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[caption id="attachment_3557" align="alignright" width="431"]360 view of Primacy booth at AMA showing emerging tech Primacy's booth at the AMA Symposium on Higher Ed Marketing was a hotbed of emerging tech activity.[/caption] No doubt you’ve heard this before – likely at this exact time last year – but this is the year that emerging tech goes mainstream. And if last month’s American Marketing Association Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in Orlando, Fl. was any indication, higher ed is primed to be at the top of the wave. To me, the reason is that we seem to have moved past the “shiny new object” stage and into the “how will this help my business” stage. The Primacy booth in the exhibitor hall was ground zero for emerging tech – we had virtual reality (VR) headsets to show the campus tour we did for Regis University (which we also did a presentation on) and an augmented reality (AR) headset and demonstration to show how the technology can help visualize new campus buildings like residence halls or stadiums. But the thing that captured people’s attention most was the one question Microsoft Kinect-based gesture recognition survey that we did. The question was simple: If you had an unlimited marketing budget in 2017, what one thing would you spend it on? One hundred and ten people answered, and their answers ranged from a total rebrand to analytics. [caption id="attachment_3572" align="aligncenter" width="607"]Graphic of one-question survey and responses. Emerging tech was picked most often. Primacy's one-question Microsoft Kinect gesture recognition survey asked AMA attendees a simple question: If you had a bottomless marketing budget in 2017, how would you spend it?[/caption] And which answer got the most responses? You guessed it: emerging tech. This wasn’t all that surprising; after all, they were using emerging technology to take the survey. What did surprise me was how many people stayed around after the survey to ask, So is virtual reality actually good for anything besides campus tours? The answer, of course, is yes. Imagine sitting around a conference room table with a high-end donor prospect and having a building with his name on it spring to life before his eyes, putting a class in the middle of a rainforest being studied by one of their faculty members, letting a new student from India shop in a virtual bookstore where she can buy your college’s gear three months before she steps on campus, or placing an undergrad prospect in the middle of a physics class so he can experience your academics before applying. The possibilities are virtually endless. And I think this cultural moment is making it easier for all of us to envision them. Samsung is gave away VR headsets this holiday season when you bought a new, non-exploding phone. Disney and People magazine included VR in their marketing roll-out for Rogue One. And of course Pokémon Go brought AR into the mainstream earlier this year and made us lose our collective minds. So the moment is here and there are lots of use cases where emerging tech can make sense. The key thing from my perspective – and the way to avoid shiny object syndrome – is to start with a clear strategy and objectives. If the conversation is “we just need to get into VR” then you may want to reconsider, because you likely won’t be able to prove that the money and time were worth it (unless you have that bottomless marketing budget we talked about earlier). But if an emerging tech solution springs from a clear strategy and helps you accomplish a specific objective, then utilize it. The money and time will have been wisely spent and you’ll be able to prove the value of the work. Interested in learning more about where emerging technology is going in 2017? Sign up for our free webinar on the topic, which is scheduled for Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 2 p.m. EDT.Regis VR Experience from Primacy on Vimeo.