October 2023

The Total Economic ImpactTM Of Microsoft HoloLens 2 With Mixed Reality Applications

Cost Savings And Business Benefits Enabled By HoloLens 2 With Dynamics 365 Guides And Dynamics 365 Remote Assist For Manufacturing Enterprises

Mixed reality (MR) technologies enable modern workforces and are a key pillar for organizations who are embracing the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).1 Hands-free, immersive 3D overlays and visualizations provide manufacturing organizations with numerous opportunities to drive value with more effective training and enable remote collaboration to solve complex manufacturing issues. Mixed reality contains elements of virtual and augmented reality but focuses on holography. The user is sufficiently immersed to clearly see and interact with digital models and data, but not so immersed that they cannot do their work in the field. The transparent nature of the device allows the user to continue doing their work while also having a relatively realistic experience of the data, information, or models.2 MR has become an important tool in the toolbox for manufacturing organizations to deliver value and solve critical problems when they arise.

Microsoft commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) study and examine the potential return on investment (ROI) enterprises may realize by deploying HoloLens 2 with mixed reality applications.3 The purpose of this study is to provide readers with a framework to evaluate the potential financial impact of HoloLens 2 with first-party mixed reality applications on their organizations. It should be noted that the mixed reality applications discussed in this study are specifically Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides (Guides) and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist (RA), and not any commercial third-party or internally developed applications. While HoloLens 2 with mixed reality applications is applicable to numerous sectors, the focus of this study is on the ROI and benefits to manufacturing organizations.

To better understand the benefits, costs, and risks associated with this investment, Forrester interviewed eight representatives in manufacturing companies with experience using Microsoft HoloLens 2 with Dynamics 365 Guides and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist. For the purposes of this study, Forrester aggregated the interviewees’ experiences and combined the results into a single composite organization that is a global manufacturing corporation with an Industry 4.0 focus, generating $18 billion in annual revenues with 120,000 total employees and operating 20 advanced factories. The composite organization for a TEI is a hypothetical organization that intentionally does not reflect any specific customer but encompasses the experiences of all the interviewed customers. The financial model for the TEI is tailored for a company that has the attributes of the composite organization.

Interviewees noted that, prior to using Microsoft HoloLens 2 with mixed reality applications (HoloLens 2 with MRApps), more employees had to travel to solve any problem that on-site teams could not fix, and that their organizations wanted to increase training efficiency and create better documentation that improved manufacturing and training processes.

After the investment in HoloLens 2 with MRApps, the interviewees’ organizations enabled users to receive hands-free instruction on the manufacturing line; provided Guides to create virtual instructions that technicians could use to solve problems and complete common repairs that would have otherwise required help from a specialist; and enabled expert technicians to remotely assist on-site work with complex tasks with Remote Assist.

Key Findings

Quantified benefits. Three-year, risk-adjusted present value (PV) quantified benefits for the composite organization include the following:

  • Improved training productivity of 20% to 24% for the composite organization and reduced training materials costs by 35%. Microsoft’s mixed reality solution enables self-guided instructions and leverages 3D models, simulations, and real-world overlays to ensure factory technicians learn faster, understand content better, and practice machine-specific skills. Technicians also observe and participate in remote demonstrations or are evaluated for certification, saving time and expenses for the composite organization, adding up to more than $2.9 million over three years.
  • Improved revenues from training effectiveness, worth more than $4.5 million over three years. With Microsoft’s mixed reality solution, the composite organization creates digital twins of sophisticated machines and achieves 24% faster door-to-floor time by Year 3, specifically for new manufacturing technicians. The composite’s ability to cut down overall training time compared to previous training processes resulted in increased training productivity, increased time to revenue for existing factories bringing on a steady stream of new hires, and improved product quality.
  • Improved manufacturing operations productivity for skilled technicians by 20%. Technicians at the composite organization experience productivity benefits, staying head-up and hands-free when accessing HoloLens 2 lenses and Guides software to see and manipulate advanced instructions, schematics, and other vital information overlaid on the real world. The value of Microsoft’s mixed reality solution is most impactful for the skilled technicians working with advanced and sophisticated manufacturing equipment. Technicians also use remote collaboration applications, such as Remote Assist, to quickly get support from peers or experts, especially for troubleshooting. This benefit adds up to more than $2.2 million over three years.
  • Assured revenue from avoided production downtime, worth more than $2.0 million over three years. With the introduction of Microsoft’s mixed reality solution, the composite organization’s expert technicians use remote collaboration applications, such as Remote Assist, to quickly get support from manufacturing subject matter experts (SMEs) for equipment troubleshooting. Faster troubleshooting for unplanned machine downtime enables faster time to revenue for existing factories. Mixed reality technology enables the composite organization to reduce downtime caused by equipment failure or malfunction by 23.5%.
  • Improved field technician productivity by 25%. Real-time remote collaboration enables “see what I see” assistance from and with manufacturing SMEs to complete work or resolve issues beyond the workers’ expertise without requiring extra trips. Field workers consequently save time, prevent errors and rework, avoid excess trips, and increase their productive capacity, worth $1.8 million over three years.
  • Improved manufacturing SME productivity by 30% with remote problem resolution. Prior to the deployment of Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 mixed reality solution, the composite organization’s skilled manufacturing and field technicians typically had to request on-site assistance from manufacturing SMEs when they ran into problems with machinery on the production line or in the field. With the introduction of Microsoft’s mixed reality solution, expert manufacturing and field technicians use remote collaboration applications, such as Remote Assist, to quickly get support from manufacturing SMEs for equipment troubleshooting and dealing with product issues in the field with experts using mixed reality remote support for critical needs to avoid travel, boost capacity, and address needs more efficiently. Overall, this benefit is worth more than $2.2 million over three years for the composite organization.
  • Improvement of 14 days in time to revenue for new factories ramping online faster with digital twins and manufacturing layout. Creating a digital twin of equipment during the factory/line-planning process with HoloLens 2 and Remote Assist ensures that machines will fit and not require engineering change and incur more cost. The ability for up-front planning and laying out the equipment and process flow for production lines allows for faster time to revenue, estimated at a minimum of two weeks adding up to $3.7 million over three years.
  • Saved overall traveling expenses by 20% to 50%. Replacing expert travel with remote expertise and self-guided task worker instruction saves significant travel and incidentals costs, such as flights, cars, hotels, food, and beverage, in addition to labor savings, adding up to $2.1 million over three years.

Qualitative benefits. Benefits that provide value for the composite organization but are not quantified for this study include:

  • Furthered sustainability goals. Sustainability improvements and cost savings reduce training material waste and emissions associated with travel.
  • Hands-free and remote training. Providing an immersive training experience allows employees the ability to train wherever, whenever in a head-up, hands-free environment.
  • Improved quality with enhanced employee experience. Holographic work instruction through Dynamics 365 Guides accessible via HoloLens 2 improves employees’ productivity with 3D, step-by-step, holographic step cards that reduce errors, increase efficiency, ensure that procedure is followed safely, and overall improve the quality of work.
  • Attract, hire, and retain higher-quality employees. Leveraging HoloLens 2 and Dynamics 365 Guides and Remote Assist helps differentiate a company recruitment strategy by using the latest and greatest technology, leading to cost saving in acquiring and retaining highly talented employees.
  • Protected health and safety. According to interviewees, MR instructions helped employees get through repetitive tasks more quickly — and could protect life and health. Not following procedures exactly as intended could lead to dangerous scenarios in a manufacturing context. HoloLens 2 with Guides enabled technicians to follow instructions that provided guidance and training while doing their work, ensuring procedures are followed safely.
  • Improved compliance. Process guides helped technicians using HoloLens 2 follow the steps properly, helping meet compliance standards.

Costs. Three-year, risk-adjusted PV costs for the composite organization include:

  • HoloLens 2 device costs. This cost is for the purchase of devices retailing at $3,500 each, plus repair and device management over three years.
  • Guides and Remote Assist subscription and consumption costs. This cost is to enable instructions, visualization, and remote collaboration capabilities for up to 800 active, licensed users by Year 3. This is based on a realistic deployment of HoloLens 2 devices where five licensed users share each device.
  • Planning, implementation, and management labor costs. The team includes an innovation leader, technical project managers, 3D designers, developers, and ITOps aided by test users and a systems integrator (SI) to conduct MR training and coordinate planning. For the composite organization, this is based on an innovation team of 10 FTEs, which scales depending on the organization’s size.
  • Training costs for up to 800 mixed reality users on an annual basis.

Results. The representative interviews and financial analysis found that a composite organization experiences benefits of $21.39 million over three years versus costs of $6.76 million, adding up to a net present value (NPV) of $14.62 million and an ROI of 216%.

“We have a digital initiative for Industry 4.0. There’s an industry trend for that. And so, I see new technology and being innovative is key to our survival as a company. And there are four main technologies right now on the roadmap and XR is one of them.”

— Senior manager, engineer services support process systems development, transportation manufacturing

Key Statistics

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    Return on investment (ROI):

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    Benefits PV:

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    Net present value (NPV):

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    Payback (months):

Benefits (Three-Year)

Training productivity improvement and materials cost savings Improved revenues from training effectiveness Manufacturing operations productivity improvement Revenue assurance from avoided production downtime Field technician productivity improvement Manufacturing SME productivity improvement Improved time-to-revenue for new factories ramping online Overall travel and incidentals savings

TEI Framework And Methodology

From the information provided in the interviews, Forrester constructed a Total Economic Impact™ framework for those organizations considering an investment HoloLens 2 with MRApps.

The objective of the framework is to identify the cost, benefit, flexibility, and risk factors that affect the investment decision. Forrester took a multistep approach to evaluate the impact that HoloLens 2 with MRApps can have on an organization.


    Interviewed Microsoft stakeholders and Forrester analysts to gather data relative to HoloLens 2 with MRApps.


    Interviewed eight representatives at organizations using HoloLens 2 with MRApps to obtain data about costs, benefits, and risks.


    The composite organization for a TEI is a hypothetical organization that intentionally does not reflect any specific customer but encompasses the experiences of all the interviewed customers. The financial model for the TEI is tailored for a company that has the attributes of the composite organization.


    Constructed a financial model representative of the interviews using the TEI methodology and risk-adjusted the financial model based on issues and concerns of the interviewed organizations.


    Employed four fundamental elements of TEI in modeling the investment impact: benefits, costs, flexibility, and risks. Given the increasing sophistication of ROI analyses related to IT investments, Forrester’s TEI methodology provides a complete picture of the total economic impact of purchase decisions. Please see Appendix A for additional information on the TEI methodology.


Readers should be aware of the following:

This study is commissioned by Microsoft and delivered by Forrester Consulting. It is not meant to be used as a competitive analysis.

Forrester makes no assumptions as to the potential ROI that other organizations will receive. Forrester strongly advises that readers use their own estimates within the framework provided in the study to determine the appropriateness of an investment in HoloLens 2 with MRApps.

Microsoft reviewed and provided feedback to Forrester, but Forrester maintains editorial control over the study and its findings and does not accept changes to the study that contradict Forrester’s findings or obscure the meaning of the study.

Project Leads: Roger Nauth, Erach Desai

Consulting Team: Otto Leichliter

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