, AR/VR tools will save businesses $120 billion worldwide.

The applications of VR and AR in infrastructure management are endless: from creating a better customer experience (DX) with streamlined checkout processes in retail stores to using the technology to monitor assets and operations at a remote site.

One of the more interesting use cases regards Covid-19. The novel coronavirus pandemic was a real-life test for infrastructure management. The spread of the virus was heavily contained thanks to widespread testing and close monitoring of cases. While the world adjusted to a new normal, the technology industry flocked to develop tools to help contain the pandemic.

Covid-19 provided a glimpse of the future of VR/AR in infrastructure management: virtually no businesses operated without a smartphone or some other form of digital device.


Healthcare is another industry closely tied to the growth of VR. The industry’s application in dentistry alone is worth billions and billions of dollars, with many major players investing heavily in the area.

VR applications in healthcare are almost too numerous to list, from giving doctors a bird’s eye view of a patient’s internal organs to showing them the effects of medicine on realistic avatars. Not only does VR improve the patient experience, but it also allows them to practice procedures and gain experience faster than before.

We’ve seen an explosion of interest in and adoption of VR/AR in healthcare. Facebook, with its acquisition of VR company Oculus, is a massive player in this industry. In addition to purchasing Oculus for a whopping $16 billion, the company is reportedly developing its own branded VR products.


Finance is another industry closely tied to the rise of VR. New forms of education such as Einstein Digital’s Virtual Financial Analyst are already providing valuable job opportunities in an ever-developing world of fintech.

The combination of VR and mobile technology makes for an incredible learning experience. Students can access information on the go and can practice while learning – opportunities that weren’t previously available in a classroom setting.

Numerous major banks and financial services companies, including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and U.S. Bancorp, are already using VR to train their staff and provide customers with an immersive experience. As more banks embrace VR and its potential, it’s likely more job opportunities will emerge.

The use of VR in financial services is just one of the many industries that stand to benefit from the technology’s explosive growth.


Manufacturing is another industry closely tied to the rise of VR. Thanks to cheap, mobile-friendly displays, many businesses, from small startups to large manufacturers, have begun utilizing VR and AR in plant tours, training, and simulation. The applications are endless: from giving virtual shoppers a taste of what it’s like to walk through a factory to using the technology to assess product design and see the effects of different materials and processes on that design.

One of the most significant plant tours VR entrepreneurs have created is Summa. Designed to give people a taste of what it’s like to visit a modern factory, the app allows users to move around, explore, and even touch aspects of the production process – all from the comfort of their home. Summa’s CEO, Boris Wertz, believes the tour allows customers to see the process from start to finish and appreciate the value the company adds as a middleman:

“We facilitate the meeting of buyers and sellers and play a crucial role in matching supply and demand,” says Wertz. “The benefits of VR for our customers include a richer understanding of the manufacturing process, a sense of presence during these guided tours, and the opportunity to ask questions.”

VR and AR have immense potential to improve businesses and change the way we operate. With the right talent, adequate funding, and a little bit of luck, the future of VR and AR looks incredibly promising.